January 2024

January 26, 2024

 Good News–from East to West 
and everywhere in between!

Image by Dow Phumiruk


Happy Book Birthday

by BET Award Nominated
Ghana Music Award winning artist


… in her PB debut celebrating
Black joy

Illustrated by Lisbeth Checo

(Clarion / Harper Collins)

An Amazon

January Best Book of the Month

(ages 3-5)

A celebration of self-love and beauty—inside and out

Image © Lisbeth Checo (throughout), 2023

As promoted:

The On-Sale Calendar

NATURAL ME invites readers to celebrate all the ways in which they are special:

MzVee adapts themes of her hit song for this ode to girls on their journey toward self-empowerment, sisterhood, and embracing their natural selves. 

From Clarion Associate Editor Elizabeth Agyemang:

‘[NATURAL ME] grew out of MzVee’s song “Natural Girl,” which (I) listened to in high school. The song and the book tackle the theme of people feeling that they can’t be themselves without changing the way they look, a problem particularly prevalent among Black women.”
PW Star Watch 2022: Finalists

“A delightfully illustrated book and welcome addition to libraries to promote positive messages of ­self-empowerment among girls.”

With over 4 million followers across social media platforms, MzVee adapts themes of her hit song, “Natural Girl,” for this ode to girls on their journey toward self-empowerment, sisterhood, and embracing their natural selves. 

“Having the opportunity to write a children’s book has been a very touching moment of my career. I strive to be a voice and an outlet, teaching young girls the importance of self-LOVE and self-CARE. I’ve always embraced the Natural Girl, the Natural Me; It’s who I am and what I’ll always stand by.”  

“I hope that parents will instill these lessons of love in their children. And for every little girl reading this book, here are a few words I want to leave you with:”


The E/W STARS of 2023

Alexandra Alessandri

“Modern kids meet traditional tales with thrilling results.”
Kirkus Reviews 

“… a fantastical adventure that will leave readers wishing for more.”
School Library Journal 

Z.B. Asterplume

“Asterplume has a perfect grasp of the give-and-take between pictures and text.
―School Library Journal 

“[W]ith its perfect balance of text and art, it is a story of food insecurity, but it’s also a story of sharing, caring, making connections, and strengthening community.”
—Shelf Awareness 

Patty Cisneros Prevo

“Readers will come away with an enhanced understanding of the scope of adaptive sports … and great respect for these dedicated, tenacious athletes.”

Alma Fullerton

“Fullerton’s flowing verse adeptly captures what dyslexia is like …”
—Publishers Weekly 

Thomas Gonzalez

“… stunningly realistic pastel, colored pencil, and airbrush …”
—Publishers Weekly 

“[An] absolute treat of a nonfiction picture book. … Gonzalez’s photorealistic art is breathtaking.”
—The Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books 

Megan Hoyt 

“… elementary readers will like learning that overcoming obstacles still matters. An excellent addition
to collections.”
School Library Journal 

Shiho Pate

Budding readers will devour this series opener and be eager for more. A highly recommended new addition to the beginning chapter book section.”
—School Library Journal 

Happy Book Birthday x2

by award-winning

Megan Hoyt 

Illustrated by Dave Szalay

(Quill Tree Books/ Harper Collins)

In her fourth PB bio, acclaimed author Megan Hoyt pays homage to the architect of
Grand Central Terminal …

There was once a place in New York City that had a tennis club, movie theater, and art gallery—all in the same building! It also had a secret passageway, a huge library, and even a ski slope. This astounding building is GCT, an iconic New York landmark and the work of one brilliant man: William J. Wilgus, a real-life superhero engineer.

“A charming tale, and to think it’s all true! Whether readers are train and construction buffs or not, this is a living, breathing biography of a building, and the man who believed in it from the ground up. Extraordinary.”

Image © Dave Szalay (throughout)

A Grand Idea book trailer
created by Dave Szalay

A colorful tale of robber barons, competing architectural visions, and urban development on a truly grand scale … A rare introduction to one of New York City’s more influential but lesser-known builders, and his ‘Grand’ work.”

