Tu Books fall Friends & Family sale: a reader’s guide

If you haven’t noticed me talking about it EVERYWHERE, this week is Tu Books’ Friends & Family sale! We’re offering some pretty amazing discounts on our books—in particular, Cat Girl’s Day Off by Kimberly Pauley and Vodnik by Bryce Moore are only $1.99 in e-book format! And all our paper books are on sale for 35% off plus free US shipping. See the sale announcement for more details.sale

There’s not much time left, so hurry and take advantage of the sale while it’s still available!

And please share this link on with any friends or family who you think might be interested. Books depend on word of mouth to succeed, and no books more so than those published by small presses. If you believe diversity in books for young readers is important, or you just plain think we’re publishing awesome books, please spread the word!

For those who have already bought/read the books, please consider reviewing the books on Amazon or requesting the book at your local library if it isn’t carried there. Here are a few more things you can do, too.

If you’re not really sure what you should pick to read, though, I have put together a handy guide, according to interests and mood. Find your next weekend read here!

For older readers (young adult and adult):

If you’re looking for comedy, or you’re a fan of Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, or you love cats, or you have always wondered what your superpower would be, read Cat Girl’s Day Off—Kimberly Pauley’s love story to Chicago, John Hughes, and snarky cats who talk. Not to mention mystery (kidnapping of a celebrity blogger, murder plots) and adventure (literal cat herding).

If you love rich worldbuilding, inspiration from less-well-known fairy and folk tales, sympathetic characters, and complicated, dark humor,  read Vodnik—about a teen trying to avoid being drowned by a creature out of Slovak tales to capture his soul and put it in a teacup. Oh, and having to make a deal with Slovakia’s goddess of death to accomplish it.

If you’re looking for a (literal) kick-butt superheroine in a post-apocalyptic world, defending her family from despotic rulers and making the world safe for humankind, read Killer of Enemies—postapocalyptic Apache steampunk.

If you like dystopian tales with strong science fiction and human rights issues elements, read Tankborn and its sequel Awakening—hard science fiction with a romantic subplot set in a strict caste system in which “non-humans” are at the bottom rung.

Love books about reinterpreting old stories anew? Looking for a complicated father-son relationship, or love stories about genies and monsters and golem? Or a magical coming-of-age set in a rich historical time period? Read Hammer of Witches. Also the perfect classroom tie-in to a unit studying the events of 1492, particularly Columbus’s first journey westward, and particularly for reluctant readers who might need a “fun” story to get them into the history.

Read Summer of the Mariposas if you’re looking for a strong sisterhood story with no romance, a Mexican American retelling of The Odyssey, or a book that can best be described as Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants meets Weekend at Bernie’s. This is a great gentle read for your advanced older middle grade readers and young teens looking for a clean read, as well as a great classroom tie-in to an Odyssey unit.

Wolf Mark is great for readers who love paranormal romance and science fiction. It’s best described as Burn Notice with werewolves—Abenaki skinwalkers, actually, written by one of the best Native American writers working today.

Diverse Energies is a collection of 11 dystopian stories that all star people of color—if you’re looking for where the people of color are in the future, here’s one collection of tales exploring that lack elsewhere. Stories from Malinda Lo, Cindy Pon (both of Diversity in YA here on Tumblr), Paolo Bacigalupi, Ursula K. Le Guin, and more.

For younger readers (ages 8-12), we also have a couple of fun books: The Monster in the Mudball and Galaxy Games: The Challengers.

Monster in the Mudball is the perfect first “real” middle-grade novel for your readers who have just graduated from chapter books, and it makes a great read-aloud as well. I like to think of it as Warehouse 13 for kids–an artifact inspector comes to town, and Jin, our main character, has to help her find the monster that hatched from the artifact before it eats Jin’s baby brother!

Galaxy Games: The Challengers is a hilarious romp of a book that basically involves the Olympics in space. Aliens come to Earth to recruit Earth kids for the biggest sporting event in the galaxy—and our hero is mistaken for the best kid athlete on Earth because he got a star named after him for his birthday.

