After spending her entire career at Chronicle Books, children’s book editor Taylor Norman will leave the San Francisco publishing house on July 18 to join Holiday House as executive editor of Neal Porter Books. imprint, with Norman working remotely on the West Coast and Porter in New York.
After leaving his mark on Holiday House five years ago, Porter felt the time was right to expand his editorial team. “Neal Porter Books has been very successful and when something is successful you want it to grow and develop over time,” he said. PW† “With Taylor, I was able to ensure that the print would continue to bloom and evolve for years to come.”
Porter was convinced Norman would be the right person for the job, having spoken to her regularly over the past few months. “It’s an intuitive thing; you know when you click with someone,” he explained of their direct connection. “As a picture book editor, I’ve always loved art and words. Taylor also puts equal emphasis on these things,” he said. Porter was also intrigued by the fact that Norman can offer a younger point of view, which can help create a more balanced editorial perspective.
A shared vision
For Norman, the opportunity to join Neal Porter Books is the fulfillment of her career to date. “I’ve been an admirer of Neal’s books for so long,” she said. “I found myself wishing I could work on the books he’s been working on. We share a lot of the same energy and taste in the type of books.”
The self-confessed lifelong reader prides himself on keeping the end reader in mind when choosing new titles. “The stories I select have to be well-told and well-designed from a perspective we haven’t seen before,” Norman said. To better inform her recruits, she has spent the past five years volunteering as a tutor for 826 National, which provides writing services to resource-poor communities. Her greatest learning from that experience was understanding that children represent a unique and variable perspective, one that she tries to keep in mind when considering new books. “My goal is to publish stories that are welcoming and friendly to as many types of children as possible, hoping to make it easy for every child to consider herself a reader — no matter how often, when or why she chooses to to pick up the book. book,” she said.
Norman’s work as an editor and teacher helps her become a viable partner for Neal Porter Books. “I bring two versions of myself to the table,” she explained. The bookish girl who loved nature, rocks and trees—that’s the one that best suits the kind of books Neal handles—and a little brother version of myself: a seven-year-old boy who loves clever puns and funny books. As a child she remembers Byrd Baylor’s Everyone needs a stone and A tree is nice by Janice May Udry as two of her most favorite picture books. Norman appreciates these titles for their ability to foster a sense of wonder and wonder why things happen the way they do — a quality she hopes to instill in the new works she puts into print.
As Norman gears up for her first day of work, she’s excited at the prospect of learning from an experienced editorial veteran. “I look at Neal and I see someone who doesn’t need help,” she said with a laugh. “I plan to spend time together to find out where he sees room for growth, where I can supplement and where I can fill in.” While the two will primarily work remotely, Norman believes Zooming’s last two years have prepared her well for working in a largely virtual publishing community. “I can’t say enough about how honored I am to be joining Neal,” she said. “I’m up for the challenge and feel really energized about what’s next. It’s just the beginning.”