Teen Lit Publisher Profile– Cormorant/ Dancing Cat Books


Website † Cormorant Books Twitter † Dancing Cat Books Twitter † Catalog

Dancing Cat Books is a youth and young adult publishing company created by and affiliated with Cormorant Books. Cormorant Books began as an independent publisher in Ontario in 1986 and is currently based out of Toronto. Initially they focused on poetry but eventually opened the publishing company up to include a wider variety of titles. In 2010 the company expanded into youth and teen publishing with its creation of Dancing Cat Books. Dancing Cat Books aims to publish “author driven” fiction, non-fiction, poetry, and illustrative titles. Dancing Cat Books is headed by Gail Winskill who previously held positions as a children’s publisher at Scholastic Canada, Penguin, and Fitzhenry & Whiteside. The company aims to allow readers to grow with their books from the time they are children rather than just focusing on the adult reader.

The company has a very clean website but as is the case with many publishing offshoots the focus is upon Cormorant Books and a user must search for Dancing Cat Books within the drop-down menu. The catalog is small as the company only prints a few books each season but it can be assured that these books are handpicked from a large number of received manuscripts as high quality Canadian writing.

Seemingly the most notable book published by Dancing Cat Books is The Girl In the Well Is Me by Karen Rivers. This novel has won and been nominated for a variety of awards and was well reviewed by The New York Times, Kirkus, and Publisher’s Weekly.



Kirkus. (2016, March 15). [Review of the book The girl in the well is me.Kirkus. Retreived from https://www.kirkusreviews.com/book-reviews/karen-rivers/the-girl-in-the-well-is-me/

Medley, M. (2010). Comorant launches YA imprint Dancing Cat Books. National Post. Retrieved from http://nationalpost.com/afterword/cormorant-launches-ya-imprint-dancing-cat-books

Neri, G. (2016, March 11). [Review of the book The girl in the well is me.New York Times. Retrieved from https://www.nytimes.com/2016/03/13/books/review/the-girl-in-the-well-is-me-by-karen-rivers.html

Publisher’s Weekly. (2015, December 14). [Review of the book The girl in the well is me.] Publisher’s Weekly. Retrieved from https://www.publishersweekly.com/978-1-61620-569-0    





Primary Material Reading- A Monster Calls


Ness, P., Kay, J., & Dowd, S. (2011). A monster calls: A novel. Somerville, Mass: Candlewick Press. (UK)

Selection Process:
I selected this book based on its reviews and recent popularity. In 2016 it was made into a film that was well received by critics and audiences alike. Due to its popularity and singular nature in its subject matter I thought that it would be an important title to read and know. Modern fantasy is a genre that I have not explored and this novel was an excellent introduction to the type of fantasy that is being written today.

Collection Development:
This book would fit well in a Young Adult collection. The reading level and subject matter feel mature but are accessible to a younger audience than the books that I have previously read for this course. As it is low fantasy, in opposition to high, the story has a wider appeal and can draw in readers of realistic fiction as well as fantasy readers. The added bonus of its popularity to do its film remake makes this a staple title in a Young Adult collection.

Read Alike Material:
Booraem, E. (2013). Texting the underworld. New York, NY: Dial.

Sources Used:

Novelist. (2013). Texting the underworld. Novelist.
Kirkus Review. (2013, August 15). Texting the underworld [Review of the book Texting the Underworld]. Kirkus. Retrieved from https://www.kirkusreviews.com/book-reviews/ellen-booraem/texting-underworld/ 

A Monster Calls: J, 5Q, 4P
Texting the Underworld: W, 4Q, 4P

These two novels have in common a realistic low fantasy platform and familial dynamics. Though A Monster Calls is a considerably darker novel Texting the Underworld also conceptually wrestles with death.

Review Work

The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas | Professional Review

Thomas, A. (2017). The hate u give. New York, NY: Harper Collins.f043712f-4655-4c8a-b60f-fca1e4c6ca9f
Gr. 9 Up – Angie Thomas’s novel highlighting the systemic oppression experienced by people of color in the United States centers around the life of Starr Carter a sixteen year old African-American girl. Starr witnesses the killing of her friend Khalil, an African-American teenage boy, by a white police officer. She is called in to give a statement in front of a grand jury that will then decide whether or not to charge the cop with his murder. On top of this she must continue to maintain her normal life of code switching, flip-flopping between the Garden Heights Starr, who hails from a gang-ridden poor black neighborhood, and the Williamson Starr, who attends a fancy white prep school. In following through all of Starr’s complicated situations Thomas has created an phenomenally realistic character. The supporting characters, Starr’s family, friends, and neighbors are equally believable, at times painfully so. Written in first person the novel remains exciting through its entirety. As the novel draws to a close the presented time begins to speed up adding to the intensity of the final scenes. VERDICT This novel stands alone as an excellent literary work and as an accessible introduction into the American racial divide. Alongside read Jacqueline Woodson’s Brown Girl Dreaming for a discussion about the civil rights movement of the 60’s and 70’s in comparison to the current climate.

