banner_blogtourBEING HENRY DAVID Blog Tour

Cal Armistead

February 19-March 2, 2013

Debut author Cal Armistead is hitting the virtual road for her first blog tour. Her contemporary YA novel Being Henry David (Albert Whitman Teen) has already received great attention in the book review media (a STAR! from Kirkus Reviews) and from many bloggers.

Blog Tour Stops

Tuesday, February 19
Actin’ Up with Books
Guest Post and Giveaway

Wednesday, February 20
The Cozy Reading Corner
Interview and Giveaway

Thursday, February 21
Bittersweet Enchantment
Guest Post and Giveaway

Friday, February 22
The Modpodge Bookshelf
Guest Post and Giveaway

Saturday, February 23
The Book Pixie
Interview and Giveaway

Sunday, February 24
The Compulsive Reader
Interview and Giveaway

Monday, February 25
Teen Librarian’s Toolbox
Guest Post

Tuesday, February 26
DJ’s Life in Fiction
Guest Post and Giveaway

Wednesday, February 27
Cracking the Cover
Interview and Giveaway

Thursday, February 28
The Book Babe
Guest Post

Friday, March 1
Mimosa Stimulus Reviews
Interview and Giveaway

Saturday, March 2
A Blog about Nothing
Interview and Giveaway

Miss Page-Turners City of Books
Giveaway (last two weeks of February)

Posted in Book News

April is also Autism Awareness Month

Since this is Autism Awareness Month we want to remind you of some of our great titles featuring children (both real and fictional) with autism. Many of these titles have won awards and are excellent books to read to kids to help them understand more about autism and autism spectrum disorders. Pick up a copy today.

Autism & Me: Sibling Stories by Ouisie Shapiro, photos by Steven Vote

• A 2010 Notable Social Studies Trade Book for Young People

• IRA-CBC Children’s Choices 2010

Ian’s Walk: A Story about Autism by Laurie Lears, illustrated by Karen Ritz

• 2002 Children’s Crown Gallery Award Master List

• Dolly Gray Children’s Literature Award

• Outstanding Books for Young People with Disabilities 1999, International Board on Books for Young People

• Pick of the Lists, American Bookseller

Looking after Louis by Lesley Ely, illustrated by Polly Dunbar

Waiting for Benjamin: A Story about Autism by Alexandra Jessup Altman, illustrated by Susan Keeter

• Outstanding Books for Young People with Disabilities 2009, International Board on Books for Young People

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April is National Poetry Month!

In honor of National Poetry Month, here is an excerpt from A FUNERAL IN THE BATHROOM, written by Kalli Dakos and illustrated by Mark Beech. 



A Funeral in the Bathroom


Tears in the bathroom,

time to say good-bye

to a chubby little fish—

we called him Pudgy Pie. 


We could almost hear him say,

“This fish food is so good!
It’s my ice cream and pizza pie!”

Oh, how he loved his food!


But here beside the toilet,

we try to decide.

Did Pudgy eat too much?
Is that why he died?


We place him on the water

amid a gentle hush.

Then we push the handle,

and the toilet starts to flush.


Pudgy’s back in water.

Oh, how he loved to swim!

And here in the toilet,

he takes his final spin.


One last exciting whirl,

before he must move on.

And then in one giant gulp,

our little fish is gone.


© Kalli Dakos


For more information about A FUNERAL IN THE BATHROOM or to purchase, you can visit our website at

Posted in Book News

Guest Blogger: author Alison Formento

The Buzz on THESE BEES COUNT!: Inspiration and Information

 by Alison Formento

One of my favorite questions from students when I visit schools or libraries is how do I get the ideas for my books. For my new book, I have a sweet and tasty answer to that question. Honey, or to be more specific, a scoop of honey-flavored ice cream triggered the idea for THESE BEES COUNT!

Our family was vacationing in Florida and one hot afternoon we stopped at the local ice cream shop. Signs were displayed to promote the special honey-flavor and to bring awareness about the mystery of disappearing bees. The display had a long list of the fruit and vegetable crops that bees pollinate and how important they are for the world. It might have been brain freeze, but I definitely experienced an “Ah ha!” moment about bees. The phrase “Bees Count!” popped in my head and I immediately began writing a draft of the story.

