Posts Tagged Middle-Grade non-fiction

Agent Spotlight: Stacey Kendall Glick

Literary agent Stacey Kendall Glick is Vice President of Dystel, Goderich & Bourret LLC. She brings a varied background in film and television development to her work as a literary agent, having held varied roles in entertainment including scouting for books to be adapted into feature films, a position as a story editor, and as a child actress who appeared on TV, in films and in theater. She represents a wide range of titles from nonfiction to adult, YA, and middle grade fiction and picture books. Her clients include four middle grade debuts for 2019: Jennifer Camiccia (THE MEMORY KEEPER), Wendy S. Swore (A MONSTER LIKE ME), Jeanne Zulick Ferruolo (RUBY IN THE SKY) and Jenni Walsh (the SHE DARED series). Stacey notes on her web page that she “wants to see more heartwarming, inspiring middle grade fiction and nonfiction.” Learn more about Stacey Glick at https://www.dystel.com/stacey-glick/.

Hi Stacey! Thanks so much for agreeing to chat with us. I’m really curious about how your background in film and TV influences your taste in middle grade fiction. Do you think you gravitate toward stories that feel like they’d be well suited for the big screen?

I think I’ve always been a naturally visual reader. As a childhood actress, then working in film and TV development before becoming an agent 20 years ago, stories that jump off the page and have a visual element always appealed to me. But I also appreciate quieter stories too. Not every book can be or should be a movie.

Several of your Novel19s middle-grade debut clients this year deal with some form of trauma. In Jen Camiccia’s book, THE MEMORY KEEPER, Lulu has a syndrome called Highly Superior Autobiographical Memory (HSAM), which essentially means she recalls with near perfect clarity every moment of her life. And at the same time, her grandmother is suffering from trauma-induced amnesia and losing her memory. What drew you to this story?

I have four daughters, all of whom are middle grade (or newly graduated from) readers so I am always looking for books that resonate with me personally but I know will also appeal to my girls. I’m drawn to contemporary realistic stories that explore the often complicated relationships between family and friends, and kids who struggle with challenges and need to find solutions to their problems. To me, that’s real life and if we can teach our kids through books how to better navigate and manage a difficult world, we’ll all be better off for it.

Let’s talk about your another of our debut middle grade clients, Wendy Swore. Her book, A MONSTER LIKE ME, publishes on March 5. It’s been compared to both Wonder and The Thing About Jellyfish. Sophie, the protagonist, is a monster expert. And she’s also convinced that she is a monster because of a facial disfigurement. Can you talk about that a bit?

 

I loved the idea of this book from the pitch, and the minute I opened the first page, I had a feeling it was going to be a winner. The book is so warm and genuine, and Sophie is such an endearing character. Her struggles are unique to her but familiar enough to feel relatable to all readers. Her way of looking at the world and managing in it, despite having something that makes her so obviously “different” is what really made me fall in love with the book in the same way I did with Wonder when I first read it with my girls.

Are you an editorial agent? Is there any one piece of advice you give to middle grade authors? In other words, are there any common kinds of problems that you are good at helping MG authors fix?

I’ve been very fortunate to work with talented authors who are able to craft and create stories that are often in great shape at first draft stage. Both Jennifer and Wendy sent manuscripts to me that were almost ready to go. I really appreciate authors who go through multiple drafts and get feedback from writers’ groups and beta readers before they send it out to agents. It makes our job easier to be able to think about sales strategy and business decisions without having to focus too much on editorial concerns and an elaborate revision process. That said, if I fall in love with something and think it needs work, I will do what I have to do to create the best draft possible for submission before sending it out.

What can middle grade authors do to help teachers deepen the reading experience, or better help students engage with their texts, in the classroom?

I love when authors have the opportunity to engage with students. It’s such a wonderful way for a reading experience to come to life. Asking questions that readers can use to discuss the book and see things from a different perspective can help. This season I also represented the start of a middle grade nonfiction series called She Dared by Jenni L. Walsh. The series focuses on accessible biographies for middle grade readers of strong, brave young women. The first two books in the series are about Malala Yousafzai, the Afghani activist author, and Bethany Hamilton, the surfer who lost an arm to a shark attack but went on to become a professional surfer.

