Friday, February 12, 2016

EBMA Annual Conference Highlights

The EBMA 41st Annual Meeting dawned bright this past week in the lovely Tucson, Arizona. We are always excited to attend this annual gathering, and this year was no different. Diversity was the theme that guided all the panels and presentations that we were privileged to attend, and they were each challenging and in their own way. We want to share some of our highlights from the week and give a few shout outs to the great people we saw along the way.

There were two breakfast educational sessions, the first of which was Wednesday morning’s session entitled “Six Ways to Know If You Are Culturally Responsive.” Dr. Sharroky Hollie presented, and proved to be a provocative speaker, challenging our thoughts on what diversity, culture, ethnicity really are.  Dr. Hollie is the co-founder of Culture and Language Academy of Success and the executive director of the Center for Culturally Responsive Teaching and Learning.  His mission is to provide professional development for educators who want to become culturally responsive.  By the end of his presentation, the outstanding point was that everyone must understand themselves (and their preconceived notions of terms like culture and ethnicity) before incorporating them into teaching, publishing programs, or classroom collections. Throughout the presentation, it was obvious that Dr. Hollie is all about validating and affirming others. Really that was just the tip of the iceberg, so if you are interested to see and hear more, check out this video

Thursday morning’s session was called “Diversity in Action.”  It was a panel of three experts and a moderator.  The three panelists were Judy Chiasson, an administrator in the LA Unified School District, Andrew Medlar, the Chicago Public Library’s Assistant Chief for Technology, Content, and Innovation, and Troy Fresch, who is an Assistant Principal at Pioneer Middle School in Tustin CA.  Their discussion was about the ways diversity comes into play in their various fields – from district-wide programs to reduce bullying and homophobia (Chiasson), to collection development (Medlar), and working with a very diverse group of middle school students (Fresch).  It was an interesting program, and it proved encouraging to hear about the practical ways that everyone in our field is pursuing diversity.

Thursday’s lunch speakers were Doreen Rappaport (author) and Kadir Nelson (illustrator), discussing the working relationship between authors and illustrators, and Thursday’s dinner speaker was Kwame Alexander, the 2015 Newbery medal winner.  He was a fantastic speaker, and we enjoyed hearing the stories he had tell about how he got involved (reluctantly) in the publishing world. 

Even with all of the compelling speakers we were able to hear from, as usual EBMA was also a wonderful opportunity to meet with our wholesale partners. Our meetings at EBMA are always intense and productive, and we love this time to forge relationships with these partners who do so much to provide our books to school systems and everyone in the education world.

We were also so excited to preview some of our new titles that are coming out Fall of 2016! It was great to see how well received these new stories were, and everyone was especially excited for Janet Nolan’s Seven and a Half Tons of Steel.

Another great year for the books, and we’ll be seeing everyone next year!

Monday, February 8, 2016

Some Beary Fun Facts: Little One

Jo Weaver's beautiful story of a mother bear and her cub explores the life of these very special bears through all four seasons of the year. As her story shows, bears are amazing creatures with fascinating habits and routines. Inspired by Big Bear and Little One, we decided to learn a little bit more about the bears in our part of the world. Here’s what we found out (and bear with me if the puns are a little heavy handed): 

"This is where our journey begins," She said. 

Big Bear and her cub start their journey in the forest in springtime. Spring is the beginning of a long forage for food for most bears. As very few plants have flowered or put out leaves right at the beginning of spring, many bears begin traveling to find warmer areas where berries or fruits have survived the winter or spring has come a little early. 

"Little One watched Big Bear and learned how to fish..."

As bears wait for spring to take hold in their habitats, they often look for sources of protein and fat in other animals and in fish. However, bear in mind that these magnificent mammals are omnivorous, and their diets are almost entirely made up of plants and fruits. Areas of vegetation and water often attract bears because of the food sources both on the shores and in the water. Rivers and lakes are also needed for drinking and cooling in the warm summer months.

“Together they explored far and wide...”

Bears travel throughout the year, and do not necessarily establish a specific territory or home. They like to go wherever there are good sources of food. A mother bear like Big Bear will still travel around as many as 100 square miles with her cub, but other bears that do not have cubs will forage for food in areas as large as 200 square miles. 

“…and filled their hungry tummies with ripe autumn berries.”

