Summer 2020 edition
A Note from the Ed/Lib Team
As anyone who has joined us in our offices over the years knows, we love hosting our seasonal previews to meet local teachers and librarians and introduce them to our upcoming titles and authors. We’re even more excited to be able to bring our previews to teachers and librarians around the country! From this page, you can learn more about preview speakers, download materials distributed at the event, and discover upcoming titles courtesy of S&S editorial staff. So sit back, get your TBR lists ready, and enjoy this preview of our Summer 2020 season from the comfort of your own home, school, or library. Excited about one of these books? Interested in what we’re reading? Tweet us at @SSEdLib using #SSKidsPreview.
Meet Summer 2020 Preview Speaker, debut author Jennifer De Leon!
Jennifer De Leon is an author, editor, speaker, and creative writing professor who lives outside of Boston. She is the editor of Wise Latinas: Writers on Higher Education, the 2015–2016 Writer-in-Residence at the Boston Public Library, and a 2016–2017 City of Boston Artist-in-Residence. She is also the second recipient of the We Need Diverse Books grant.
Watch this video where Jennifer explains her special connection to libraries.
A Note from Jennifer De Leon’s Editor, Caitlyn Dlouhy
How many of you are instantly thinking of a hometown, or a state, or perhaps a coast? Where are you from? seems an innocuous-enough question. Then I read Jennifer de Leon’s turn-things-the-heck-upside-down debut novel, Don’t Ask Me Where I’m From. Don’t ask, indeed, for that question, for people of color, is not always as innocent as it seems. It’s not necessarily asking “are you from New York or Ohio or Nevada.” It’s digging at something more, hinting that you are not from here, not from the United States, but instead, from somewhere else. As in, what country are you from? As in, you are other. It’s a microaggression, one of the many more subtle ways racism infiltrates our society, ways that, like code switching, are just as important to the greater conversation of racism, yet are rarely discussed.
Jenn de Leon, however, goes right there with an honesty that’s raw and piercing. Through her character Liliana—a teen aching to be accepted for who she is and not for how she can best fit in, aching for bravery, aching for her deported dad—Jenn unveils the day-to-day slights that seem minor until the collective build of them wears a person down, crushing who they are, because of where they’re from. The second-ever recipient of the We Need Diverse Books Walter Dean Myers Grant, Jenn writes of what she’s lived. She writes with the hope that readers will recognize themselves, and in that recognition be able to draw the strength to stay true to themselves, or change to become a better self, whichever might eventually turn a seemingly innocuous question into a truly innocuous one, or one that isn’t asked at all.
This is a novel I fervently wish and hope e-v-e-r-y-o-n-e will read; you will forever think differently, in the very best way.
—Caitlyn Dlouhy, Vice President, Caitlyn Dlouhy Books/Atheneum
Preview Summer 2020 Titles by Imprint
Spend a few minutes with each S&S editor as they highlight a title from their Summer lists!
Feel like you’re always racing, rushing, and hurrying around? This picture book is the perfect antidote. Just like it is for all of us, daily life in this story is filled with hurrying up, hurrying down, hurrying round and round and round! That is until the main character takes a big breath…and a big break...and slows down to notice and explore all the wonderful things in the world around him. With a snappy, made-to-be-read-aloud text by Kate Dopirak and gorgeous, expansive illustrations by Christopher Silas Neal, this playful yet powerful picture book reminds us to be present, to be mindful, and to appreciate each moment.
HC: 9781534424975; EB: 9781534424982; May 19, 2020; ages P–3
Cat Has a Plan is an all-new, original Ready-to-Go! Ready-to-Read from Laura Gehl, author of the popular One Big Pair of Underwear. Simon Spotlight is continuing to expand its Ready-to-Go! program with stories written for children who have learned the alphabet and are ready to start reading! In this story, a cat and a dog devise plans to play with the same toy, but only one can win…and it may not be who you’d expect! This silly, mad-cap story (reminiscent of Tom and Jerry, minus the explosions!) is perfect for the beginning reader audience. Laura Gehl’s joyful wordplay and Fred Blunt’s humorous art really brings this story to life!
HC: 9781534454118; PB: 9781534454101; EB: 9781534454125; July 21, 2020; ages 3–5
Are you feeling CRANKY? Some days are just cranky days—no matter what happens or who you’re with or what anyone says, you’re just plain cranky and you won’t listen to reason. Crankypants! And unfortunately for Clarissa, ALL of her stuffed animals are having that exact kind of day. Clarissa has the best intentions—she just wants to have a tea party. But her guests are NOT in the mood. So instead of a tea party, Clarissa finds herself at a crankypants party! Once her stuffies realize that she was trying to do something nice, they return the favor by throwing Clarissa the tea party she wanted all along. This utter charmer utterly charmed me from the moment I read the manuscript, saw Ale Barba’s first drawing of Clarissa (who clearly cut her own bangs!), and will charm readers who loved The Day the Crayons Quit and Winnie the Pooh. Don’t just take my word for it; Booklist says that the art has “wonderful, fantastical touches” and that the book “is not only visually and verbally fun, but also a wonderful exercise in building empathy, by showing the mindset of the stuffed animals.” One thing’s for certain, you can’t stay cranky after reading The Crankypants Tea Party!
