Reading notes – Freud: An Illustrated Biography (Nobrow)

I continue my haphazard progress through lots of galleys, partial manuscripts, illustrated book samplers, and a digital mountain of PDFs for Fall 2013.


Today, I received a gorgeous early advance copy of a fall title: an illustrated biography of Freud coming from Nobrow Ltd. & Consortium Book Sales & Distribution. In just 60 pages, it brings forth the life and career of Sigmund Freud, some of his most famous cases, with many walk-on cameos from notable contemporaries.

It was a satisfying, fast read, generally suitable for high schoolers and up. Considering that this is Freud we're talking about, there are a few phantasmagorical panels with disembodied cartoony genitals floating around and a few with naked men or women (mostly mothers).

Hey, it's Freud, what did you expect?

And considering the times, there are also some dark sequences relating to the rise of Hitler and the Anschluss. (I never thought I'd get to use that word in this blog...)

I thought it was terrific - and well worthy of comparison to the other recent highwater mark of graphic biography, Feynman by Jim Ottaviani and Leland Myrick.

Click through to the book's page on Edelweiss to see some page spreads and read more about it.

Freud: An Illustrated Biography
by Corrine Maier
illustrated by Anne Simon
Nobrow / Consortium | 9781907704734 | $19.75 | October 2013


Chronicle Books' blog: "From the design desk: Ends"

Another inside peek at the way the brains of the Chronicle Books designers work: this time, it's a fairly glorious exploration of bookbinding details – all about endpapers. 

Another integral element of every hardcover which deserves some special attention are the endpapers. Also commonly known as end sheets, or endleaves, around here we usually just refer to them as “ends.”
These are first and last pages found in a hardbound book. Half of each endpaper is glued onto the inside of one of the covers and the other half joins that cover to the textblock. (The inside pages of a book all together are referred to as the text block or book block.) The part of the endpaper which is pasted to a cover is called the pastedown endpaper, and the unattached half is called the loose endpaper or flyleaf.


Delia Sherman's stunning 'The Freedom Maze'

I'm frequently playing catch-up with my reading habits – what book lover isn't? But once in a while, despite my best intentions, my honest desire to read ahead, my particular love for a publisher that I represent, I lose track of a book during the season in which I'm selling it and I never get to read a book all the way through, even though I really, really want to.

Delia Sherman's The Freedom Maze has been one of those books. Since it was first published back in 2011, I've been meaning to return to it and find out exactly why it got such great reviews, why it won the awards it won, and to me, find out what Delia Sherman can do in long form. I've only ever read Delia Sherman's short stories before. I'm a fan, but I've never read one of her novels.

After I learned that Small Beer Press, her publisher for the hardcover of The Freedom Maze, had recently sold the paperback rights to Candlewick Press for the Spring 2014 season, I saw that my chance was at hand. I could not only catch up on one of the books I'd long meant to read, but I could get ahead of the reading for NEXT season at the same time!

So, what's it all about? In May 1960, Sophie Martineau is being delivered by her mother from their home in New Orleans to spend the summer with her aunt and grandmother at Oak Cottage, the last remnants of her family's antebellum sugar cane plantation, Oak River. Sophie's mother is divorced, working all day, and starting night school to get her CPA, and needs to have her daughter out from underfoot for a few months so she can establish herself. Sophie is disappointed that she'll be away from her friends for the summer, and sad to learn that she won't be visiting her father in New York City. But mostly, she's nervous about spending the summer with her relations at Oak Cottage - with too many bugs, no air conditioning, and far from civilization and friends.

The entire opening chapters are framed by the troubled race relations of 1960. Sherman's frank language brings alive the generationally-changing attitudes of the times through the way that Sophie, her mother and aunt, and her grandmother each think about, discuss, and speak with "the help", at home and in society.

A big reader, Sophie whiles away some of the early days of her stay at Oak Cottage by delving into the big suitcase of her favorite books that she brought from home. The book that is referenced throughout The Freedom Maze is Edward Eager's The Time Garden. In The Time Garden, the four main characters are sent back in time on adventures by a magical creature they meet called the Natterjack. 

One day, when Sophie ventures closer to the ruins of the Oak River Big House, she explores an overgrown garden maze and discovers what appears to be a magical creature. Under the influence of Edward Eager, naively imagining that her time traveling adventures would be just as simple and clearcut and safe, she wishes herself away. But her magical creature is not a civilized and honorable tour guide of the past - he's drawn from darker stuff.

"... I wish I was dead!"

"Don't you be saying things in front of me, child." The Creature sounded alarmed. "Not less'n you means it."