What do you see as the biggest challenge for the middle grade authors you represent, once they sign their first contract?

I think the hardest thing is to overcome what might be seen as modest sales for a first book, and then trying to sell a second book when an option publisher passes. It’s easier (though not easy) to do in children’s books than adult. But it still requires a very different and sometimes a more creative approach.

I should also mention another of your debut authors this year, Jeanne Zulick Ferruolo, whose marvelous contemporary middle grade, Ruby in the Sky, published in February to starred reviews in Kirkus and Booklist. It’s already become one of my very favorite middle grade novels. I needed to read that one with many tissues in hand. And you have a gorgeous picture book, Bird Watch by Christie Matheson, that just published yesterday. You’ve had quite a year!

Anything else you’d like to elaborate on that I haven’t asked you? How’s life treating you?

Good! I really enjoy my work with children’s books and authors. I also help to run a wonderful conference affiliated with Rutgers University, the Rutgers University Council on Children’s Literature (this year on October 19, 2019), which your readers might be interested in learning more about. It’s the only conference I know of that offers attendees a one-on-one meeting with an editor or agent, and because it’s local to NYC and just one day, we get a lot of agents and editors to attend. There’s always a great keynote speaker as well. Last year, we had Jane Yolen and her daughter Heidi Stemple. Thanks for having me!

 

Connect with Stacey on Twitter at @staceyglick

September New Releases

Ready to FALL into some great reads? I’m especially looking forward to CONFESSIONS OF AN IMAGINARY FRIEND A MEMOIR BY JAQUES PAPIER by Michelle Cuevas and CRENSHAW by Katherine Applegate. Hey, I still have imaginary friends – lots of them! I’m also excited for HOT PINK, about revolutionary designer Elsa Schiaparelli, because in middle school I was voted “Most Likely to Become a Fashion Consultant.” (My kids have a hard time believing that one.) Look for these awesome books HOT off the press!

Let’s begin with our own Jen Swanson’s BRAIN GAMES: THE MIND-BLOWING SCIENCE OF YOUR AMAZING BRAIN that releases September 8th from National Geographic Kids! Congratulations, Jen! BrainGames

QUICK: Name the most powerful and complex supercomputer ever built. Give up? Here’s a hint: It’s housed in your head and it’s the one thing that makes you YOU. Your brain is mission control for the rest of your body and steers you through life. Not bad for something the size of a softball that looks like a wrinkled grey sponge!

In this fascinating, interactive book — a companion to the National Geographic Channel hit show – kids explore the parts of the brain and how it all works, brainy news nuggets from a neuroscientist, plus fun facts and crazy challenges.

THE BLACKTHORN KEY by Kevin Sands from Aladdin, September 1st

TheBlackthornKeyFollowing a series of murders, an apothecary’s apprentice must solve puzzles and decipher codes in pursuit of a secret that could destroy the world in this suspenseful debut novel.

“Tell no one what I’ve given you.”
Until he got that cryptic warning, Christopher Rowe was happy, learning how to solve complex codes and puzzles and creating powerful medicines, potions, and weapons as an apprentice to Master Benedict Blackthorn–with maybe an explosion or two along the way.
But when a mysterious cult begins to prey on London’s apothecaries, the trail of murders grows closer and closer to Blackthorn’s shop. With time running out, Christopher must use every skill he’s learned to discover the key to a terrible secret with the power to tear the world apart.

HiLO  BOOK 1: THE BOY WHO CRASHED TO EARTH a Graphic Novel by Judd Winick from Random House Books for Young Readers, September 1st

HiLOD.J. and his friend Gina are totally normal kids. But that was before a mysterious boy came crashing down from the sky! Hilo doesn’t know where he came from, or what he’s doing on Earth. (Or why going to school in only your underwear is a bad idea!) . . . But what if Hilo wasn’t the only thing to fall to our planet? Can the trio unlock the secrets of his past? Can Hilo survive a day at school? And are D.J. and Gina ready to save the world?

HILO is Calvin and Hobbes meets Big Nate and is just right for fans of Bone and comic books as well as laugh-out-loud school adventures like Jedi Academy and Wimpy Kid!

