Authors and agents are always asking us what types of books we’re looking for. I’m afraid I can’t give them the kind of specific answer they’re hoping for. It’s not as if we sit around and say we need more books in this or that category. The only thing I can say to them is that we’re looking for projects we fall in love with.
Why put any limits on what we publish? We just publish what we love. We’re obviously drawn to books that change our lives and our world, but we’ll consider anything at all.
Last year I was invited to speak about writing and publishing at a nearby high school called the Marin School of the Arts. I was met there by Sue Sommer, an English teacher. First she gave me a tour of the whole campus, which was amazing. A large jazz orchestra rehearsed in one building and a small group of chamber musicians played in another. I listened to both, and was blown away by how good they sounded. These were not your average high school bands!
I talked to many of the kids along the way, and several mentioned that Sue Sommer was their favorite teacher. She’s obviously really well liked and valued at the school.
Before I talked to her students (in yet another building), she showed me a copy of a book she had written for her class called The Bugaboo Review. The copy was a worn, funky bunch of 8½ x 11–inch sheets of paper stapled together. It had cute, messy artwork throughout featuring two bugs (Bug and Boo) who demonstrated in all kinds of comical (and memorable!) ways such things as the difference between their and there, dessert and desert, and so on. She said she had to keep making copies of it because her students’ parents — and their friends, and friends of friends — wanted additional copies all the time.
I took one look at it and wanted to publish it. It was completely original, different from anything we’d ever published, but it was a great teaching tool: clear and fun, immediately accessible and useful to everyone. The bug illustrations were brilliant, because they made confusing issues somehow simple and easy to remember.
I brought a copy to New World Library, and it was love at first sight. Our senior editor, Jason Gardner, was especially eager to work on it, and jumped on it right away.
The Bugaboo Review has just shipped from the printer, and I have to say the team here did a fantastic job of turning it into a beautiful book — the perfect package — with a great cover, a whimsical type design, and funny illustrations. I can see this book in every home and school in the country — at least every home where anyone has to do any writing.
The book fills an important need, and we’re thrilled to publish it. I want several copies to give to relatives and friends of mine who could really use it!