Sunday, August 2, 2020

#SCBWISummerSpec Editors Panel: Arthur A. Levine

After a wonderful conversation with Sir Phillip Pullman on Friday afternoon to start off the Summer Spectacular in the best possible way, Arthur A. Levine is back to take part in the Editors’ Panel: Discovering New Talent and Publishing New Books: The Challenges, The Decisions, The Criteria. Arthur has well over 30 years of experience in children’s book publishing. He first worked his way up to Editor in Chief at Knopf Books for Young Readers, and then founded the imprint Arthur A. Levine Books at Scholastic, and after 23 years as its President and Publisher, he founded Levine Querido in April 2019, where he is determined to showcase a diverse range of voices, delivering “The Best of the World’s Literature for Young People” to readers.

Arthur is joined on the panel by Namrata Tripathi (VP & Publisher of Kokila, an imprint of Penguin Young Readers), Julie Straus-Gabel (President and Publisher of Dutton Books for Young Readers at Penguin Random House), Stacey Barney (Executive Editor at G.P. Putnam’s Books for Young Readers), Neal Porter (Founder Neal Porter Books, an imprint of Holiday House), and Jill Santopolo (Editorial Director of Philomel Books, a Penguin Young Readers).  

When thinking about the criteria he uses to find new talent, Arthur speaks of his company’s motto: “Beloved books, beautifully made, giving voice to a world of talent”


And “beloved” is a central consideration when thinking about the kind of books Levine Querido is interested in publishing. 

“We are looking for books that not only do we love reading now,” Arthur says, “but that you could imagine being a beloved book . . . One that stands out for a reader in that special shelf of books they treasure forever.” 

He spoke of the concept of books having an essential truth.
“A book having an essential truth—that there’s some essential truth in that book that you carry away with you and it stays with you maybe for the rest of your life.”

A few examples he gave of books his worked on over his career are:

Officer Buckle & Gloria by Peggy Rathmann
Essential truth—Always stick with your buddy
“If you carry that through in the rest of your life, you’ll have something good.”

Mirette on the High Wire by Emily Arnold McCully
Essential truth—Think only of the wire and of crossing to the end
“Truly it’s everything, the project you’re working on. A challenge that you’re facing. If you can break it down, if you can only think of the wire, the path that you’re on and of crossing to the end, you’ll be okay.”

Everything Sad Is Untrue (a true story) by Daniel Nayeri
Essential truth— Your truth, your deep truth is untouchable

Arthur says you need to grab the book August 25th to know the full meaning of its essential truth. J

Levine Querido is all about “beloved books, beautiful made,” which also speaks to the fact that their books will have an “exceptional quality” and lasting appeal.  

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