Your Black Friday Book Shopping Guide

Have you started your holiday shopping yet? Need some help? We’ve got you covered for the book lovers in your life! Check out our suggestions below!


Best book for werewolf fans: Earning My Spots by Mark Eastburn

Summary: Sam and his family are the only werehyenas in their town, and he’s often told that he’s inferior to all the other kids of shifters. But as tensions rise between shifters and humans, it becomes clear that Sam is the only one who can stop a war that’s on the brink of erupting.

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Best books for fans of Once Upon A Time: Roses: The Tales Trilogy, Book 1 and Feathers: The Tales Trilogy, Book 2 by Rose Mannering

Roses Summary: Her silvery appearance is freakish to the numerous inhabitants of Sago, and she is tauntingly named Beauty by those who torment her. After fleeing town in the wake of a violent uprising that sets out to massacre all Magics, she is captured by State officials who threaten to take her back to war-torn Sago. She manages to escape them during a blizzard by running into a deep, enchanted forest, where she meets a great and terrible beast who will bargain for her life. But can Beauty accept Beast?

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Feathers Summary: Outcast from birth for his ability to turn into a swan, Ode was forced to discover how to control his remarkable gift entirely on his own. But even with his gift, he cannot save his family from the oncoming war. The Magical Cleansing is spreading across the realm, and strangers arrive from foreign lands bringing with them bloodshed and fear. With the help of his gift, Ode flees to a distant island where answers, Magic, and a girl with golden hair await him.
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Best book for Shakespeare lovers and theater kids: The Taming of the Drew by Stephanie Kate Strohm

Summary: Cass is so excited for her leading role in The Taming of the Shrew at the summer apprentice program of a Shakespeare theater company. But her co-lead in the play, Drew, is a total troll—and Cass’s bunkmate has a huge crush on him. So Cass decides to “tame” Drew and give him a personality makeover. What could possibly go wrong?

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Best book for anyone who feels like an outsider: A Blind Guide to Normal by Beth Vrabel

Summary: Ryder has limited vision and a prosthetic eye. His wit and popular made him popular at the school for the blind, but this year for eighth grade he’s going to the mainstream middle school—and fitting in is not as easy as he thought it would be. Can Ryder find his way to a new—and possibly even better— “normal”?

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Best book for someone who needs more time in her day: Timekeeper by Tara Sim

In an alternate Victorian London where clock towers control the flow of time and a broken clock can stop time completely, a young clock mechanic races to save his father who is trapped in a Stopped town, and to prevent attacks that could cripple all of England.

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Best books for young readers who wish they had a robot to do their chores: Project Droid #1: Science No Fair! and Project Droid #2: Soccer Shocker! by Nancy Krulik and Amanda Burwasser, illustrated by Mike Moran

Logan’s always wanted a kid brother, but when his inventor mom builds him a robot cousin, he realizes he’s gotten a lot more than he bargained for. Java is very literal-minded, and keeping his true identity a secret is going to be loads of trouble.

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Best book for a fan of science fiction: Beyond the Red by Ava Jae

For fans of The Girl of Fire and Thorns comes a story of betrayal, love, and loss—all on a technologically advanced alien planet where monarchy reigns, but lies rule.

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Best book for the dancer: Spin the Sky by Jill Mackenzie

Summary: Magnolia Woodson wants nothing more than to get her and her sister, Rose, out of the pitifully small, clamming-obsessed Oregon town that hates them—she just doesn’t know how. When a nationwide televised dance competition posts tryouts in nearby Portland, Mags’s best friend, George, says they have to go and audition. This could be Mags’s chance of a lifetime—a chance to get her and Rose out of Summerland. But will the competition prove too steep? Mags will have to learn that following her dreams may mean changing her life forever.

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Best book for the video game addict: It’s a tie! Invasion of the Overworld by Mark Cheverton or Catching the Jigglypuff Thief by Alex Polan
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Best book for the teen who’s always prepared: Pandemic by Yvonne Ventresca
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Best book for the varsity star: Double Exposure by Bridget Birdsall

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Books We’re Thankful For

It should come as no surprise to anyone that the Sky Pony team members are big fans of books. We love to read and we each have a memorable book in our lives that inspired us. Check out the books we’re thankful for below!