NYPL’s 100 Great Children’s Books | 100 Years list

100 Great Children’s Books | 100 YearsIn celebration of their exhibit The ABC of It: Why Children’s Books Matter, the New York Public Library has released a list of 100 great children’s books from the last 100 years. I’m pretty happy to see that 27 of the 100 titles are diverse (in humanity) titles, and that there’s even more diversity in the authors (Donald Crews’s Freight Train, for example, doesn’t feature human diversity in the text, because the main character is a train, but the author is African American). How many of them have you read?

Here are the diverse titles (did I miss any?):

Dragon booklist update

I’m updating my dragon booklist today and putting it on Pinterest. Now that my nephew is eight, he’s into full-on middle-grade books, and STILL loves dragons, three years later. So what dragon books have come out in the last three years? What books did we keep off the list last time because they weren’t that great for readalouds? Let me know in the comments here, as I think the old post is old enough that the comments have closed there.

New book list: Recent YA high fantasy

Mostly because I was curious how much of it was out there in the last couple years with paranormal and dystopian being so popular, I made a list of high fantasy for young adults published in the last couple of years. I went as far back as 2010, and it’s still not that large a list. Feel free to suggest in the comments books I might have missed, but remember–only books from 2010 to the present. If you’re looking at a paperback, be sure the original version of the book was that recent. (ETA: For those who missed it, the picture is a *link* to the list, not the list itself. The full list is over on Pinterest.)

Blogging at CBC Diversity this week and last

Though I am frenetically working to get some fall ARCs out to the printer, making me absent here despite having a computer at home again (and friends coming into town last week and this weekend has made me busier than normal at home, too), I was able to write a couple posts over at the CBC Diversity Committee blog this week and last. If you’re interested in getting into publishing but unsure how, check out our series of posts by the committee members on How I Got into Publishing. Looking for a good book? Take a look at Books that Changed My Life and our Book Spotlight. And don’t forget that at the end of the month, the Highlights Foundation workshop Creating an Authentic Cultural Voice is coming up quickly!

Get yer k-dramas here!

I’ve been meaning to post Korean TV (K-drama) recommendations for a while, but I haven’t quite gotten around to it. Recently, my new-ish Korean friends here in New York moved upstate and made some new friends who were looking for k-drama recommendations. My friends don’t watch much TV themselves, so I had the chance to finally make a list of some of my favorites, which of course makes a great seed for a blog post!

But I’m going to do something different. Instead of making yet another list with links, I’m going to make a Pinterest board, so I can keep adding to it when I find a new show to recommend. I’ve also started collecting some of my booklists tag into Pinterest lists, in case it’s easier for you to follow those there. Here’s my main Pinterest profile, and from there you can follow what interests you.

I watch K-dramas at both hulu.com and dramafever.com. I prefer to give you links to DramaFever, because it’s free there (some can only be seen on Hulu if you pay for Hulu Plus; I do because then I can watch them on my phone and Xbox). But Hulu is easier to pin—there is no easy image to grab on the show’s main page on DramaFever, for some reason. So, the dilemma is: pin DramaFever without an easy-t0-grab image, pin Hulu with the image but a link that not everyone can watch at, or both? I think both, for now.

The premium membership at DramaFever can be a good deal, by the way, because they are commercial-free—which Hulu isn’t, which makes no sense; if you’re paying for it, you ought to be able to watch commercial-free. Though DramaFever did just raise their rates, which means that it’s not quite such a good deal. (Last year it was only something like $49 a year, which breaks down to less than $5 per month. I think it doubled this year, but still, if you watch a lot of K-dramas, it’s worth it to be able to watch commercial free.)

At any rate, follow the links over on Pinterest for more K-dramas! And if Pinterest is not your thing, don’t worry–you don’t have to be a member to use the lists as a resource.

Fantasy and SF touchstones (MG and YA)

I’m making another book list again! I’d like to know what books you think are the most important (and give me a good reason) middle grade and YA fantasy books of all time/their time. What changed things? Which were important signifiers of culture at that time? Which were the most important in literary merit? What books had little literary merit—according to some—but changed the way things were done in that genre, or started a huge trend?

