You might have heard that the children’s literature and Young Adult publishing markets are huge right now. At any rate, there certainly seems to be a lot of buzz surrounding both genres. Not to sound pretentious, but it’s important to get a sense of which books are actually decent and deserve to be read, as opposed to the many that don’t.
Which is why I always look to Groundwood Books, an imprint of House of Anansi, for quality children’s literature. The independent Canadian publisher is known for its award-winning titles, and is rivaled probably most closely by Candlewick Press. Last week their fall catalogue arrived at the library where I work, and I thought I would share a few of the titles that had me the most excited.
Winter Moon Song looks beautiful and endearing. The illustrator, Leticia Ruifernández, received a White Ravens award in 2012 from the International Youth Library, which explains why the drawings are so peaceful and gorgeous. Though I am not familiar with author Martha Brooks, I am encouraged by both the lyrical title as well as the sweet-sounding synopsis, which describes the book as a “lovely story about a little rabbit who finds a special way to brighten the darkest month of the year.”
The second book that caught my eye was Moví la mano, or I Moved My Hand, largely because it is bilingual. Despite the significant percentage of Spanish-speaking children in North America, there are still proportionally fewer titles available for them. Conversely, what better way for a child in an English-speaking household to learn about Spanish than through an engaging, colorful, and dream-like picture book? The illustrator, Mandana Sadat, lives near Paris, and has been published in Europe, Asia, and North and South America. Author Jorge Luján, meanwhile, is a lauded poet, architect, and musician residing in Mexico City who is well known for his collaborations with illustrator Isol.
The description, as published in the Groundwood catalogue:
When a little girl moves her hand, she changes the world, discovering her own power and creating everything anew. The poem, written by Argentine poet Jorge Luján, comes from a culture saturated with magic in which even the very young can make the world by reaching out and moving it.
The final book that caught my eye was a novel aimed toward slightly older readers ages 9 to 12. There are many well-meaning children’s books authors who want to write about WWII and The Holocaust—and as a result, have oversaturated the market—so I appreciated that author Deborah Ellis chose a contemporary setting instead.
Ellis is extremely well-known for her bestselling Breadwinner series, which, as far as I can tell, has a good reputation. The plot of The Cat at the Wall sounds a bit strange, but I suspect that featuring a cat as the narrator/main character is a good way of introducing children to the complexity and tragedy of the Israli-Palestinian conflict. A snapshot:
On Israel’s West Bank, a cat sneaks into a small Palestinian house that has just been commandeered by two Israeli soldiers. The house seems empty, until the cat realizes that a little boy is hiding beneath the floorboards. It turns out that this particular cat is not used to thinking about anyone but herself. She was once a regular North American girl.
So there’s a bit of reincarnation thrown in there, but if it works, then great. At any rate, the subject matter is not something you’ll find a great deal of in children’s/YA literature.
I hope you’ve enjoyed this sneak peek into the upcoming releases from Groundwood Press! And to be clear, I’m not being sponsored in any way by the company. I simply enjoy studying children’s literature, and the series I did on the Hans Christian Andersen-nominated illustrators was so well-received here on the blog, that I thought there might be a few of you who would appreciate being introduced to a fabulous children’s books publisher.
P.S. Housekeeping note: I’m heading down to San Antonio this week to see my sister graduate from high school. So if I’m a bit spotty on the posting/reading front, that’s why! Cheers.