(New York, NY – September 8, 2015) — Penguin Young Readers is thrilled to announce a 40th anniversary edition of the Newbery Award-winning ROLL OF THUNDER, HEAR MY CRY by Mildred D. Taylor. With more than 6.5 million copies in print, this masterpiece will have all new covers from Caldecott Winning illustrator Kadir Nelson. The 10 book deal includes covers for Ms. Taylor’s entire backlist and a future hardcover due from Viking in 2017. World rights, all languages were negotiated by Eileen Kreit, publisher of Puffin, and Steven Malk of Writers House. The hardcover anniversary rejacketed edition will publish in January 2016 with the complete backlist to follow in paperback in April.

Set in Mississippi at the height of the Depression, this is the story of one family’s struggle to maintain their integrity, pride, and independence in the face of racism and social injustice. It is also the story of Cassie Logan, an independent girl who discovers over the course of an important year why having land of their own is so crucial to the Logan family, even as she learns to draw strength from her own sense of dignity and self-respect.

Ms. Taylor says, “ROLL OF THUNDER, HEAR MY CRY was created from a story my father and my uncle told me while we sat at the dining room table. From the time I was a child, I heard family stories and family history. I have woven all those stories and all that history into ten books, including the book I am now writing, LOGAN, the concluding book of the Logan family saga. I consider my books a legacy to my family, and I believe all those who shared the stories and who lived the history would be as proud as I of the 40th anniversary of ROLL OF THUNDER, HEAR MY CRY, a book begun with a story told around the dining room table.”

“I’m so thrilled to have the opportunity to create new covers for this powerful series by Mildred Taylor,” says Kadir Nelson. “The ROLL OF THUNDER series resonates so deeply with me and I’m very proud to help introduce this saga to a new generation of readers.”

 Don Weisberg, President of Penguin Young Readers, said, “ROLL OF THUNDER, HEAR MY CRY has become a part of our country’s literary history, enjoyed by generations of readers. It’s a privilege to be part of this publishing legacy, and we’re excited to celebrate the upcoming anniversary and new addition to the Logan family saga.”

ROLL OF THUNDER, HEAR MY CRY was first published in January 1976, and was followed by eight additional novels to form the Logan family saga. These titles – Let the Circle be Unbroken, The Road to Memphis, Mississippi Bridge, Song of the Trees, The Friendship, The Land, The Well, The Gold Cadillac – will be rejacketed with original art by Kadir Nelson for release in April 2016. The final book in the Logan family saga will be released by Viking in 2017.

Mildred D. Taylor is the author of nine books including The Road to MemphisLet the Circle Be UnbrokenThe Land, The Well and Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry. Her books have won numerous awards, among them a Newbery Medal and Germany’s Buxtehude Bulle Award (both for Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry), four Coretta Scott King Awards, and a Boston Globe—Horn Book Award. Her book The Land was awarded the L.A. Times Book Prize and the PEN Award for Children’s Literature. In 2003, Ms. Taylor was named the First Laureate of the NSK Neustadt Prize for Children’s Literature. In 2004, Mississippi celebrated a Mildred D. Taylor Day, and Mildred Taylor returned to her roots to address several hundred school children and adults at The University of Mississippi.

Mildred Taylor was born in Jackson, Mississippi, and grew up in Toledo, Ohio. After graduating from the University of Toledo, she served in the Peace Corps in Ethiopia for two years and then spent the next year traveling throughout the United States, working and recruiting for the Peace Corps. At the University of Colorado’s School of Journalism, she helped created a Black Studies program and taught in the program for two years. Ms. Taylor has worked as a proofreader-editor and as program coordinator for an international house and a community free school. She now devotes her time to her family, writing, and what she terms “the family ranch” in the foothills of the Rocky Mountains.

Kadir Nelson is a two-time Caldecott Honor Award recipient. He has received an NAACP Image Award, a CASEY Award, the 2009 and 2014 Coretta Scott King Author Award, and the 2009 Robert F. Sibert Informational Book Award. Among Mr. Nelson’s other awards are gold and silver medals from the Society of Illustrators. His work has appeared in The New York TimesSports Illustrated, and The New Yorker. He lives in Los Angeles.

