First Second is well known for their graphic novels—many of them aimed at young readers— but in an email from markting manager Gina Gagliano, the compay laid out its plan for actual picture books, in a iece that kind of backs up what we were just saying about Reading with Pictures:
Picture books are close relatives of graphic novels. Both combine words and pictures, and as far as you can look back, there have always been some that blur the boundaries between them, from In the Night Kitchen to Knuffle Bunny. Some of First Second’s titles for young readers over the years have been shelved variously among comics, graphic novels and picture books—so it’s no surprise we’d venture over that fence.
In the past decade, all around the country, educators and librarians have confirmed beyond all doubt that the classic comics elements of panels, sequential narrative, and word balloons are not only helpful transitional reading tools for budding readers, but also even more: they can be the medium of denser, richer reading content. Far from supplanting prose literacy, the visual literacy of comics is turning out to nourish and foster lifelong, voracious readers. That’s what we’ll be providing in our picture books – books that combine the traditional picture book format with a comics aesthetic and language tools.
“Some of our most beloved creators—Sara Varon, LeUyen Pham, and George O’Connor, to name a few—are esteemed talents in the picture book sphere who are already incorporating comics into their work. So it seems fitting that we broaden our list with picture book projects under the First Second banner, with works that include comics elements as well as showcasing great art and great story from great voices,” says First Second’s Editorial Director, Mark Siegel.
Upcoming picture book titles from First Second in 2014 and 2015 include Sleep Tight, Anna Banana!, the first in a series by a mother and son team where Anna Banana’s colorful stuffed animals are all the company she needs. In Julia’s House for Lost Creatures, Ben Hatke tells a charmingly fantastical story in the tradition of Hayao Miyazaki and Charles Vess; Ariel Cohn and Aron Steinke’s Zoo Box protagonists accidentally open a box in their attic and let out a zoo. And James Sturm, Andrew Arnold, and Alexis Frederick-Frost provide a companion for younger readers to their award-winning Adventures in Cartooning series with a new set of picture books featuring the knight and Edward the horse, the first of which is Sleepless Knight.
Heidi MacDonald is the founder and editor in chief of The Beat. In the past, she worked for Disney, DC Comics, Fox and Publishers Weekly. She can be heard regularly on the More To Come Podcast. She likes coffee, cats and noble struggle.