Our fall 2013 children’s announcements issue takes a broad overview of the season while zeroing in on the fine details of the industry. In our features section, we speak with nine authors, all of whom are winding up their trilogies this season, about what it’s like to close the book on longtime characters; chat up indie booksellers, who share their tips for selling middle-grade and YA books, and titles aimed at the Common Core; hear how Roald Dahl and his American editor collaborated on The Witches; and interview author A.S. King on the occasion of her fifth YA novel, Reality Boy. You’ll also find our signature A-to-Z listings of the fall offerings; for a peek ahead at spring 2014, see the Sneak Previews feature on our Web site. Happy reading!
About our cover artist
As a boy in Northern Ireland, Oliver Jeffers realized early on that he had a knack for drawing. “I was pulled out of class when I was 10, to help decorate the stage for the school play,” he says. “After that I took any opportunity to get out of class to make art!”
He went on to study typography, layout, and illustration theory. By what he calls “a happy accident,” his fine-art work led him to the world of children’s books. “A lot of my early paintings during art college explored the relationship between words and pictures,” he says. “I was working [on] initial sketches for a particular painting and there was just too much narrative to fit into it.” The idea behind that piece eventually evolved into his first picture book, 2004’s How to Catch a Star.
Since then, he’s written and illustrated 10 more books, and his reputation is growing on both sides of the Atlantic. He’s racked up numerous accolades overseas, and was shortlisted for the Kate Greenaway Medal for Lost and Found, The Way Back Home, The Great Paper Caper, and The Heart and the Bottle. In the U.S., both Stuck and This Moose Belongs to Me were bestsellers.
His current project, The Day the Crayons Quit (June) by Drew Daywalt, is in its second week on PW’s picture book bestsellers list. Crayons marks the first time that Jeffers has illustrated a picture book for another writer; he also has done artwork for two middle-grade novels by John Boyne, most recently The Terrible Thing That Happened to Barnaby Brocket, as well as the forthcoming The Boy Who Swam with Piranhas by David Almond.
“I have to appreciate the other collaborator’s sensibilities, and feel like I get where they are coming from for anything to work,” he says. “When reading a manuscript I know pretty quickly if it’s for me or not.”
Having a strong sense of purpose has been a through-line in Jeffers’s career. “In my first year at art college my tutor said he thought that I was like a child who was looking for validation from other people,” he explains. “He said I should draw to satisfy myself and not anyone else, and that has really stuck with me.” —Carolyn Juris