A Behind-The-Scenes Look at the BEA Editors’ Buzz Panel

Last month, Carolrhoda Books editor Amy Fitzgerald, wrote a teaser post about her upcoming trip to Book Expo America (BEA). If you haven’t yet read it, her to-do list at the end is worth a spare moment of your time.

In addition to consuming an absurd amount of leafy greens prior to her departure, Amy also mentioned practicing her Editors’ Buzz Panel speech about Auma’s Long Run, a debut novel by Eucabeth Odhiambo. 

For those of you who may not know, the Middle Grade Book Editors’ Buzz Panel is a highly selective program highlighting five of the most highly anticipated middle grade books for 2017. Both the editor and the author are invited to speak about the process of writing and editing the book.

Both Amy and Eucabeth knocked it out of the park and I’ve got the iPhone footage to prove it.

Amy gets to the heart of what Auma’s Long Run is all about:

“As Americans we’re so used to stories that carry a ‘follow your dreams’ message. It’s not that simple for Auma; it isn’t that simple for many children in the US. Instead Auma’s path forward is to hang on to her dreams even when she has to put them on hold; to hang on to her dignity even when she has to make difficult compromises; to hang on to her faith in herself and in others even in the midst of this darkness nobody knows how to banish.”

Eucabeth shares why she chose to write for a middle grade audience:

“Auma asks a lot about culture and questions, ‘Why do I have to do that?’ . . . and I had the same questions. It came naturally that I was going back into myself.”

Auma’s Long Run pubs September 1, but you can enter our Goodreads contest now for a chance to win an advance reader’s copy. Digital review copies are also available for request on both NetGalley and Edelweiss

And hey, if you read it and love it as much as we do, please consider nominating it for the Indie Next program and/or rating it on Goodreads. We’d love to know what you thought about it! 

2 Dystopian Nonfiction Books YA Students Need this Fall

By Domenica Di Piazza, Editorial Director of Twenty-First Century Books

I love when my fiction and nonfiction reading converge thematically, and it just happened again for me this week, when I finished Ben Winters’s astonishing 2016 novel Underground Airlines. 

In all honesty, I almost put it down three times. I was already familiar with his Raymond Chandler-esque voice from The Last Policeman (fun, but gets old), and I struggled a little with the proselytizing about race in particular.

(IMO, the protagonist would be smarter about these things, even though I get that the noir hero wants to be duped or at least has a blind side.) However, I plugged away, practicing patience, and boy oh boy was I rewarded. The end is quite a surprise, and one you don’t see coming.

I won’t give it away, but let’s just say that, as a novel about deep racial injustice set within a technologically advanced dystopian America, it is a perfect pairing for nonfiction works that tackle racial profiling and our very real fears of losing our humanity, both literally and figuratively.

Stephanie Sammartino McPherson Artificial Intelligence Book

Alison Marie Behnke's Racial Profiling Book

If your YA students are interested in alternative-history fiction books–and especially if they’re looking for something to read after finishing Winter’s Underground Airlines–you’ll want to hand them a copy of Alison Marie Behnke’s Racial Profiling and Stephanie Sammartino McPherson’s Artificial Intelligence. Both pub this fall with Twenty-First Century Books and both touch on similar themes.

After reading, here are some discussion questions you could ask your students:

1. Can they make the thematic connections between the fiction and the nonfiction titles?
2. Ask them about Winters’s vision. Is he onto something or not?
3. Can they expand the reading list to include other fiction and nonfiction titles–and movies–about similar topics?
4. And is this future (or present) fearful or promising?

These are the questions I see us all struggling with in the twenty-first century. Fortunately, fiction and nonfiction books are here to help us.

