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Illustrated graphic depicting a hummingbird

Introduce Yourself

Hi! I’m Esther Cajahuaringa, Assistant Editor at LBYR and delighted to be here. I’m Peruvian-American, born and raised in California (the west coast will ALWAYS be the best coast), and I adore children’s books. Prior to publishing though, I used to be an educator, and that’s always one of my favorite things to tell people trying to enter publishing and editorial in particular, everyone has their own unique journey to what got them here!

Favorite Book of All Time

Sooo tough!! I will say that I jumped to chapter books when I was a kid and read very few picture books because English was my second language, and when I was growing up the library had cassette tapes with audio narration! I didn’t get into picture books until my brother came along many years later, and then my picture book obsession began.

So with that in mind here’s a few top ones—

Frog and Toad by Arnold Lobel

Harry Potter (the paperback box set from the ten year anniversary feature Kazu Kibuishi’s covers which are so dreamy.)

Calvin and Hobbes by Bill Watterson (comics RULE!)

Matilda by Roald Dahl

Stargirl by Jerry Spinelli

Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein (the twists and turns in this book!)

Favorite LBYR Book

Can I put two? Arthur books by Marc Brown of course! And Maniac Magee by Jerry Spinelli

Book You’ve Been Meaning to Read for a While

The Girl Who Drank the Moon by Kelly Barnhill, although this is kind of cheating because I’m currently reading it RIGHT now! It had been on my pile for years, and because of rereading the HP series recently, I wanted to dip into some more fantasy. Now any spare moment I have on the train, I’m in another world with Luna and Xan. Kelly is a wordsmith, I highly recommend and I’m not even done with it yet!

Signed Book on Your Shelf

My Beloved World by Sonia Sotomayor. Sonia is one of my heroes and when her book came out, I told any and every one that I needed her book. Three people got it for me for my birthday that year (hahahaha), but I kept the one that I got signed and spread the Sonia wealth to students that I was working with at that time.

A Literary Obsession

The craftsmanship of picture books and graphic novels—in particular jackets and case covers (you’ll see more info of that below). I will constantly go to bookstores to look at picture books and will immediately pull out the jacket to see what they did for the case cover. It’s like a hidden treasure!

Book(s) That You Think Everyone Should Read

It’s an adult book, but I HIGHLY RECOMMEND if gripping, breathtaking historical fiction is your thing!—All The Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr. The Berry Brook Middle School series (Awkward, Brave, Crush) by Svetlana Chmakova. One of my FAVE middle-grade graphic novel series.

Most Worn-out (but Well-loved) Book

The first book I ever got from a Scholastic Book Fair (my favorite thing when I was a kid), was a paperback picture book called Jessie Bear, What Will You Wear? by Nancy Carlstrom. My mom had signed it and I carried it around with me for years. It’s a rhyming picture book about a mama bear asking Jessie bear what he’s going to wear throughout the day. I don’t know why I treasured this book but I can still quote most of this book to this day, “Jessie Bear, what will you wear? What will you wear in the morning? . . .”

Non-book bookish item

I have the case proof (publishing term: the sample of the case cover in the inside of a jacket of a picture book, see I love case covers!) of the first book I co-edited with my former boss. When our production person walked over to my desk to show it to me, I burst into tears of joy—the thing that I had helped shepherd was finally coming to life. The production person teased me about it for the rest of the day, but that case proof still sits on my desk to this day.