Saturday, July 8, 2017

Nick Thomas: Celebrating Diversity, Tradition And Change

Nick Thomas is an editor with Arthur A. Levine Books/Scholastic, where he started as an editorial assistant. He also held positions with Bloomsbury, Chicken House, and David Fickling Books before returning to his AALB roots. He edits middle grade and young adult books, and looks for stories that change something about you by the time you're finished.

Get ready for some book recs! Nick Thomas, a relatively new acquiring editor at Scholastic's Arthur Levine Books, joined the rest of the team to talk about the imprint's diverse list of titles, from Harry Potter on.

"I grew up reading the Harry Potter books -- there's actually a photo of our family behind Arthur during a parade in our town, so I was thrilled to work with him," says Thomas of joining the house that built Harry. "But that's one of the things I appreciate about Arthur. He didn't think about sales, he just said, 'This is a talented author we want to bring on.'" 

One of his other recent favorites was Russell Hoban's The Mouse and His Child, which the house rebooted this year in a 50th anniversary edition. "I doubt that the book had the most tremendous publishing hook," Thomas says, "but again, it's such a good book and it was out of print, and Arthur brought it back to much success." 

Another recommendation from Thomas is Olugbemisola Rhuday-Perkovich's 8th Grade Superzero. 
"Kids deserve books that are fun and serious at the same time, and Olugbemisola's book sort of captures that perfectly," Thomas says. "It deals with homelessness, community and race in everyday life, but does it in a fun, humorous way."

Next up: Jaclyn Moriarty's Colors of Madeline series. "It's a fantasy that sort of bucks genre conventions -- it's cozy and funny and whimsical, but dark and challenging at the same time," says Thomas. "And it's one of a long line of Jackie books we've done. She started out in contemporary and ended up doing her first fantasy, but it's her voice that you want to follow." 

"Openly Straight, by Bill Konigsberg works on so many different levels," Thomas says. "Books that have multiple hooks that you can use right off the bat are really phenomenal and Openly Straight does that -- and it's really funny."

If I Ever Get Out of Here by Eric Gansworth is a modern #ownvoices Native American stories. "It's very much vased on his own experiences. But it exemplifies how an author can address series issues without talking down to kids. So read that book." 

"The Nazi Hunters by Neal Bascomb is singular on our list because it's narrative non-fiction, and that's something we're always, always looking for," Thomas says. "And I love the publishing story because we're always looking for the best to bring to kids and this was originally an adult book, and Cheryl Klein asked him to adapt it for kids and he did."

A middle grade series that Thomas highly recommends is The Great Greene Heist and The Parker Inheritance. "Varian Johnson writes the best books ever. They're kind of like James Bond meets Ocean's 11 -- short and action-packed and satisfying," Thomas says. "They make the secondary characters feel so three dimensional. Jackson's friends all have their backstories -- there's like 300 pages on each of them sitting somewhere in Varian's head."

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