A huge hooray for Ruth Spiro on the publication of her second MAXINE picture book!

Best friends Maxine and Leo combine their maker and artistic skills to create (and save!) the ultimate garden in this empowering, STEM-focused picture book

After sketching and plotting and planting, Maxine and Leo know they’ve made The Greatest Garden Ever! But they’re not the only ones who think so. Soon, all sorts of animals make their way in, munching on carrots and knocking over pots. When Leo and Maxine can’t agree on a way to deter these unwelcome critters, it looks like there’s more on the line than saving their garden–they just might need to save their friendship too.PRAISE for Maxine and the Greatest Garden Ever!“Offers kids lots of minutiae to look at, including clever endpapers with comical one-liners...Detailed, animated, vibrant drawings accentuate the drama and neatly depict the concluding message that celebrates compromise...Kids will enjoy the quirky visuals while appreciating the creative relationship of these two companions.” —Kirkus“Illustrations show small detailed and colorful vignettes of Maxine, her family, and friends in full invention mode...Each has a strong personal view and a bit of attitude as they express themselves through their approaches...This title allows young readers to view changing relationships through strong-willed characters who learn how to work together.” —School Library Journal

READ MORE

When Nephele has a terrible freshman year, she does the only logical thing for a math prodigy like herself: she invents a time travel app so she can go back and do it again (and again, and again) in this funny love story, Groundhog Day for the iPhone generation. Fourteen-year-old Nephele used to have friends. Well, she had a friend. That friend made the adjustment to high school easily, leaving Nephele behind in the process. And as Nephele looks ahead, all she can see is three very lonely years.

Nephele is also a whip-smart lover of math and science, so she makes a plan. Step one: invent time travel. Step two: go back in time, have a do-over of 9th grade, crack the code on making friends and become beloved and popular.

Does it work? Sort of. Nephele does travel through time, but not the way she planned–she’s created a time loop, and she’s the only one looping. And she keeps looping, for ten years, always alone. Now, facing ninth grade for the tenth time, Nephele knows what to expect. Or so she thinks. She didn’t anticipate that her new teacher would be a boy from her long ago ninth grade class, now a grown man; that she would finally make a new friend, after ten years. And, she couldn’t have pictured someone like Jazz, with his deep violet eyes, goofy magic tricks and the quietly intense way he sees her. After ten freshman years, she still has a lot more to learn. But now that she’s finally figured out how to go back, has she found something worth staying for?

A Kirkus Review’s 10 Outstanding Fall Titles for Teens

Feature title in Publishers Weekly’s Time Loops and Multiverses: A Children's and YA Book List, “a selection of books for young readers that bend space and time, reminiscent of iconic series such as Madeleine L’Engle’s A Wrinkle in Time Quintet and Philip Pullman’s His Dark Materials trilogy.”

“A teen genius learns the perils and pluses of time travel....Lariviere revels in math and science, unabashedly celebrates science fiction and romance novels, and anchors the story in a realistic, comfortably cozy coastal Californian setting. The lack of catastrophic, explosion-riddled scenes, evil overlords, or alien invasions renders this a gentle, grounded read, reminiscent of A Wrinkle in Time...A heartwarming story of hacking high school through math.”— Kirkus Reviews

“Lariviere’s YA debut is a multifaceted mélange of math and hormones; Nephele’s introspective monologues are filled with elegantly descriptive detail, tending toward a rambling stream-of-consciousness that many readers will find winning.” — Publishers Weekly

"Captivating and wildly creative, TIME TRAVEL FOR LOVE AND PROFIT gave me that thrill of excitement you feel when you find a new YA voice that you know will become one of your favorites." — Rachael Allen, author of A Taxonomy of Love and The Summer of Impossibilities

"A wild and funny ride through that most treacherous time of all: freshman year. This is a wise and timely reminder that there are no do-overs in life!" —Brent Hartinger, author of Geography Club and The Otto Digmore Difference

"Smart, tender, and deliciously nerdy." — Ariel Kaplan, author of We Are the Perfect Girl

“This bittersweet, beautifully funny novel is wonderfully weird and infinitely loveable. Staying up all night reading it is like an all-time memorable sleepover with your best, most oddball friend.” – Harriet Reuter Hapgood, author of How To Be Luminous and The Square Root of Summer

READ MORE

Congratulations and hooray to Sue Soltis, whose picture book text, THE MOON MOVED IN, has sold to Melissa Manlove at Chronicle Books for Children and will be illustrated by Sonia Sánchez. I can't wait to hold this beautiful story in my hands!