I knew a lot about trees before I ever wrote my first picture book THIS TREE COUNTS!, and now you might call me Bee-ologist after all of the research behind THESE BEES COUNTS! Several university scientists and beekeepers, including the president of my regional beekeeping organization, have been my go-to experts for honeybee facts and in helping me prepare for my own backyard hive. I enjoyed visiting several local hives and shared my research photos and important bee facts to help Sarah Snow plan her illustrations for our book.




If you have a chance to visit a bee farm or a friend’s hives, watching bees work is an amazing experience. They zip and circle, planning their day’s flight to pollinate and gather nectar. That honey ice cream inspired me and I’m in complete awe of what bees provide our world every day. And to quote Jake, one of the characters in THESE BEES COUNT!, here’s a great word to describe about honeybees: “Sweet!”

Posted in Book News

Tales of Spring Break

by Caity in Sales

This unusual weather has made it feel like spring here in Chicago, but we all know that winter is not officially over. With spring break just around the corner, the Albert Whitman staff thought we’d share some of our spring break memories. And while you’re relaxing in the sand, or just relaxing on the couch, why not read Tails of Spring Break by Anne Warren Smith. Then check out her new book Bittersweet Summer.

“When I was about 15 we took a family vacation to the Ozarks over spring break. I was miserable at first, because I had friends who were spending that same week in Paris on a school-sponsored trip, and here I was in Missouri. The fact that we were CAMPING, traveling with our pop-up trailer, didn’t help. But I’d never taken a road trip in the early spring, and everything around us was so new and green, and what I remember the most is spending Easter in a tiny wooden chapel at the campground listening to local musicians playing bluegrass fiddle music.”—Wendy in Editorial

“When I was younger my family and I would drive to Ft. Walton Beach, Florida for spring break. The road trip from Chicago was just as much fun as the time spent in Florida—driving through the hills of Kentucky, seeing the rocket at the rest stop in Alabama, getting a glass bottle of coke from a gas station in Florala, and finally arriving at the white sandy beaches of the gulf.  We enjoyed days on the beach, collecting sea shells, riding the waves, and trying not to swallow the salt water. My dad had family down there and we would spend a little time with them too. It was great to see our Florida cousins and swim in their inground pool—what a treat. Now my dad owns a condo in nearby Destin. My husband and I make the road trip with our kids, and I get to relive it all over again.”—Caity in Sales

“As a kid, spring break was usually spent at my grandparents—playing with cousins, being beaten at backgammon by my grandfather—you know, the usual stuff. I do have one funny spring break memory from college (with nothing to do with alcohol or Florida). About 10 or so students stayed in the dorm through break one year. Our schedule became study until noon and then do something together (movies, shopping, etc.). One day it was a nice, warm, sunny day (by upstate New York standards), so we decided to go for a hike. Let’s just say that the fact that we took a photo around the “closed trail” sign let’s you know that we were clearly not as smart as we thought. We walked the upper trail (we figured that would be safer…further from the gorge). However, in the last 100 yards or so, the shorter route to the parking lot had us join the lower trail. Our leader turned around at one point and said “careful, ice” and the next person slid, fell, and just manage to direct himself to the end of the icy patch. Needless to say, the rest of us backtracked, took the longer route…and we all walked back to our cars via the road. I’d just like to point out that we all still received our degrees—good thing spring break is not ‘for credit.’” —Michelle in Marketing

Posted in Book News

What’s in a Cover?

by Kristin in Editorial

We at Albert Whitman are no fools: We know that everyone literally judges books by their covers. A cover can make or break a book’s success in the marketplace. A book’s cover is its first impression on the world. Good impression: You (might) buy it. Bad impression: You won’t.

With that in mind, the cover design process can be a pretty involved one. The process usually goes like so: Nick, our talented art director and designer extraordinaire, gets the illustrator moving on a cover sketch (or, in the case of many of our novels, he designs the cover art himself—sometimes in many variations, as seen here with The Glass Collector). Once the art portion is completed, Nick mocks up a number of sample covers for that particular book with varying font and title treatments/designs. Then we go pretty old-school.

