New Picture Books for February!

Looking for a new and fun read? Need a new book for story time? Do you enjoy jumping in puddles and/or silly takes on classic nursery rhymes? If you answered yes to any of these questions, take a look at two new Sky Pony picture books published this month!

Puddle Jumpers by Anne Margaret Lewis, illustrated by Nancy Cote 

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It’s a rainy day in the month of May and Sam spots a rainbow, and then a puddle. A perfect spring puddle. His mother warns, “No! No jumping in puddles! You must keep clean today!” but Sam can’t stop himself from testing the water with his galoshes. And then the puddle invites him to play. The puddle whispers, “Jump, Puddle Jumper, jump!” and with that very first jump, Sam is off on an adventure of the imagination. He’ll be a frog in a pond, with a hat and some spots and a magic wand. He’ll be a crocodile with pink polka dots and teeth like blades, and a polar bear with purple polar hair. He’s going to jump, leap, dance, plunge, swim, and jump again. Sam is having so much fun in his puddle that even Mom can’t resist. With a leap and a thwump, she’s jumping too, cheering, “Jump, Puddle Jumper, jump!”

This happy picture book celebrates the simple, pure joy of jumping in a rain puddle. Nancy Cote’s cheerful illustrations are full of kid appeal, a perfect match to a story that captures the magic of being a child. Let your imagination take you on your own adventure the next time you encounter an irresistible puddle.

Aimed for children ages 3 to 6, this is a charming book about letting your imagination run wild and also about the joys children can find in even just a simple rain puddle. Encouraging kids to explore their outside world provides important developmental play for kids and parents will find the mom’s reluctance and then acquiescence a good reminder that adults need to enter the world of children in order to allow them to explore their world and to learn from it.

About the author and illustrator:

Anne Margaret Lewis is an award-winning and bestselling author of more than ten children’s books. She enjoys working with fun fictional characters and carefully weaving important lessons into her stories. A graduate of the University of Michigan, she lives with her husband and four children in Michigan.

Nancy Cote is a children’s book author and illustrator whose playful style has garnered her international attention. She is the recipient of multiple awards, including the Oppenheim Toy Portfolio Gold Seal Award, the AGA “Pick of the Lists,” the Smithsonian Notable Book for Children, and the Society of School Librarians International Honor Book. She is the author and illustrator of Watch the Cookie!, published by Sky Pony Press.

There was an Old Lady Who Swallowed a Skink by Tamera Will Wissinger, illustrated by Ana Bermejo 

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There was an old lady who gobbled a skink (a type of newt). And a worm and a pail and a line and an oar and much more in this hilarious book about a crazy fisherwoman who swallows all the essentials for a successful fishing trip. With the ever looming threat of “perhaps she’ll sink,” readers will hold their breath in anticipation as she gobbles her way through the tackle box and then the boat! With an already impressively full stomach, she reaches for just one last bite . . . but to find out how the story ends, you have to read the book!

A wonderfully humorous take on a classic nursery rhyme by Tamera Will Wissinger, accompanied by Ana Bermejo’s fun-filled illustrations, this story will delight children, adults, and all those who like fishing. It’s perfect for reading aloud and sure to be read (and perhaps even sung) again and again.

Intended for preschool-aged children, this silly story is sure to be a fun read-aloud both at home or at school/daycare. It’s also the ideal gift for kids whose parents or grandparents love to fish or to explore the outdoors and might even inspire a few to try fishing at some point (hopefully without gobbling any of the tackle!).

About the author and illustrator:

Tamera Will Wissinger is an up-and-coming poet and children’s author. Wissinger has a master’s degree in writing and is the author of two books for young people: Gone Fishing (Houghton Mifflin Books for Children) and This Old Band (Sky Pony Press). Wissinger lives with her husband in Vero Beach, Florida.

Ana Bermejo grew up in the north of Spain. She studied art in Valencia—home of paella—and particularly enjoyed drawing goats, unicorns, and deer during her five years of university. She continued her art education at Saint Martin’s in London. She currently lives in west London, England, where there aren’t any goats, deer, or unicorns, but there are plenty of squirrels—and they are nice to draw, too.

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#tbt: The Little Pea by Éric Battut

In today’s #throwbackthursday post, Sky Pony’s Editorial Director, Julie Matysik, has a tale to tell from way back in 2011 when Sky Pony was just starting out:

In September 2011, Sky Pony Press launched its inaugural list. On that list was one very special picture book—the first that Sky Pony ever published. The Little Pea, written and illustrated by Éric Battut, is a story about embracing differences, about wanting to be an individual, and about celebrating all that makes each of us unique.

