Posted by: Kathy Temean | December 27, 2018

New Books from Spork 2019

Hullo, Kathy T. thought you might be interested in hearing about some of the books that Callie Metler-Smith and I acquired from the Children’s Book Academy’s Craft and Business of Writing Children’s Picture Books course for our Spork 2019 list. So here are some of the pitches, descriptions, and the reasons why we chose them. Some of these are already being illustrated by former Academy illustration course students. It’s all very exciting! Click here to see the 2018 books created through this special collaboration!

And below are some of our upcoming books for 2019, some of which already have initial sketches!

BOOMER AT YOUR SERVICE – Written by Vanessa Formica Keel, illustrated by Adriana Hernandez Bergstrom

After failing to be chosen at the Pupperdine Academy service dog graduation ceremony, Boomer a delightful but super excited pup takes off to find his special purpose AND his special person. After many disastrous attempts, Boomer finds both, but it’s not what you think.

Why we acquired it: Apart from being super fun, there’s a great need for children’s books that deal with disability in some way as part of the diversity initiative that we have long been a part of. It also features a wonderful little Latina girl and a wonderful action-packed plot.


MAC AND CHEESE AND THE PERSONAL SPACE CASE Written by Jolene Gutierrez, illustrated by Heather Bell.

Oliver loves studying and caring for the class guinea pigs, Mac and Cheese. But when he tries to treat his classmates the way Mac and Cheese treat each other, he finds they don’t want him to snuggle, cuddle, and nuzzle them like guinea pigs do! With the help of his teacher and classmates, Oliver learns that being a friend means respecting personal space.

Why we acquired it: We loved how this story teaches kids to deal with personal space in a practical kid friendly way and acknowledges that different cultures have different personal space needs. It also really lends itself to showing diversity in a non-didactic way. Plus Jolene is a children’s librarian and we love her.

RETURN OF THE MAGIC PAINT BRUSH  – Written by Melissa Stoller, illustrated by Sandie Sonke
Scarlet’s magic paint brush escapes the drawer where she was banished in Melissa’s previous book for being too controlling (Scarlet’s Magic Paint Brush). But then all of Scarlet’s colors start disappearing and it’s up to Scarlet and her Magic Paint Brush to save the day.

Why we acquired it: Lots of sensory detail, drawing colors from the natural world, great plot and pacing, wonderful wordsmithing with underlying themes of control, jealousy, sacrifice and friendship and an endearing lead character. 

AARDVARK AANDERSSON’S ARCHITECTURAL QUEST – Written and illustrated by Catherine Athena Louise

Aardvark leaves his cosy Swedish chalet to pursue his dream of becoming an architect. A homework assignment from his school sends him on a quest to find the best architectural design in the world. Aardvark sees many amazing buildings but which one will be the most extraordinary? Aardvark has STEM connections.

Why we acquired it: It’s really nice to see an unusual anthropomorphized character. STEM is always a winner, especially when done in a fun way. Who doesn’t like amazing architecture and an easy trip around the world? Catherine has proven herself a hard worker, willing to do the work to make this a wonderful book. 

OBI’S MUD BATH – Written by Annette Schottenfeld
Drought-stricken Zimbabwe is too hot for little rhino Obi. On the hunt for a cool mud bath, he gets his snout stuck in one mess after another. Finally, Obi realizes it will take some dance moves and a little help from his new friends, an ostrich, giraffe and elephant, to find the best way to beat the heat. Based on an actual event, Obi’s story has STEM connections.

Why we acquired it: OMG, Obi and this story are so adorable, we couldn’t resist. We loved the STEM connections and highlighting of water issues, which will only become more and more of an issue with global warming and water waste. We also appreciated Annette’s working with cultural insiders for authenticity and giving back to communities affected by drought. 

Named after her great grandmother, Little Medusa finally gets her first snake, Addie. She’s thrilled to become a real Gorgon, but soon discovers that maybe having a snake in your hair isn’t so great after all. And worse, she begins questioning if she really wants to scare her friends to stone with her new forever friend.

Why we acquired it: Fun, clever wordplay, mythology (which we love) an endearing and thoughtful main character who struggles not only with her new hair-do but also ethical dilemmas, providing deeper meanings for kids struggling with their own dilemmas, Common Core Connections.

