Compiled by Cecilia Cackley
This is a series keeping track of the book deals announced by Latinx writers and illustrators. The purpose of this series is to celebrate book deals by authors and illustrators in our community and to advocate for more of them. If you are an agent and you have a Latinx client who just announced a deal, you can let me know on Twitter, @citymousedc. If you are a Latinx author or illustrator writing for children or young adults, and you just got a book deal, send me a message and we will celebrate with you! Here’s to many more wonderful books in the years to come. This post will include deals from both July and August, when the blog was on summer vacation. After that are my observations about the deals since I’ve started compiling them in January.
Sara Sargent at HarperCollins has bought world rights to How to Deal: Tarot for Everyday Life by Sami Main, a how-to guide to tarot readings for beginners. Marisa de la Peña will illustrate; publication is scheduled for summer 2018. Agent: Allison Hunter at Janklow & Nesbit.
Taylor Norman at Chronicle has bought Elise Primavera’s new picture book, I’m a Baked Potato!, about a dog with a bit of an identity crisis. 2017 Pura Belpré Award winner and Juana and Lucas series creator Juana Medina will illustrate; publication is scheduled for spring 2019. Illustrator agent: Gillian MacKenzie at the Gillian MacKenzie Agency.
Nikki Garcia at Little, Brown has bought world rights to Someone Like Me: How One Undocumented Girl Fought for Her American Dream, an adaptation of the 2016 adult memoir My (Underground) American Dream by immigration rights activist Julissa Arce. This YA adaptation chronicles Arce’s childhood in Mexico separated from her parents and her struggle to belong in America while growing up as an undocumented student in Texas. Publication is planned for fall 2018. Author Agent: Lisa Leshne at the Leshne Agency.
Yolanda Scott at Charlesbridge has acquired world rights to Not a Bean, the debut picture book by Claudia Guadalupe Martinez, illustrated by Caldecott Medalist David Diaz. The nonfiction picture book integrates English, Spanish, and a counting concept as it looks at the life cycle of the Mexican jumping bean—which is not a bean at all. Publication is scheduled for fall 2018. Author Agent: Adriana Dominguez at Full Circle Literary.
Cassandra Pelham at Graphix and Scholastic Press has acquired world rights to two debut graphic novels, both winners of the Get Published by Graphix contest. The first, Manu, is a middle-grade graphic novel by author-illustrator Kelly Fernandez. The story follows Manu and her best friend Josefina, who live in a magical school for girls. Publication is scheduled for fall 2020.
Kendra Levin and Leila Sales at Viking have acquired, in a two-book deal, Josh Funk’s picture book, How to Code a Sandcastle, as part of Penguin’s partnership with Girls Who Code. The book stars a girl and her trusty robot who use fundamental coding concepts to construct the perfect beach day. Sara Palacios will illustrate; publication is set for summer 2018. Illustrator agent: Kendra Marcus at BookStop Literary Agency
Carter Hasegawa at Candlewick has acquired world rights to Freedom Soup author Tami Charles’s picture book, A Day with the Panye, about a girl carrying the panye to market for the first time in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, in a story of family legacy, cultural roots, and hope. Sara Palacios will illustrate; publication is set for spring 2020. Illustrator agent: Kendra Marcus and Minju Chang at BookStop Literary Agency.
Callie Metler-Smith at Clear Fork has bought a debut picture book from author Amber Hendricks and illustrator Raissa Figueroa, titled Sophie and Little Star. When Little Star falls from the heavens, she meets human Sophie, and together they work to get Little Star back home. Publication is planned for winter 2018. Illustrator agent: Natascha Morris at BookEnds Literary.
Marissa Grossman at Razorbill has bought Not Now, Not Ever author Lily Anderson’s Undead Girl Gang. Pitched as Veronica Mars meets The Craft, the novel follows teenager Mila Flores as she investigates the suspicious deaths of three classmates and accidentally brings the girls back to life, forming an unlikely vigilante girl gang. Publication is scheduled for summer 2018. Author agent: Laura Zats at Red Sofa Literary.
Sonali Fry at Sizzle Press has acquired YouTube star Karina Garcia’s untitled DIY tutorial; Rebecca Webster will edit. The book provides step-by-step instructions for 15 of Garcia’s favorite projects, including homemade fidget spinners. Garcia will also reveal the ways she keeps her creative and positive outlook through behind-the-scenes peeks and personal stories. Publication is planned for fall 2017. Author agent: United Talent Agency and Adam Krasner at Fullscreen.
Alexis Orgera and Chad Reynolds at Penny Candy have bought world rights to Mariana Llanos’s Luca’s Bridge/El Puente de Luca, to be illustrated by Cozbi A. Cabrera. The bilingual picture book stars a boy struggling to come to terms with his family’s deportation from America to Mexico. Publication is planned for May 2018.
I’ve been keeping track of kid lit book deals for Latinx authors since January, so I feel it’s time to write down a few observations.
First, a caveat: I am writing the rights posts using Publisher’s Weekly as my guide. I go through the articles and the rights report listed in the “Children’s Bookshelf” email that comes out once or twice a week. The numbers aren’t always consistent (most weeks have around 12 deals listed, but sometimes as many as 16 or as few as 9) and of course there may be deals that don’t ever get listed. From there, I try to determine who identifies as Latinx, looking at last names, author websites and any interviews or clues on social media. As a result, there may be people I have inadvertently left out, or else counted by accident.
With that out of the way, here are a few points I have noticed, now that we are more than half way through the year.
- We started the year with the lowest number of Latinx book deals (5 total in January) and since then have stayed steady at 6 or 7 each month. That’s less than ten percent of the total children’s book deals announced so far this year—a disappointing number, considering that Latinx children make up more than a quarter of the some 50 million children enrolled in public schools, according to the National Center of Education Statistics.
- The fewest book deals went to middle grade novels, which is disappointing because it’s a segment of publishing that is growing fast, especially graphic novels. There was a single middle grade graphic novel bought, by Kelly Hernandez as part of a contest held by the Graphix imprint of Scholastic.
- I was pleasantly surprised to see that the book deals for picture books were fairly evenly split between books that were both written and illustrated by Latinx creators and those that have a Latinx illustrator and a white writer. That said, it would be nice to have more picture books by new authors starring Latinx characters, history, and culture. It’s not that we don’t love Duncan Tonatiuh, Monica Brown, and Yuyi Morales, but more is always better, especially from Central American creators.
If you are following book deals and book trends, did you notice anything else so far this year? Let us know in the comments!
Cecilia Cackley is a performing artist and children’s bookseller based in Washington, DC, where she creates puppet theater for adults and teaches playwriting and creative drama to children. Her bilingual children’s plays have been produced by GALA Hispanic Theatre and her interests in bilingual education, literacy, and immigrant advocacy all tend to find their way into her theatrical work. You can find more of her work at www.witsendpuppets.com.