Kids & YA Newsletter: February 2019



Seventeen-year-old Daphne has spent her entire life honing her body into a weapon and her heart and mind into stone, in order to be accepted by the unyielding people of ancient Sparta. But unrest throughout ancient Greece—and the goddess Artemis holding Daphne’s brother for ransom—upends her carefully laid plans. In return for her brother’s life, Daphne must find and return nine mysterious items stolen from Mount Olympus before the gods’ power wanes and the mortal world is thrown into chaos. Her journey leads her into battle with foes from ancient Greek myths, a growing (and dangerous) attraction to her guide, the enigmatic and flirtatious god Apollo, who has a secret agenda of his own, and into the devious games of the gods themselves. A reimagining of the classic Greek myth of Daphne and Apollo, DAUGHTER OF ASH AND SEA by debut author Claire Andrews turns the traditionally masculine-dominated mythology we know into a heart-pounding adventure with female empowerment and acceptance at its core. Fans of the sweeping quest and ancient folklore of Adrienne Young’s Sky in the Deep and Madeline Miller’s determined, self-sufficient heroine in Circe will be hungry for Andrews’s clever and quick-moving novel. (Please note, this project is represented by Amy Elizabeth Bishop.)

 When 17-year-old Tess Porter agrees to pick up her boyfriend’s college pal at the airport on a snowy December night, she has no idea she’s about to embark on the most dangerous ride of her life. A day and a half later, Tess wakes up in a hospital with broken bones, a concussion, and questions that haunt her: How did she end up there? Where is her boyfriend, James? And why is the tension between her parents so thick she’d need a chainsaw to slice through it? After Lydia, the psychologist assigned to her case, offers a way to potentially unlock her memory, Tess slowly starts to recall the events that led to her injuries. But as family secrets begin to unravel, Tess is forced to ask herself the most frightening question of all: Was she better off not remembering any of it? With the potential to engage teens and adults alike, HE’LL BE WAITING by journalist Elizabeth Alterman, in her YA debut, is a suspenseful yet heartfelt thriller that will appeal to fans of Karen McManus’s One of Us Is Lying. Richly layered with unexpected twists and turns, this novel will keep readers on the edge of their seats. At the same time, it invites them to consider how well do you really know anyone, what lengths will you go to for love, and how do you survive when the unthinkable happens in your own home? (Please note, this project is represented by Stacey Glick.)

 Talulah knows little of kindness. Routinely mocked and beaten by her classmates for her dark skin and large features, her only comfort lies in the care of Mrs. Core, a neighbor who runs a community theater, and in the work of Ntozake Shange’s for colored girls who have considered suicide/when the rainbow is enuf. Talulah isn’t aware that there’s another world where she isn’t just welcomed—she is eagerly anticipated as a potential savior of the Helah, a group of powerful black women who embody the elements of the universe. Though working frantically to make the world a kinder, more compassionate place, the Helah have been hunted since the dawn of the transatlantic slave trade by malicious forces trying to usurp their ancient power. With the help of Aasim, a fellow teenager whose family has long protected the Helah, Talulah must travel to their world and confront a past long hidden from her in order to save herself, her world, and the matriarchy striving to protect it. Poet, activist, and educator Thea Monyee’s THE HELAH is a stunning middle grade debut filled with passionate activism, the complexities of black femininity, and the delights of watching one young girl step out of the shadows to unleash her greatest potential, and just maybe save the world. (Please note, this project is represented by Jim McCarthy.)

 Albert Edison Aristotle Bottomley has created a monster. To avoid drinking his mother’s vile, homemade “brainpower” smoothies, he’s resorted to feeding them to his dog, Mr. Puffy. There’s just one little problem: Mom’s smoothies actually work—transforming Mr. Puffy into a canine super-genius. At first, Albie loves playing with his newly brainy talking dog, but he soon finds that along with Mr. Puffy’s superhuman IQ comes a set of uniquely human flaws, including a most unbecoming lust for power. In short order, Mr. Puffy raises a mighty canine army and takes over Albie’s hometown, intending to rule its human citizens for their own good. Toiling away at a chew toy refurbishment plant, Albie, his best friend Aashi and his totally annoying classmate Madison must save the world from the evil designs of his cute little former pet—before the dogs take over for good! School Library Journal called Rob Vlock’s Sven Carter series “over the top and full of laughs,” and with MR. PUFFY TAKES OVER THE WORLD! he delivers another funny, fast-paced middle grade novel that’s sure to keep young readers (and dog lovers) of all stripes laughing and turning the hilarious pages. (Please note, this project is represented by John Rudolph.)