“Hoyt’s lively text is chockful of information, presented in a child-friendly way (for instance, readers learn that Wilgus’s plan required thirty thousand tons of riveted steel, the equivalent of three Eiffel Towers) …”

Full “S.T.E.M.” Ahead:

“[An] informational STEM picture book with an emphasis on

What do you hope readers will take away from this book?
MH: There are so many educational tie-ins here, from learning about construction, steel, electric and coal-powered trains, and the historical time period. But I really hope young readers will just love owning a special book about trains! It is also such a fascinating, engaging tale of an underdog engineer making his dreams come true, and we don’t see many of those.

Trains are the Ticket!


Happy Book Birthday

by Megan Hoyt

… her debut PB biography

Illustrated by
Iaccopo Bruno

(Quill Tree Books / Harper Collins)

This 2021 National Jewish Book Award finalist brings to light the inspiring, true story of Gino Bartali, a beloved Italian cyclist and secret champion in the fight for Jewish lives during World War II.

Gino Bartali was a resistance hero who used his bike, his reputation as a competitive cyclist, and his fame as a Tour de France winner … to help hundreds of families escape during World War II … He never discussed his role in this effort, so his heroism wasn’t known until well after he died. The author uses clear, descriptive sentences that flow and paint a vivid picture… 
VERDICT This would be a great start for any student wanting to know more about how different people helped resist the efforts of the Nazis during World War II.”

“The story of an Italian cyclist whose work with the Resistance in World War II earned him the designation of “Righteous Among Nations” from Yad Vashem, Israel’s Holocaust Remembrance Center. … Afterward, Bartali never spoke about it, saying “Good is something you do, not something you talk about. A welcome, timely reminder of what true courage is.

Megan and her Quill Tree editor, Karen Chaplin (on the left):

Thank you for all and everything, Karen!

Megan Hoyt is a National Jewish Book Award finalist, the winner of the 2017 SCBWI Work in Progress Award and serves as Membership Coordinator for the SCBWI Carolinas region. BARTALI’S BICYCLE, her debut, was followed by THE GREATEST SONG OF ALLKATI’S TINY MESSENGERS, and A GRAND IDEA, also with Quill Tree. Megan has a bachelor’s in English and History and a master’s in Theology. She is a certified teacher, whose interests range from Medieval and Renaissance History to Theology to 19th century children’s literature. When she is not writing, Megan Hoyt tutors child actors on set for Disney, Warner Bros., Showtime, and Cinemax, among others.

Happy Book Birthday


by Nailah Blackman,

Caribbean music royalty,
in her debut PB,
a sweet nod to her grandpa Ras Shorty I, the father of Soca music …

Illustrated by Jade Orlando

(Alfred A. Knopf BFYR)

Image © Jade Orlando (throughout)

Caribbean soca artist, Nailah Blackman, invites you to shimmy, fete, and spread the joy of Carnival with Lah Lah and her grandfather in this vibrant and heartwarming story set in Trinidad & Tobago …


“… an emotional ode to a Caribbean legend … Lah Lah is based on Blackman as a child, and Papa is the late Ras Shorty I, her grandfather and pioneer of soca music, an essential part of Carnival in Trinidad and Tobago … a lyrical and loving tribute to family and ­Trinidadian culture.”  

“A celebratory volume that dances to its own vibrant beat.”

As featured in:

Picture Books
We Can’t Wait To Read in 2024


Happy Book Birthday

by award-winning

Alma Fullerton 

… told in expressive free verse 

Illustrated by Kim La Fave

(Pajama Press)

Hot Off the Press 
(January 2024)

“Although set in faraway Sri Lanka, Fullerton’s rhythmic tale holds a universal message: that even the smallest and youngest among us can summon up the courage to face, and overcome, the most gargantuan challenges … A beautiful introduction to life and culture on a little-known island nation—and a delightful read whether for the first or the 100th time.

2023 Trends in Global Youth Literature Selection

Picture Books I’m Really Looking Forward To

Remarkably dramatic…”
—Elizabeth Bird

A powerful portrait of a child’s bravery and perseverance.”