READ MORE

Happiest of publications days to Patricia Pearson on the publication of her newest work of non-fiction for older readers, Conspiracy: Nixon, Watergate, and Democracy's Defenders!

The story of President Richard Nixon and those who fought against him comes to life in this insightful and accessible book.

The Watergate scandal created one of the greatest constitutional crises in American history. When the House Judiciary Committee approved three articles of impeachment against President Richard Nixon and the Supreme Court ruled that he had to turn over to Congress the tapes that proved the claims against him, he realized his support in the Senate had collapsed. He resigned rather than face almost certain conviction on abuse of power and obstruction of justice.

We know the villain’s story well, but what about the heroes? When the country’s own leader turned his back on the Constitution, who was there to defend it?

Conspiracy is about the reporters, prosecutors, judges, justices, members of Congress, and members of the public who supported and defended the Constitution when it needed it most. To purchase copies of Conspiracy, please click here.

PRAISE FOR CONSPIRACY!

"What can American citizens do about a president who thinks he's above the rule of law? A lot, actually, as Pearson shows in this skillful and meticulous telling of the Watergate drama."—Steve Sheinkin, National Book Award finalist & Newbery Honor author of Bomb and Most Dangerous

“Pearson agilely walks the line between textbook history and popular true crime…” — Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books

“Smooth, clear writing makes this an appealing and accessible read. A cautionary episode from a half-century ago that ends up sounding eerily relevant.” — Kirkus Reviews

Congratulations to Patty!

READ MORE

I'm happy to say that I'm opening to queries today! It's been awhile since I've been open and I'm hungry for new things. What kind of new things, you ask? Please take a look at my updated wishlist, below:Starting with the big picture: I represent work for children and teens only—picture books, chapter books, middle grade, and young adult, along with some non-fiction for young readers. I don’t represent adult projects.I believe books can change lives — inspire a passion for reading and story; unlock imagination and empathy; move readers to feel, think, wonder, examine, explore, to laugh really hard. Books invite joy. This belief underscores my work as an agent, and especially influences which books I offer rep on.Books that tell the stories of people, places, and cultures that have been overlooked and ignored for too long are at the top of my list.I’m drawn to projects that are character-driven, tightly plotted, and have a singular, specific voice; always on the hunt for:

  • Layered, flawed, completely human characters.
  • Writing that’s confident, vivid, addictive; work that’s both ambitious and wise.
  • Humor is important, even in a narrative that’s dark or sad or edgy.
  • Sense of place matters—precise, expressive settings delight me.
  • Both literary and commercial work. Send me your high-concept and hooky; your award-winners; the books that will become backlist gold.
  • I want to be surprised—there’s nothing like the feeling that you’re reading something entirely new.

I look for projects that know kids are smart and perceptive and feeling deeply; that make the reader feel seen. If you’re creating work that could be described as generous, nuanced, and at ease with complexity, I hope you’ll invite me to read it.When it comes to genre, I’m omnivorous. Right now, in MG and YA, I’m hungry for:

