Fall Favorites Preview: Three illustrated readers from Candlewick

I've been doing a lot of advance reading for the Fall 2011 season this spring, and especially in the Candlewick list. My colleague at Abraham Associates, Steve Horwitz, and I were the reps who got tapped to choose the Fall CHIRP titles for Candlewick, so we got a very sneak peek at the Candlewick catalog proofs and early pages from many of their top picture books and readers. It's safe to say that I am very prepared to start selling their list this summer!

Here are three of my favorite illustrated readers from the Candlewick list: two amazing novels and one graphic novel based on the stories of three adventurous travelers who circumnavigated the globe.


A Monster Calls
by Patrick Ness, inspired by an idea from Siobhan Dowd
illustrated by Jim Kay
Candlewick Press | 9780763655594 | $16.99 | Sept 2011

Patrick Ness – only one of my favorite Candlewick authors, thanks to his epic Chaos Walking trilogy – has worked a magical new novel out of the final idea of the late great Siobhan Dowd, author of A Swift Pure Cry and The London Eye Mystery.

Borrowing freely from the Green Man myths and the typical teen issue novel topics of illness, divorce, school bullying and loss, Ness built upon the framework that Dowd started before her death. The two authors have created a novel that shares the hallmarks of both their best works: the story goes in directions that are simply not anticipated, and the tidal pull of emotion that hits the reader by the end is out of all proportion to what should be possible.

The starkly spooky illustrations by Jim Kay add to the punch the novel carries. This is one for the ages.


Around the World
by Matt Phelan
Candlewick Press | 9780763636197 | $24.99 | Oct 2011

Illustrator and graphic novelist Matt Phelan has created a charming and fascinating look at three historical figures who will likely be completely new to young readers. More experienced students of history will probably know one of the three: the famous early female reporter Nellie Bly. Other readers who come to the book with an expertise in sailing or cycling might know one of the other two: early wheelman (or bicyclist) Thomas Stevens or sailing captain Joshua Slocum.

The rest of us are treated to a beautifully illustrated graphic history of three completely original characters from history – three people who, each for their own reasons, made a heroic and seemingly impossible journey around the globe. Inspired by the famous Jules Verne novel, Around The World in Eighty Days, our story begins...

* Thomas Stevens, former miner and early bicycling enthusiast, sets out to cycle around the world in 1884 ... on a standard bicycle with a 50-inch front wheel!

* Nellie Bly, girl reporter, wagers her editors at the New York World in 1889 that she can beat Jules Verne's character Phileas Fogg, and make it around the world in 74 days!

* Joshua Slocum, fearing that his prospects as a sea captain are limited in the onrushing Steam Age, buys a small sailboat in 1892, spends three years refitting it and embarks on what turns out to be a three year long solo cruise around the globe.


The Flint Heart
by Katherine Paterson & John Paterson
illustrated by John Rocco
Candlewick Press | 9780763647124 | $19.99 | Sept 2011

I feel somewhat embarassed even having to tell you about this book - the pedigree, the amazing creators, the incredible package, the early buzz, the movie rights – it all conspires to make up what must be a sure thing on the Candlewick list. But here goes...

* Based on a novel by Eden Phillpotts from 1910, The Flint Heart tells a tale of an ancient Stone Age charm that grants the wearer amazing feats of power and persuasion and also curses the wearer with a flinty heart, taking away all compassion. The tale of the charm moves from its early prehistoric beginnings to a modern setting in the English countryside where a family of young children set out to save their family from their father's posession of the Flint Heart charm (with the help of a whole community of fairies, other enchanted creatures and talking animals). 

* The retelling is by our National Ambassador for Young People's Literature, Katherine Paterson (Bridge to Terabithia) and her husband, John Paterson Sr. (together, they are the authors of Consider The Lilies and Blueberries for the Queen).

* The book is illustrated by John Rocco, who previously collaborated with Whoopi Goldberg on her picture book, Alice, and might be best known for his covers for the Percy Jackson series.

* PW has already chosen it as one of the Big Children's Books of BEA for 2011.

* Movie rights have been sold to Bedrock Studios. The film will be directed by David Paterson, the Paterson's son who wrote the screenplay for the 2007 adaptation of Bridge to Terabithia.