With the Fall season approaching, I wanted to get some insight into what forthcoming books will be most worthy of our handselling focus. Autumn herself agreed to share her expertise with us, “lest,” as she said to me, “the ephemeral leaves cling to the trees while that which should be evergreen is cast away.”
Kenny: Thank you so much for making time for us.
Autumn: It’s my pleasure, Kenny.
Kenny: One thing I’ve always wondered is whether Fall starts on September 22nd or simply the first time a person sees a reddening leaf?
Autumn: Both. The strict calendar dates have their purpose but seasons have their own shape and nature of growth and decline which extend beyond those fixed boundaries.
Kenny: I see. Speaking of calendar dates, are both the Northern and the Southern autumnal equinoxes your responsibility? Also, do your duties extend to areas which don’t experience a proper autumn? Arizona for example.
Autumn: Oh, yes. I am responsible for both autumnal equinoxes. Now as far as overseeing various climate zones, technically yes. I am responsible for the oversight of them all, but I don’t personally cover areas that are not deciduous.
Kenny: Who does?
Autumn: Well, I leave that to my interns and assistants.
Kenny: I had no idea you had interns. What sort of beings are they?
Autumn: Hamadryads mostly, with a desire to travel and see more of the world. Also some retired Seasons and Years like to keep busy and pitch in here and there. There are many tasks of greater or lesser importance attending to the seasons.
Kenny: What about making children’s picture book selections?
Autumn: I do that myself.
Kenny: I see. And can you share your all-time favorite autumn books?
Autumn: Sure. First of all there are distinct points of focus for me, changing leaves, the harvest, and preparation for winter. They overlap, of course, but I find it to be a useful distinction. Two of my favorite leaf books are Julia Rawlinson’s Fletcher and the Falling Leaves, and Lois Ehlert’s Leaf Man. My top harvest books are Dhahlov Ipcar’s classic Hardscrabble Harvest, and Pat Zietlow Miller’s delightful Sophie’s Squash. In terms of preparing for Winter, Cynthia Rylant’s In November is a favorite of mine. Bear hibernation books are a good deal too numerous in my view. I suggest sticking with David Ezra Stein’s Leaves, and also Dennis Haseley’s A Story for Bear just because it’s so wonderful.
Kenny: I’m so with you on Sophie’s Squash! Now what about your top picture book frontlist picks for the Fall season?
Autumn: Two unusual new arrivals I really love are The Book with No Pictures, by B.J. Novak and a very clever and engaging half-page lift the flap book called Up and Down, by Britta Teckentrup. Oliver Jeffers’ Once Upon an Alphabet is terrific and Aaron Becker’s wordless followup to Journey, Quest, is a must have. The stately elegance of Animalium cannot be ignored. Hmmn. Two really wonderful new books which could fall through the cracks are A Letter for Leo, and Nana in the City. These two are just too charming to miss.
Kenny: Thanks so much. I did love those last two as well. I hope your season runs smoothly on your end. It’s so easy as an end consumer to hike through the autumn hills and trails and just take all the work behind it for granted.
Autumn: That’s just what we’re aiming for, Kenny. Just suspend disbelief and take it all in. Enjoy!