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Detail from The Little Pea

I was grateful to be introduced to The Little Pea by an agent at The French Publishers’ Agency, who sent me a sample copy in the hopes that we might want to acquire English translation rights for our first list. I remember opening up the package and falling immediately in love with Battut’s simple yet poignant story and his elegant, minimalist illustrations.

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The poor little pea is laughed at by the other peas for being different.

After showing the book to both our creative director and our publisher, we quickly decided to acquire it for the list. Working with translator Sophie Pauze, we got the text in order and our production editor readied the book for the printer. The creative director and I decided to spec out the jacket, opting for a matte finish with spot gloss and a slight emboss on the title and image of the pea holding a peacock feather that graces the front cover.

Waiting for the books to reach out office felt like an eternity, but when that first advance copy arrived, I could hardly contain my excitement. For it wasn’t just a new book off press—that is always exciting—but rather publication of The Little Pea marked the beginning of a wonderful journey in publishing children’s books under the Sky Pony Press imprint. It’s a journey that has led to our publishing close to one hundred picture books over the last five years.

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An advance copy of Sky Pony Press’s first picture book, The Little Pea!

And it all started with just one little pea who made a difference by standing out from the crowd.

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What’s Your Favorite Sky Pony Book?

Sky Pony Press has been publishing children’s books since Fall 2011. We have hundreds of wonderful books in print, each holding a special place in our hearts. It’s a difficult task to choose just one favorite book from our list—every single Sky Pony book is amazing in its own way. We challenged the staff to pick their favorites from our list of wonderful books and here’s what they had to say:

  • Sam Levitz, Assistant Managing Editor 

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Sam’s Favorite Sky Pony book: Canned and Crushed by Bibi Belford

Why Sam loves Canned and Crushed: “As someone who worked teaching middle school kids for 5 years I know how hard it can be to get your hands on a chapter book that holds their interest. Canned and Crushed is definitely one of those rare books. The narrator, Sandro, is a great role model for kids. He’s smart, funny, loves soccer, and is not afraid to put himself out there to help out his family. What’s great about this is that Belford doesn’t dumb things down for her readers. She respects the fact that a book should be relatable enough to hold a child’s interest, but also challenging enough to teach something new. Sandro uses a lot of big vocabulary words and while telling his story, makes sure to define those words in the text for younger readers that may not have learned these words yet. It’s reminiscent of my days reading A Series of Unfortunate Events and being really pleased with Lemony Snicket’s expectations of me to not get discouraged by new words. The plot is clever and interesting and you’ll be rooting for Sandro and his family the whole way through!”

  • Steven Sussman, Sales Director

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Steven’s favorite Sky Pony book: Watch the Cookie! by Nancy Cote

Why Steven loves Watch the Cookie!: “I love Watch the Cookie! because I love cookies! It has taught me to never let my cookies out of my sight . . .

Where’s my milk?”

  • Jason Katzman, Editor 

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Jason’s favorite Sky Pony book: Who Flung Dung? by Ben Redlich

  • Bill Wolfsthal, Vice President 

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Bill’s favorite Sky Pony book: Jackie and Me by Tania Grossinger

Why Bill loves Jackie and Me: “It tells a very personal story about a very important American, Jackie Robinson. And I was very fond of the author, Tania Grossinger.”

  • Amy Singh, Editorial Assistant, Arcade Publishing

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Amy’s favorite Sky Pony book: The Unhappening of Genesis Lee by Shallee McArthur

Why Amy loves The Unhappening of Genesis Lee: “I loved the dystopian setting, Gena’s drive to recover her lost memories, and the twist of who the thief really is! I would personally love to have a Link bracelet to help me keep my memories close [and remember little things that I always forget]!”

  • Cory Allyn, Senior Editor, Night Shade Books and Talos Press

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Cory’s favorite Sky Pony Book: It’s a Wonderful Death by Sarah J. Schmitt

Why Cory loves It’s a Wonderful Death: “I love a good, snarky book and It’s a Wonderful Death delivered in spades. My first impression as I was reading was “Hey, this is like somebody took A Christmas Tale, put it in a blender, and hit PULSE!” It has the morbidly amusing humor of a Tim Burton movie, and Death, an actual character in the book, is a twisted reinvention of Spicoli from Fast Times at Ridgemont High. But like all great books, it’s also more than the sum of all its individual quirks. Underneath the politics and bureaucracy of author Sarah Schmitt’s vision of the afterlife is a poignant story that will sound very familiar to anyone who ever survived high school (and maybe looked back and wished they’d done things a little differently).”