  • High-concept genre elements combined with literary writing and an exploration of timeless themes.
  • Genre mash-ups. Give me that historical with elements of magical realism, that comedic sci-fi mystery. If your pitch is Anne of Green Gables meets the Wizard of Oz or The Westing Game meets Little Women, or any other smart and unexpected pairing—I want to see it!
  • I adore historical fiction and want more on my list. I’m looking for:
  • Stories that center perspectives we don’t typically read in historical fiction.
  • Work that’s immersive, thrilling, and steeped in the world view of its time and place.
  • The immigrant experience—if you’re writing anything like PACHINKO for YA or MG, please send.
  • I’m most interested in 20th century history, especially the period 1950-2000, both Western and Non-Western.
  • I don’t see many projects set in the Caribbean, Central and South America, South and Southeast Asia, or in African nations, and would love to.
  • I’m a big fan of historical mysteries, historical with a speculative or magical realism element, and alternate history.
  • If you’re writing about a time or place I haven’t mentioned, please try me anyway, there’s so much I’m fascinated by.
  • I’m also partial to a great mystery and want to see:
  • Narratives that center diverse viewpoints.
  • Layered, complex characters; twisty, intricate plots; and emotional heft.
  • All the sub-genres of mystery: thriller, (amateur) detective, cozy, procedural, caper, espionage, noir, suspense, and romantic suspense.
  • I’m also interested in chapter book mysteries, again with a diverse perspective.
  • I enjoy non-fiction in every category, picture book through YA, and gravitate to:
  • The subjects that teens and tweens are most passionate about and that impact them daily, such as current events.
  • Non-fiction picture books that pair informational text with lyrical voice.
  • In Graphic Novel form! Again, for all ages.

In terms of categories, here are some key points for each.I’m adding more Graphic Novel creators to my list and looking for:

  • Chapter book through YA, with a focus on MG.
  • Space Opera—think Star Wars for a new generation, in GN form.
  • Classics re-imagined and moved to GN—Great Expectations, 1984, Gilgamesh—yes, please!
  • A big, sweeping YA love story told from a diverse point of view.
  • GNs with a strong social justice theme, both fiction and non-fiction.
  • Of course, I’d be delighted to read mystery and historical fiction GNs.

In Middle Grade, I’m keen to find:

  • Stories that feel joyous and could be described as ebullient. I also love those with a slower rhythm, rich themes and gorgeous language that must be savored.
  • Literary, character-driven MG with a hook and real stakes. If your goal is a Newbery, I’d like to see it.
  • Commercial projects—high-concept, ambitious, big-hearted books.
  • Stories that explore identity and a kid’s first steps towards understanding themselves more deeply.
  • Illustrated MG and graphic novel hybrids.
  • I’ve always been a big reader of MG Fantasy and Sci-Fi. Bring on the imaginative ideas and inventive storytelling! Send me:
  • Work that takes inspiration from non-Western sources, particularly Native American and Central and South American legend or mythology.
  • Jewish content and themes in a fantasy setting are also an interest.
  • I enjoy adventure and action, a good quest, when accompanied by a certain depth—a novel that will thrill and then stay with the reader for a long time.
  • Spooky stories, horror manuscripts, and ghostly tales! Gore isn’t for me, but something quite creepy is right up my alley.

In Young Adult I look for:

  • A strong hook, an arresting, distinctive voice and layered, complex characters.
  • Romance or a romantic element, if I can feel the spell of love and attraction as deeply as your characters do. I’m a sucker for the enemies-to-friends trope.
  • Literary horror that celebrates body diversity; a complex intersectional feminist fantasy; a sex positive mystery. In other words, I want the themes and ideas I’m passionate about to come alive within a twisty, fast-paced plot.
  • Near-future sci-fi. If you’re imagining how genetic manipulation or nanotechnology may change the world in our lifetimes, I’m here for it.
  • Narratives set in small communities with their own, peculiar culture, think sports team, boarding school, religious community, or other closed groups.

