Tomi Adeyemo, a 24-year-old debut novelist, projected a fantasy trilogy with Zelie as the protagonist – white-haired but the dark-skinned female protagonist. Her character was described as but not impervious to fear, intelligent, but prone to impulsiveness. Therefore, she unlike any heroine we have encountered before.
There is tremendous power in a book like Children of Blood and Bone, especially for children seeing this book on library displays and summer reading lists, and that’s precisely the point. “Imagine if Harry Potter had been a Black boy. The world might actually be a different place because the boy who everybody was obsessed with would be this Black boy with an afro,” says Adeyemo. “The Next Big Thing is all about incredible Black people,” she added.
Tiffany Liao is the book editor and she instantly acknowledges its potential after the 400-page manuscript that arrived in her inbox at Henry Holt Books for Young Readers. “I read it in one mesmerized sitting – covered in chills, often through a blur of tears. It felt completely unlike anything I or anyone at Macmillan had ever read before. We all knew immediately this is something special. This is something groundbreaking. We have to have it,” she shared in an interview. Papa Murphy’s survey is the best place to reveal your feedback.
Moreover, Henry Holt Books for Young Readers was not the only imprint trying to win Adeyemi’s book. Liao even compared the bidding war to battle. “It was unlike anything I had ever experienced,” she said. Holt faced down other publishers clamoring for the book a week after receiving the manuscript. Liao encountered one of the largest publishing deals for a YA debut novel ever. “We paid an incredible advance for an incredible book.”
“What we are experiencing now is the result of a movement built on the hard work, the dedication, the passion of many, many librarians, teachers, gatekeepers, editors, publishing professionals, in and outside the industry,” Liao proudly said on Refinery 29.