Black bears love the forest because they are natural climbers, and they can climb trees for fruits, nuts, and bearries. They also love wooded areas because they provide a large variety of vegetation for exploring and eating. Bears have even been known to hibernate in tree holes far above the ground.

“In the warm darkness, Big Bear and Little One curled up together and waited for spring.”

Just like Big Bear and Little One, most bears spend the spring, summer, and autumn filling up and gaining weight so that their bodies can survive without food during the winter. Bears can make their dens in high tree holes, burrows, or a cave. All they need is a sheltered spot to stay safe and sleep through the cold winter. 

To learn more about all sorts of bears, visit National Geographic, Kid Zone, or Live Science. Tell us what your favorite bear facts are, and be sure to look for Little One coming March 1st. 

Friday, February 5, 2016

Our Super Bowl 50 Picks

Super Bowl Sunday tends to be a bit of a divider for most groups, with some die-hard fans for either team, some indifferent watchers (who drive the die-hard fans crazy), and some who just prefer the snacks and the Puppy Bowl. Now, in order to get an idea of where the Peachtree team stood on the upcoming game, we took a poll around the office. As some of us might prefer a book about football rather than actually watching a football game, it might not be surprising that we frequently had to remind each other of who was actually participating in the 50th Super Bowl.

It was quite a turn of events that in our Southern publishing house, we had the following votes:

Denver Broncos                                    Carolina Panthers                                     Puppy Bowl
         55%                                                       36%                                                          9%

As stated, most of us would probably rather be reading than watching football, so maybe book-related entertainment would get us all more invested in the game. Half-time read-aloud, anyone? In fact, we are all better prepared to watch and understand the game thanks to Fred Bowen’s football titles that we all know and love.

No matter if you are a football lover or need to brush up on your football knowledge, these stories are sure to keep your attention and hopefully get you excited for Super Bowl 50. 

                       Quarterback Season
Double Reverse
Touchdown Trouble

Let us know who you will be rooting for this weekend or what your favorite football titles are! 

Thursday, February 4, 2016

Thank a Mailman Day!

If you’ve ever received a package in the mail or sent a letter to a loved one, today is an important day to recognize! Every year on February 4th, we celebrate Thank a Mailman Day: a day to recognize and thank the workers who deliver important mail and packages day after day, through rain or shine, for six days a week. Here at Peachtree we love sending and receiving mail--especially if there are books involved--and we appreciate the wonderful people who deliver all our mail every day!

This year on Thank a Mailman Day, we have a very special mailman to recognize. Stanley is back and delivering mail to all of his friends in Stanley the Mailman!

Stanley gets up early to sort through the mail in his post office. Then he sets off through to town to deliver it all. Myrtle, Little Woo, and Charlie all receive exciting gifts and letters. But will everyone be happy with what’s in Stanley’s mailbag?

Author-illustrator William Bee brings us another wonderful little story with our favorite hamster Stanley. Stanley the Mailman is coming March 1st, and we can’t wait for everyone to share another day of fun and discovery with Stanley!

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Celebrate Children's Authors and Illustrators: Peachtree Favorites

This week is a very special celebration for all of us here at Peachtree—it’s Children’s Authors and Illustrators week! We are very grateful for all of the authors and illustrators we've worked with over the years, but today, we wanted to focus on a different set of authors and illustrators (we think our talented colleagues will understand).

We took some time this week to talk about the books, series, authors, and illustrators that influenced our own childhoods. As a group that now works to bring quality children’s books to a new generation of tiny readers, it was our childhood favorites that initially sparked our love for books and eventually inspired careers in children’s book publishing. With lots of funny stories and reminiscing, we collected the following list to share with you.

Viking Press

Katie, our Marketing and Advertising Manager, did not hesitate a second when she chose Blueberries for Sal by author-illustrator Robert McCloskey as her favorite, adding that “every time I went to the library, I pulled that one out.” 

Melanie, our Production manager, said that she has always loved “all the old-fashioned mysteries.” Her favorite girl detectives were Nancy Drew, originally published by Grosset & Dunlap and primarily written by Mildred Wirt Benson, and Trixie Belden, published by Western Publishing and written originally by Julie Tatham.