"Well, then, I wish I wasn't me."

"Who you want to be?"

Sophie held out
The Time Garden. "I want to be like Ann and Roger and Eliza. I want to travel through time and have grand adventures and brothers and sisters and have everybody love me."

The room was very still. "That a wish?" the Creature asked solemnly.

Sophie was in no mood to be cautious. "Yes," she said. "It's a wish."

"Well, now," the Creature said. "Love is something you gots to earn for youself. I might could see about giving you some family, though. And adventures just come along natural with going back in time."

Sophie stood up, leaving The Time Garden on the window seat. "Okay, I'm ready. Is there anything I need to do?"

"You done it," said the Creature. "We's here."

Where is Sophie now? No surprise to anyone who's been paying attention to her tentative exploration of the history and grounds of Oak River. The Creature has taken her back 100 years to 1860, to the final pre-Civil War year of Oak River's existence as a slave-holding, fully-operating plantation. Thanks to her mussed-up appearance and her not-at-all-coincidentally darker skin from her running wild in the grounds back in 1960, she is mistakenly assumed to be a slave.

And so her time travel adventure will not be a romp but a real education in what slave life was like. And this is where the real magic of Delia Sherman's novel takes off. 

Freedom Maze
by Delia Sherman
Big Mouth House/Consortium | 9781931520300 | $16.95 | Nov 2011 (and already OP)

Watch for the paperback coming in early 2014 from Candlewick Press!

It got some great reviews and blurbs (see a comprehensive roundup here)!

“Sherman has created a finely honed work of art, a novel that deals eloquently with complex and intersecting issues of race, womanhood, class and age. In transporting the reader so fully into another time, The Freedom Maze becomes timeless. This is true magic.”
—Alaya Dawn Johnson, author of Moonshine

“A seamless blending of wondrous American myth with harsh American reality, as befits young Sophie’s coming-of-age. I think younger readers and adults alike will be completely riveted by her magical journey into her own family’s double-edged past.”
—N. K. Jemisin, author of The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms

“This is an absolutely fascinating story. The Freedom Maze draws you into a world of danger and mystery, of daring and change, at the dawning of the Civil War. Sophie’s adventures in the history of her family’s Louisiana plantation feel real, and lead her to a real understanding of racial truths she would never have caught a glimpse of without magic. Beautifully imagined and told with satisfyingly matter-of-fact detail: pot liquor and spoon bread, whips and Spanish Moss, corset covers and vévés and bitter, healing herbs.  The Freedom Maze is deep, meaningful fun.”
—Nisi Shawl, author of Filter House

“Sherman’s antebellum story exposes a wide sweep through a narrow aperture, where the arbitrary nature of race and ownership, kindred and love, are illuminated in the harsh seeking glare of an adolescent’s coming of age.”
Cory Doctorow, Boing Boing

“A bold and sensitively-written novel about a supposed-white child, Sophie Fairchild returned magically to a time of her ancestors who were slavemaster and slaves in the old South. This book puts the lie to those today making loose political statements about happy, comfortable slave families of that brutal era while telling a strong story that will not let the young reader stop turning pages to see how things will work out for Sophie and her fellow slaves, especially the cook Africa, and house slaves Antigua and Canada. I was mesmerized.”
—Jane Yolen, author of The Devil’s Arithmetic

“A subtle and haunting book that examines what it means to be who we are.”
—Holly Black, co-author of The Spiderwick Chronicles

The Freedom Maze won a few awards!

More, elsewhere:

Delia Sherman: twitter | web

Read an illuminating interview about The Freedom Maze with Delia Sherman at SF Signal.

And she wrote a guest post at the Diversity in YA Fiction blog.

And finally, you can read an extended preview of the book here – via Scribd – about half the novel.

Expressive characters: some of my favorite images (so far) from the Candlewick Press fall catalog

It's one of my favorite times of the year – I'm in the middle of reading through all the new picture books that I'll be selling for the upcoming season. My publishers have two seasons each year, so this is a "favorite time" I get to experience twice a year!  

While I was reading through the Candlewick "F&Gs" (a publishing-insider term that used to just mean "folded & gathered sets of proof pages" but now more frequently stands for staple-bound color prints) today, I was struck by the abundance of charming characters I kept coming across. I started taking pictures of the pages that I liked best to share with you here in this gallery.

There's nothing methodical or high tech about this. The colors are a bit off, thanks to today's cloudy weather. I snapped pictures and cropped them to capture some of the personality that charmed me.

And I'm not even done with Candlewick! I read about 40 picture books today – the box holding the rest still looks half-full from here.

