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2014 Preview Interview: Kids Can Press


Kids Can Press is probably the most chant-able children’s publisher. Try it.


Made to be chanted, I say. Now that we’re all sufficiently frothed up, let’s have a look at their fall 2014 wares. I chatted with Naseem Hrab (director of marketing) about exactly that.


2014 Preview Interview: First Second

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Travis: Hello from Michigan! Now that we’re squarely into 2014, it makes sense to look ahead to your fall books, but are there any Kids Can Press titles that you’ve already published this year that you want to give a shout-out?

Naseem: Hello back from Ontario!  I’m glad you asked about titles we’ve already published, because Kids Can Press had some notable successes from our Spring 2014 list.

The Most Magnificent Thing, the latest picture book from Binky the Space Cat creator Ashley Spires, was an instant bestseller for us, with a clutch of starred reviews and an enthusiastic thumbs-up from Elizabeth Bird, who brilliantly dubbed it “the anti-perfection picture book,” and said it’s “precisely the kind of book we need for kids these days.”  (Agreed!)

We had so much fun with the marketing of this one, gearing our efforts toward the Maker movement and encouraging “book hacks” of mini versions of Ashley’s book.  With so many libraries introducing Maker Spaces in their locations, The Most Magnificent Thing’s timing was truly … well, magnificent! Check out kidscanpress.com/MakeSomething for more photos of amazing book hacks.

Another book that is doing really well is K.G. Campbell’s The Mermaid and the Shoe. Months before its release we noticed that there was a lot of online buzz about “the next book by K.G. Campbell,” and the Newbery nod for Kate DiCamillo’s Flora & Ulysses (which he illustrated), certainly helped. Following on the heels of his delightful Lester’s Dreadful Sweaters, we were pleased to see excellent reviews in both the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal almost immediately.

Alright, looking at fall 2014, what do you have for the picture book crowd (birth-2nd grade)?

Okay (rubs hands together)—we’ve got a lot to tell you about! For the really little ones, we have Tickly Toes, an adorable board book that celebrates a delightful milestone—when baby discovers her toes!

For children a wee bit older, ages 2 and up, we have another book in the much-loved Piggy and Bunny series from author-illustrator Genviève Coté: Goodnight, You.  As she has done in previous books in the series, Genviève gently explores how we handle our emotions differently, this time looking at fears.

In Sam’s Pet Temper, a little boy discovers that his temper can be helpful at getting him what he wants, but it also gets him into more and more trouble. Parents and teachers will find this as much fun as kids will—plus it offers an opportunity to discuss with children pre-K to 2nd grade the best ways to tame their tempers.  Beautifully illustrated, too.

From taming tempers we move to catching thieves in Stop, Thief!, a delightfully silly romp starring a rather confused dog, Max, who sets off in dogged pursuit (pun intended, sorry!) of the thief who’s been stealing the farmer’s crops.

Hanna Hashimoto, Sixth Violin looks interesting. What can you tell me about that book?

It’s been over ten years since the publication of author Chieri Uegaki’s stunning Suki’s Kimono, which ended up on numerous award lists and provided young readers a glimpse into Japanese culture. A decade later we still see strong sales of this book.  In Hana Hashimoto, Sixth Violin, Chieri teams up with illustrator Qin Leng for a gentle, heart-warming story about a girl who, inspired by her Japanese grandfather, surprises everyone with her unique violin performance at the school talent show. (Pre-K to 3rd grade.)

This is my favorite illustration from Hana Hashimoto, Sixth Violin; anyone who’s ever suffered from a bout of stage fright will appreciate it, too:

What’s the chapter books/middle grade (3rd-5th grade) scene looking like?

If I may bring up another book already published this year: Jasper John Dooley! Jasper John Dooley! We’re so pleased with this middle-grade chapter book series from Caroline Adderson; it’s clearly found legions of fans both among kids and their parents and teachers.

This fall we have The Sound of Thunder, the final book in the Bigfoot Boy graphic novel series written by J. Torres and illustrated by Faith Erin Hicks (Grades 2 to 5), and a new mystery series for middle-grade readers (Grades 1 to 4) by L.M. Falcone called The Ghost and Max Monroe. Short sentences, and simple, snappy dialogue make both of these series ideal for emergent readers.

The Three Thieves graphic novel series has been popular in my school library – good to see book five coming out. Is that a series that will keep going, or is there a set number of books in the run?

I’ll let you in on a little secret: Book Five, Pirates of the Silver Coast brings the series closer to its conclusion—there will be seven books in all.  In this installment, Dessa finally finds out where her twin brother is and once again, award-wining cartoonist Scott Chantler delivers a rollicking adventure with lots of slapstick humor, too. Ideal for 4th to 6th Grade.  (Psst! Scott just uploaded a trailer for it on YouTube …)

I’m on it!

How about nonfiction?

Families Around the World is an informational picture book that takes readers on a voyage around the world to visit real families and see how each live their daily lives.  It’s a companion to Children Around the World and watch for new books in the series soon. (Preschool to 2nd grade.)

An important question: What’s the most unusual book you have coming out in 2014?

We’re confident that the new book by bestselling author David J. Smith, (whose CitizenKid title If the World Were a Village has sold more than 400,000 worldwide!) is a concept that has never been done before. If: A Mind-bending Way of Looking at Big Ideas and Numbers takes huge concepts, like the size of the Milky Way or the entire history of Earth, and scales them down to easy-to-understand, visually appealing comparisons. If, for example, our universe were the size of a dinner plate, our whole Solar System would be no bigger than a speck of dust on the plate. It’s a fascinating book that looks at space, time, inventions, resources, humanity and more—with bright, colorful illustrations by Steve Adams—sure to become an indispensible tool for fun fact-finding projects in the classroom.

What’s your most kid-centric book?

Ah, this one’s easy: If Kids Ruled the World! Author Linda Bailey has clearly had a ton of fun imagining a world where kids are in charge, and David Huyck’s playful illustrations of backyard bubble baths, sidewalk trampolines and tree houses for every kid ups the wow factor with every turn of the page.

Also, Claudia Dávila’s Super Red Riding Hood is super kid-centric. It’s a fun update on a familiar tale with a girl-power twist.

Anything we missed?

I almost forgot to mention that Loula is back! One reviewer called Loula “a post-punk Madeleine,” when the first book, Loula is Leaving for Africa, came out last year, and we thought that was pretty hilarious—and spot-on! In the new book, Loula and the Sister Recipe, our plucky heroine decides to make her own sister when her parents don’t seem at all enthusiastic about expanding the family.

And finally, I’d be remiss if I left off First Hockey Words. We tend to think of hockey as a Canadian game, but it has obviously grown to be a huge sport south of the 49th Parallel as well. (Ahem, congratulations, L.A. Kings …)

Thanks, Travis!

Thanks Naseem!

About Travis Jonker

Travis Jonker is an elementary school librarian in Michigan. He writes reviews (and the occasional article or two) for School Library Journal and is a member of the 2014 Caldecott committee. You can email Travis at scopenotes@gmail.com, or follow him on Twitter: @100scopenotes.


  1. What a great line-up! I grew up on Kids Can Press books (yay, Ontario!), and it’s so lovely to see these incredible new titles. I’ve added them all to my list! And you’re right — Kids Can Press is definitely the most chant-able. :)

  2. I’m disappointed there’s no sequel for Cat’s Cradle – vol. 2 planned anytime soon? I have a ton of fans who keep asking me when the next one is coming out!

  3. Love Kids Can Press and HANA HASHIMOTO, SIXTH VIOLIN looks wonderful!