Saga Vol. 1 | Teen Review

Vaughan, B. K. Saga. (vol. 1) Berkeley, CA: Image Comics.


Gr. 11 Up– Lovers of space travel, war, and adventure look no further than Brian K. Vaughan’s Saga! The story begins as a baby, Hazel, is born on the planet Cleave to a fiery couple of intergalactic planet deserters, Alana of Landfall and Marko of Wreath; a copulation that is understood to be illegal upon both of their respective homebases. Immediately as the baby is born they are on the run hunted by a motley band of characters hailing from the partners’ higher governing bodies. Brian K. Vaughn expertly steers this fast paced story, smoothly switching between planets, subplots, and rocket ships flying far and wide across the his imaginative galaxy. The darkly elegant artwork created by Fiona Staples perfectly jives with the eerie tone of the story. Each planet has a specific design which aids the reader in following the story arc across intersecting plot lines creating a graphic novel that is accessible for those new to the genre yet equally pleasing to the advanced reader. As the story is mostly shown from an outside perspective the intermittent first person narration from Hazel looking back in a haunted yet loving manner on the days preceding her birth adds a poignant sadness to the action-packed tale. This graphic novel is highly recommended to those who enjoy gritty adventure stories and exploring new worlds.

Primary Material Reading– Saga: Vol. 1


Vaughan, B. K. Saga. (vol. 1) Berkeley, CA: Image Comics. (GN)

Selection Process:
I selected this book partially based on my personal interests as well as the gaining popularity of graphic novels in the library I work in. I love Vaughan’s Paper Girls series and I knew that this series would be equally good. The library I work in has a small graphic novel collection mostly aimed at younger children and lacking in science fiction titles, this would be an excellent addition to our budding collection.

Collection Development:
This book would function well as part of a YA collection in the vast majority of libraries as it has widespread appeal across many different demographics (including age, gender, income level, socio-political viewpoints etc.). Science fiction is a budding and specific genre with a clearly defined fanbase. This book easily appeals to this group and, as it is a simple graphic novel to follow, could serve as an introduction to the genre for an individual who enjoys sci-fi novels but hasn’t branched out into the world of comics.

Read Alike Material:

Moore, A. (1987). Watchmen. New York, NY: DC Comics.

Sources Used:

Itzkoff, D. (2005, November 20). Behind the mask [ Review of the book Absolute watchmen]. The New York Times. Retrieved from http://www.nytimes.com/2005/11/20/books/review/behind-the-mask.html

Saga Vol. 1: S, G, 4Q, 4P
Watchmen: A/YA, G, 5Q, 4P

Audiences who enjoy the semi-political world of Saga and its outer space themes could delve further into the graphic novel genre with Alan Moore’s Watchmen. While also carrying a political sci-fi theme, Watchmen sets its sights closer to reality while still throwing the story into space.

Primary Material Reading– The Rap Year Book: The Most Important Song From Every Year Since 1979


Serrano, S., Torres, A., & Ice-T. (2015). The rap year book. New York: Abrams.

Selection Process:
I selected this book based on my own personal interests. I’ve been wanting to read this for a while and was excited to see that it was on the list. I also found it interesting that this was a non-fiction book written for a teenage audience. The non-fiction section of the teenage collection is tricky as teen interests are diverse and most books are written with children or adults in mind. I hope this book is the beginning of quality non-fiction texts that fit the needs and interests of a teenage audience.

Collection Development:
This book should be included in urban public libraries. It includes not only history of rap music but also the history of its communities and would speak to teens in New York City, Chicago, Los Angeles, and Queens in particular. Suburban and rural libraries could also benefit by adding the book as it would be a great introduction to other cultures through popular music history. As mentioned above it fits into the category of quality teen non-fiction which is lacking in most libraries.

Read Alike Material:

Piskor, E. (2013-2016). Hip Hop Family Tree. Seattle: Fantagraphics.

Sources Used:

Wallace, L. (Interviewer) & Piskor, E. (Interviewee). (2014). The Creator of ‘Hip Hop Family Tree’ Talks Rap History and Comics [Interview transcript]. Retrieved from Vice, https://www.vice.com/en_us/article/kwpkda/an-interview-with-the-creator-of-hip-hop-family-tree-123

The Rap Year Book- S, 5Q, 4P
The Hip Hop Family Tree- G, S, 5Q, 4P

Audiences who enjoy the rap history of the first would appreciate the further discussion in the second. The Rap Year Book uses artwork and charts that could easily transition a reader into the graphic novel genre.