Nick posts all the covers up on a bulletin-board wall of ours, and everyone in our company—from our VP and President to our customer service staff—weighs in. Everyone’s opinion is important, and at the end of the day, the big questions almost always come down to: Does this cover convey what this book is about? Is it appealing to a child/tween/teen reader? Will it sell? Oftentimes, we’ll debate a particular font or whether certain words need to be larger. If, for example, the author’s name is the big draw, then his or her name needs to be big and easily legible. A lot of the time, this round goes through several revisions, until we wind up with a cover we can all (mostly) agree upon.

Posted in Book News

Rolling with the changes

Things never stay the same at publishing houses. Offices move, editors come and go, and submissions guidelines change all the time. Within the past five years here at AWCo we’ve relocated, seen two retirements in Editorial, experienced new leadership, and have changed our submissions response policy. For a small house like us with a long history, it feels like a lot of change, but it’s often par for the course at bigger houses.

What’s the best way for writers to respond to all these changes? Don’t panic. I say this because, well, people panic sometimes. I’ve gotten the phone calls. “I submitted my manuscript to Editor X,” the caller will tell me. “But I heard she’s gone! What does that MEAN? What do I do NEXT?”

I can’t speak for other publishers, particularly the bigger houses. But a writer sending us unagented work does nothave to worry that we’ll make a big bonfire of unread submissions addressed to Editor X. Here at AWCo, submissions still come addressed to Editor X sometimes, or for Editor Y, who retired two years ago, or even Editor Q, who left sometime in the 90s. They still get read.

Having an editor’s name is helpful in that it helps your submission get to the right place in a publisher’s office. In the case of our office, an envelope with an editor’s name on it will bypass the big pile of envelopes in the editorial mail bin and go straight to . . . the big pile of envelopes in an editor’s cubicle. One pile gets read a little faster, but both still get read.

How-to-get-published guides will tell you that a cover letter sent to a real name is preferable to “Dear Sir or Madam,” and that’s still true. But an editor’s name is not a Wonka Factory Golden Ticket to the inner circle of a publishing house. To an editor, a personally addressed cover letter lets her know simply that the writer has taken time to research the company and find out her name, or else came across her name in a publication or at a conference, or found her business card on the sidewalk. None of that, of course, is nearly as important as the manuscript enclosed.

Here are some additional tips for when you learn your Editor X has retired or left the company:

  • Just call. And be calm! Just state that you would like the name of another editor to submit work to now that Editor X is no longer there. (This works better than asking for the name of “Editor X’s replacement,” because sometimes the size and structure of a department changes as staff members come and go.)
  • When in doubt, just resubmit.If you had an unsolicited manuscript on submission to a recently departed editor, you may not know for sure whether it was read. Rather than trying to get other staff members to solve the mystery, just send your story again.
  • Don’t make assumptions.One of our other editors was very surprised to get a cover letter saying, “congratulations on your promotion, now that Editor X has retired!” (Luckily she thought it was hilarious.)
  • Write the best stories you can and put your energy into understanding the market. We tend to forgive the finer points of etiquette when a story is good enough.

Good luck with your submissions!

Posted in Book News

Guest Blogger: Sarah, Age 10

My name is Sarah, and I am 10 years old.  I am a fifth grader in Mount Prospect, Illinois.  I recently read Small Steps:  The Year I Got Polio by Peg Kehret.  I was assigned this novel in my reading class at school.  At first I thought the story would be sad and depressing.  However, I was curious about this being a true story and I wanted to learn more about the author’s disease and how she battled it.  I actually enjoyed reading Small Steps and I’m glad my teacher assigned it to my reading group.

I was very impressed by Ms. Kehret’s bravery and strength in fighting polio when she was a girl, not much older than I am now.  She worked very hard and stayed focused to accomplish her goal.  I think of Ms. Kehret when I believe I cannot reach one of my goals, and she inspires me.  The book also left me feeling very thankful that we now have a polio vaccine so no one has to suffer any more like Peg Kehret did.  I’m sure she was extremely happy when her children received their first polio vaccination.

Posted in Book News

Enter the 2012 First Peas to the Table Contest

Albert Whitman & Company, publishers of First Peas to the Table: How Thomas Jefferson Inspired a School Garden (written by Susan Grigsby, illustrated by Nicole Tadgell), invite your classroom to participate in a national pea growing contest.