Alison Weiss, Editor

The Goose Girl by Shannon Hale

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I’m thankful for Shannon Hale’s Goose Girl. If I had to point to one book that jumpstarted me into a career as a children’s book editor, it has to be this one. When I was in college, I had time between classes, but not necessarily enough that it made sense for me to go back to the dorms. I spent a lot of time at the bookstore. (I’d expect that’s true of a lot of people in publishing!) But though I would browse the literature section—I spent a lot of time catching up on my classics, too—one day freshman year, I found myself wandering into the very bright and inviting children’s section. At first, I just took in the books I had read as a kid, the new books from authors who I had loved at ten and eleven and twelve. And then I saw the Goose Girl cover. I loved that cover. I spent weeks going back to the children’s section and that beautiful illustration would inevitably catch my eye. And then, one day, I bought it. And I read it. And then I ran to the bookstore and bought every other book they had by Shannon Hale. And then I started buying other middle grade and YA, too. And signing up for courses like Children’s Fantasy—where I revisited old friends like Michael Bond’s Paddington and A.A. Milne’s Winnie the Pooh and made new friends like Alan Garner’s Owl Service and Frances Hardinge’s Fly by Night. And I started writing papers in my English literature classes on topics like the loss of innocence through the window of Peter Pan in Kensington Gardens and representations of American children in Paris in literature. And then, one day, I was looking for something to do for a summer and read a testimonial for someone who had an internship at Delacorte Books for Young Readers, and I applied, and got a job, and the rest is history. I still pick up every Shannon Hale book I can get. But Goose Girl will probably forever be my favorite.

Becky Herrick, Editor

A Wrinkle in Time by Madeline L’Engle

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I’m thankful for A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle, which was one of my favorite books when I was growing up. I had an old used copy with a weird and ominous cover that my science fiction-loving dad had bought from a library sale and given to me. Because it looked so weird, it took me a while to actually want to read it for the first time, but one rainy day I was finally bored enough to try it. It was like nothing I’d read before, and the afternoon fell away as I got lost in the strange, faraway worlds and transformative experiences of Meg, Calvin, and Charles Wallace. After that, A Wrinkle in Time became my go-to book for when I was having a bad day—when I was sick in bed or just really upset. Even now I still have my battered copy on my bookshelf, and I return to it when I want to escape.

Cheryl Lew, Publicist

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone by J. K. Rowling

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This may be a bit cliché, but the book that I am most thankful for is Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone by J.K. Rowling. While I had read books for school before (and picture books and chapter books when I was younger to improve my reading skills), Harry Potter was the first series that I read purely for enjoyment. I was definitely more of a Saturday morning cartoon kind of kid (which unfortunately—fortunately?—is still true, even in my old age).

But the second I picked up this first Harry Potter book, I knew it was unlike anything I had ever read before. Rowling’s incredible world building, the relatable characters, and the fact that I was the exact same age as Harry and the gang when the first book came out made it very easy to picture what my life would be like had I grown up in this world. Aging with the characters I loved over the course of 9 years made this series a huge part of my childhood, and one of my favorite series of all time. Every few years or so, I’ll re-read the series in its entirety, and while still incredibly enjoyable, I’ll always be jealous of my 10 to nearly 20-year-old selves for being able to read these books and discover this world for the very first time.

 

Kat Enright, Editorial Assistant

The Harry Potter Series by J. K. Rowling

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So I’m going to pull the biggest cliché of girls my age and cite the Harry Potter series as the single most influential book series of my childhood. I was in elementary school when the books were first published in the US, and though I had always been a voracious reader Harry Potter captivated me in a way no other book did, and it’s stuck with me because I was lucky enough to grow up with Harry and his friends. As I’ve grown older and the world has changed around me, I’ve found that these books are even more relevant. Against a backdrop of whimsy and wonder, J.K. Rowling told a tale of finding an inclusive community, of fighting for the good in the world, and learning that part of growing up is learning to choose between what is right and what is easy.

And this Thanksgiving, more than any before, I am thankful that I grew up knowing what power hope and love held.

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Kylie Brien, Assistant Editor

Margaret Peterson Haddix

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I’m thankful for Margaret Peterson Haddix and all of the amazing books she’s written. I remember sitting in a circle and reading Among the Hidden with my sixth grade class . . . sneakily reading ahead because I was so captivated by the story. Of course, at eleven, I didn’t understand the complexities of the world that the characters lived in. I was compelled to keep turning the pages because of her fleshed out characters and gripping storyline that ultimately came down to life and death. I read every book available in the Shadow Children series and then started working on all of Margaret Peterson Haddix’s other books. I moved on to Running Out of Time, Just Ella, Escape From Memory, and Turnabout. I fell in love with all of her books and they helped shape me as a reader, a writer, and editor, and even as a person.

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Fandom Fashion: Spin the Sky

Check out this outfit inspired by the cover of Spin the Sky by Jill MacKenzie!


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Spin the Sky by Jill MacKenzie

spin-the-sky-9781510706866Magnolia Woodson wants nothing more than to get her and her sister, Rose, out of the pitifully small, clamming-obsessed Oregon town that hates them—she just doesn’t know how. Forced to put up with the snide comments and hateful looks the townspeople throw at them, Mags thinks she’s destined to pay for the horrible, awful thing her mom did—and that she’s left her and Rose to deal with—until the day she dies.

