Sometimes things in this business are really hard. They're full of obstacles and complications, difficult decisions and frustrating turns.
Sometimes, they're so simple and easy that every step is a pleasure.
The latter was the case with Calista Brill and TUGBOAT BILL (which happens to rhyme).
Calista, who is a senior editor at First Second, the graphic novel imprint at Macmillan, reached out to me in the spring, seeking an agent. It just so happened that she did so during a week when I was visiting New York for meetings. It just so happened that I would be in the Flatiron, where her office is, the next day, and it just so happened that I had an unexpected opening in my schedule, and she was free during that time.
So we got together, and we hit it off, and before I headed home to Arizona, we'd shaken hands via email and decided to be a team.
Calista had an adorable picture book about a tugboat named Bill and his best friend Mabel (a barge), who ply the waters of the Hudson, and what happens when a kitten falls into those freezing waters. She had shared it with a former colleague, Nancy Inteli, at Harper; they had worked together previously at Disney. It just so happened that I had lunch scheduled with Nancy that very week that I was in New York, on my last day, and Nancy expressed her enthusiasm for the picture book.
Needless to say, the deal wrapped up quickly after that. But we waited to share the news until there was an illustrator on board, too, and so I am very pleased to share the word that the superfantabulous Tad Carpenter, whose most recent books are ZOOM! ZOOM! and NINJA, NINJA, NEVER STOP!, is officially official as the illustrator of TUGBOAT BILL, which is scheduled to release in summer 2016--the same time as the first of six books in Calista's recently announced LITTLE WING series, also at Harper, releases. She's about to get a whole lot busier! Congratulations, Calista!
"This gentle yet penetrating story underscores the power of sports to unite, while providing an overview of the seismic changes the 1990s brought to South Africa." - Publisher's Weekly. March release.
"A strike is a strike, a ball is a ball. But what happens when the rules aren't so clear? You may scream at umpires, but you'll cheer and whoop for a kiddo who's trying with all his heart and guts to find a right way." - Gary Schmidt, two-time Newbery Honor winner and National Book Award Finalist. March release.