Going North by Janice N. Harrington, illustrated by Jerome Lagarrigue* (FSG, 2004). A family leaves Alabama for a better life in Lincoln, Nebraska. They must brave the dangers that faced African Americans in the 1960s as they travel across the south. Emotion-packed art, outstanding voice. Inspired by the author's own family story. Highly recommended. Ages 5-up.
*slow-loading but absolutely worth the wait; don't miss this illustrator site.
FSG's lists have been particularly strong lately. It's definitely one of the top sources for quality multicultural books (among others). More globally, the publication of multicultural picture books seems to be on the upswing again. However, sales among children's authors are at an estimated 50-75% of what they were at this same time last year. Remember picture books coming out now sold at least two years ago; this is the tightest market we've seen in years. That said, the market for literary trade novels is much better than for picture books.
I'd like to mention another wonderful picture book, Crossing by Phillip Booth, illustrated by Bagram Ibatoulline (Candlewick, 2004/paperback). This gorgeous look at a train crossing has already been much heralded. It was an ALA Notable and PW Best Book; it also received stars from Kirkus and PW. However, I'd like to emphasize that it's available now from Candlewick in a sturdy paperback at a suggested publisher price of $6.99 U.S. and $9.99 Canada. Lovely! Ages 5-9.
Buzz on the new S&S catalog is good; lots of literary trade, more diversity of voices. Look for upcoming books by three Austinites:
Buddy: The Buddy Holly Story by Anne Bustard, illustrated by Kurt Cyrus;
The Secret Prince by D. Anne Love;
Broken China by Lori Aurelia Williams.
Novel to look for: Hunger Moon by Sarah Lamstein (Front Street, 2004). Because I'm working so hard on my own novel right now I'm having a hard time getting the new ones read. But this one is on the top of my stack.