Kwame Alexander to Head New Imprint

Houghton Mifflin Harcourt just announced plans to launch a new imprint – Versify. The first list will come out in Spring 2019. The list will be “curated” by poet educator Kwame Alexander.

Alexander won the Newbery in 2015 with The Crossover, a novel in verse about twins Josh and Jordan.  With a dad who is a former basketball players, it is natural that the two boys shine on the court.  Josh narrates the story even as Jordan hooks up with a girl and leaves his brother behind.  The two face serious challenges growing apart and growing up.

Alexander will be working with his HMH editor, senior executive editor Margaret Raymo, and editorial project manager Erika Turner. There will also be an advisory council of students from all over the US.

For his part, Alexander hopes Versify will help see that there are “more voices in the room that create unique and intelligent entertainment that electrifies and edifies young people.”

The first four books will be:

This is for Us by Alexander, with art by Kadir Nelson. This picture book is a tribute to African-American life.

¡Vamos!/Let’s Go!, the first in a series of bilingual picture books.

The Last Last-Day-of-Summer, a middle-grade fantasy.

White Rose, a young adult novel in verse about Sophie Scholl, a Nazi resistance leader.

The plan is for the imprint to include picture books, novels and nonfiction by established book creators as well as new new artists and authors.  Me? Alexander has a good eye for what is authentic and true.  With such a varied first list, I’ll be looking forward to seeing what books they choose to add in the future.

For more on this imprint, check out the PW article.