So here's a sneak peek at some of the liveliest characters I found today:

Dinosaur Kisses
by David Ezra Stein
Candlewick Press | 9780763661045 | $15.99 | Aug 2013

From the illustrator who brought us Interrupting Chicken (a 2011 Caldecott Honor book!) comes a tale of a newly-hatched dinosaur, Dinah, who really wants to learn how to share her love. She's not very good at it at first – figuring out how to safely kiss the people you love when you are a dinosaur takes some practice!

Peck, Peck, Peck
by Lucy Cousins
Candlewick Press | 9780763666217 | $15.99 | Aug 2013

The creator of the beloved Maisy tells a new story, about a young woodpecker, learning to peck. And that little woodpecker goes to TOWN. The novel feature of this book are the 108 die-cut holes throughout the pages, showing where the little bird has been.

Ike's Incredible Ink
by Brianne Farley
Candlewick Press | 9780763662967 | $16.99 | Aug 2013

Ike is a hero who stands in for everyone who has ever gotten out a blank sheet of paper and sat down to write a story – the feeling of not quite being ready to tell the story. Something's missing! After locating his favorite pen, chatting with his best friend, and tidying up, he realized that maybe what he needs is some special ink!  Ike's quest to find the perfect ingredients for an ink worthy of the story he wants to write becomes an epic journey ... a journey worthy of a story?

by Andy Pritchett
Candlewick Press | 9780763666163 | $15.99 | Aug 2013

This picture captures the sweet style of the book, but I took grabbed part of the greyest page in the book. The rest is SO bright, the colors pop off the page. But I loved the thundercloud thought bubble because it paired nicely with the grouchy thought bubble of Ike in the previous book. This is the story of a little dog and his stick, trying to find someone, anyone who'll play catch or fetch with him!

Maude the Not-So-Noticeable Shrimpton
by Lauren Child
illustrated by Trisha Krauss
Candlewick Press | 9780763665159 | $16.99 | Aug 2013

Written by Lauren Child (Charlie & Lola! Clarice Bean! Ruby Redfort!) and illustrated by Trisha Krauss, this darkly humorous picture book for slightly older readers will also strike a chord with their Wes Anderson and Edward Gorey loving parents. Maude is the middle-of-five-children of the outrageously noticeable Shrimpton clan. All of the other Shrimptons have talents and habits that make them stand out in a crowd, but not Maude. She positively disappears into the background. Her family is always trying to get Maude to change her ways, but on the day when her family's habits and possessions catch up with them in a way that would not be out of place in a Jon Klassen story (if you know what I mean, hint hint), Maude's quiet ways might be best after all.

When Charley Met Grampa
by Amy Hest
illustrated by Helen Oxenbury
Candlewick Press | 9780763653149 | $15.99 | Sept 2013

Sequel to last fall's Charley's First Night, this incredibly sweet story continues the tale of young Henry learning the ropes of pet ownership. This time, Henry invites his grampa to come visit, especially so he can meet Henry's new dog Charley. But Grampa has never been a dog person before. Henry and Grampa and Charley all seem to be a bit nervous about the meeting. In the hands of Amy Hest and Helen Oxenbury, though, no one should worry. A happy ending is assured.

by Aaron Becker
Candlewick Press | 9780763660536 | $15.99 | Aug 2013

Debut writer/illustrator Aaron Becker has worked on animated films at Lucasfilm, Disney, and Pixar – and his sense of adventure, his clarity of story, and his expressive lines really show that history in Journey. In this magical, wordless picture book, we travel along as a lonely girl with a red crayon learns that her imagination can take her places she had never guessed possible. With her red crayon, she draws herself into a magical world, into adventure, into trouble and out again, and right back to her more mundane world again. The starred review in PW says "his wordless picture book debut reads like a cinematic tribute to Harold and the Purple Crayon." Anyone who has spent time with Crockett Johnson's small hero and his purple crayon will feel an instant kinship with the heroine of Journey ... and a sense of triumphant payoff at the very end.

Mitchell Goes Bowling
by Hallie Durand
illustrated by Tony Fucile
Candlewick Press | 9780763660499 | $15.99 | Sept 2013

In 2011, Candlewick published the first collaboration between Hallie Durand and Tony Fucile, the first story of Mitchell and his incredibly patient parents. It was called Mitchell's License when it was published in hardcover – and now that we have the second book about Mitchell, called Mitchell Goes Bowling, the paperback of Mitchell's License will be coming out with a new title: Mitchell Goes Driving. Both books tell the story of his parents working around and with Mitchell's HIGH ENERGY lifestyle! Tony Fucile's illustrations pop with life.