I’ll break it down for you and start off with a few obvious ones. What I’d like to know is who you feel fits some of the later categories. I have my own list of titles/authors, but I’m wondering who you’d pick.

Christina Rosetti
George MacDonald
Water Babies

Edwardian/American of the same era
A.A. Milne
L. Frank Baum
E. Nesbit

Early fantasists
C.S. Lewis
J.R.R. Tolkien

Following in their footsteps (60s-80s?)–these categories are nebulous because these authors’ works span decades; I’ll narrow it down later, as this is just a starting point.
Ursula K. Le Guin
Susan Cooper
Lloyd Alexander

80s-90s fantasy of the 2nd wave feminist variety
Tamora Pierce—Alanna especially
Robin McKinley
Donna Jo Napoli

Today’s fantasy

Real world: fantastic elements

Urban fantasy
Holly Black

Paranormal (sometimes romance)/Supernatural horror
Twilight by Stephenie Meyer

Alternate/fantastic world

Epic fantasy/sword and sorcery

Fairy tale retellings/related to fairy tales
Shannon Hale (among others, who overlap with 80s-90s fantasists)
Where the Mountain Meets the Moon by Grace Lin

Real world traveling to alternate fantastic world
Harry Potter by J.K. Rowling

Victorian SF
Jules Verne

Pulp “Golden Age” SF (***NOTE: I’m only looking for stuff published FOR CHILDREN, which might make this category hard to pin down)

Post-pulp SF
Robert A. Heinlein (actually, though, is Heinlein considered part of the Golden Age?)
Andre Norton

Today’s SF

Dystopia (not always SF)
The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
Feed by M.T. Anderson
Uglies by Scott Westerfeld
The Giver by Lois Lowry
The House of the Scorpion by Nancy Farmer

ETA: Postapocalyptic
How could I forget this category? And zombie plagues also fall under this—some books will fall in more than one category. Such as the dystopias—some dystopias are post-apocalyptic, and some post-apocalyptics are dystopian.

Space adventure
I have several titles in mind, but what are the BIG standouts in this genre, gamechangers, for you?

Zombies and other plagues
The Forest of Hands and Teeth by Carrie Ryan

Leviathan by Scott Westerfeld (are there any predecessors I’m forgetting within children’s lit—not adult?)

Futuristic/techy, not fitting in above categories
The Ear, the Eye, and the Arm by Nancy Farmer (or would this be dystopia?)

AGAIN, please note that I am ONLY looking for titles and authors who were published FOR CHILDREN AND YOUNG ADULTS. Please don’t go starting a whole new thread of adult titles that I can’t use in this list. This happens all the time when I’m doing book lists, and when I’m working on it for recommendations to parents or whatever that’s fine, but in this case I’m looking for touchstones that changed the genre and/or have great literary merit.


So, what do you think are the most important, most controversial, most talked-about, most meritorious fantasy and science fiction titles over the years for young people? My categories are vague, and will probably change, but I’m looking at overall eras (and those “eras” I just defined are vague too and will change, but let’s just use them as general outlines that get us from the Victorian era to today).

I’d like, in particular, to know about early women writers we might have previously overlooked, and important multicultural contributions. Surely our list of multicultural fantasy—heavy on the more recent years, and more sparse as we go backward—includes books that should be considered touchstones, such as Wizard of Earthsea, several “juveniles” by Heinlein, The Ear, the Eye, and the Arm and House of the Scorpion.

Booklists: Touchstone children’s/YA fantasy and science fiction

I’m working on my talk at the Ventura/Santa Barbara SCBWI Writers’ Day. In preparation for it, I’m doing a personal review of touchstone children’s and YA fantasy and science fiction titles from, say, the late Victorian period forward. Science fiction is tougher—I’m not going to cover pulp novels from the 30s or anything. Perhaps we might start with the 70s or 80s in SF (though I tossed Jules Verne and Robert Heinlein on the list because they do stand out—please advise me of others of similar caliber). I’m heading to the library tomorrow to grab a number of books, and trying to think if I’ve missed any.

