Thursday, January 17, 2008

Librarian/reviewer preview: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers

There's nothing like a librarian/reviewer preview, let me tell you. Thank you very much to Michelle Fadlalla (a friend of BCCLS!) and everyone at S&S BYR for a very enjoyable morning and previews of some fabulous-looking titles. The highlights:

  • The seventeeth floor of the Simon & Schuster building is a...the best way I can describe it is librarian fairyland. It's white with dark bookcases and accents and is sort of a cross between a S&S museum and Daddy Warbucks's house in the movie Annie. Pictures of their famous authors hang on the walls. The main hallway echoes. And the room where the presentation was held had bookcases built into the walls. I want to live there when I grow up.

  • The guest of honor was John Scieszka, who I've never met in person. The Stinky Cheese Man and Other Fairly Stupid Tales is an all-time favorite of mine, so it was squee-inducing to hear him speak. He introduced the audience to his upcoming picture-book series, Trucktown and...SMASH! CRASH! One of the best things about the series is that it emphasizes having fun and making noise, which so often gets lost in all the "educational" books and videos but are so important to child development.

  • I'm not on the 2009 Printz committee, but if I were I'd be saving this book for future reference: You Know Where to Find Me by Rachel Cohn. It's a first-person story of two close cousins, one of whom commits suicide despite having a seemingly perfect life. It has a fabulous sense of place and the characterizations are weird but wonderful. It's a departure from what we usually see from Rachel Cohn, and a wonderful departure at that. Not that Rachel Cohn writes bad books, just that this one is quite different.

  • Perfect You by Elizabeth Scott is a very well structured, yet sad, addition to the chick-lit genre. Without spoiling it, I will say this: I really admired that Scott put the proverbial gun on the mantel in Acts I and II and fired it in Act III. The ending of the book was difficult to read but very well done.

  • Other books I picked up but haven't had a chance to read because I was so busy reading for ALA Midwinter: City of Ashes: The Mortal Instruments, Book 2 by Cassandra Clare, Secrets of my Suburban Life by Lauren Baratz-Logsted, Three Little Words by Ashley Rhodes-Courter, and Me, In-Between, also by Lauren Baratz-Logsted,

  • Books I didn't pick up at the preview, but am expecting in the mail: Wake by Lisa McMann and I Heart You, You Haunt Me by Lisa Schroeder

I could occupy myself for a month just with S&S. I really need to change my "books" tag to "so many books, so little time."

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