Penguin Random House ( is the world’s most global trade book publisher. It was formed on July 1, 2013, upon the completion of an agreement between Bertelsmann and Pearson to merge their respective trade publishing companies, Random House and Penguin, with the parent companies owning 53% and 47%, respectively.  Penguin Random House comprises the adult and children’s fiction and nonfiction print and digital trade book publishing businesses of Penguin and Random House in the U.S., U.K., Canada, Australia, New Zealand, India and South Africa, and Penguin’s trade publishing activity in Asia and Brazil; DK worldwide; and Penguin Random House Grupo Editorial’s Spanish-language companies in Spain, Mexico, Argentina, Uruguay, Colombia, and Chile. Penguin Random House employs more than 10,000 people globally across almost 250 editorially and creatively independent imprints and publishing houses that collectively publish more than 15,000 new titles annually. Its publishing lists include more than 70 Nobel Prize laureates and hundreds of the world’s most widely read authors.


The Logan Family Saga, by Mildred D. Taylor:


ROLL OF THUNDER, HEAR MY CRY 40th Anniversary Edition

On sale: January 5, 2016

(9781101993880; Dial; Hardcover; $18.99; Ages 8 – 12)


ROLL OF THUNDER, HEAR MY CRY 40th Anniversary Edition

On sale: January 5, 2016

(9780140384512; Puffin; Paperback; $7.99; Ages 8 – 12)



On sale: April 12, 2016

(9781101997543; Puffin; Paperback; $7.99; Ages 8 – 12)



On sale: April 12, 2016

(9781101997550; Puffin; Paperback; $7.99; Ages 8 – 12)



On sale: April 12, 2016

(9780141308173; Puffin; Paperback; $7.99; Ages 8 – 12)



On sale: April 12, 2016

(9780142500750; Puffin; Paperback; $7.99; Ages 8 – 12)



On sale: April 12, 2016

(9780140389647; Puffin; Paperback; $7.99; Ages 8 – 12)



On sale: April 12, 2016

(9781101997567; Puffin; Paperback; $7.99; Ages 8 – 12)



On sale: April 12, 2016

(9780140386424; Puffin; Paperback; $7.99; Ages 8 – 12)



On sale: April 12, 2016

(9780140389630; Puffin; Paperback; $7.99; Ages 8 – 12)


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Remembering September 11

The farther September 11th recedes into the past the better. I’m glad it is vague history to my new 4th graders.

Ten days earlier had been our first day of school. At 8am I had opened my classroom door to a bunch of energetic nine-year-olds who quickly discovered the chocolate ladybugs I’d placed on each of their desks for good luck. By mid-morning, I’d led a discussion on classroom rules, helped them stow away school supplies, and taken them on a tour to see where the all-important bathrooms and water fountains were.

That is from Normal Service Will be Resumed, an article I wrote for the Times Educational Supplement. Those ladybugs struck a particular chord as I wrote about them elsewhere too. That year they were sent to us from all over the world. Ever since those goodluck bugs have been a theme for my classroom. How nice that my current students have no idea why.

And here is what I wrote on the childlit list serve prior to the first anniversary:

Saturday, September 7, 2002 1:30:47 PM

Classes start next Tuesday for my 4th graders. Yesterday, as we

bustled about getting ready, one of my colleagues apologized for

being a bit off-kilter. He was edgy, he explained, because of the

session of Congress being held downtown. He’d just seen another

army helicopter fly overhead. “Why did they have to come here?”

I know what he means. A few weeks ago I couldn’t leave my

apartment building for hours while the police checked out a possible

bomb in a trash can on Riverside Drive, half a block away. When we

peered outside the door we could see the yellow police tape and a

crowd gawking beyond it. I called my dad who lives nearby. He went

out and called back to tell me that everything was closed off for blocks

around. Afterwards I walked to the corner, found the fake bomb which

had been a Fedex envelope with wood inside, and watched the police

put the bomb robot back in a van. My doorman said it was the second

time in a week. Someone somewhere last year wrote about the new

normal. I’m afraid it has yet to feel normal to me.

At one of our planning meetings this week I asked the other teachers

about our fall field trips to Ellis Island and the Lower East Side

Tenement Museum, both of which were cancelled last year.

We agreed that we were ready for the Lower East Side, but not for Ellis

Island. One teacher said she was feeling jittery about next week. She

didn’t have to say anything more; we all remembered those long hours

waiting to hear about her brother who worked in the towers; to hear

he’d escaped. I thought about the photos each of us has of previous

classes at Ellis Island. The ones with lower Manhattan behind right

behind them. They haunt us. We aren’t ready yet.