Now, “fantasy” in children’s books has a pretty broad definition. I’m going to narrow the focus down to prose novels with human or humanoid main characters. That is, I’m not interested in animal stories (Redwall is awesome, but not the point of what I’m going for) or graphic novels or toy/doll stories (Winnie the Pooh, lovely as he is, doesn’t count here, though he does play into the whole British tradition; but no matter, that’s not what I’m looking for today). The Wind in the Willows is iffy–it’s anthropormorphized animals running around in frock coats and talking in British accents; for our purposes here today I’m going to say we’ll leave it off, though I reserve the right to change my mind later. Of course, so is Redwall (without the frock coats), so that helps make my decision in identifying their similarity.

I’m looking for books that a large number of readers would consider a touchstone—not obscure. “Touchstone,” as I’m using it here, is a title that’s either so popular practically everyone would probably have read it (like Harry Potter) and/or has great literary merit—something with great importance. Hence my list becomes more thin as it comes closer to the present day because I feel like we’re a little too close to those books to really be able to pick out that many books (right now) with lasting merit; those will manifest over time. But some do stand out, and I’ve included them.

Here’s my list. Anything you might add? Surely there are more pre-WWII era that I’m forgetting, and I’m sure I’m overlooking something obvious altogether. I’ve never (gasp) read Andre Norton, for example—hence my request on Twitter & FB for title suggestions—and could use some prompting about what her most memorable/important titles are.

Late Victorian Era (1850–1901)

  • The Water Babies, Charles Kingsley (1863)
  • The Light Princess, George MacDonald (1864)
  • A Journey to the Center of the Earth, Jules Verne (1864)
  • The Princess and the Goblin, George MacDonald (1872)
  • The Princess and Curdie, George MacDonald (1882)
  • Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, Louis Carroll (1897)
  • Through the Looking-Glass, Louis Carroll (1897)
  • The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, L. Frank Baum (1900)—its sequels cross my arbitrary dateline of 1901, which is the end of the Victorian era because that’s when Queen Victoria died

Pre-World War II (1901–1940)

  • Five Children and It, E. Nesbit (1902)
  • Peter and Wendy (or Peter Pan), J.M. Barrie (1911)
  • Mary Poppins, P.L. Travers (1934)
  • The Hobbit, J.R.R. Tolkien (1937)

Post-World War II, including Vietnam Era (1940s—early 1970s)

  • Bedknob and Broomstick, Mary Norton (1943 & 1946)
  • The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, C.S. Lewis (1950) and of course its sequels
  • The Borrowers, Mary Norton (1952)
  • The Children of Green Knowe, Lucy M. Boston (1954) and its sequels
  • Half Magic, Edward Eager (1954)
  • The Fellowship of the Ring, J.R.R. Tolkien (1955) and The Two Towers and Return of the King
  • Have Spacesuit, Will Travel, Robert Heinlein (1958) and other Heinlein juveniles
  • James and the Giant Peach, Roald Dahl (1961)
  • A Wrinkle in Time, Madeleine L’Engle (1962)
  • Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Roald Dahl (1964) and Charlie and the Great Glass Elevator (1972)
  • The Book of Three, Lloyd Alexander (1964) and its sequels, especially The Black Cauldron (1965)
  • The Dark is Rising series, Susan Cooper (1965-1970s): Over Sea, Under Stone (1965), The Dark Is Rising (1973), Greenwitch (1974), The Grey King (1975), Silver on the Tree (1977)
  • Dragonflight, Anne McCaffrey (1968)
  • A Wizard of Earthsea, Ursula K. Le Guin (1968)
  • The Perilous Gard, Elizabeth Pope (1974)

Gen Xers’/Millennials’ growing-up years (late 1970s–2001)