Viking Press

Melissa, our Conference Coordinator and Publishing Assistant, didn’t have any trouble choosing. She named Corduroy by Don Freeman, saying, “Dad used to read it to me as a kid, and it was hands down my favorite.” The stories of Corduroy are continued by other authors and illustrators today.

Farah, our Subsidiary Rights Director and Trade and International Sales Manager, could not decide right away. We left her alone for a little to dig up her old favorites, and finally the winner emerged—the Grimm Brothers’ original tale of Sleeping Beauty. However, Farah used to listen to an audio version, and she listened in French. La Belle au bois dormant is the French title, and Farah recalled, “I could listen to that recording all day long!”

World Publishing Company
Elyse, our Publicity and Marketing Assistant, remembered countless readings of The Very Hungry Caterpillar—written and illustrated by Eric Carle —and staring at the bright colors in the illustrations. She had even made her own hungry caterpillar out of a stuffed stocking to follow along with the story when she read it.

Vicky, our Senior Editor, responded almost before I’d finished the question. She chose Alice in Wonderland written by Lewis Carroll and published by Macmillan Publishers “hands down.”  She also explained that she had had a copy with the original illustrations by John Tenniel, and she “liked the pictures almost as much as the story.”

Methuen Publishing

Nicki, our Creative Director, had a little trouble choosing a favorite. I’m sure many of you can relate to this problem of having so many favorites, but Nicki’s dilemma was a little different. She told us that she had rarely read books for fun because there were so many mandatory books for school! However, after a little more thought and some aggressive Googling, she re-discovered some old series that she had really loved: the Malory Towers series and Claudine at St. Clare’s, both written by Enid Blyton.

Niki, our Associate Publicist, chose the author-illustrator Jan Brett . She particularly remembered how in all of Jan Brett’s books, there were these wonderfully illustrated borders around every spread. Niki explained that she always liked following the other characters as she read through each story.

Random House

Kathy, our Vice President and Associate Publisher, reeled off two titles immediately. Her favorites were Harriet the Spy written by Louise Fitzhugh and originally published by Harper and Row, and The Phantom Tollbooth written by Norton Juster and illustrated by Jules Feiffer.

When we asked Courtney, our Sales and Marketing Customer Support, she said that she had been “obsessed” with the Babysitter’s Club series by Ann M. Martin and published by Scholastic. However, she gave two other titles as her “all-time favorites”—The Westing Game written by Ellen Raskin and published by Dutton, and Number the Stars by Lois Lowry and published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.

Random House

Finally, when we spoke to Emily, our Sales Marketing Assistant, she chose the Dark is Rising series by Susan Cooper. Emily explained that she had just recently re-read the series, and she was so refreshed by how Cooper did not “dumb down” her books. She even confessed that she was “looking up words in a book meant for 12-year-olds.” She loved that these books were still a great experience for her after so many years.

It was a fun little trip down memory lane for all of us. Again, we are so grateful for all the authors and illustrators who made such an impact on us when we were kids. And we strive each day to publish books that will bring the same amount of joy to young readers today.

Let us know what your childhood favorites were and celebrate all children’s book authors and illustrators with us!

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Black History Month Round Up

It is Black History Month, and we are very excited to share some of our favorite titles that serve as great tools to remember and learn from the history and heritage of our country.

Author Myron Uhlberg  pays tribute to the legendary athlete Jackie Robinson with his book Dad, Jackie, and MeIt is the summer of 1947 and a highly charged baseball season is underway in New York. Jackie Robinson is the new first baseman for the Brooklyn Dodgers--and the first black player in Major League Baseball. A young boy shares the excitement of Robinson's rookie season with his deaf father. See our Teacher's Guide for Dad, Jackie, and Me here.

Deborah Hopkinson brings us a stunning picture book Keep On! which tells the story of the under-recognized Matthew Henson who joined Robert Peary's great 1909 expedition to reach the North Pole. The team endured storms, shifting ice, wind, injuries, accidents, and unimaginable cold. Finally, on April 1, Peary, Henson, and four Inuit men began the final 133-mile push to the Pole. For more resources, check out our Teacher's Guide for Keep On! here.

