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July 2012

Last summer Deborah Underwood sent me a manuscript in an unusual form for a writer who's not also an illustrator—a PDF, with sketches. She had started using drawing as a new way of playing with story ideas, and boy, did I like the result! The story, which perfectly captured cat personality, had the off-page narrator communicating with a cat character who wanted to take the Easter Bunny's job.

By the first of the year, we had an offer in hand from Jessica Garrison at Dial, who thought the Easter Cat was the perfect foil for all the sweetly nostalgic books that appear in stores around Easter time. We're just now announcing because an illustrator has now been signed for the project—Claudia Rueda, whose HUFF AND PUFF features three expressive pig characters and was praised by Shelf Awareness as "Sure to be a family favorite." HERE COMES THE EASTER CAT is slated for a spring 2014 release.

Hooray, Deborah!

—Erin

Picture book author Mary Lyn Ray has lots of experiences with dogs and lots of experiences with school visits, and so it seems perfect that the two should come together in a manuscript called A LUCKY AUTHOR HAS A DOG. And it's even more perfect that the wonderful Arthur Levine should read the manuscript and see in it another, parallel story—one about a child who wants to be an author and wants a dog, who meets the adult author character at a school visit, when everything comes together.

You've probably guessed by now that this is an announcement of a new book deal! Arthur A. Levine acquired Mary Lyn's picture book manuscript for his imprint at Scholastic, and we couldn't be happier. Huge congratulations, Mary Lyn!

—Erin

Katerina

Katerina's Wish

This is the first star awarded to Katerina's Wish, and here's the full text from Kirkus:

Thirteen-year-old Katerina and her little sisters want to believe in their dreams, but life in a Colorado coal camp threatens to turn them into pipe dreams. Take one maybe-magical carp and three sisters who believe in wishes, stir them together with an evil shopkeeper and add a dash of romance, and you have one dandy first novel. Katerina's sisters wish for little hair ribbons and plum dumplings when they find a special fish, but big sister has appropriately bigger plans. She wishes that her family could leave the coal town and have the farm they hoped to own when they left Bohemia for America in the late 1800s. But dreams are tricky things, easily dashed when real life interferes. This is a world where the coal company owns everything, pays hardworking immigrants in scrip that can only be used at the company store, separates the workers by nationality so they cannot organize and, worst of all, ignores safety regulations. Weaving rich details of life in a mining town at the turn of the 20th century with the pacing of a good old-fashioned historical romance and conveying it all in Katerina's heartfelt voice, Mobley has constructed a world where one determined teenager with brains for business, the bravery to stand up for herself and the ability to find love help make dreams come true. Top-notch.

Congratulations, Jeannie!


—Erin

Happy July from EMLA! How's the heat? Stay cool with these delightful books—two picture books, one debut novel—out this month from three of our fabulous authors.

Flying the Dragon by Natalie Dias Lorenzi is a heartfelt story of two cultures, two kids, and kite fighting, published by Charlesbridge.

Think Big by Liz Garton Scanlon introduces a cast of creative kids putting on a pageant in which no one gets left out or left idle, published by Bloomsbury.

Time (Out) for Monsters by Jean Reidy shows us how an imaginative little boy spruces up his time out corner and has loads of fun in the process, published by Disney-Hyperion.

We wish these books into readers' hearts!

—Erin

Katerina

Katerina's Wish

It's the second star, but the first full starred review we can post (stay tuned for the Kirkus full starred review on July 15!):

Thirteen-year-old Katerina ("Trina" to her family) and her father are both dreamers, and it was her father's dream of a better life that led their family from Bohemia (now the Czech Republic) to southern Colorado in 1900. One year later, having settled in a coal mining camp, they are still buried in work and trapped by debt. Then Trina sees a fish that reminds her of a fairy tale about a magic carp; soon after, her two younger sisters' frivolous wishes are granted. Initially skeptical, Trina eventually makes her wish: for a farm that will make her family happy. Several dichotomies define Mobley's debut novel: optimism versus realism, magic versus hard work, and xenophobia versus a neighborly immigrant community. The importance of ingenuity, faith, confidence, and the willingness to dream shine through in a rich story threaded with traditional folk tales, which offers realistic dilemmas and a vibrant setting and cast. As Trina rises above the forces conspiring to quash her dream, readers will appreciate her success as she learns the rewards of persistence.

Congratulations, Jeannie!

—Erin

Some manuscripts just seem to have some greased-lightning magic on them right from the start. When Kathy Duval sent me A BEAR'S YEAR, I just had a feeling this was one of those manuscripts. It was lyrical and lovely and perfect for young picture book readers, and I could just imagine what a great illustrator would do with it.

Granted, I'd seen an earlier version of A BEAR'S YEAR, back when it was one poem in a whole collection of poems that we hadn't successfully placed with a publisher. And granted, it was one of my favorites in that collection, one I'd encouraged Kathy to consider tinkering with to turn into a standalone picture book. But this read--well, I just KNEW it had found its perfect form, and I hoped like crazy that I was right and it would find a home quickly.

Boy howdy, did it! From the moment I finished my first read of A BEAR'S YEAR, I had Lee Wade of Schwartz & Wade in mind for it. I sent it to her the second week of May; by the end of the month, we knew she was interested; by this week, even with the hullabaloo of BEA, ALA, and a Wade family vacation in there, the offer was finalized and we were going to contract. Greased lightning!

Here's the official Publishers Lunch announcement:

CHILDREN'S: PICTURE BOOK
Author of TAKE ME TO YOUR BBQ and THE THREE BEARS' CHRISTMAS Kathy Duval's A BEAR'S YEAR, a gentle and lyrical portrayal of one year in the life of a mama bear and her two cubs, to Lee Wade at Schwartz & Wade, by Erin Murphy of Erin Murphy Literary Agency (world).

Hooray for Kathy! What an example of persistence and ingenuity paying off. I'm so glad this little poem didn't stay in a drawer!

—Erin