  • Jake Klein, Publicist, Sports & Outdoors 

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Jake’s favorite Sky Pony Book: The Daring Prince Dashing by Marilou Reeder, illustrated by Karl West

Why Jake loves The Daring Prince Dashing: “Prince Dashing reminds me of a young me.”

  • Jody Faulkner, Manager, Special Sales

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Jody’s favorite Sky Pony book: My Body Belongs to Me illustrated by Dagmar Geisler

Why Jody loves My Body Belongs to Me:  “This book explores what children can do to keep well-meaning adults at arm’s length when it is uncomfortable for the child.  From the aunt who gives sloppy kisses to being tickled too much, this book says its ok to say no.  It is very positive, not scary book which sometimes these types of books can be.  I also like it because it sells so well! :P”

  • Stacey Fischkelta, Senior Production Editor

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Stacey’s favorite Sky Pony book: The Brick Bible for Kids by Brendan Powell Smith

Why Stacey loves The Brick Bible for Kids: “I believe that any book, especially children’s books, should teach the reader something. This book does just that. It teaches children the stories of the Bible by using a familiar toy to create images children would understand. The artistry in this book is beautiful and the message is simply delivered. The Brick Bible for Kids makes Bible stories accessible to many ages and makes the reading fun. I loved reading this book!”

  • Ronnie Alvaro, Editorial Assistant, Sports & Outdoors

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Ronnie’s favorite Sky Pony book: Gorillas in Our Midst by Richard Fairgray

Why Ronnie loves Gorilla’s in Our Midst: “As a little kid, I always dreamed that my favorite wild animals could live in the human world. Gorillas in Our Midst brings that dream to life, with hilarious instances of gorillas passing as human—except that is, when you give them a banana. Beautifully drawn and laugh-out-loud funny, this book is one of my favorite ways to relive my childhood!”


 

What’s your favorite Sky Pony Book? Tell us in the comments below!

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The Sky Pony Express: Meet the Ponies!

Welcome to skyponypressblog.com!

Also known as The Sky Pony Express. During our work days we spend a lot of time talking about books: our authors’ books, our favorite books from childhood, books we’d love to see published, and more. We really like books here, and after some careful thought, some more book discussions, and a lot of coffee, we came to the conclusion that we want to bring the book talk to our readers and our authors. We want to create a space online to connect with all of you and for you to get to know us, our authors, and our books!

Some things you will see on The Sky Pony Express:

  • Giveaways!
  • Author Q&A’s
  • A peek at upcoming books
  • Flashbacks to backlist Sky Pony titles
  • Author guest posts
  • Much, much more!

Meet the Sky Pony Team:

It takes a team of hardworking individuals to bring Sky Pony books to the hands of young readers—individuals who are still children at heart and have a silly sense of humor, of course. Luckily, the Sky Pony team is full of editors, publicists, designers, and children’s literature enthusiasts who love what they do and don’t have any plans to grow up in the foreseeable future.

Julie Matysik, Children’s and Education Editorial Director

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Julie Matysik hails from Madison, Wisconsin, and earned her BA in English from the University of Wisconsin–Milwaukee. She began her publishing career as an editorial assistant at Skyhorse Publishing in 2009 and helped launch Sky Pony Press in fall 2011. She now oversees the imprint as editorial director, working with a fabulous team who love publishing children’s and young adult books. Julie’s favorite picture book from childhood is The Monster at the End of This Book by Jon Stone and Michael Smollin, simply because it made her laugh after each page turn.

Weird fact: Julie was featured in a segment on her local news TV station as a two-year-old, caught singing “Take Me Out To The Ball Game” a cappella.

Alison Weiss, Editor

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Growing up steeped in the legends and stories of Sleepy Hollow, New York, Alison Weiss learned to keep an eye out for the Headless Horseman before she even learned to read. As a kid, it was not unusual to find her huddled under the covers on a Saturday morning with a stack of books, rather than downstairs watching cartoons. She graduated from the University of Pennsylvania with a B.A. in English, and interned at Random House, where she fell in love with editing for children and teens. After six-and-a-half years at Egmont USA, she joined Sky Pony in 2015 as an editor, focusing on chapter books, middle grade, and YA. Alison’s favorite books growing up included Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs, Eloise, Anne of Green Gables, and Paddington. As a grownup, her favorite book is Barkbelly.