In a powerful biography of George Moses Horton, the first southern African-American man to be published, Don Tate tells an inspiring and moving story of talent and determination in Poet. George was forced to work long hours; he could not attend school, but he taught himself to read. Soon, he began composing poetry and reciting it as he sold fruits and vegetables on a nearby college campus. News of the slave poet traveled quickly, and George soon had customers for his poems. But he was still enslaved. Would be ever be free? A Teacher's Guide associated with Poet can be found here.

Cynthia Levinson tells the inspiring story of one of the greatest moments in civil rights history as seen through the eyes of four young people who were at the center of the action. We've Got a Job tells how Audrey Hendricks, Wash Booker, James Stewart, Arnetta Streeter and 4,000 black elementary, middle, and high school students succeeded where adults had failed in desegregating one of the most racially violent cities in America. If you are interested in We've Got a Job, also check out our Teacher's Guide here.

Author Philip Dray tells the inspirational story of Ida B. Wells, from her birth into a slave family in Mississippi and her early encounters with racism to her lifelong commitment to end injustice. Award-winning illustrator Stephen Alcorn's remarkable illustrations recreate the tensions that threatened to upend a nation a century ago while paying tribute to a courageous American hero. Yours for Justice, Ida B. Wells explores how one headstrong young woman could help free America from the "shadow of lawlessness" that was looming. Check out the Teacher's Guide for this wonderful story here.

Author and Illustrator Krista Russell brings to life the story of fourteen-year-old Jem, who has escaped a cruel master in 1739 St. Augustine, in her book The Other Side of Free. However, as the threat of war between England and Spain becomes more real, and Jem continues to suffer under the custody of a difficult and angry woman, Jem starts to understand the meaning of freedom and the complex connections that make a community. As an additional resource with The Other Side of Free, see our Teacher's Guide here.

We hope you enjoy these wonderful and inspirational stories, and feel free to share your favorite books in honor of Black History Month!
t is the summer of 1947 and a highly charged baseball season is underway in New York. Jackie Robinson is the new first baseman for the Brooklyn Dodgers—and the first black player in Major League Baseball. A young boy shares the excitement of Robinson's rookie season with his deaf father.
t is the summer of 1947 and a highly charged baseball season is underway in New York. Jackie Robinson is the new first baseman for the Brooklyn Dodgers—and the first black player in Major League Baseball. A young boy shares the excitement of Robinson's rookie season with his deaf father.

Friday, January 29, 2016

Geeky Peaches: January 2016 Edition

This week marks the end of the month, and the end of the month here at Peachtree always includes a night when the book-smart, analytical, and generally intelligent (geeky) members of the Peachtree Publishers team (Peaches) leave our purple halls, gather at the nearby taqueria, and talk about books. This month, the books on the table (literally and figuratively) were the 2016 Caldecott Honor Books.

If you don’t already know the titles, the Honor Books were Trombone Shorty illustrated by BrianCollier and written by Troy AndrewsWaiting illustrated and written by Kevin HenkesVoice of Freedom: Fannie Lou Hamer, Spirit of the Civil Rights Movement illustrated by Ekua Holmes and written by Carole Boston Weatherford; and finally The Last Stop on Market Street illustrated by Christian Robinson and written by Matt de la Peňa. We all took some time to flip through these lovely books one more time, being careful to keep them away from the guacamole and salsa, and then the talk started and didn’t stop for an hour and a half.

For some of the younger Peaches at the table, we started off by remembering what the criteria for the Caldecott medal are. Our beloved Awards Coordinator (among other titles), Courtney, briefly explained some of the factors and requirements to provide some context for our discussion (and if you’re curious, check out the official criteria and terms here). There was a brief lull as our taco orders were taken, but then we dug into the books themselves.

Abrams, 2015

Trombone Shorty didn’t take much time to discuss as there was little debate—we all loved it, and we were all ready to take a trip to New Orleans. The vivid colors and images of a picture book were a great backdrop for the fun and inspiring true story of Troy Andrews. Awards and critiques aside, we all enjoyed learning about the childhood and influences of the talented musician and author. 

Harper Collins, 2015
On the other hand, every time we thought we'd laid it to rest, our conversation about Waiting bubbled up again. When Vicky, one of our editors, confessed that she'd thought long and hard about the possibility of a deeper philosophical meaning behind the little book, the gears immediately started churning in everyone else’s heads as we tried to think of something posh and intelligent to say. Unfortunately, we had no “eureka” moment, got back to our tacos, and declared that we liked the gentle and friendly illustrations that contrasted with the bright and loud books surrounding it. Our parting thought was a curiosity to see how a child would react to the five little windowsill friends.