For Picture Books, I tend towards:

  • Author-illustrators! If you’re an artist with tales to tell, I’d like to hear from you.
  • Indelible characters and succinct, expressive texts that tell a real story, paired with emotionally resonant illustration.
  • Humor is key: sly, silly, bonkers, witty, subversive, I love it all—especially something as funny as it is wise (oh, William Steig!).
  • I adore the great friendships of classic kid’s lit and couldn’t say no to a new duo, so affectionate and quirky they can carry a series—think George & Martha, Frog & Toad, Elephant & Piggie.
  • Some of my favorite (non-client) illustrators are Abhi Alwar, Carlos Aponte, Christian Robinson, Dan Santat, Elise Gravel, Hyewon Yum, Jillian Tamaki, Kadir Nelson, Kate Beaton, Laurie Keller, Loveis Wise, Maria Kalman, Phoebe Wahl, Raúl the Third, and Sophie Blackall.
  • In the best picture books, art and text are deeply intertwined, both enriching the other, and it’s that marriage that evokes a strong emotional reaction in the reader. Think of those books that make you feel, as the last page is turned, that your heart has just expanded, that something missing is now restored—that’s what I’m looking for.

Chapter Book wants:

  • Diversity—something sorely lacking in this category, and particularly important as these are often the first lengthier titles kids select and read for themselves. When it comes to books acting as mirrors, windows and doors, chapter books are crucial.
  • Again, humor is important—something funny will always win over kid readers.
  • Something tonally different than what’s already out there—something quieter, more contemplative, interior, or moody. I see a lot of bouncy, exuberant stories, and enjoy them, but that’s not the only emotional place emergent readers inhabit.
  • I can’t talk about chapter books without talking about Amy Hanlon’s utterly delicious DORY FANTASMAGORY series. These are some of my most favorite books, across every category including adult – they are SO funny, wildly imaginative, and absolutely true.

Finally, a grab-bag of other interests:

  • Classics re-told thru the eyes of a secondary character.
  • Epistolary novels, a story-within-a-story, journal format, secret letters, found documents, and other unique framing or structural devices.
  • Narratives that explore the importance and role of storytelling, including oral storytelling, in our culture.
  • Environmental themes, when they aren’t on-the-nose.
  • Textile and fiber arts, i.e. sewing, embroidery, quilting—often, the work women did at home and only recently recognized as Art.
  • American tall tales (John Henry, Sally Ann Thunder Whirlwind, Johnny Appleseed, etc), tarot, cloning, hedge-witches, Appalachia, pie!, architectural history – all intrigue me.
  • I grew up in Washington, DC and lived in Edinburgh, Scotland for a year in my early 20s, so am drawn to these cities as settings.
  • I was a Comparative Religion major in college and am interested in explorations of faith and belief, that don’t proselytize.
  • As a former children's librarian, I'm always open to books set in or about libraries and librarians—the fiercer, the better.
READ MORE

We are over the moon for Upstart Crow client Deesha Philyaw, whose stunning debut short story collection, THE SECRET LIVES OF CHURCH LADIES, was longlisted for the 2020 National Book Awards for fiction. Congratulations to Deesha and to all of the amazing writers on this list!

READ MORE

HOORAY and happiest of publications days to Ruth Spiro on the publication of her newest BABY LOVES book – the 16th! – POLI SCI: JUSTICE!

From the duo behind the wildly popular Baby Loves Science series comes a spinoff perfect for little citizens: Baby Loves Political Science!Accurate enough for an expert, yet simple enough for baby, this brainy book explores our justice system. Uh-oh! Baby's family has rules. If he breaks a rule, there might be consequences. Grown-ups have rules to follow too; these are called laws. This warm, inclusive primer demystifies the judiciary and emphasizes the importance of fairness in our society. Ruth Spiro's toddler-friendly, scrupulously accurate text and Greg Paprocki's bright, cheerful illustrations are sure to please and amaze the littlest activists among us.To purchase copies of BABY LOVES JUSTICE!, please click here.Congratulations to Ruth!

READ MORE

Upstart Crow is excited to welcome new client  Kirbi Fagan.

Kirbi is a Metro Detroit-based author and illustrator recognized for her cover art in Adult, YA, and Middle Grade fiction as well as her numerous covers for comic books on projects such as Black Panther/Shuri and Firefly. Her debut as a picture book illustrator is slated for 2021 with SUMMER OF THE TREE ARMY: A Civilian Conservation Corps Story (Sleeping Bear Press). She is currently working on her own nonfiction picture book about wild alpha mares and a middle grade graphic novel memoir.