But when a nationwide televised dance competition posts tryouts in nearby Portland, Mags’s best friend, George, says they have to go and audition. Not only have they spent the past fourteen years of their lives dancing side-by-side, dreaming of a day just like this, but also it could be Mags’s chance of a lifetime—a chance to win the grand-prize money and get her and Rose out of Summerland, a chance to do the thing she loves most with everyone watching, a chance to show the town that she’s not—and has never been—a “no-good Woodson girl,” like her mother. But will the competition prove too steep? And will Mags be able to retain her friendship with George as they go head-to-head in tryouts? Mags will have to learn that following her dreams may mean changing her life forever.

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Author Chantele Sedgwick takes on the Sky Pony Q&A

Chantele Sedgwick takes on the Sky Pony Q&A! Check out her answers below!


Q: Why did you gravitate to the genre that you write in?

I write young adult because I think teenagers are amazing, intelligent, wonderful people. Being a teen is hard. They have so many emotions zipping around their bodies, they’re trying to figure out their place in the world, and they deal with some pretty heavy things. I love first experiences and young adult fiction has helped me put some experiences teens go thorough on paper. I love the stories of first love. The first kiss. Going through trials and growing from them. Relationships with parents, friends, siblings. I love it all.

Q: What are you reading right now?

I just barely started Gemina (Illuminae Files book 2) by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff. I absolutely LOVED Illuminae, so I’m hoping the sequel will be just as awesome.

Q: If you could be a character in any children’s book, who would you be and why?

Hermione Granger. She’s loyal, brave, smart and can be fierce if messed with. Plus, she’s a witch and can do magic!

Q: Where’s your favorite place to write?

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Q: What’s your favorite classic movie?

The Sound of Music. Hands down. (I’m a big musical fan.)

Q: If you could have any animal as a pet (current or extinct), what would it be?

Cheetah.

Q: Milk, dark, or white chocolate?

Milk. Although, I do love white too.

Q: What’s your favorite holiday?

Christmas. I love being with my family.

Q: What’s your favorite emoji? OR What’s your favorite GIF?

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Q: What did you want to grow up to be when you were Oakley’s age?

I wanted to be an elementary school teacher. I became a mother and an author instead and I love it.


Love, Lucas by Chantele Sedgwick

love-lucas-revised-9781510709928A 2015 Whitney Award Nominee!

A powerful story of loss, second chances, and first love, reminiscent of Sarah Dessen and John Green.

When Oakley Nelson loses her older brother, Lucas, to cancer, she thinks she’ll never recover. Between her parents’ arguing and the battle she’s fighting with depression, she feels nothing inside but a hollow emptiness. When Mom suggests they spend a few months in California with Aunt Jo, Oakley isn’t sure a change of scenery will alter anything, but she’s willing to give it a try.

In California, Oakley discovers a sort of safety and freedom in Aunt Jo’s beach house. Once they’re settled, Mom hands her a notebook full of letters addressed to her—from Lucas. As Oakley reads one each day, she realizes how much he loved her, and each letter challenges her to be better and to continue to enjoy her life. He wants her to move on.

If only it were that easy.

But then a surfer named Carson comes into her life, and Oakley is blindsided. He makes her feel again. As she lets him in, she is surprised by how much she cares for him, and that’s when things get complicated. How can she fall in love and be happy when Lucas never got the chance to do those very same things?

With her brother’s dying words as guidance, Oakley knows she must learn to listen and trust again. But will she have to leave the past behind to find happiness in the future?

Chantele Sedgwick is a young adult author, harpist, wife to one and mom to four. She loves fairy tales, happy endings, Kit Kats, and (judging by her bookshelves) buying way too many books. She lives in Roy, Utah, with her family and can usually be found reading, or talking her husband’s ear off with her endless supply of book ideas.

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Jasper the Dog is Betrayed, Again

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Author Beth Vrabel’s lovable dog Jasper wrote a guest blog post for us earlier this year. Now that he’s had a chance to read Beth’s newest novel, A Blind Guide to Normal, he’s back with another guest post! Check out his thoughts below!


 

Jasper the Dog is Betrayed, Again

I am betrayed once more.blind-guide-to-normal-9781510702288

Not only does my human’s latest book have guinea pigs on the cover—guinea pigs!—the story also features a…

No, I can’t bring myself to say it.

But I must.

Deep breath.

It features a cat.

Not just any cat, either, as despicable as that might be. No, it features a cat based on one she actually once knew. Her latest book, A Blind Guide to Normal, includes a cat named General MacCathur II. And it’s based on Goldie, a cat her grandparents had when she was a pup (or whatever humans call puppy versions o9781510703827-frontcoverf themselves).