Thomas Jefferson, our third President, held a pea growing contest with his neighbors every spring. The first person to have a bowl of peas ready to bring to the table was declared the winner and would invite his neighbors over for a dinner that included the dish of peas.

2012 Contest Guidelines and Rules

Goal: To be the first student team in your USDA Hardiness Zone to harvest at least two cups of peas without using a hot house. The contest is open to students in grades one through four. An entering team may consist of one or more students. Each team may use no more than twenty pea seeds. These should be garden shelling peas (often called English Peas), not snow peas or snap peas.

You may not begin the contest until the official start date of 03-1-12. In other words, your pea seeds must not be placed in soil, other growing mediums, or water before 03-1-12. (Depending on the USDA Hardiness Zone you’re in, you may not wish to start until well after this date. The contest closing dates have been set to accommodate for climate differences between zones.) You may not use a hot house.

Winners will be the first team to harvest 2 cups or more of shelled garden peas in each of these USDA Hardiness Zones: 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, and 10. To identify your zone, enter your zip code into the National Gardening Association’s zone finder.

In the event of a tie within the same time zone, one winner will be randomly selected from those that tied. The date of harvest must be noted on the harvest form. All Saturday-Sunday harvests will be bumped up to the following Monday.

One entry form should be completed for each team.

Entrants must also submit a photo of their pea growing log and a photo of their shelled pea harvest being measured. They are also invited to send in a group photo of the winning team members for posting on the Albert Whitman blog and other promotional materials with express permission for such usage.

Entries must be submitted via email to mailto: no later than 5 days after the date that your peas are harvested, measured and recorded. This way the winners may be acknowledged in a timely manner.

The contest will close when a winner is announced or, at the latest, on the following dates:

Zones 7, 8, 9 and 10 May 22, 2012

Zones 5 and 6: June 15, 2012

Zones 3 and 4: July 15, 2012

Certificates of Participation are available in the Teachers’ Contest Resource Guide.

The winning team from each of the eight designated zones will receive four books with gardening themes from Albert Whitman & Company and will be featured on the publisher’s blog. The books are First Peas to the Table: How Thomas Jefferson Inspired a School Garden, In the Garden with Dr. Carver; These Bees Count, and Flicka, Ricka, Dicka Go to Market.


Posted in Book News

Anderson’s Bookshops’ Children’s Literature Breakfast

By Kristin in Editorial

This past Saturday, I had the pleasure of attending the tenth annual Anderson’s Bookshops’ Children’s Literature Breakfast in Glen Ellyn, Illinois. Anderson’s is an independent bookstore with locations in Napervile and Downers Grove, two Chicago suburbs; Publisher’s Weekly named it Book Store of the Year in 2011. It’s a fabulous institution run by the even more fabulous Becky Anderson—a bookselling legend in the publishing community who, in addition to running an incredible book store, also acts as an advocate for authors through Anderson’s school visits program and through this breakfast.

The event was attended by hundreds of people, primarily teachers and librarians, all seated at round tables in a large meeting hall. Each table was manned by an author, and the authors (many of whom are Illinois locals) rotated tables throughout the event. The authors that sat at my table included Bob Raczka, an Albert Whitman illustrator, author/illustrator Robin Luebs, middle grade author Marianne Malone, Fancy Nancy author Jane O’Connor, and Caldecott-medalist David Small. Each was lovely and gracious.

In the midst of the rotations, we were also treated to talks by headlining authors and illustrators. Jane O’Connor talked to us about Fancy Nancy and her new chapter book series, Fancy Nancy: Nancy Clancy, Super Sleuth. David Small read us his new picture book, One Cool Friend. Katherine Applegate spoke about the real-life inspiration for her middle grade novel, The One and Only Ivan. Augusta Scattergood spoke about Glory Be. And Gordon Korman spoke about his writing process as well as about his new middle grade novel, Showoff. We were also treated to a list of favorite new titles from Anderson’s booksellers Kathleen March and Jan Dundon—many of which I can’t wait to get my hands on. All in all, the talks were funny, enlightening, and inspiring.

There’s really nothing like being in a room stuffed with people who are truly passionate about kids’ books. It was also wonderful to realize just how many great authors and illustrators there are in Illinois and the greater Midwest; the sheer amount of talent is pretty incredible. I hope to come back and meet more of them in future years.

Posted in Book News