Her illustrations are known for their magical themes, nostalgic mood and feminine heroines. Kirbi was traditionally trained as an oil painter but now works in mixed media techniques including digital drawing tools. She received her bachelor’s degree in Illustration from Kendall College of Art and Design. She is the Co-Regional Illustrator Coordinator with the Society of Children’s Books Writers and Illustrators, and also teaches illustration at College for Creative Studies in Downtown Detroit.

READ MORE

"Tender, fierce, proudly Black and beautiful, these stories will sneak inside you and take root."

--Kirkus (starred review)

The Secret Lives of Church Ladies explores the raw and tender places where Black women and girls dare to follow their desires and pursue a momentary reprieve from being good. The nine stories in this collection feature four generations of characters grappling with who they want to be in the world, caught as they are between the church’s double standards and their own needs and passions.With their secret longings, new love, and forbidden affairs, these church ladies are as seductive as they want to be, as vulnerable as they need to be, as unfaithful and unrepentant as they care to be, and as free as they deserve to be.Buy your copy here!

"A balm for tongues bitten and comments swallowed...A bitingly humorous compendium of the absurd subtle racism of the American workplace." --Kirkus

Greetings, well-intentioned person of pallor.Your good intentions used to be enough. But in these diverse and divisive times, some people would hold you accountable for your actions. You were not raised for such unfairness. You need help. And help you now have.Let Daquan--that black coworker you are referring to when you claim to have black friends--help you navigate perilous small talk with African Americans with this handy field guide. This portable bit of emotional labor puts at your fingertips a tabbed and alphabetized list of things not to say to black people. Finally!How to use: Keep this handbook close. Whenever you are confronted with an African American and you feel compelled to blurt out an observation about her hair or to liken your Tesla lease to slavery, ask for a moment to consult this reference. She'll wait. If the keen insight you want to share is listed herein, You Can Keep That to Yourself. It truly is that easy! Buy your copy here!

READ MORE

Daphne Kalmar’s new middle grade novel, Stealing Mt Rushmore:

"Daphne Kalmar has created a wonderfully imperfect cast of characters and gathered them into a story that will break your heart. . . and heal it again. Stealing Mt. Rushmore has it all." —Marion Dane Bauer, author of the Newbery Honor novel On My Honor

Daphne Kalmar brings to life the social and political upheaval of the 1970s, revealing the heart of a family on the verge of falling apart and the courage of a young girl who does all she can to bring them together.It's the summer of 1974. Nellie's turned thirteen. Her best friend, Maya, has a crush on a boy. President Nixon might get impeached. And her mom's run off. The money for their family road trip to see Mt. Rushmore is missing and her dad's crawled into bed and won't get up.Nellie's sure the trip out West will fix her family, and she'll do almost anything to come up with the cash. But she begins to wonder why it's always her, the girl, who's stuck with the dishes and everything else. And how can a mom just up and leave with no note, no forwarding address, no nothing?To purchase copies of Stealing Mt Rushmore, please click here.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Ruth Spiro and Irene Chan’s three new Baby Loves books, Baby Loves the Five Senses: Taste, Smell, and Touch:

“Higher concept board books are available in many shapes and sizes, and this series is particularly successful as it keeps the science as simple as possible. Babies and toddlers will be attracted to the joyful, inviting illustrations depicting familiar activities, and parents will love the practical explanation of the different senses.”—School Library JournalAccurate enough for an expert, yet simple enough for baby, these brainy books explore the science behind your sense of touch, taste and smell. Irene Chan's bright, kid-friendly illustrations and Ruth Spiro's age-appropriate, scientifically-vetted text reveal the mysteries of the senses!To purchase copies of the Baby Loves books, please click here.BIG congrats to Daphne and Ruth!

READ MORE