HC: 9781481459006; EB: 9781481459013; June 23, 2020; ages 4–7
In this playful, rhyming celebration of the marine world, readers can explore all of the wondrous things the sea knows. It knows huge whales and small krill; it knows short crabs and tall giant kelp; it knows brightly colored starfish in shallow pools; and in the inky depths it knows the alluring jewel of an anglerfish’s glowing lure. Vibrant, detailed illustrations and extensive back matter on all of the sea creatures and ocean phenomena in the book make this a great choice for classrooms and budding marine biologists.
HC: 9781534438224; EB: 9781534438231; May 5, 2020; ages 4–8
This charming book from our Salaam Reads imprint is a delightful and inclusive celebration of holidays, in the spirit of books like All Are Welcome. It's the story of four little boys—Musa, Moises, Mo, and Kevin—who meet and become friends in kindergarten. When their teacher invites them to share their favorite holidays, they discover the joy to be found in sharing one another's traditions, from Las Posadas to Eid to Rosh Hashanah to Pi Day. There is truly something for everyone in this jubilant and vibrantly illustrated picture book that reminds us that our differences can be the very thing that bring us together.
HC: 9781481485630; EB: 9781481485647; June 30, 2020; ages 4–8
This is a picture book I am truly passionate about. It tells the story of civil rights activist Ella Baker, a woman who is a tremendous inspiration for all of us. The title comes from a lesson her parents taught her as a child, to lift others as you climb. And that was what Ella dedicated her life to—lifting others by fighting racial injustice, beginning in the 1930’s. Ella worked with the great civil rights leaders, including Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. And she was a mentor to a younger generation when the lunch counter demonstrations and bus rides began in the 1960’s. She was a trailblazer for women of color at a time when the leaders of the movement were almost all men. This book includes a lot of information on civil rights organizations Ella was involved in, has a timeline of her life, and an extensive author’s note. R. Gregory Christie is a Caldecott-Honor winning artist, and his bright hues and brilliant compositions bring vibrant life to a history only too relevant today.
HC: 9781534406230; EB: 9781534406247; June 9, 2020; ages 4–8
While there are plenty of books about little girls who want to dance, this beautiful, uplifting story is one that you have not seen before. It follows a girl born with cerebral palsy as she pursues her dream. Like many kids, Eva longs to dance, but she doesn’t know what that looks like for someone who uses a wheelchair. When she finds a program that welcomes dancers of all abilities, Eva’s dream of dancing becomes a reality. This is an inspiring and empowering book that gives a much-needed voice to children who are differently abled, and helps to break down misconceptions about what is possible for them. As Kirkus said in a starred review, this is “a gorgeous, immersive celebration of dancing and the grace within all bodies.”
HC: 9781534430617; EB: 9781534430624, May 26, 2020; ages 4–8
Rot returns to brave a scary, squirmy challenge. Rot is a mutant potato, and mutant potatoes love mud. But then, Rot's big brother, Snot, warns him: there’s a scary, hungry Squirm in the mud. Now, Rot's too scared to jump into the puddle. But with a little creative costuming and a healthy boost of confidence, Rot might just find a way to feel brave enough to reclaim that messy mudpit. Maybe even the bravest in the world! This is in some ways a really classic story about finding what makes you feel brave inside yourself, and not letting others decide how you feel about yourself. What I love is that kids often dress up as their favorite figures to feel big, brave, and grownup so they’ll recognize a lot of themselves in Rot and parents and educators can discuss what helps them to feel brave even through their fear. Plus, the scheme Rot’s big brother tries to pull will feel VERY familiar to big and little siblings alike and Ben does a great job of capturing that relationship even through potatoes! While readers of Rot, the Cutest in the World will love seeing their favorite mutant potato again, it also works perfectly well as a stand-alone.
