Wendy McClure, Editorial Manager
For picture books, I’m drawn to great storytelling in fiction and nonfiction. While I always seek out books that embrace differences and promote empathy, I admire stories that do that even when they aren’t about a so-called “issue.” Hardcover is our preferred first edition for our youngest audience, so send me appealing, simple stories for that format.
For beginning readers, I want hilarious stories with great characters as well as entertaining nonfiction. I’d love to find more chapter book and middle-grade stories that can speak to a wide and diverse audience across all genders without being too mass-market. For older middle grade and YA, I seek out funny, innovative stories with strong voices, and will gladly consider sci-fi, light speculative/fantasy, thriller, and contemporary. I’m intrigued by spooky (not gory) novels, too. I’ll read YA romance projects that take responsible approaches to consent. I’m open to nonfiction MG and YA projects (such as memoir), but please query or pitch first.
Please don’t send me board book originals, high fantasy in YA, traditional historical novels, or anything with a leprechaun in it.
Christina Pulles, Executive Editor
I am looking to collaborate with creators on novels and picture books that tell stories we haven’t heard before or deliver universal messages in original ways. In terms of novels, I tend to gravitate toward realistic or lightly fantastic manuscripts—I wouldn’t be the right editor for something that’s super high fantasy or sci-fi. I’d love to see a fiction or nonfiction MG or YA project that brings to light an area of history not often talked about in a way that inspires young readers.
I’m open to a wide range of picture books, from nonfiction biographies to stories that are simply silly, and delightfully so. Across all ages, I’m looking for projects authentically voiced by characters from traditionally marginalized backgrounds. A compelling or unexpected friendship at the heart of a story is an easy way to win me over.
Andrea Hall, Associate Editor
I’m currently seeking picture books with themes of nature, STEM/STEAM, multiculturalism, diverse or special needs, folktales, lighthearted stories with layers of meaning and an underlying message, and stories with historically relevant people or events that aren’t overdone. I’m drawn to quirky and off-beat or silly humor, clever wordplay, and stories that teach me something (though not in a didactic way).
In novels, I’m looking for authentic stories with an emotional core, memorable characters, and strong voice. I’m always looking for diverse stories and stories with tougher subject matter that’s tackled with heart, hope, and touches of humor (i.e. in the vein of Blossom). I’d love to find a novel that makes me laugh out loud. I’m open to historical fiction, mystery, contemporary, contemporary fantasy, and magical realism.
Please do not send me gore or horror, but creepy is okay! I am also not the best fit for potty or bodily function humor.
Jonathan Westmark, Editor
I’m looking to create books that affirm and expand readers’ understanding of themselves and the many ways in which they can fit into the world. And I’m looking for authors and illustrators who represent the diversity of our population.
With picture books, I tend to be drawn to those that shed light on underrepresented perspectives, approach STEM topics in an entertaining and accessible way, activate a child’s sense of wonder, use quirkiness or humor to deliver a light message, or take on a tough subject while leading with a strong story. As for early readers and chapter books, I’m looking for well-defined characters, a strong, contemporary hook (particularly in CBs), and voicey writing.
In middle grade, I’m mostly looking for realistic contemporary with trade and library appeal. But I do love historical fiction that clearly bears on the present and am open to light sci-fi, low fantasy, mystery, and adventure that feels relevant and is clearly doing something. With YA, I’m a sucker for great world building or a rich interplay with history, depending on the genre. I’d also love to see YA that brings in real-life science in a fun and accessible way.
Picture books that are 100% sweet aren’t right for me. Neither, likely, are those with more than 9 exclamations.