Penguin Random House, 2015

The art in Voice of Freedom received favorite status from a few of us, and we spent some time flipping through to find our favorite spreads to share with each other. In particular, we discussed how the book combined a classic approach with the separation of art and text on many of the pages, and yet the art itself was so fresh and vibrant and really not traditional at all. Although we spent a fair amount of time on the art in voice, we also loved that the text did not shy away from sharing the realities and suffering of the era.

The Last Stop on Market Street, which also won the Newbery
Medal, didn’t spur as much talk because its various awards had already sparked conversations over the last several weeks, and we’d all become very familiar with it. When looking at the art of all four books, however, we did particularly enjoy the textures that were in each illustration.

We were pleased with the diversified range of authors and books that were represented among the honored titles, and, as always, it was fun to see a few new names in the mix.

What did you think about this year's Caldecott Honorees? Let us know in the comments.

Want to join in the fun? At next month's Geeky Peaches we're discussing the 2016 Newbery results

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

New Book Wednesday: A Friend for Mole

Coming out March 1st, Nancy Armo’s story A Friend for Mole features an adorable Mole and his experience after he decides to leave his dark and cozy burrow.

Struggling with his overwhelming fear of the unknown, Mole stumbles across a friendly Wolf who is trying to conquer fears of his own. As they keep each other company and learn from one another, the two discover that friendship can be one of the strongest shields against fear. 

Through Mole and Wolf's experiences, young readers learn that differences aren't necessarily weaknesses, and strengths are most powerful when used to help a friend. With simple but humorous text, and soft, bright illustrations to guide the way, this picture book is a gentle, fun journey through fear to friendship.

To find out more about the talented debut author-illustrator Nancy Armo, check out her website, and look for A Friend for Mole this spring!

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

New Book Wednesday: The Sound of All Things

Author Myron Uhlberg and illustrator Ted Papoulas bring readers into the world of a young hearing boy and his deaf parents as they explore Brooklyn and Coney Island on a summer day in the 1930s. 

There is much to hear and see on the bright and busy day, but as much as his father wishes to understand the multitude and variety of sounds all around them, his son struggles to find the right words to explain each one to his father.

However, when they visit the library on their way home, the young boy discovers that the words to describe the sound of all things may be within his reach after all.

With the rich illustrations of Ted Papoulas and the carefully crafted words of Myron Uhlberg, readers will see, hear, and love The Sound of All ThingsComing out this spring, March 1st, don’t miss this beautiful story of family and discovery. 

Friday, January 15, 2016

ALA Midwinter Conference Highlights

We were thrilled to once again attend the American Library Association’s Midwinter Conference in Boston this past weekend. Although winters in Boston have a reputation, the weather cooperated beautifully, and we were able to thoroughly enjoy the conference. We wanted to share some highlights from this year, so here goes!

This year, we were excited to have three of our talented authors join us at our booth for signings and giveaways. Bill Harley, author of the Charlie Bumpers series, joined us on Friday. If you missed the freebies, you can find the latest Charlie Bumpers adventure, Charlie Bumpers vs. the Perfect Little Turkey, at your local library or bookstore!

Melissa Stewart and Farhana Zia joined us on Saturday for signings of their new books coming out this spring. Melissa is bringing us a revised version of A Place for Frogs, coming out April 1. Melissa’s book reaches young readers with the message of their responsibility to the world’s creatures and their habitats.

Farhana brings a contemporary Indian village to life in her new book Child of Spring, coming out March 1. It was great having some time with a few of our authors, so thanks to all three of you for coming out!

We were also happy to hear the announcements of many of the prestigious awards handed out at the conference. Like many others, we were excited to see the picture book The Last Stop on Market Street by Matt de la Peña, win the Newberry Medal for children’s books in 2015. The rare occurrence of a picture book receiving this honor proves just how special The Last Stop on Market Street really is.

G.P. Putnam's Sons
 Books for Young Readers, 2015

Overall we were pleased with the growing diversity and variety that was present among the many deserving authors and titles that were honored with awards this year.

Thank you to ALA for another great year!