How to Train a Train
by Jason Carter Eaton
illustrated by John Rocco
Candlewick Press | 9780763663070 | $16.99 | Sept 2013

Presented as a pet training manual for those who would like to have a full-grown train as their pet, this book is full of helpful advice on where to go to find the trains in the wild, how to win over the nervous beasts and gain their trust, how to treat them properly in the home, and what you might be able to do with your trained train. I detect a hint of William Joyce's Art Deco influence (A Day With Wilbur Robinson era) and that's not a bad thing.

Captain Cat
by Inga Moore
Candlewick Press | 9780763661519 | $15.99 | Oct 2013

One of my regular treats is getting to sell the charming and beautifully illustrated tales of Inga Moore. And this fall, readers of picture books who live for books with lots of cats in them will find a new hero in Captain Cat – the tale of a clever sailing captain who loved his cats more than the cargo he carried from port to port and how he won his ultimate reward.

The Nowhere Box
by Sam Zuppardi
Candlewick Press | 9780763663674 | $15.99 | Nov 2013

George is your typical young boy with two younger brothers who LOVE him and LOVE to play with him. Sometimes he's had enough and has to get away from his pesky younger siblings to have some alone time. Sometimes he just has to go NOWHERE – and the big box from the new washing machine will do nicely. A little renovation, a little imagination, and ZOOM!, he's off on his own for a set of adventures NOWHERE.

Welcome to Mamoko
by Aleksandra Mizielinska & Daniel Mizielinski
Big Picture Press / Candlewick Press | 9780763668914 | $17.99 | Sept 2013

One of two new books this fall from Aleksandra Mizielinska & Daniel Mizielinski, Welcome to Mamoko is a modern mashup of Richard Scarry's Busytown books and Where's Waldo. On the opening pages, you'll meet a number of characters – Lionel Mane, Magical Miss Chubb, David Hop and the Hop Family, Ada Chirp, Cosmo Lens, Otto Trump and many more – who are all on their way through town on a series of errands. Even though the book is wordless, every character's journey carries along through every page, and their adventures will make for hours of repeated page flips and invented storylines. (In the three pictures above from Welcome to Mamoko, I've focused in on Cosmo Lens, to show some of his adventure.)

Candlewick Press' Fall 2013 catalog on Edelweiss.

Matt Phelan's Bluffton – summers in Michigan, vaudeville troupers, and Buster Keaton

Bluffton is Matt Phelan's third standalone solo work for Candlewick Press. His first two books were The Storm In The Barn (an "atmospheric" tale set in the Dust Bowl that won the Scott O'Dell Award for Historical Fiction) and Around The World (which was nominated for two Eisner Awards). He has also illustrated picture books and provided cover and interior art for novels, including the Newbery Medal-winning The Higher Power of Lucky.

I've been a fan of his solo books since day one – I wrote about both The Storm In The Barn and Around The World here on my3books as they were being published. In fact, my writeup on The Storm In The Barn (and two more books) was the first book-reviewing post I made here.

As powerful as The Storm In The Barn was, and as sweeping an adventure as Around The World was, I think that Bluffton might just be my favorite of Phelan's books. Beginning in the summer of 1908, in sleepy Muskegon, Michigan, Henry Harrison is stunned and thrilled to learn that a troupe of vaudeville performers will be vacationing in nearby Bluffton – for the entire summer! A young lad who is clearly not cut out to take over his father's shop, Henry dreams of befriending the vaudevillians and learning their secrets. He is even more enchanted when he meets young Buster Keaton – a boy who is fast becoming the most celebrated vaudeville performer, known around the country for his incredible slapstick act.

Henry's dream comes true – he soon befriends Buster, but it's not all he imagined it might be. While Henry wants to escape the sleepy humdrum of Muskegon and learn all that Buster can teach him about show biz, Buster just wants to spend his summers being a normal boy – playing pranks, swimming, and mounting sandlot baseball games with all the local kids.

The magic of Henry's growing awareness of the outside world, more grown-up worries and feelings, combines with the historical detail of Buster's increasing fame and talents to make a vivid journey back in time. I don't think Matt Phelan's drawings have ever been more expressive.

If you're attending BEA 2013 in New York next week, you can bid on Matt's portrait of Buster Keaton from the book in the annual ABC/ABFFE Silent Auction. More details here on Matt's blog.

Bluffton: My Summers with Buster
by Matt Phelan
Candlewick Press | 9780763650797 | $22.99 | July 2013

More, elsewhere:
Matt Phelan: web | twitter | blog
Candlewick Press: web | twitter | facebook