The venerable Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators’ big New York conference wrapped yesterday, the thousand-plus hopeful entertainers of tots and tweens treated to a mix of encouragement and statistical reality that feels, well, paranormal. That was the word of the week, anyway. Because Feiwel and Friends, MacMillan’s young adult imprint recently ordered a 250,000-copy print run of Cinder, a paranormal fantasy about a “Cinderella cyborg,” by 26-year-old debut novelist Marissa Meyer. Big bucks, too. What is it about the name Meyer, some could be forgiven for wondering.
No matter the staying power and bedtime bonhomie of picture book standards like Goodnight Moon, today’s marketplace is looking up—at older readers. (With so much written about society’s long adolescence, it’s no wonder.) The volume of books targeting kids aged 12 and up has doubled since 2007, while the editor who’ll look at a picture these days must imagine a fantasy world as surely as did Harold with his purple crayon. Writer Jane Yolen, a fixture and exception having won the Caldecott Medal for her lyrical “Owl Moon” (1984), just published 292nd book. It wasn’t until her 250th book, “How Do Dinosaurs Say Goodnight,” made a splash that she was able to really quit her day job. So said she in a closing keynote that made the audience shiver, and then—thinking professionally like children—hope anew.