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


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

A girl, her squirrel, and the power of comics: Flora & Ulysses: The Illuminated Adventures by Kate DiCamillo


You know you're in for it when a book opens with graphic novel-style section about a gift vacuum cleaner run amok that pulls its owner out of the house and across the backyard. It gets better – we very soon meet the hero of the novel, Flora Belle Buckman, quietly reading comics in her room, steadfastly avoiding her summertime contract with her mother to "turn her face away from the idiotic high jinks of comics and toward the bright light of true literature."


But Flora's true devotion is to comics, and in particular, The Illuminated Adventures of the Amazing Incandesto. The stories and lessons imparted by the Amazing Incandesto will come in handy repeatedly throughout Flora's own adventure.

Out her bedroom window, Flora sees her hapless neighbor pulled behind the inexorable might of the Ulysses Super-suction Multi-terrain 2000X, and witnesses the vacuum cleaner and the neighbor heading directly for a squirrel.

"This malfeasance must be stopped," said Flora in a deep and superheroic voice.

"This malfeasance must be stopped" was what the unassuming janitor Alfred T. Slipper always said before he was transformed into the amazing Incandesto and became a towering crime-fighting pillar of light.

Unfortunately, Alfred T. Slipper wasn't present.

Where was Incandesto when you needed him?

Not that Flora really believed in superheroes. But still.

She stood at the window and watched as the squirrel was vacuumed up.

Poof. Fwump.

"Holy bagumba," said Flora.


Before long, Flora has extracted the squirrel from the vacuum cleaner and saved his life using CPR. ("If she were forced to describe it, she would say that it tasted exactly like squirrel: fuzzy, damp, slightly nutty.")

Flora and the squirrel she names Ulysses are soon off on a series of adventures – the kind of adventures that Flora had only read about in her Amazing Incandesto comics. Flora will meet a boy – William Spiver – a well-read but particularly unhelpful boy, but a boy nonetheless. Ulysses will discover that he has become slightly superpowered. And that he has a talent for poetry. Flora's mother will learn that she has very little tolerance for squirrels in the house. Flora's father will discover that he is needed after all.

And readers will discover that Kate DiCamillo has not lost her unerring sense of direction: she guides us expertly through a whirlwind of batty characters, hilarious dialogue and thrilling, not to say incandescent, adventures. K.G. Campbell (Lester's Dreadful Sweaters) provides both spot-illustration throughout the book, but some chapters are done in complete graphic novel format – adding to the breakneck pace and visual flair of the story. 

Flora & Ulysses comes out September 24, 2013. Booksellers, I don't have to tell you this, but it's worth dropping everything else and spending an hour or two with Flora and Ulysses and the world Kate DiCamillo and K.G. Campbell have created for us.

Flora & Ulysses: The Illuminated Adventures
by Kate DiCamillo
illustrated by K.G. Campbell
Candlewick Press | 9780763660406 | $17.99 | September 2013

More, elsewhere:
Kate DiCamillo: web | facebook (Kate uses her FB page like an extension of her writing in print - she tells stories, she shares pictures. How can you help but LIKE an author like her?)
K.G. Campbell: web | facebooktwitter
Candlewick Press: web | facebook | twitter

Stoker & Holmes, Together At Last? The Clockwork Scarab by Colleen Gleason


No one knew that we needed this – an alternate history / steampunk / time travel / Victorian London YA novel starring the half-sister of Bram Stoker and the niece of Sherlock Holmes – no one except Colleen Gleason.

But once you've read The Clockwork Scarab (book one of what I hope is a long & prosperous series starring Evaline Stoker and Mina Holmes), you'll wonder where it has been all this time.

Although this was my first journey into the worlds of Colleen Gleason's mind, I discovered that The Clockwork Scarab fits neatly into a larger universe that she's been creating since her first published novel, The Rest Falls Away – Book One of The Gardella Vampire Chronicles. She nods gracefully to her previous work in passing and then sets to work building this new department of her creation – no prior knowledge is necessary.

Gleason's inventive take on Steampunk Victoriana is bristly with machinery and all the famous buildings we know in our timeline are there, just surrounded by heavily built-up superstructure. You can feel the steam, smell the oil, hear the clanks.

Mina Holmes is impetuous and not quite as fully-formed as her famous uncle is in his tales. Evaline Stoker has recently come into a strange inheritance as actual vampire hunter (see the Gardella Vampire Chronicles for more), and she's still trying to figure out what her new powers might mean. Both young ladies have a lot to learn, especially about working together.

There's quite a bit of world-building and character-developing in this first volume, and a rather startlingly sudden ending. I'm left wanting Book Two quite poignantly. I must know what happens next! 

Oh, did I not mention the time travel element? I suppose you'll just have to read the book to find out what mysterious stranger drops into their midst to complicate their lives and their investigations...

The Clockwork Scarab is due out in September 2013, but booksellers can seek out their Chronicle sales rep for an ARC, or click through to the Edelweiss page for the book to download an egalley.

The Clockwork Scarab: A Stoker & Holmes Novel
by Colleen Gleason
Chronicle Books | 9781452110707 | $17.99 | October 2013

More, Elsewhere:
Colleen Gleason: web | twitter | facebook
Chronicle Books: web | twitter | facebook | tumblr