Goldie even gets a shout out on the dedication page, which I know because I heard the Littlest Human ask why it wasn’t dedicated to him.

Great question, Littlest Human, but you got the dedication in my human’s book Pack of Dorks. Did I? No, of course not. I’ve simply dedicated my life to keeping her warm and cozy while she writes, defending her from Vacuum, adding my personal musk to our favorite chair and bringing her the toy she so loves to throw again and again.

Yet I’ve never gotten a dedication. The closest acknowledgment to my influence is the golden version of me on the cover of her book A Blind Guide to Stinkville. She told me that Tooter, the dog in that book, is based on me, but her description of him (a fat, farting dog who goes where he shouldn’t) sounds pretty far off from me.

Yet this Goldie gets a whole dedication.

Okay. If she likes cats, fine.

I, Jasper the Dog, will become a cat.

 

Day One

I consult with Winn-Dixie and Pippin the Guinea Pigs, who lived in a pet store among other animals, including cats, when they were guinea piglets.

“What do you know about cats?” I ask.

“They’re horrid,” they squeak.

“That’s what you say about humans.”

“Yes,” they squeak.

“And dogs.”

“Yes.” Pippin scurries into their hut and away from me. Winn-Dixie darts in and flips the hut. Pippin screeches and chases Winn-Dixie. They do this all day.

“But what do cats do?” I call above their screeches. “How do they cat?”

The pigs pause. Winn-Dixie says, “They sit high on top of things.”

Pippin adds, “Aloof! They’re aloof!”

Winn-Dixie pipes in. “They have beautiful singing voices!”

“They have no need for the humans. They can take ’em or leave ’em,” Pippin adds.

“Take,” I say.

“No, take ’em or leave ’em,” Winn-Dixie says. “Both.”

“I choose take. I’ll take humans. Humans are my favorite.”

The pigs sigh. “Cats are cats’ favorite,” Winn-Dixie says, and resumes their chase.

I’m sure the pigs are wrong. Humans are always favorite. Even so, I can do this, I tell myself. I can cat.

I assume my position atop my human’s favorite chair.

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“Get down, you silly pup,” she says. “You are not a cat.”

Not yet, Human.

Two hours later, I’ve become wedged between the cushion and the chair and cannot move. I am, however, extremely comfortable.

Twenty minutes later, my human yells, “What have you done to my chair? You’re ruining the cushion!” When she notices that I’m stuck, she pulls me free and gives me some pepperoni. Do cats get pepperoni?

This thought troubles me.

I will resume efforts tomorrow.

 

Day Two

I shall be aloof.

I’m going aloof all the way over here, away from the Littlest Human and his even littler friend, away from the Monopoly game and all of its interestingly smelling pieces and their deliciously smelly toes.

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Aloof.

Aloof.

Hold up. They’re leaving the game! They’re going to the OUTSIDE! I love that place! I love The Outside!

We’re going to Play!

This is awesome! This is fantastic!

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I chase leaves and shred them to bits! I bounce through snow and make it splash and splash! I chase the basketball!

This is… not what cats do.

I’ll try again tomorrow.

 

Day Three

I try this singing of which the guinea pigs have spoken.

The humans tell me to Be Quiet and Go Lay Down.

I sing louder.

The humans say Stop It and No.

Soon after, my human leaves for a long time. I am not worried. Take ‘em or leave ‘em.

I’ll just sit here on top of her chair and look out the window.

Still looking.

I’ll take a small nap. I’m sure she’ll be here when I wake up.

She’s still not here! I am not long for this world without her!

I run from room to room to make sure she isn’t just hiding. I even jump up onto her bed, which is a No, Jasper!, and pull back the blankets but no human! I roll around a little on her pillow, just to remember her scent.

I hear the door open but I’m too exhausted from my hunt to find her.

“What are you doing on the bed, Jasper the Dog?” she asks.

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I just roll over.

I’m getting better at catting.

 

Day Four

I smell pupcakes! Is today birthday?

Every other month or so, it’s my birthday. Poor Little Humans only have one birthday a year. I don’t think the big humans have any birthdays. But Jasper the Dog? Seven birthdays every year.

I bet today is birthday.

Pupcakes!

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Troubling thought: Do cats have birthdays?

I run to the kitchen. The Little Human asks, “Can I have one of the cupcakes?”

My human says no. “These are for the party we’re going to later.”

I wait for my pupcake and my pupcake hat and my birthday song. The little human puts dog food in my bowl. Dog food? The injustice!

The biggest human comes home and puts a box on the table. “I’ve got the hot wings!” he says.

Then all the humans shuffle on coats and grab bags—including the cupcakes—and leave without Jasper the Dog.

But then I smell something even better than pupcakes. Hot wings.

