Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Hill Harper's New Multicultural Children's Imprint

On Feb 1. Publishers Weekly wrote an article on Hill Harper* starting a new multicultural children's imprint with YA author Pamela Wells. Maybe Harper's star power will lead to some strong financial backing and interest leading to something good. Though for right now I will simply sit back and see what happens but I won't get my hopes up. Truthfully I am a little wary after reading in the PW article that Harper plans to seek celebrity friends to write books with positive messages.

Firstly, there are a lot of talented authors of color waiting to be discovered or who have published a great first novel and are having a hell of time getting a second or third novel acquired. Sadly sometimes I think publishers think authors of color are interchangeable. I have read a lot of very good debuts and still more with tons of potential by authors of color then I never hear from them again.

Secondly I find the phrase books with positive messages very cringe worthy. I think publishers should look for great stories and if they happen to have a good messages so be it. When the message is the primary focus, while the authors intentions are good the story can become too heavy handed.

The first book to be published by Harper & Wells Books will be Wiley Boys by Harper its a middle grade sports novel. When I saw that I got a little excited because there aren't enough Black male middle grade and young adult authors. But then I saw the cover on goodreads, it was so bad my excitement went adios. That cover screams "pick up anything else but whatever you do don't read me." I don't know what happened maybe it was a case of The Emperor's New Clothes and the people around Harper were too scared to tell him what they really thought of the cover. Whatever the reason Harper & Wells Books needs to understand and respect the importance of a good cover. According to the PW article Wiley Boys is slated to come out later this month. I could not find a website for Harper & Wells Books.

I am all for more diverse children's books being published so I wish Hill Harper and Pamela Wells luck on this new endeavor. Hopefully after reading this article people will want to seek out some of the great multicultural children's that are currently available . If don't know where to look or need help selecting the right book check out The Birthday Party Pledge and make use of the Help Hotline. Several people including myself would be more then happy to give a few personalized recommendations.

I've linked this post to Black History Month Hop. This weeks topic is the Business of Black Books

Ironically I am watching CSI NY on cbs.com as I write this and Harper just came on the screen.

5 comments:

bola@books for young children said...

Well said. I hope Harper and Wells publisher provide more opportunities to talented authors of color and not simply cater to ghost-written celebrity titles.

Carmen said...

Whoa. What a mind-numbing cover.
I've got your back on this one, Doret.

Edi said...

Doret, So true about the authors of color that come and go. I recently worked with a teacher who was trying to put together a list of YA authors of color beyond the tried and true (Myers, Soto, Alvarez, Flake, Draper) and it was so hard to find others who have a body of work (>4 books) for students to study. Do doors get closed or do the authors get tired of fighting the fight? Maybe they need a friend who owns a company!

Katie DeKoster said...

Yikes - that cover is pure awful. And why are 2 out of 3 figures on the front white?! I'll be curious to see what else comes out of Harper and Wells...

jonyangorg said...

Wow, I'm with you. These covers....