But most of the time my colleagues and I stick with the easy stuff.

Worrying about our new cohort, for example. The ones with learning

issues. Those with self-control issues. It is so much easier to focus

on them, on trying to find a room for a math class in our overcrowded

building, or creating a fresh new writing activity. So much easier than

thinking about the new normal.

The evening before I had been at our school’s opening party at the

Museum of the City of New York. I spent a long time with one of my

colleagues’ husband; someone who carried a woman on crutches

down 50 flights last year. He talked about that day, about the last year

and how his department was doing, about the bomb in ’93, about

whether or not the videos of the planes should be aired on

Wednesday, about how he’d first seen them in a television studio that

day, where he had gone, still covered in dust to be interviewed, after

making it to the school.

Last year my class made posters for his department, to cheer them up

in their new location, across the river, looking at what is no more. The

posters are still up he told me. Everyone in his department plans to

go to work on Wednesday he told me; they want to be together.

Whether they can do it when the time comes he isn’t so sure.   They

are now in a seven story building; that is high enough he said smiling.

We talked about those who feel the towers should be rebuilt. Who, we

wondered, would want to work in those upper floors? Would his

coworkers like more posters? I asked. His face brightened — yes,

yes, that was a great idea.

Next Wednesday an exhibit is to open at the museum called The Day

Our World Changed: Children’s Art of 9/11. It is a juried exhibition of

children’s art and several of our students’ work was selected including

that of a child whose father ran Windows on the World. “My father

worked on the 106th and 107th floors of the WTC Building One. Luckily

he wasn’t there.”   Andrew’s piece is on the cover of the exhibit’s book

which is published by Abrams. Another image from the book is on the

cover of this week’s New York Times Book Review and more can be

seen at the website:

I was in the school office yesterday when one of our 8th graders came in.

Her father wasn’t as lucky as Andrew’s. She’d been to camp, she

told us. She looked tan, I remarked. When she left no one said

anything. Our new normal.

So far the September 11 book that works best for me is With Their

Eyes: The View of a High School at Ground Zero. I know that school.

Some of our students go there for high school. My father is a graduate

as is my godchild. The voices in the book sound honest to me. I’m

surrounded every day by teens (as my building is for grades 4 -12)

and this book feels utterly and completely authentic.   Some of it even,

remarkably, is comforting. It is a school too you see and a number of

the people interviewed described feelings and experiences similar to

ours. For we too were worrying about family members that day, were

trying to understand what was going on, and soldiering on those next

weeks and months. Yes, some of that was familiar. Not normal


Last year I went to Switzerland over the summer. I brought back

several bags of chocolate ladybugs. Ladybugs are good luck symbols

and I thought they would be fun for my students. And so on the

morning of September 11, as some of you may recall , I put one on

each student’s desk. Days later I gave each another to celebrate our

first complete week of school. In June, when the children were

cleaning out their desks the majority still had their ladybugs, carefully

saved. Their new normal.

This year, I’ve got ladybugs everywhere. On the children’s coathooks,

on the wall, and on the door. I couldn’t find any chocolate ladybugs,

but I found some bookmarks instead. They’ll be on their desks when

they come upstairs after the memorial assembly on Wednesday. My

new normal.

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Who Tells the Story

A couple of complicated, painful, and challenging conversations arose the last couple of days online related to who tells what story:

  • Debbie Reese’s description of a dinner raising white privilege issues around storytelling.
  • Questions here and here about Maggie Stiefvater’s participation on a “Writing the Other” panel and her response.


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The Chinese Children’s Book World

My friend Roxanne Feldman (originally from Taiwan) recently visited China to attend the Beijing International Book Fair and explore the children’s book offerings from Chinese publishers. She did a delightful series of posts here about her visit with Notes from Beijing: Children’s Book Authors & Companies specifically featuring some of what she discovered. Announcing this on the childlit list serve, Roxanne wrote:

From August 21st to 30th, I was in Beijing, as an invited guest by a
Chinese publisher that wishes to start bringing quality children’s books to
the States in dual language texts (Chinese & English) to help with
surveying the current output of the Chinese children’s books (especially
picture books) and making recommendations.  It was a truly educational
experience for me, and I have been documenting my second journey to the
motherland, what I’ve learned, and what I am thinking on my blog.