“Don’t you eat those!” Winn-Dixie the Guinea Pig squeaks. “Cats don’t eat hot wings.”

I sniff. Somehow I find myself up on a chair.

I sniff again. Somehow my nose has opened the box. I’ll just grab one little hot wing. Nom, nom, nom.

Nom, nom.

Nom.

The garage door is opening! My human runs inside!

I jump from the chair!

I hide behind the couch as my human opens the lid of the box.

“Jasper!” my human yells. “Why are six hot wings missing?”

He calls me Bad Dog. He never calls me Bad Dog.

I am worse than Bad Dog. I am also Bad Cat.

And my belly is on fire.

 

Day Five

The vet says dogs aren’t supposed to eat hot wings.

He gives me medicine.

The only perk is my humans are now properly interested in the gifts I leave for them in the yard.

My human claps for me to sit with her on her chair.

I jump up and think about jumping further to sit above her head like a proper cat.

Instead, I sit across her lap. She puts away her laptop and rubs my ears and pats my belly. “Silly, pup. You know you might be the best dog ever?” she says. “Love you so much.”

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I sigh and press my head against her shoulder. Best Dog Ever.

That’s me.


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A Blind Guide to Normal by Beth Vrabel

Richie “Ryder” Raymond has a gift. He can find the punchline in any situation, even in his limited vision and prosthetic eye. During the past year at Addison School for the Blind, Ryder’s quick wit earned the respect and friendship of his classmates. Heading to mainstream, or “normal,” school for eighth grade is going to be awesome.

After all, what’s not to like? At Addison, Ryder was everyone’s favorite person. He could make anyone laugh, especially his best friend Alice. So long as he can be first to make all of the one-eyed jokes, Ryder is sure he’ll fit in just as quick at Papuaville Middle School, home of the Fighting Guinea Pigs. But Alice warns him fitting in might not be as easy as he thinks.

Turns out, Alice was right. In just the first hour of “normal” school, Ryder is attacked by General MacCathur II (aka, Gramps’s cat), causes his bio teacher to pass out cold, makes an enemy out town hero Max, and falls for Jocelyn, the fierce girl next door who happens to be Max’s girlfriend. On top of that, Ryder struggles to hold onto his dignity in the face of students’ pity and Gramps’s non-stop practical jokes.

Ryder quickly sees the only thing worse than explaining a joke is being the punchline. But with help from his stuck-in-the-70s Gramps and encouragement from Alice, Ryder finds the strength to not only fight back, but to make peace.

 

A Blind Guide to Stinkville by Beth Vrabel

9781510703827-frontcoverBefore Stinkville, Alice didn’t think albinism—or the blindness that goes with it—was a big deal. Sure, she uses a magnifier to read books. And a cane keeps her from bruising her hips on tables. Putting on sunscreen and always wearing a hat are just part of life. But life has always been like this for Alice. Until Stinkville.

For the first time in her life, Alice feels different—like she’s at a disadvantage. Back in her old neighborhood in Seattle, everyone knew Alice, and Alice knew her way around. In Stinkville, Alice finds herself floundering—she can’t even get to the library on her own. But when her parents start looking into schools for the blind, Alice takes a stand. She’s going to show them—and herself—that blindness is just a part of who she is, not all that she can be. To prove it, Alice enters the Stinkville Success Stories essay contest. No one, not even her new friend Kerica, believes she can scout out her new town’s stories and write the essay by herself. The funny thing is, as Alice confronts her own blindness, everyone else seems to see her for the first time.


pack-of-dorks-9781629146232Pack of Dorks by Beth Vrabel

Lucy knows that kissing Tom Lemmings behind the ball shed will make her a legend. But she doesn’t count on that quick clap of lips propelling her from coolest to lamest fourth grader overnight. Suddenly Lucy finds herself trapped in Dorkdom, where a diamond ring turns your finger green, where the boy you kiss hates you three days later, where your best friend laughs as you cry, where parents seem to stop liking you, and where baby sisters are born different.

Now Lucy has a choice: she can be like her former best friend, Becky, who would do anything to claim her seat at the cafeteria’s cool table, or she can pull up a chair beside the dorks. But can she really be seen with the likes of dinosaur-obsessed Sheldon and nose-picking April? And how will she survive doing a research project on wolves with the super-quiet Sam Righter? Lucy’s about to find out what being a dork is really about—and it might just surprise her.

 

Camp Dork by Beth Vrabelcamp-dork-9781634501811

Lucy and her pack are back, in this sequel to Beth Vrabel’s heartwarming and humorous debut, Pack of Dorks. Sheldon convinces Lucy, Sam, April, and Amanda to join him at Camp Paleo. Like cavemen, they’re going to have to make do without air-conditioning, and they’ll dig for fossils during the day. And Grandma’s coming too—as lunch lady for the camp next door.