More (selected) praise:

  • ALA Notable Book 
  • South Asia Book Award Highly Commended Book
  • USBBY Outstanding International Books List 
  • CCBC Best Books for Kids & Teens Starred Selection
  • Resource Links “The Year’s Best” selection

Alma Fullerton was born in Ottawa, Ontario, as one of seven children. Her dad was in the military so they moved often. Being dyslexic, she couldn’t read until grade four and didn’t enjoy reading at all until grade nine, when she discovered books that she really loved. Now that she is as an award-winning author, Alma visits schools to teach children that they, too, can overcome any obstacle. 

Curated Backlist:

“Printed in a typeface formatted for those with reading challenges … This insightful story carries a strong message for teachers, caregivers, and children alike.”

25 Amazing Middle Grade Novels in Verse (to Get Kids Reading)

Among the best of the recent books about ocean plastic thanks to its positive approach and practical suggestions included at the end …. A gentle, effective presentation of an environmental disaster.”


12/31 and 1/7
Two weeks in a row—

Marking East/West’s
303rd week

Best Sellers in Children’s Books
as of 1/27




(for week ended 1/20)

Happy 2024 from East West Literary Agency

Illustrator Highlight
featuring the work of




Here, here to the new year cheer!

New Year’s celebrations and resolutions to help Earth!

WOW the bowsa, Megan!

“3 years ago, ALONE released to a world of uncertainty and loneliness. Huge thanks to the readers, teachers, librarians, and booksellers who shared the book with their friends, students, patrons, and customers.”
—Megan E. Freeman 

Stay tuned for GOOD NEWS coming soon!

As to good news of 2023:

The Best Middle Grade & Chapter Books of 2023 | Brightly

Congrats, NYT-bestselling Joshua Pruett!

Next up:



Congrats, NYT-bestselling Joey Spiotto!

also an


NYT-bestselling Thomas Gonzalez:

2023 Science and Nature Books

“Take a deep dive (literally!) into the wild and wonderful world of the octopus. Sumptuous art pairs with information about everyone’s favorite tentacled ocean dweller. … Thomas Gonzalez has always had this lovely style, created with his pastels, colored pencils, and airbrush techniques, and here I really think his talents have been brought to the fore by the subject matter. I like that you can read the big text with younger readers and the little text with their octopus-obsessed older siblings. Plus isn’t that cover great?”

Also a 2023 Blue Ribbons selection…

“Gonzalez’s breathtaking, photorealistic art brings viewers into an undulating, dynamic undersea world …”


Next up:

(April 2024)


The Northern Lights Are Shining…

for award-winning Heather Brockman Lee


2023 Northern Lights Book Awards Winners! | Book Awards

Other Accolades:


Congrats, award-winning Dr. Gayle E. Pitman!


Congrats, 2-time Paralympic Gold Medalist
Patty Cisneros Prevo!

A Junior Library Guild Gold Standard Selection
A Notable Book for Global Society (International Reading Association)


Illustration by Kayla Stark, from Erin Dealey’s CHRISTMAS AHOY! was the official
Holiday eGreeting from Sleeping Bear Press. 

Coming in February

(Rocky Pond Books/Penguin)

“In this empathetic novel of loss, resilience, and joy, Hitchcock (ONE TRUE WAY) and debut author Specht deftly balance Kate’s diagnosis with middle school drama, creating a deeply relatable telling in which community support and an openness to change lead to Kate’s hopeful visions of a brighter future. Kate’s dealings with FOP are candidly informed by Specht, who has FOP, according to an author’s note.”

“A Louisiana seventh grader copes with a rare, progressive disease … Authors’ notes explain that Kate’s story is drawn from Specht’s life, and it shows …  Kate’s fear, loss, and anger are vividly portrayed, and others’ awkward or ableist reactions ring painfully true … Educational and encouraging.


by Alexandra Alessandri



Featured in:

Congrats, Kirk Reedstrom!
(Disney / Hyperion) 


At LibLearnX:

Promoting the fourth book in the

Illustrations © Sophie Page


hosted by Megan E. Freeman
Check out the entire Creative Approaches series here


Huge thanks to the fabulous award-winning

Ernesto Cisneros

…for inspiring us and sharing your story! 

Speaking of, remembering your SOPER Pura Belpré speech:

Some of the many takeaways:  
“Know the why.”
“Instead of networking, make friends.”
“Do you!”
“Life is but a book and you are the author.  Make it epic.”
Here’s to an EPIC year, all!




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