This week has seen the launch – with a bus tour – of Versify, Kwame Alexander’s new imprint with Houghton Mifflin Harcourt in the US.
“I get asked what will make Versify different from other imprints,” says Kwame Alexander. “The truth is we are not reinventing publishing. It’s the same ingredients in our kitchen as everyone else’s: we want to publish books for children that are smart and fun, that inform and inspire, that help children imagine a better world. My goal is just to make sure there are more chefs in the kitchen, more voices in the room, that create unique and intelligent entertainment that electrifies and edifies young people. So yes, I too am looking for the next Mo Willems and Jacqueline Woodson. It’s just that I plan to look far and wide in places unseen to most. As Langston Hughes said, ‘Life is a big sea full of many fish. I let down my nets and pull.'”
The inaugural list [shown above] includes This Undefeated, a picture book that pays tribute to the sacrifices and triumphs of African-Americans, written by Kwame Alexander and illustrated by acclaimed artist Kadir Nelson; The Last Last-Day-of-Summer, a middle-grade modern day Phantom Tollbooth, written by founding member of We Need Diverse Books, Lamar Giles; ¡Vamos! /Let’s Go! the first in a new bilingual picture book series by Pura Belpre award-winning illustrator Raúl the Third; and White Rose, a young adult novel in verse that tells the true story of Nazi resistance leader Sophie Scholl, by YARN Poetry Editor Kip Wilson.