Weird fact: On a second-grade school trip to a bank, she was locked in a bank vault. (Okay, they didn’t actually lock the door, but it felt that way.)

Adrienne Szpyrka, Assistant Editor

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Adrienne Szpyrka has been with Sky Pony since the beginning of 2014. She’s Canadian, grew up in Michigan, and came to New York most recently from Boston, where she did a master’s in Publishing and worked at The Harvard Coop bookstore. She reads mostly middle grade and YA in her spare time, but her walls at home are covered in picture book art. If she had to recommend one book she loves, it would be Letters to Anyone and Everyone.

Weird fact: Adrienne once had a hedgehog named Snuffles who used to escape at night and explore. She still isn’t sure how he got down the stairs, but thinks there might be a story there.

Rachel Stark, Assistant Editor

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Rachel Stark grew up in a rural Maryland county known for being home to more horses than the entire state of Texas. When her dreams of becoming a jockey—inspired by Joanna Campbell’s Thoroughbred series—fell through (alas, she is 5’10”), she attended Goucher College in Baltimore and studied English, creative writing, and photography. She realized early on that she liked working with books more than writing them, so she began her career in children’s publishing in 2010 with a role in marketing. She joined the Sky Pony team as an Assistant Editor in 2015 and loves helping authors bring great books into the world.

Weird fact: The parents of Rachel’s kindergarten classmates used to fight over her at play-date scheduling time because her incredibly active imagination would keep their kids busy(and quiet) for hours at a time. She is still coming to terms with the fact that she may never be that popular again.

Kylie Brien, Editorial Assistant

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Kylie Brien spends her days in New York City, her nights in Connecticut (where she’s lived for most of her life), and her weekends in New Jersey. All the commuting on the train affords her plenty of reading time. She never leaves the house without at least two books on her and a notebook to jot down any creative ideas she may have. She received a B.F.A in Writing, Literature, and Publishing from Emerson College in 2014 and joined the Sky Pony Press team in June 2015. Kylie has great aspirations to travel to Wonderland, Oz, and Hogwarts before settling down in Neverland (most likely she’ll be a pirate).

Weird fact: Kylie’s favorite toy when she was younger was a life-size Pink Power Ranger doll that she dragged around with her for years. Correspondingly, before deciding on a career in publishing, Kylie wanted to be the Pink Power Ranger when she grew up.

Cheryl Lew, Associate Publicist

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Cheryl Lew is a California native (San Francisco and Los Angeles) and New York resident. After deciding that the film industry wasn’t quite right for her, she moved to New York City to pursue a Master’s in Publishing from NYU. She is currently an Associate Publicist for Skyhorse, working with mostly Sky Pony books but also handling Skyhorse’s parenting and education titles. Cheryl’s favorite picture book from childhood is Goodnight Moon by Margaret Wise Brown and Clement Hurd—a classic! She’d always have her parents read it during bedtime despite the piles of other books she owned.

Weird Fact: Cheryl never had any furry pets growing up… but she did have a lizard and several goldfish!

Joshua Barnaby, Production Editor

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Joshua L. Barnaby is a New Yorker who has been working at Skyhorse Publishing since the tail end of 2014. He earned a B.F.A in Writing, Literature & Publishing from Emerson College in Boston, MA where he focused on writing drama, studying British literature and learning the applications used in print publishing. With a strong love for reading comic books and YA novels, Joshua takes great pride in typesetting and designing the interiors for Sky Pony Press as the Production editor for all Sky Pony Press titles. He loves stories about the development and performance of personal identity and explorations into mythology, psychological, fantasy, and science fiction.

Weird fact: Joshua’s mutant powers is to perfectly recall facts and scenes from the cartoon shows he watched growing up.

Winston Sparkles, Imprint Mascot

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Winston Sparkles was created by Sky Pony illustrator, Ged Adamson. After prancing out of Ged’s imagination, Winston lived in the Forest of Dreams where he received his BFA in Mascoting until he ultimately decided to make his home on the Sky Pony Express blog.

Weird fact: Winston is fluent in horse, human, and duck but duck is his first language.

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