Thursday, July 10, 2008

The Arthur A. Levine Books Fall 2008 List

In alphabetical order by title:

CARLOS IS GONNA GET IT, by Kevin Emerson. Debut novel. I was the first reader on this manuscript, and from the very first time I turned over the final page, I thought, Wow -- this one's really something special. It's the story of Trina, one of the good kids at her inner-city Boston middle school, and Carlos, who is every nice but deeply troubled kid you've ever seen. Carlos always breaks up the class and gets everyone in trouble with his "Day Afters," and eventually Trina and her friends decide that they need to teach him a lesson. But then Trina is assigned to be Carlos's partner on a class project, and their work together shows her both his kindness and his genuine needs. Will Trina go along with her friends in their plan, or choose to stand with Carlos? The voice is spot-on, and the plot always makes me think of John Gardner's marvelous quote "Real suspense comes from moral dilemma and the courage to make and act upon choices," because it is loaded with that moral dilemma and the accompanying real suspense -- as unputdownable in its way as THE HUNGER GAMES. And Kevin taught in a Boston middle school very much like the one depicted here, so he knows whereof he writes. Keep an eye out for it.

CROSSING TO PARADISE, by Kevin Crossley-Holland. I worked on this one, so I will write more about it around publication time; and for now I'll just list some of the many wonderful things it is:

* A gorgeous account of a medieval pilgrimage to Jerusalem, including stops in London, Carcassonne, Venice, and the Holy City itself
* A terrific and atmospheric adventure
* A thoroughly Austenian moral education for Gatty, its main character
* The standalone companion book to Kevin's equally marvelous Arthur trilogy (The Seeing Stone; At the Crossing-Places; King of the Middle March)
* And as such, the conclusion and crescendo of Gatty's own story.

And the writing here -- the writing! Swoon -- as delicious and succulent as the Middle Eastern fruits that Gatty tastes for the first time. (N.B. This was the book about which I wrote this post.)

THE GATE OF DAYS: The Book of Time II, by Guillaume Prevost, translated by William Rodarmor. The sequel to THE BOOK OF TIME (which is out in paperback now), and formerly known as THE SEVEN COINS, before we decided this title sounded cooler and reflected the book better. If the great plot question of the first book was "Where in Time is Sam's dad?", the great plot question of this book is "Why did Sam's dad go back in Time anyway? And does the thief now stalking Sam through the ages have anything to do with it?" You find out the answers to one of these questions by the end, and it's a doozy. Guillaume continues to work interesting twists on the familiar time-travel questions (e.g. "What if you meet your grandmother?"), and backs it up with impeccable historical detail and breakneck pacing. . . . Like Rick Riordan's Percy Jackson series, there's action in almost every chapter, and the excellent translation reads smoothly enough (I hope!) to grip even reluctant boy readers. More on this coming later too.

HER MOTHER'S FACE by Roddy Doyle, illustrated by Freya Blackwood. I couldn't track down a cover for this one today, alas, but I'll try to add it later. This is Roddy's first picture book, and our second book with the lovely, lovely Freya Blackwood and her lovely, lovely art, the first being HALF A WORLD AWAY. It's the story of a pretty Irish girl named Siobhan and her quest to rediscover her late mother's face -- funny, poignant, sweet, sad.

WAYS TO LIVE FOREVER by Sally Nicholls. Debut novel, the winner of the Waterstone's Children's Book Prize in the U.K. (where it was originally edited by our Scholastic UK colleague Marion Lloyd), and without a doubt the Book Most Likely to Make Arthur A. Levine Books Staff Weep, as I know we've all teared up over it when reviewing passes or proofs. Nine-year-old Sam has leukemia, and as the doctors approach the end of what they can do for him, he writes down his ambitions and Big Questions in a way that is always honest and true, often funny, and never mawkish. You can read a rave review from Mal Peet in The Guardian here.

Thank you for looking out for all of these books this fall!


  1. So--is Crossing to Paradise the same book as Gatty's Tale? Because if it is, it's got some of the most lovely writing I've read in a long time! It's not often that a book, even in translation (I read it in German) has such a strong voice/word choice. It's also one of the few medieval books I've read that really "gets" the religious aspect. So often, a character's faith seems more a quirky detail than anything else--how quaint, what they used to believe back in the middle ages!--sort of thing. This one really felt genuine. (Plus, any writer who can pull off making me believe in the Christian pilgrimage as well in Merlin at the same time has done something!) The characterization was pretty excellent as well. And the pilgrimage itself--so convincing!!

    Okay, I'll stop gushing, but it's one of my recent favorites!

  2. Why are these books NEVER released simultaneously in India? I finally saw the Book Of Time at a leading bookstore about a month back. The Twilight series has only recently come in- actully this very month. And I'm still waiting for A Curse As Dark As Gold . These books seem to take AGES to come here.

    I really want to read Ways to Live Forever but the thought of waiting for so long is so upsetting!

  3. Yes, CROSSING is the same as GATTY'S TALE. I'm so glad you liked it, Rose!

  4. The Carlos book cover is very intriguing!

  5. I have to add that the cover of Ways to Live Forever is genius!

  6. Rose -- the back cover shows that same scene, but with the boy missing. It's a cover that we're proud to have make us sad.

  7. I'm jealous of anybody who gets to work with Kevin Crossley-Holland. He's on my short list of favorite authors, whether it's his fiction or his more scholarly work on Norse and Anglo-Saxon lit. In fact, it was through his excellent NORSE MYTHS that I first discovered him. THE ANGLO-SAXON WORLD has some of the most readable translations out there and is a must for anybody who is into that sort of thing. And, of course, the Arthur trilogy is wonderful.

  8. *looks into wallet* I can afford how many new books now? You're making me broke! Thanks!

  9. I've been meaning to read CROSSING TO PARADISE. It's been on my shelf for a month or so. I'll have to read it now!

  10. You can get the British version of 'Ways to Live Forever' in India now. It's got a completely different cover, of course.

  11. This is a wonderful site. The things mentioned are unanimous and needs to be appreciated by everyone.