Activism Is In

Image result for historic activist youth groups

As we have discussed extensively throughout class, teens are a stereotyped group. The initial thoughts of the older generations in regard to teens are usually negative focusing around laziness or ignorance. Teens, especially of the current generation, are proving that this is untrue. Activism comes about when a populace feels the need for change and it is most often held by the youth. In our current time the need for activism is felt and teens are on the forefront of this fight.  Books, such as Angie Thomas’ novel written for  a teenage audience, The Hate U Give, which highlights police brutality and is set to be adapted into a film in 2018 prove that systematic oppression is upon our society and it is up to the youth to use their voices to combat it. Thomas, in an interview with the Sunday Weekend Edition out of Washington D.C., is quoted saying that she has seen a trend of young people moving towards activism and she used her novel as a platform to showcase the different forms activism can take in the lives of young people. She wants the younger generation to understand that their voices matter (Thompson, 2017). The novel focuses on youth culture, what it is given and what it can create. The novel was widely received and well-reviewed as an excellent conversation starter on issues such as racism, police brutality, and the Black Lives Matter movement (Dar, 2017, p.106).

An excellent source that can be used to learn about teenage activism is Teen Vogue. While at one point it was a magazine known for its advice on fashion and makeup, it has began to run high quality political journalism for teens. Teen Vogue can be used as a resource to gage the interests of teenagers in politics.  The magazine and the media materials it recommends would be useful additions to library shelves. The library has proven itself to be a non-neutral space in terms of allowing equal informative rights for all and we have the tools to aid this generation on their quest for information and skill cultivation. As librarians, it’s our responsibility to aid in the magnification of the voices of youth.


Chase, M. (2017). 3 reasons today’s teens are radically different from millennials. Inc. Retrieved from https://www.inc.com/swift/3-reasons-todays-teens-are-radically-different-from-millennials.html

Garfield, L. (2017). Teen from across the country reveal the 11 companies they think are cool. Business Insider. Retrieved from http://www.businessinsider.com/companies-teens-like-think-are-cool-2017-8/#netflix-the-entertainmenplatform-that-lets-users-stream-films-and-tv-shows-including-netflix-originals-1

Hughes-Hassell, S. (2017). Presidential theme for 2017-2018. YALSA Blog. Retrieved from http://yalsa.ala.org/blog/2017/06/28/presidential-theme-for-2017-2018/

Mahnaz, D. (2017, January). [Review of the book The Haute U Give, by Angie Thomas]. School Library Journal. 

Npr. (2017, February 26). ‘The Hate U Give’ explore racism and police violence. Weekend Edition Sunday. 

Wagmeister, E. (2017). Netflix’s ‘13 Reasons Why’ is most tweeted about show of 2017. Variety.Retrieved from http://variety.com/2017/tv/news/netflix-13-reasons-why-twitter-most-popular-show-2017-1202392460/

Thompson, Z. (2017, August 9). Teen Vogue is evolving thank to Elain Welteroth. Miami Times. pp. 7B, 10B.

Thrillist Entertainment. (2017). The best teen TV shows on Netflix. Thrillist. Retrieved from  https://www.thrillist.com/entertainment/nation/best-teen-shows-on-netflix

Collection Development Built From Discussion and Awareness

In order to develop a quality teen collection a librarian must be open to listening to the input of actual teenagers. Currently, there are many brilliant pieces of writing being written for this age group, publishing is flourishing and the teen novel is finally being looked at (more than ever before in history) as having validity and the possibility of creating change. It is of course important to include these novels in a library collection. On the other hand these texts cannot hold sole representation. It is for this reason that a librarian needs the input of the teenagers using the library. Teens, as with all groups, are diverse and what interests some will not interest all. This collection, after all, is not for the librarian, the parents, or the greater community, it’s for them, to keep a balance between the literary and the less-so is important.

I was fascinated by Agosto’s pointed usage of the term “teenagers” instead of “young adults”. Rather than speaking of teens as if they are a subset of adults or a not-yet-adult they are their own category. Their collection should act as such, not as a collection for adults who happen to be young but a collection for a specific subset and age group with specific needs and desires.

A librarian must also be aware when building a collection of the representation in the books. It is shown through a study in The Whole Library Handbook: Teen Services that the books written for teens are overwhelmingly white. While this is obviously an issue for a library with a large diverse population of teenagers it should also be viewed as a problem by librarians with large white populations. As important as it is for teens to see themselves represented in a collection it is also necessary for them to see outside of their own lives and experiences. I found Book Riot’s What’s Up In YA to be a valuable source that takes into account the diversity of books and offers up an excellent variety of genres and viewpoints.


Agosto, D. (2013). “Envisaging Young Adult Librarianship from a Teen-Centered Perspective.” In Transforming Young Adult Services, edited by Anthony Bernier, pp. 33-52. Chicago: Neal-Schuman.

Booth, H & Jensen, K. (eds.) (2014). The Whole Library Handbook: Teen Services. Chicago: ALA. pp. 91-104. Lantham & Gross, Chapter 9