But Sam backs out at the last minute to attend a gymnastics camp instead. Lucy wonders why she misses him so much—it’s not like he’s her boyfriend. And why does the word “boyfriend” make her blush? She needs a distraction.

Enter Mr. Bosserman, the grouchy camp leader who won’t budge on the caveman aspect of the camp. The old man needs some softening up, and Lucy knows just the person for the job: Grandma.

One successful match made, Lucy starts to see potential lovebirds everywhere. But when the wrong campers pair up, the pack falls apart, all under the watchful eye of a secret blogger who’s been writing about the camp’s activities. Even worse? A thief is targeting everyone but Lucy, setting her up to look guilty. Soon Lucy finds herself alone, left to fix the messes she’s made. If she fails, the pack may be splintered for good.

 

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Sky Pony on Instagram!

Just in case you missed it, Sky Pony Press now has its own (semi-brand new) Instagram (@skyponypress)! While we already have a general Skyhorse Publishing Instagram (@skyhorsepub), we really wanted to have a dedicated account where we can post about just our kids and teen titles, run a bunch of giveaways, and give you Sky Pony Press fans a behind-the-scenes look at our books, amazing staff, authors, and all things Sky Pony! Largely thanks to an OwlCrate giveaway of a bundle of our YA titles, we’ve amassed a pretty great following so far, and we’ve been trying to spread the word for kids and teen book lovers to follow us, like our photos, and tag us in their posts of Sky Pony books!

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So if you haven’t already, head on over to @skyponypress on Instagram and follow us! There’s also a live ***GIVEAWAY*** for an ARC of Tara Sim’s highly-anticipated upcoming fantasy, steampunk, LGBTQ YA novel TIMEKEEPER, so make sure to enter for your chance to win while you’re over there. Follow the instructions in the giveaway post to enter!

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Meet the New Pony: Q&A with Editor Becky Herrick

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Sky Pony Press has just welcomed Becky Herrick to the team as editor! Becky is originally from Columbus, Ohio, and is a graduate of the University of Michigan. Most recently, she was an editor at Scholastic. To introduce her a bit more, we asked her a few quick questions:

 

Q: What type of books do you like to work on?

I like all different types of books and love working on a range of age levels (chapter book, middle grade, YA)! I especially love friendship stories and books that can make me laugh.

 

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Q: What were your favorite books when you were growing up?

Matilda by Roald Dahl, A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle, The Baby-Sitters Club series by Ann M. Martin, The Golden Compass by Philip Pullman, Gone-Away Lake by Elizabeth Enright

 

matilda book books reading reading gif

 

Q: What’s your favorite classic movie?

Do Disney movies from the 90’s count as classic? If so, Aladdin! Otherwise, probably The Sound of Music.

aww aw awww awwww aladdin

 

Q: Milk, dark, or white chocolate?

DARK, always and forever

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[Editor’s Note from Alison – We approve this SO much.]

 

Q: When you were a kid, what did you want to be when you grew up?

An art teacher! I loved my elementary school art teacher, and I still love doing all different sorts of arts and crafts in my free time (when I’m not reading!). Last year I had a lot of fun taking a screen-printing class.

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A Day in the Life of an Editor

It’s a wide-spread belief that editors sit at their desks all day reading and editing, complete with the iconic red pen.

 

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I’m not going to lie. When I first contemplated a job as a children’s book editor, I did the same thing. I can read children’s books for a living! That would be great!

 

But the truth is, while editors do read and edit a lot, most of that happens on our own time on evenings and weekends:

 

cat cute kitten sleeping sleepy

 

It’s a rare day when I actually get to edit in the office.

So, what does an editor do all day, then? Well, here’s a day in my life. Let’s see. I don’t even know what will happen!

9:00 AM – Get to work. I grab a cup of coffee and quickly skim my emails to see if there’s anything I need to deal with right away. There isn’t. I write a fast update email to an author and agent, and mark a couple of emails to come back to later in the day or later this week.

That done, I settle in for my daily ritual of checking sales orders and look for tasty book-related news and great pieces about my authors’ books to share on social media. Do all editors engage in one or both of these activities? I have no idea. But this is my pattern to ease into the day.

9:30 AM – Author calls to check in on something. We have a lovely, quick chat.

9:35 AM – Bethany stops by my desk to check in.

9:45 AM – Time for another cup of coffee. Off to the kitchen I go!

coffee black and white vintage advertisement coffee lovers

9:50 AM – Start writing the draft for a deal announcement for a book I’ve recently acquired. Sometimes the editor takes the lead on this, sometimes the agent. And sometimes the announcement copy comes very quickly, and other times, not so much . . .

This one was a little tricky. It takes a while.

10:15 AM – Email agent draft copy of deal announcement for her thoughts and comments. Cross that off the list. Phew!