THE SECRETS TO RULING SCHOOL (WITHOUT EVEN TRYING): BOOK 1 (MAX CORRIGAN) by Neil Swaab from Abrams/Amulet, September 1stRulingSchool

It’s the first week of middle school, i.e., the Worst Place in the Entire World. How do you survive in a place where there are tough kids twice your size, sadistic teachers, and restrictions that make jail look like a five-star resort? Easy: with the help of Max Corrigan, middle school “expert” and life coach. Let Max teach you how to win over not just one, but all of the groups in school, from the Preps to the Band Geeks. Along the way, Max offers surefire advice and revealing tips on how to get through universal middle school experiences like gym class, detention, faking sick, and dealing with jocks and bullies.
In an innovative format that is part narrative and part how-to, acclaimed illustrator Neil Swaab has created a hilarious new reading experience that is reminiscent of video games and sure to engage even the most reluctant reader.

HOT PINK: THE LIFE AND FASHIONS OF ELSA SCHIAPARELLI by Susan Goldman Rubin from Abrams Books for Young Readers, September 8thHotPink

Shocking pink—hot pink, as it is called today—was the signature color of Elsa Schiaparelli (1890–1973) and perhaps her greatest contribution to the fashion world. Schiaparelli was one of the most innovative designers in the early 20th century. Many design elements that are taken for granted today she created and brought to the forefront of fashion. She is credited with many firsts: trompe l’oeil sweaters with collars and bows knitted in; wedge heels; shoulder bags; and even the concept of a runway show for presenting collections. Hot Pink—printed with a fifth color, hot pink!—explores Schiaparelli’s childhood in Rome, her introduction to high fashion in Paris, and her swift rise to success collaborating with surrealist and cubist artists like Salvador Dalí and Jean Cocteau. The book includes an author’s note, a list of museums and websites where you can find Schiaparelli’s fashions, endnotes, a bibliography, and an index.

CONFESSIONS OF AN IMAGINARY FRIEND A MEMOIR BY JACQUES PAPIER by Michelle Cuevas from Dial Books, September 8th

ImaginaryFriendJacques Papier has the sneaking suspicion that everyone except his sister Fleur hates him. Teachers ignore him when his hand is raised in class, he is never chosen for sports teams, and his parents often need to be reminded to set a place for him at the dinner table. But he is shocked when he finally learns the truth: He is Fleur’s imaginary friend! When he convinces Fleur to set him free, he begins a surprising, touching, and always funny quest to find himself—to figure out who Jacques Papier truly is, and where he belongs.

THE ENTIRELY TRUE STORY OF THE UNBELIEVABLE FIB by Adam Shaughnessy from Algonquin Books, September 8th

UnbelievableFib“What is the Unbelievable FIB?”  That’s the question eleven-year-old Prudence Potts discovers on a baffling card no one else in Middleton–except ABE, a new kid at school with a knack for solving riddles–seems to see. Then a mysterious man asks for ABE and Pru’s help investigating mythical beings infiltrating the town, and that’s just the first of many things Pru finds hard to believe.

Soon Pru and ABE discover another world beneath their quiet town, where Viking gods lurk just out of sight. And when the pair find themselves locked in a battle against a dangerously clever enemy, they must race to secure the Eye of Odin, source of all knowledge–and the key to stopping a war that could destroy both human and immortal realms.

THOMAS JEFFERSON GROWS A NATION by Peggy Thomas and Stacy Innerst from Calkins Creek, September 8thThomasJeffersonGrows

Thomas Jefferson was more than a president and patriot. He was also a planter and gardener who loved to watch things grow—everything from plants and crops to even his brand-new nation. As minister to France, Jefferson promoted all things American, sharing corn and pecans with his Parisian neighbors. As secretary of state, he encouraged his fellow farmers to grow olives, rice and maple trees. As president, he doubled the size of the nation with the Louisiana Purchase. Even in his retirement, Jefferson continued to nurture the nation, laying the groundwork for the University of Virginia. In this meticulously researched picture book for older readers, author Peggy Thomas uncovers Jefferson’s passion for agriculture and his country. And Stacy Innerst’s incredibly original illustrations offer the right balance of reverence and whimsy. This is Thomas Jefferson as he’s never been seen before! Back matter includes an author’s note on Jefferson’s legacy today; timeline, bibliography; place to visit (Monticello); and source notes.

