guest post: sales rep Teresa Rolfe Kravtin picks 3 from Candlewick Press

Is it simplest to just say that Teresa Rolfe Kravtin is a kindred spirit? She's a fellow independent sales rep - Southern Territory Associates, the rep group of which she is a member, covers the South. We are both interested in the social networking aspects of publishing - you can find her here on Twitter. And most fun for me is that we frequently agree about our favorite books from the publishers that we both represent.

We seem to spend a lot of time talking about Candlewick Press's books, probably because their list is such a goldmine of discovery. One of the very first posts that I put up on my3books was about my picks from Candlewick's fall list, and what I found most interesting is that Teresa's picks and mine only overlap by one book.

The Princess' Blankets
by Carol Ann Duffy; illustrated by Catherine Hyde
Candlewick Press | 9780763645472 | $18.99 | Nov 2009

There are many interesting aspects to this lovely picture book from the Templar imprint of Candlewick Press, which is why I love talking about this book to my booksellers. A few words about Templar. Templar is a UK publisher that is most known for their highly successful ‘Ology series publishing with Candlewick in the US. Candlewick has formalized this co-publishing arrangement and this fall season has the second selection of general picture books from Templar that are either highly interactive or creatively imaginative.

The Princess’ Blankets is an over-sized, gorgeously illustrated fairy tale. Carol Ann Duffy, the new poet laureate of Britain, and described by The Guardian as “the most popular living poet in Britain” weaves a traditional fairy with contemporary elements. With paintings by first-time picture book illustrator Catherine Hyde, the illustrations are laced with reflective elements on certain spreads, uses of color and texture that fill each page with elements of the natural world that bring this tale to life. A king’s daughter is stricken with cold, so severe that the king issues an edict. Anyone who can heal the princess of her coldness will receive up to half of his kingdom. Many try and fail, and in the process a subtle warning about robbing the earth of its natural resources is in embedded in the story.

Most meaningful to me is that a musician saves the princess. Being a musician for a great portion of my life, with a Music Degree to boot, I am and will always be a flute player deep inside. Music is an innate aspect to all of my life, and to my delight and surprise it is a flute player who saves the princess in this fairy tale! When has THAT ever happened?

“The musician had a kind and good heart, and he made up his mind to go to the palace himself to see if he could help." He plays his flute and the princess begins to warm and stir. The flute player tenderly reaches out to the princess and relieves her of her terrible affliction. I LOVE this! A story I can get behind!! I must say that, oftentimes, fairy tales do not have the magical quality necessary to suspend disbelief and capture the reader’s imagination successfully. The Princess’s Blankets is a wonderful exception and I urge you to treat yourself to an exceptional reading experience.

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Fairie-ality Style: A Sourcebook of Inspirations from Nature
by David Ellwand
Candlewick Press | 9780763620950 | $19.99 | Nov 2009

A follow-up to Fairie-ality: The Fashion Collection from the House of Ellwand, comes Fairie-Ality Style: A Sourcebook of Inspirations from Nature from photographer David Ellwand. This is a fantasy style sourcebook of natural designs that takes my breath away. Big beautiful photographs of dandelions, frogs, fairie chairs, birds nests, insects and flowers, that show the intricate colors and palettes of colors that occur in nature.

It is a fantasy sourcebook for sure, because is any of the practical? Is it meant to be? Matters not one whit to me - it is an immersion in the beauty and magic of the natural world, with a dose of fairie dust to boot. The back cover of the sales blad says it all, “this is an eco-designer’s dream—the ultimate exploration of truly organic materials”.

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Eli the Good
by Silas House
Candlewick Press | 9780763643416 | $16.99 | Sept 2009

Eli the Good is a young adult novel from Kentucky author Silas House whose previous adult novels have been published by Algonquin Books. (Follow the link to download a PDF of a letter from Silas.) A favorite among many of my booksellers, this book was my introduction to Silas House’s writing. The novel is set during the bicentennial summer of 1976, the year I happened to graduate from high school. I loved the references to the time interspersed though out the story, which he uses to set the stage of a family breaking apart and coming back together during this pivotal moment in their lives.

Ten-year-old Eli is trying to make sense of all of the members of his family, but most notably, his father, who is struggling with episodes of post-traumatic stress disorder from his time in Vietnam. Did we even call it post-traumatic stress disorder then?

The writing is lyrical, real, tender and particularly enchanting. Never before have I found someone to detail the sensibilities of a child in a family that so closely reminded me of many scenes from my own childhood. I kept having flashbacks to times in my past where I tried to grapple with myself and my family in the quiet moments of life. Whether it was from the momentous summer of 1976, when of course I wasn’t ten, or the times I allowed myself to remember sitting under the huge trees of the childhood of my younger years, starring up into the branches and thinking about my family and the world we lived in and how I fit in it.

In Eli the Good, themes of nature and war, family and love, loneliness and longing, fill the pages with a quiet wonder. Treat yourself to this book. It will appeal to adults as well as to younger readers. In other words, to anybody and everybody

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More Candlewick Press links:

» Want a downloadable PDF of the Fall 2009 Candlewick Press catalog? You got it.
» Want to be blown away by the sheer wonder of Candlewick’s backlist? The catalog elves at Candlewick put together their first epic, comprehensive backlist catalog in years.