  • Tuck Everlasting, Natalie Babbitt (1975)
  • Dragonsong, Anne McCaffrey (1976)
  • Chrestomanci Chronicles, Diana Wynne Jones (1977–2006, with perhaps more to come? DWJ is seriously ill, so it depends on her health)
  • Beauty, by Robin McKinley (1978)
  • The Blue Sword, Robin McKinley (1982)
  • Alana: The First Adventure, Tamora Pierce (1983) and its sequels
  • The Magical Adventures of Pretty Pearl, Virginia Hamilton (1983)
  • The Witches, Roald Dahl (1983)
  • The Hero and the Crown, Robin McKinley (1984)
  • Ender’s Game, Orson Scott Card (1985)
  • The Hounds of the Morrigan, Pat O’Shea (1985)
  • Howl’s Moving Castle, Diana Wynne Jones (1986)
  • The Devil’s Arithmetic, Jane Yolen (1988)
  • Matilda, Roald Dahl (1988)
  • Dealing with Dragons, Patricia C. Wrede (1990) and its sequels
  • The Giver, Lois Lowry (1993)
  • The Ear, the Eye, and the Arm, Nancy Farmer (1994)
  • Sabriel, Garth Nix (1995), and Lirael (2001) and Abhorsen, its sequels
  • The Golden Compass, Philip Pullman (1995) and its sequels
  • Harry Potter, J.K. Rowling (1997) and its sequels (though that also cuts across past Sept. 11th)
  • Ella Enchanted, Gail Carson Levine (1997)
  • The Folk Keeper, Franny Billingsley (1999)

Post-September 11th (2002–present)

  • Harry Potter sequels, J.K. Rowling
  • Feed, M.T. Anderson (2002)
  • The House of the Scorpion, Nancy Farmer (2002)
  • The Spiderwick Chronicles, Holly Black & Tony DiTerlizzi (2003)
  • The Hunger Games, Suzanne Collins (2008)

Pre-Robert Jordan epic fantasy book list

I’ve had several topics I’ve been meaning to post on, but I’m afraid this week has been a little busy, filled with good things like editing in-process books, talking with designers, finishing reads on a couple manuscripts, and a couple of editorial letters, just to name a few things. As I tweeted earlier this week, watching me do such things—either through me discussing them here, or actually watching me in person—would rather be like watching paint dry. Not a whole lot of entertainment.

But now this weekend I’m starting to work on my talk for the Venture/Santa Barbara SCBWI at the end of October, the title of which is Beyond Orcs and Elves: Diversity in Fantasy and Science Fiction. My focus, of course, will be on fantasy for children and young adults, but as part of the discussion I’ll be talking about working on Dragonlance: The New Adventures during my time at Wizards of the Coast, and the huge body of work of epic fantasy that those books drew upon (not to mention hundreds of game manuals).

So, I figured it’s time for another book list. This is a very specific one: I’m looking for a list of PRE-Robert Jordan epic fantasy that appealed to teenagers, whether published for them or not. So that includes Dragonlance Chronicles, which was published for adults, but it also includes Robin McKinley’s The Blue Sword and The Hero and the Crown, published for young readers. (I’m not sure if the latter two were published for teens or children, but I believe it was teens. I could be wrong.)

What do you all think? Remember, I want pre-Robert Jordan. The Eye of the World came out in 1990, so we’re talking the 15 or so years before that, because Robert Jordan really changed a LOT of things in epic fantasy, inspiring a lot of epic fantasists working today both in adult and children’s. I’m looking for the “before” shot. (It’s not really a before-after—more like a before-after-after-after, but you get the idea.)

To get us started, I’ll just list a few authors (I will come back tomorrow when it’s not after midnight and flesh out the list with specific books):

Robin McKinley

Tamora Pierce

Terry Brooks

Piers Anthony

Lloyd Alexander

Susan Cooper

Anne McCaffrey

David Eddings

Then there are the obvious precursors to these fantasists, including Tolkien and Lewis. But any other suggestions to fill out the 70s-80s list? I’m as likely as not to know the books, so please feel free to suggest either an author’s whole body of work, or specific books.