THE MARVELS by Brian Selznick from Scholastic, September 15thTheMarvels

Two seemingly unrelated stories — one in words, the other in pictures — come together with spellbinding synergy! The illustrated story begins in 1766 with Billy Marvel, the lone survivor of a shipwreck, and charts the adventures of his family of actors over five generations. The prose story opens in 1990 and follows Joseph, who has run away from school to an estranged uncle’s puzzling house in London, where he, along with the reader, must piece together many mysteries. How the picture and word stories intersect will leave readers marveling over Selznick’s storytelling prowess. Filled with mystery, vibrant characters, surprise twists, and heartrending beauty, and featuring Selznick’s most arresting art to date, The Marvels is a moving tribute to the power of story.

CRENSHAW by Katherine Applegate from Feiwel & Friends, September 22ndCrenshaw

Jackson and his family have fallen on hard times. There’s no more money for rent. And not much for food, either. His parents, his little sister, and their dog may have to live in their minivan. Again.

Crenshaw is a cat. He’s large, he’s outspoken, and he’s imaginary. He has come back into Jackson’s life to help him. But is an imaginary friend enough to save this family from losing everything?

Beloved author Katherine Applegate proves in unexpected ways that friends matter, whether real or imaginary.

I AM DRUMS by Mike Grosso from Egmont, September 22nd

IAmDrumsWhile other kids dream about cars, sports, and fashion, all eleven-year-old Samantha Morris dreams about is playing the drums. But it’s hard to make her dreams come true when her parents are against it, she bangs on dictionaries because she can’t afford a real kit, and her middle school is cutting its music program.

Sam’s only hope to accomplish her dream is to find a private music teacher and pay for lessons herself — even if it means borrowing the family lawn mower without permission to make the money. But when one of her friends tells her she’s the worst percussionist in the band, she starts to wonder if she’s got what it takes. If Sam wants to become a real drummer, she must also overcome her own doubts if she wants to succeed.

JUMP BACK, PAULl: THE LIFE AND POEMS OF PAUL LAURENCE DUNBAR by Sally Derby and Sean Qualls from Candlewick, September 22nd JumpBackPaul

Did you know that Paul Laurence Dunbar originated such famous lines as “I know why the caged bird sings” and “We wear the mask that grins and lies”? From his childhood in poverty and his early promise as a poet to his immense fame and his untimely death, Dunbar’s story is one of triumph and tragedy. But his legacy remains in his much-beloved poetry—told in both Standard English and in dialect—which continues to delight and inspire readers today. More than two dozen of Dunbar’s poems are woven throughout this volume, illuminating the phases of his life and serving as examples of dialect, imagery, and tone. Narrating in a voice full of admiration and respect, Sally Derby introduces Paul Laurence Dunbar’s life and poetry to readers young and old, aided by Sean Qualls’s striking black-and-white illustrations.

THE THING ABOUT JELLYFISH by Ali Benjamin from Little Brown, September 22nd Jellyfish

After her best friend dies in a drowning accident, Suzy is convinced that the true cause of the tragedy was a rare jellyfish sting. Retreating into a silent world of imagination, she crafts a plan to prove her theory–even if it means traveling the globe, alone. Suzy’s achingly heartfelt journey explores life, death, the astonishing wonder of the universe…and the potential for love and hope right next door.

 

THE DOLDRUMS by Nicholas Gannon from Greenwillow Books, Septermber 29th

TheDoldrumsArcher B. Helmsley wants an adventure. No, he needs an adventure. His grandparents were famous explorers . . . until they got stuck on an iceberg. Now Archer’s mother barely lets him out of the house. As if that would stop a true Helmsley. Archer enlists Adelaide the girl who, according to rumor, lost her leg to a crocodile and Oliver the boy next door to help him rescue his grandparents. The Doldrums whisks us off on an adventure full of sly humor, incredible detail, and enormous heart.

 

What books are you looking forward to adding to your library this month?

Louise Galveston is the author of BY THE GRACE OF TODD and IN TODD WE TRUST (Penguin/Razorbill).