10:22 AM – Start typing up this blog post and realize it takes a long time to sound elegant AND research appropriate photos and GIFs. (I do it for you, dear reader.)

10:55 AM – Respond to agent asking about when client will receive editorial letter.

10:56 AM – Back to the post.

11:05 AM – Rachel stops by to catch up on some points since she’s just back from what sounds like a gloriously relaxing vacation. We talk ARC set up, some administrative concerns, and reviews among other things. We also discuss the impending Lesbian Hillbilly Militia attack, which I promised her I would include in this post. Link here: http://www.dailydot.com/irl/lesbian-and-transgender-hillbillies-are-taking-over-your-town/?llid=xKlJ&ls=dd&type=cpc&campaign=xKlJ

11:25 AM – Last catch up on the post. I’m almost up to current! I need to figure out the next task to tackle!

11:29 AM – Realize I missed social media-ing a teaser from one of my forthcoming books that went live this past Tuesday! (Check it out here.) So I tweet the link.

11:32 AM – Update an offer form with agreed terms. I like to have one sheet with everything clearly laid out. It makes it easier when it comes time to draft the contract.

11: 40 AM – Derailed by important email. Do a little research and respond.

11: 56 AM – Send updated offer form to agent to make sure it’s all as agreed.

11:58 AM –  Create folder for new author. Love adding the new!

12:02 PM – Agent likes the deal blurb! Hooray! She’s sending it on to other involved parties to make sure we’re ready to submit.

12:05 PM – General administrative reorganizing.

12:14 PM – Sit down to review a proofread. For me, this means printing out the PDF, inserting proofreader’s comments, and giving it another read. Once the book is typeset, I just catch more on the physical page. When I have everything together, I’ll mark it all back into a PDF and send it to the author for her to confirm she approves all the changes.

I suspect that this new development will be most of the rest of my day. . . . Life as editor = you don’t actually get to plan out your days and keep to that plan.

And, contrary to the above, I’m actually editing in the office, today! Caveat, though. This kind of editing in the office isn’t all that unusual for me. It’s the structural and deep line edits that usually happen outside of work hours. Going through a proofread is much more akin to proofreading—just working out he last kinks, making sure every t is crossed and i is dotted.

12:51 PM – Adobe starts a cycle of freezing. Contemplate throwing something at my computer. Decide that would be unwise.

tumblr angry work computer frustrated

1:43 PM – Ask that we order in more red pencils. Hey, I need them!

1:47 PM – Go heat up my lunch. I’m hungry!

1:50 PM – Eat lunch while working. Periodically look up to see emails, etc. and deal with them, but mostly just making sure everything in this book is shipshape. Very apropos since it’s a pirate story!

3:00 PM – Wonder why this office is so cold! The blistering conditions I’m reading about in this book are not helping.

4:00 PM – Jacket meeting. See all kinds of pretty in progress.

4:30 PM – Back to the desk to keep editing.

5:15 PM – Scroll through PW’s Children’s Bookshelf where a deal I’ve had to keep under wraps for a long time is being announced! Send the newsletter to the agent, and gleefully go share the news on social media!

5:48 PM – Off to home. It’s been a really long day and its time to get cozy, maybe do some more editing, or curl up with a manuscript to read. Until tomorrow!


Alison S. Weiss is an editor at Sky Pony Press, where she works on picture books through YA. Some of her favorite book as a kid were Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs, Eloise, Anne of Green Gables, and Paddington. As a grownup, favorites (that she has not edited) include Barkbelly, The Goose Girl, Circus Mirandus, The Penderwicks, and Savvy. She loves assassins and spies and sleuths, friendships that feel like they’ll last forever, and love stories that will twist you into knots before they’re through. She’s especially eager to find a middle grade with a cozy feel, and a voice-driven, sweeping, romantic YA.

Recent and soon-to-be released projects include Jessica Taylor’s Wandering Wild, Kristina McBride’s A Million Times Goodnight, the Project Droid series by New York Times bestselling author Nancy Krulik, Amanda Burwasser, and illustrated by Mike Moran, dotwav by Mike A. Lancaster, Timekeeper by Tara Sim, Monsterville: A Lissa Black Production by Sarah S. Reida, Fear the Drowning Deep by Sarah Glenn Marsh, and It’s a Mystery, Pig Face! by Wendy MacLeod McKnight. She’s worked with New York Times best-selling author Jessica Verday (Of Monsters and Madness), Agatha Award winner Penny Warner (The Code Busters Club series), YALSA-Award winning Sarah Cross (Kill Me Softly and Tear You Apart), ITW Award Finalist Kristen Lippert-Martin (Tabula Rasa), Amalie Howard, and Sarah McGuire, among others. She also assisted on Christopher Myers’s H.O.R.S.E., which won a 2013 Coretta Scott King Illustrator Honor Award and the 2014 Odyssey Award.

