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Hey there, Eerdlings!

Here it is, Part Two of our Fall 2017 Preview!

In case you missed it, here’s Part One of our preview. Go ahead and read it; I’ll wait while you get caught up.

All set? Good. And now for more awesome books!

This year marks the 500th anniversary of the Protestant Reformation, and to celebrate that, we’re coming out with The Life and Times of Martin Luther.

As you might expect, this is a picture book biography of Martin Luther, but what I love about this book is that it really delves into why the Reformation was so significant. A number of Martin Luther’s Theses are paraphrased in the book, so readers will be able to familiarize themselves with his main points and understand why the theses were so controversial.

Luther and the Wittenburg Reformers
Luther with his inner-circle of Wittenburg reformers. Left to right: Philip Melancthon, Caspar Cruciger, Martin Luther, Justus Jonas, Johannes Bugenhagen.

I also love that the book doesn’t shy away from all the drama that went down. There was all kinds of crazy stuff going on in Martin Luther’s life! Excommunication! Staged murder! Marriage to a nun! No matter what your religious beliefs are, Martin Luther is a fascinating historical figure, and this is well worth a read.

And now for The Call of the Swamp. Forget what I said in Part One about When a Wolf Is Hungry (watch trailer)—this one is my absolute favorite. The Call of the Swamp is about Boris, the world’s cutest axolotl, who is found by a human couple when he’s a baby.

Since he’s abandoned and they can’t have kids, the couple takes Boris home with them. Boris has a happy childhood, but one day he catches the scent of the swamp he was born in, and he starts to wonder where he really belongs. Personally, I think this is the most poignant picture book about adoption that I’ve ever seen. Boris’s doubts and questions are handled sensitively and maturely, and the emotions in the book feel genuine and sincere. Plus, you just can’t beat those illustrations. LOOK AT HIS HOPEFUL FACE AND YELLOW GALOSHES.

Boris with Bike and Dog
Boris with his bike, his dog, and his spiffy yellow galoshes.

I am extremely excited to present The Watcher, which is written by Nikki Grimes and illustrated by Bryan Collier. If you recognize those names, it’s because they have approximately one million ALA awards between them; Bryan has four Caldecott Honors, and Nikki just received the Laura Ingalls Wilder Award for lasting contributions to children’s literature. And I may be biased, but I think they’ve personally outdone themselves with The Watcher. The book is actually a long golden shovel poem, which takes the words of Psalm 121 and uses them to create a story. And because that wasn’t complicated enough, Nikki wrote the story from two different perspectives.

On the first page, you meet Jordan, who is bullied by his classmate Tanya. The next page is written from Tanya’s point of view, and you discover that Tanya has her own problems to deal with. It’s beautifully written (and illustrated!), and it’s a great book for encouraging empathy and compassion.

Watcher - Defensive
Tanya stands defensively as Jordan warns Israel.

And now for a back-to-school book unlike any you’ve ever seen. . .

It’s called Nile Crossing, and it’s written by the same author as Brother Hugo and the Bear. Just like Brother Hugo, this book has a lovely historical setting, but instead of medieval Europe, Nile Crossing takes place in ancient Egypt. In the book, Khepri is a fisherman’s son who is used to working alongside his dad in the waters of the Nile. But this particular day happens to be his first day of scribe school, and Khepri’s pretty nervous about it.

I love how this book perfectly captures the first-day jitters (and I also hate that it does that so well, because who wants to be reminded of that nervous/twitchy feeling? NOT ME). Still, it’s a really encouraging, soothing read for anyone who’s reluctant to see summer end. It’s also great for anyone who has an interest in ancient Egypt. The illustrations were vetted by not one but TWO Egyptologists, and there’s educational back matter for the insatiably curious, including a glossary and historical note.

Gate of Thebes.PNG
Khepri enters the Gate of Thebes on his way to his first day of scribe school.

And finally, if Mississippi Morning looks and sounds familiar to you, it’s because we’ve published it before. But this fall we’re coming out with a beautiful new paperback edition!

In case you’re new to this title, Mississippi Morning is set in the south in 1933 and follows a boy named James William. Despite the Great Depression, James William likes his life—he enjoys helping his dad in their hardware store and fishing with his friend LeRoy. But then he starts to hear stories about hate crimes being committed in town by the Klan, and he discovers that prejudice and racism can be found in unexpected places.

I really like that this book tackles big issues without trying to give any answers or solutions. And with current events and news stories about hate crimes, it’s just as relevant as it was when it was first published, maybe even more so now. Mississippi Morning does a great job of demonstrating why we need to confront racism, and I think it’s a fantastic jumpstart for important discussions.

MM - Fishing w Leroy
James William (left) fishes with his friend LeRoy.

And there you have it! I hope you’re as excited about our fall lineup as I am. And I hope you get to read lots of fabulous books in the meantime while you wait for these beauties to hit the shelves! Until then, have a great summer and happy reading!