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Remembering Katrina

Katrina is burned into my brain. It is burned into many of our brains. And now for this tenth anniversary there are many considerations of what happened then, after, and is still happening. For children, there have been books. Quite a few works of fiction and some nonfiction.One of the best I’ve seen is Don Brown’s graphic novel Drowned City: Katrina and New Orleans. Simply outstanding in a heart-wrenching way.

Here’s what I wrote on the third anniversary:

In my experience as the daughter of Holocaust survivors, as time goes on there can be a tendency for the historical record of horrible events to become simplified — for certain iconic images and stories to take on the burden of representing all of it. So far I am heartened to see that hasn’t happened with Katrina. For example, two recent high-profile books have come out and everything I’ve seen about them gives me the imrpression that their creators have done things right. One of them is Dave Eggers’ Zeitoun and the other is Josh Newfeld’s graphic novel A.D. New Orleans After the Deluge which is featured in today’s New York Times and can be read in its original web version here.  Reading about them caused me to remember vividly sitting here that August and following what was happening in New Orleans, following the horrible aftermath, hearing from a friend who lost everything, and then being shown it firsthand by her when I visited New Orleans for the ALA convention less than a year later.  And because I want to be sure her story is remembered, here is what I wrote (and posted last year too) about that.

I got back early this AM and I cannot write about the convention
without first writing about New Orleans, a city I’d know before as a
tourist and convention-attendee. A place I know now as so sad, so
harrowing, so disturbing, and so full of the most remarkable and
courageous people I’ve ever met.

People like Pat Austin of the University of New Orleans who spent
three days after Katrina in a Baton Rouge motel parking lot in a tiny
Toyota with her sister and eleven cats. Pat who lost her house to a
levee breach, but who is totally and utterly and passionately
committed to her home — New Orleans. Pat, who wanting me to bear
witness, spend most of yesterday touring me in that same Toyota
through her beloved city. 9/11 made a New Yorker out of me just as
Katrina has made Pat more devoted to her hometown than ever.

Pat had shown me photos when I saw her at NCTE in November and again
when she stayed with me in March, but I have to say they and news
coverage had not prepare me for the magnitude of what I saw yesterday.
I think it is not possible to appreciate it unless one is in it. The
unsettled feeling I had around the convention center and the Quarter
(with so many places still closed and boarded up) was nothing compared
to the feeling I had yesterday on my tour with Pat.

She began by pointing out to me the miles and miles of destroyed cars
under the highway we drove along. They were being brought there from
all over, a dreadful Katrina automobile graveyard. I’d probably seen
them on my way in from the airport, but hadn’t known what I was
looking at.

She next took me through the Lower Ninth Ward and the adjoining
neighborhoods. Pat had taught there years ago and had been there many
times since Katrina and so was able to point out specific landmarks
to me. We drove around there for hours. The only analogy I could come
up with was being at Nazi concentration camps — that is, how the
vastness of the devastation really hits home when you are physically
seeing it rather than experiencing it in photos or film or in words.*
And seeing, so many months later, lace curtains in a window of a
collapsed home, a tricycle atop of pile of destroyed home stuff, the
official markings (which Pat translate for me) indicating the death of
people and pets, the ironic communications (”Baghdad”) and the
heartrending pleading ones (”donations needed for rebuilding”), the
signs (for lawyers doing claims, for people needing evidence, for
businesses specializing in demolition and rebuilding), the workers
(say a group having a lunch break in a playground), empty businesses
with signs as if they were open (strips of fast food places and other
familiar businesses) — all destroyed.

Worst of all was the horrible eeriness of emptiness. The sense of the
thousands who lived there, the ghosts of a vibrant and busy community,
of people who had worked to buy these homes, now uninhabitable. Mile
after mile after mile after desolate mile.

We then went to Pat’s neighborhood, to her house. She’d shown me the
photos back in November, but again there is no comparison to the
experience of being there. Of standing in her living room and seeing
the remains of her library stuck on the floor. Seeing the beautiful
chandelier which feels like the only thing the water missed as it
stopped a foot or so short of the ceiling. The sodden scratching
post. The waterlogged copy of Pat’s own children’s book (THE CAT WHO
) placed by her in the newspaper holder in front to remind
those who came of those who lived there.**

After that inexpressibly sad experience Pat took me to her new home.
What a joy to see that she has a lovely new place that she is making
beautiful with new and old. (For example, she showed me a photo of a
plush toy Babar in the midst of her old home’s destruction and then
showed me a washed Babar on the new bookshelf next to his book.)