I SEE YOU WIND – Written and illustrated by Phyllis Harris
A quiet introvert lives with her family by the sea. She has always loved the wind. It’s like a friend who keeps her company. From sunrise to sunset the wind entertains her, soothes her and even frightens her. Readers will learn new ways to “see” the wind as never before. “I See You Wind” also has STEM connections.

Why we acquired it: Lots of sensory detail, beautiful lyrical language, there are so few books featuring introverts in quiet books. And we love STEM connections. Plus Phyllis is an awesome illustrator. 

IF SUN COULD SPEAK By Kourtney LaFavre, illustrated by Saki Tanaka
Sun gives a slightly egotistical first-person account of what the sun really is. He sheds light on facts, history, and myths about his existence, while enticing children to be impressed by him. Sun seeks to inspire children to wonder and search for discoveries. He also shares some of his heroes including Galileo, Copernicus, and Carl Sagan in a witty STEM-infused exploration of the center of our solar system.

Why we acquired it: Another OMG! This book is so much fun and just plain fascinating as it distills complex science down to a super accessible and wildly entertaining book about science, the universe, and curiosity.

WALKOUT! –  Written by Tina M. Shepardson, illustrated by Terry Sirrell
Based-on a true story, Walkout tells about democracy in action as Maddie organizes an anti-school-violence walkout to join other kids throughout the States, despite the principal’s announcement that their school would not be participating. The problem is, her best friend Stella is too scared to join in. How can Maddie convince Stella to find her courage and join in? This story joins children’s activist books like The Youngest Marcher and We March.

Why we acquired it: This is an important book about school gun violence that contemporary US kids need to learn about. Tina has used beautiful language from a child activist’s point of view and a strong voice that makes it less scarey and more empowering for kids. We teamed Tina up with Terry Sirrell who has a very playful style to balance the seriousness of the subject matter. We imagine that this book will be quite controversial. Luckily Tina is an award-winning teacher and can handle it.

Natalie and Arnold are live broadcasting this week’s edition of The Weekly Weird hosting a multi-cultural team of kid reporters from around the globe. Today’s topic: Weird Trees Around the World, including 2000-year-old redwoods, a baobab tree whose trunk once doubled as a prison, and many more unique specimens. With lots of STEM connections, think science and math meet FUN!

Why we acquired it: We love science, multiculturalism, fun, weirdness, learning, and Marcia Berneger.

THE FREEMAN PHOTOGRAPH – Written by Bryan Avery and illustrated by Jerome White

The first African American airmen have been training at Freeman Field in Tuskegee. But even though they are fighting for freedom and justice abroad, they are not finding it at home on the base. When Sidney’s dad and others demonstrate against this injustice they are arrested. Sidney grabs her precious camera to take one last photo of him before he is sent away. But then a cruel policeman breaks it, a kind photographer helps fix it, and a photograph is taken that changes history. Based on a true story.

Why we acquired it: This gripping manuscript is adapted from a true story about Bryan’s Great Grandfather told from a child’s point of view. It is an important story about civil rights and activism inspiring kids to work towards justice and equity.

STAN’S FRIGHTFULLY CLUMSY HALLOWEEN– Written by Sandra Sutter, illustrated by Chantelle and Burgen Thorne

Stan is a clumsy young werewolf who, of course, injures himself right before his favorite day of the year – Halloween. Knowing he can’t keep up with the pack, Stan decides to try being other kinds of scarey creatures with hilariously disastrous results. Sad and alone, he heads home only to discover…

Why we acquired it: We love to laugh and so do kids! Sandra is a super smart wordsmith with a wonderful sense of humor. Ultimately it’s a story about friendship but you’ll have to read it to find out how that comes into play.

About Mira and Spork – Dr. Mira Reisberg has worn just about every hat in the industry, but her favorites are as a creative and a teacher/mentor. She loves helping her students publish wonderful books and her position as an editor and art director at Clear Fork Publishing’s children’s book imprint, Spork, allows her to do this even more. She can’t wait to acquire manuscripts from the 2019 Craft and Business of Writing Children’s Picture Books course for 2020 and will have her own new book coming out in 2019 as well! Click here to find out more about this highly interactive e-course with a fantastic track-record of published students, starting January 7th and take advantage of the sweet YesPB19 discounts!`

Thank you, Mira for sharing.

Talk tomorrow,



  1. Interesting to read the editor’s POV on acquisitions! Thanks for sharing.

    Liked by 1 person

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