HC: 9781481467643; EB: 9781481467650; June 16, 2020; ages 4–8
It gives me great pleasure to introduce Tony Hillery’s debut picture book, Harlem Grown. In it, he tells his inspiring story of turning a vacant lot into a flourishing garden. I met Tony a few year ago while volunteering at Harlem Grown. I walked a few blocks north from my apartment in Harlem and was greeted by the amazing sight of a bountiful farm. When I learned Tony’s story, I knew it had to be a book. Tony began Harlem Grown after working in a public school across the street. He recognized the need for access to healthy food and for kids to get outside and get their hands dirty. Harlem Grown addresses both of those needs. Now, where there was once a lot full of trash, kids plant, water, and grow their own fruits and vegetables. Nearly all of the produce goes directly to local kids and their families. Beloved artist Jessie Hartland is a New Yorker who spent a day taking photos at Harlem Grown in order to create the illustrations for this book. What a joy it has been for me to help bring this important story to young readers everywhere!
HC: 9781534402317; EB: 9781534402324; August 18, 2020; ages 4–8
Super Facts for Super Kids is a brand-new nonfiction Level 2 Ready-to-Read series. The first two books in the series are Sharks Can't Smile!: and Other Amazing Facts and Tigers Can't Purr!: and Other Amazing Facts. As you can see from the titles, each book features amazing and surprising facts about a specific animal. The interiors feature a combination of real-life photographs, light-hearted illustrations, and a comics-inspired design that will help engage readers. It also includes a glossary, backmatter relating to animal conservation, and infographics throughout the book that provide context and help anchor the facts and stats for the readers. We believe that Super Facts for Super Kids stands out from existing animal-themed beginning readers because it presents facts in a visual, cohesive, and relatable way. We are so excited about this new series, and we hope your young readers will want to read these books again and again!
Sharks: HC: 9781534467729; PB: 9781534467712; EB: 9781534467736; July 21, 2020; ages 5–7
Tigers: HC: 9781534467750; PB: 9781534467743; EB: 9781534467767; July 21, 2020; ages 5–7
This middle grade novel from debut author Anika Fajardo is the poignant and magical story of Eddie, who is half-Colombian and half-white but has never really had the chance to connect with his Colombian roots. Then he gets the chance to leave Minnesota for the first time in his life and visit his older half-brother in Colombia—and to learn more about himself than he ever has before. This whimsical and unflinchingly honest inter-generational story of family and identity is suffused with magical realism, set in a world where hats turn into leeches, ghosts blow kisses from lemon trees, and what you find at the end of your fishing line might not be a fish at all.
HC: 9781534449831; EB: 9781534449855; August 11, 2020; ages 8–12
Kirkus called The Last Tree Town "a sensitive story of family, friendship, and personal growth" and Booklist said "well organized, and well paced, Cassi's first-person narrative with engage readers from the start." This layered novel tells the story of two fast friends who, in sharing their past, help one another with their personal struggles and pave the way for new beginnings.
HC: 9781534420649; EB: 9781534420663; May 5, 2020; ages 9–12
I'm excited to present the 50th Anniversary Edition of Sonia Levitin's National Jewish Book Award–winning Journey to America. Inspired by Sonia's own experience of fleeing Germany as a child, this novel tells of Lisa Platt and her family's escape during the lead-up to World War II. Forbidden from bringing money or possessions out of the country, Lisa’s father secretly leaves for America, planning to work until he can send for them. But when conditions in Germany worsen, Lisa, her mother, and her sisters flee to Switzerland to wait, surviving on what little they have until they can join him. With a new cover and an afterword from Sonia, I'm thrilled to have this new edition of the book that School Library Journal called "a definite asset to any collection."
HC: 9781534464643; PB: 9781534464636; EB: 9781534464650; July 21, 2020; ages 8–12
Bustle called Kit Frick’s I Killed Zoe Spanos “The YA thriller of the summer,” and I call it the Hamptons murder mystery of your dreams. When Anna Cicconi comes to Herron Mills for a summer nanny gig, it doesn’t take long for her to discover that she shares an eerie resemblance with Zoe Spanos, a local girl who has been missing for six months. Anna becomes certain that she and Zoe share a connection, and when Zoe’s body is found in a nearby lake, it is Anna who confesses to the crime. But high school podcast host Martina Green sees holes all over Anna’s story, and is determined to uncover the real truth, no matter the cost. Alternating between the two months leading up to Anna’s confession, and Martina’s investigation after Anna’s arrest, this is a book that will twist and turn and keep you guessing. Perfect for fans of Sadie or the podcast Serial, this story was also inspired by Daphne du Maurier's Rebecca, and you can delight in the atmospheric Hamptons setting where everyone has a secret, all while preparing yourself for a truly electrifying ending.
HC: 9781534449701; EB: 9781534449725; eAudio: 9781797114620; June 30 2020; ages 14 & up
Spotlight on Audio
Enjoy an audiobook excerpt playlist from our children’s audio group. Many of these are clips of previous books from authors with new books on the Summer 2020 list.