Follow her on Twitter @alioop7.

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Five Things Needed in Every Backpack

Deirdre Sullivan, author of Ming Goes to School shares her thoughts on the back-to-school season and a list of the top five things kids must have in their backpack for school!


Going back to school means different things for different families. I am a stay at home mom of four girls, so this time of year can pack in lots of emotions.  Marking the passage of time is always gut wrenching for me.  How is it possible they grow up so fast? And saying good-bye to the unscheduled lazy days of summer is never easy, but looking forward to the new school year can be full of excitement.

What has been successful for me over the last ten years is starting the school bedtime and wake-up routine a few weeks before the first day of school.  Getting the kids on school time seems to alleviate a lot of stress for them and they are well rested for the first day. We spend a good deal of time talking about the start of school and what my kids are looking forward to and what they are less excited about. This dialog uncovers fears or concerns they have and we address them far in advance of the first day.

The five things all kids must have in their backpacks is

  1. A Ming Goes to School picture book
  2. A little note of encouragement from me or their dad
  3. A lunchbox that they have helped pack to make sure it’s stuff they are guaranteed to eat and no one will be hungry
  4. School supplies
  5. Extra set of clothes, especially socks for their cubbies

As much as I cherish the summer days of sun-kissed cheeks and sprinkled ice cream cones, the first day of school has become one of my personal favorites. I’ve survived another summer, and I soak up every bit of silence in the house just before the school bell rings.

Here’s a picture of Deirdre at Ming’s age!

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Ming Goes to School by Deirdre Sullivan, illustrated by Maja Löfdahl

Ming Goes to School_coverMing goes to school, where she learns to say hello and good-bye. She meets new friends and introduces them to old friends (including her favorite teddy). She builds sandcastles and makes snow angels; she traces, glitters, and glues. She is so fearless that when held at sword point, she even walks the plank! And when she’s playing in the mud, she reaches out and touches the worms with her bare hands. But despite those brave deeds, she isn’t quite ready for the big red slide—not yet.

This is a very sweet story with soft, evocative watercolor illustrations that will help kids to grow comfortable with the idea of starting preschool. Ming is curious and playful and ready for adventure, but even she gets scared of new things sometimes. Kids will relate to her desires and fears and will be excited to see Ming at the top of the slide by the story’s end.

A quiet and reassuring picture book for preschoolers (3-5), this is a wonderful going-to-school story that can be read both at home and in the classroom or childcare center. The illustrations provide a lot of diversity of characters, making this feel like any classroom in any school in the country.

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Which Bella Donna Character Are You?

Which Bella Donna character are you?

cat

1. What’s your favorite color?

A. Black

B. Green

C. Pink

D. Red

 

2. What spell would you most like to be able to do?

A. A memory-erasing spell

B. A spell to turn people into animals

C. A spell to turn everything pink

D. A spell to make yourself the center of attention

 

3. What animal would you want as a pet?

A. Cat

B. Do I have to just pick one?

C. A fluffy white dog with a pink bow

D. A snake

 

4. If you could live anywhere in the world, where would you most want to live?

A. Anywhere my family is

B. Where I can study animals

C. In a big pink house

D. In my own place

 

5. What is your favorite type of cookie?

A. Snickerdoodle

B. Chocolate chip

C. Sugar

D. Oatmeal raisin

 


Mostly A’s: You are Bella Donna! You are a caring individual with a devotion to your pet and your family!

Mostly B’s: You are Sam! You love animals and exploring nature!

Mostly C’s: You are Angela! You love everything pink and you are very loyal to your friends!

Mostly D’s: You are Verity! You have a mischievous side but your ultimate interest lies in doing the right thing


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Bella Donna Too Many Spells 9781634501552Bella Donna Too Many Spells 97816345015529781634501552-frontcoverBella Donna: Too Many Spells by Ruth Symes, illustrated by Marion Lindsay

Bella Donna seems just like any other student at her school, but she has a secret: she’s really a witch! The other witches who live on Coven Road are having a spell casting contest, and Bella is determined to win. She’s trying to learn as many spells as she can, and that’s no small thing! It’s not easy to complete secret magic training while trying to live a normal-kid life. When strange things start to happen at school and begin to spin out of control, Bella wonders if she can really do it. Maybe there are just too many spells!

This second installment in the sweet, spooky Bella Donna series will captivate young readers. Bella Donna: Too Many Spells is a combination of magic, adventure, and staying true to yourself. Marion Lindsay’s adorably simple spot illustrations bring even more magic to author Ruth Symes’s delightful tale. Fall in love with Bella Donna and her road to witchdom! And be prepared for her next big adventure!

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