 Nine-year-old Linh weeps in the dark hold of a dilapidated fishing boat with her uncle and his family, wondering if she’ll ever see her mother or her homeland again. She and the 600 other refugees on the boat are dreaming of a better life than the one they’ve left behind. But the dream soon turns to a nightmare when sea pirates attack and steal the ship’s compass. The lost souls drift towards a refugee camp in Malaysia, where they are forced to jump into the sea and swim to shore, with nothing but the clothes on their backs. When Mama and Linh’s siblings ultimately arrive in the United States four years later, Linh finds a surprising way to reconnect with her mother through the one thread that has held them together across thousands of miles—and many moons. Denise Dowling Mortensen’s MOONCAKES AND MAMA is an early reader set against all-too-familiar scenes of refugees fleeing persecution across the globe. It touches upon the devastating cost of family separations, the loss of cultural traditions, and the desperate decisions parents are sometimes forced to make when choosing which child to send on a perilous crossing to freedom. The story is loosely based upon the real-life experiences of Sy Ngoc Linh, who was fostered by the author’s family starting in 1980. Linh's coming-of-age journey is both heartbreaking and uplifting, but also emblematic of many other present-day refugee children’s stories around the world. (Please note, this project is represented by Stacey Glick.)

 It’s a hot day, but Daisy doesn’t feel like joining the other bees who are busy fanning their wings to keep the hive cool. So she sets off through the hive, searching for a different job that will appeal to her. At last, she happens onto a crowd of bees who seem to be watching something, and she’s amazed to discover that the focus of their attention is a dancing bee. It’s exactly what she’s been looking for. But she soon finds that dancing is harder than it looks. When her own first attempt ends in failure, she receives some kindly advice from none other than the Queen: if Daisy wants to know why bees dance, she must first brave the outside world in order to find something important for the hive. Of course, that turns out to be more easily said than done. But in her adventures outside the hive, Daisy will learn that failure is just the first step to success, and that determination and perseverance may pay off when you least expect it. Based on the real phenomenon of the honey bee’s waggle dance, THE BEE’S DANCE by author/illustrator Mark Wood offers both a light-hearted science lesson about one of nature’s wonders and a gentle story about a quest for knowledge and self-expression. (Please note, this project is represented by John Rudolph.)

 Little Toucan is reminded that he’s little every day by his big sister. She can tie her shoes—but Little Toucan tou-CAN’T! She can make her own breakfast—but he tou-CAN’T! She can even read to herself—but as much as Little Toucan tries, he just tou-CAN’T. It’s a sad state of affairs, but when Big Sister is home sick from school, suddenly she tou-CAN’T do the things she usually does. Will Little Toucan finally be able to help out? Will he finally change those tou-CAN’Ts to tou-CANs? Brandon Todd makes his debut as an illustrator with the forthcoming The Bear Must Go On! (Philomel, 2020) and with TOU-CAN’T! he shows his ability as a writer and storyteller as well, creating a warm and witty story of sibling rivalry through a simple read-aloud text that will be perfect for bedtime, storytime or anytime at all. No doubt about it, Brandon Todd tou-CAN! (Please note, this project is represented by John Rudolph.)


While pigs have always had a home in children’s books, these days real-life porcine social media stars such as Esther the Wonder Pig and Pickles are grabbing the spotlight and starring in books, too. PIGS WITH JOBS features some of these super-smart pigs who keep their bodies and brains busy with work so they stay out of mischief…most of the time! Readers will love meeting Snort the truffle hunter, Bacon Bits the exercise coach and Kama the surfer, to name just a few of the pigs who volunteer in hospitals, perform in music videos and more. Fresh off The Duchess and Guy: a Rescue-to-Royalty Puppy Love Story, author and animal expert Nancy Furstinger has created another winning look at how animals shape our lives in a variety of unexpected ways. Featuring a fun read-aloud main text for even the youngest readers, PIGS WITH JOBS is packed with informative backmatter and pig facts that are sure to enlighten readers of all ages. These charming true stories will open kids’ eyes, and hearts, to pigs—the world’s 4th brainiest animal! (Please note, this project is represented by John Rudolph.)