Celebrate June Holidays with Books

By Sara Hoffmann, School & Library Series Managing Editor

Happy June, everyone! There’s a lot to celebrate this month. In addition to marking the first full month of summer break for most kids, did you know June also brings many holidays and special days? And with summer stretching out before us, it’s a great time to celebrate those days with awesome books. Here’s what’s on tap for June, and what you can read to mark each day:

June 2: If you live north of the Panama Canal, it’s Yell Fudge at the Cobras in North America Day. This is the day to yell fudge at noon at the top of your lungs. It’s said to scare cobra snakes away. Plus, yelling fudge just sounds kind of fun. Or, if you’d rather not terrify everyone within a fifty-foot radius (in addition to scaring off snakes), you can just read about cobras and other venomous animals in this book:

June 7: It’s National Chocolate Ice Cream Day! Celebrate by reading this book (shameless plug—it’s by yours truly), which includes a recipe for homemade ice cream:

You can also learn how milk turns into ice cream here:

June 8: This is Best Friends’ Day! If you ask me, few things in life are more celebration-worthy than friendship. Read up on how to be good to your bestie here:

June 14: Today is Flag Day—and gosh, I really love seeing those stars and stripes everywhere. It’s so summery and festive. Read about why we celebrate in this book:

June 18: Time to celebrate those dads and guys who make a difference! It’s Father’s Day. Meet some great dads and other important family members as Makayla visits friends and gets to know their families here. Some families have lots of kids, and others have none. Some families are headed up by grandparents, and others have two dads or have parents who are divorced. Learn about them all while Makayla makes her rounds:

June 19: It’s Juneteenth, a time to celebrate the end of slavery. On June 19, 1865, a message arrived to slaves in Texas as they labored in the fields and homes of the white people who owned them: Slavery was abolished! They were finally free. The Civil War had ended in April, but it took two months for word to reach Texas. Every year, people throughout the United States set aside June 19 to remember and honor freedom for all people. Learn more in this book:

Also check out this selection.

June 21: It’s the first day of summer! Make some s’mores and give this title a read:

June 25: Today marks Eid al-Fitr, the last day of Ramadan, when the ninth month in the Muslim calendar ends. This breaks the Ramadan fast, a time period when Muslims don’t eat or drink until after sunset. On Eid, people eat big meals in celebration. They also have festivals, and some give gifts. Learn more about Eid—as well as Ramadan—here:

Have fun celebrating June with books—and let me know what special days you’re most looking forward to this summer! The comments section is wide open, and I’m all ears!

Meet a Lerner: Lam Lai, New Marketing Intern

Meet marketing intern Lam Lai!

What brings you to Lerner?

I graduated from Macalester College last year, majoring in Creative Writing and Chinese. A professor told me about Lerner and encouraged me to go for it – and now I’m here! It turns out that another professor of mine from Macalester used to be an intern here back in the day, so we have that legacy going on.

I’m headed to New York in the fall for my MFA in Creative Writing. Afterward I want to work in academia, or a place like Lerner.

Describe a day in the life of a marketing intern.
After clocking in, I check my emails and respond to them. Then I become unsure whether or not I have really clocked in, so I go back to double check on that. Then the real work begins.
The tasks vary from day to day. Doing comp requests and mailing out books are extremely popular tasks. If it is catalog season, I will do a lot of proofreading and indexing as well. Making promo newsletters and writing copies for books are my favorite tasks, however. I love watching ads, and getting to “sell” the books in 35 words or less makes me feel alive.
When I have some spare time, I retrieve some of the books I have seen coming up in the catalogs and read them. Afterward I put them right back where they were.

What are you reading now?
I have been reading Walt Whitman’s Leaves of Grass from Lerner’s First Avenue Classics collection, and 13 Reasons Why, which Jill, our marketing director, gave me.
What’s your best source for finding new book recommendations?
My friends will tell me when they are reading a great book. I keep an eye on literary events that happen in the Twin Cities as well, and take note of the books I see mentioned.

Name your top five books!
King Lear. Wuthering Heights. The Great Gatsby. The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. To Kill a Mockingbird.

Name some of your icons. Who do you admire, living or dead, and why?
William Shakespeare and Albert Einstein. And whoever invented the lightbulbs.
What is your ideal vacation?
The Nintendo Store, New York City.
Thanks, Lam!