But I’m not done for then she took me to the wealthy areas near the
lake that were as destroyed as those in the poorer communities we’d
already been to. She took me by the infamous levee break, by the
university run out of trailers, by homes being raised on pilings as
now required by the local government, by churches being restored, by
well tended gardens in front of gutted houses, by a remarkable
Vietnamese temple all bright and restored among desolation, by FEMA
trailers and storage units in front of elegantly expensive homes, and
by more and more and more. She explained, she pointed things out, she
kept apologizing for overwhelming me. Yes, I was overwhelmed, but it
was important that I saw. I still feel that I don’t have the right
words to express all of what I saw.

As for the convention itself, it was sad too. As much as everyone
wanted it to be normal, it wasn’t. The exhibitions were quiet, much
more than other times. Maybe it was just me, but there was a subdued
quality to many of the events and receptions. Remembering New Orleans
before, it was hard for me not to notice the difference and so walking
from place to place, to event or reception, it was difficult to forget
what had happened there only months before.

Yes, there were happy moments, of course. Watching Shannon Hale in a
red dress dance in bare feet up to the dais to receive her Newbery
Honor was joyous as was Chris Raschka’s homage to Karen Breen as was
Lynne Rae Perkins beaming face. Oh, and Chris’s duet with Norton
Juster was great fun too. I (usually a curmudgeon about this sort of
thing) proudly wore my “I LIKE MIMI” button (done in the style of the
old “I LIKE IKE” button) to honor Mimi Kayden who received a life-time
achievement award. Bill Joyce had to rescind his invitation to enjoy
absinthe (evidently the W Hotel wasn’t willing to host something still
illegal), but the mint juleps weren’t bad.

But what I’m coming home with and still processing clearly is not the
ALA convention, but New Orleans. I sure hope they can come back; I
really really really really do.

* When I told this to my father he said it sounded even more liked the bombed-out cities he saw at the end of World War II, cities like his home of Frankfurt.

** The house was eventually razed (Pat showed me photos of that too) and, last I knew, Pat was gardening the land.


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An IBBY Wonderland

If you are interested in international children’s books (hopefully you all are!) and able to make it to New York this October, I urge you to consider attending the 11th Annual IBBY Regional Conference, “Through the Looking Glass: Exploring the Wonderland of International Children’s Literature,” October 16-18, 2015. Several years ago I was able to attend the IBBY Congress in London (it is every two years in different parts of the world — next summer it is in New Zealand) and it was fabulous. (You can read my impressions in these blog posts.)  And so I’m guessing that the regional conference will be a mini-version of that and equally awesome. Kate DiCamillo, David Almond, Paul Zelinsky, Leonard Marcus, Chris Raschka, Lois Lowry, and Susan Cooper will be there. Breakout session presenters include Betsy Bird, Marc Aronson, Jaime Campbell Naidoo, Padma Venkatraman, Sarah Park Dahlen, Susan L. Roth, Junko Yokota, Anrdi Snær Magnason, Margarita Engle, and Lisbeth Zwerger, (Oh, I’m doing one too .)  Hope to see some of you there!  (ETA Just saw that there are only 40 spots left so register today!)

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A New Online Annotated Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland

I’m a fan of annotating books. Marginalia fascinates me. For decades I’ve introduced my 4th graders to the joy of close reading and annotating by way of Charlotte’s Web. And for my Alice in Wonderland unit I’ve depended very much on Gardner’s annotated edition. In fact, one year I had the kids do their own annotations for the book — they enjoyed doing that tremendously. And so I was delighted to see The Public Domain Review and Medium‘s cool project, an online annotated Alice. They describe it thus:

This collection celebrates the 150th anniversary of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. It includes an annotated edition of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, commissioned by Medium and created by The Public Domain Review with the assistance of twelve curators, listed below. New chapters will be published on Tuesdays and Thursdays for six weeks beginning July 28. We’re also inviting you to build and share your very own edition of the book on Medium, using the copyright-free text and illustrations we’ve gathered here, your own original art and remixes.

In addition to the annotations there are very cool “remixes” of Tenniel’s original art. Go here to see a list of the scholar curators. Highly recommended.

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