The University of South Carolina has launched what librarians and publishers there say is one of the first children’s book publishing arms of its kind by a university press in the country.
Called Young Palmetto Books, the new imprint evolved out of a collaborative effort between the university’s publishing division, USC Press, and the S.C. Center for Children’s Books and Literacy, part of USC’s School of Library and Information Science.
It’s an effort that the center’s executive director, Kim Jeffcoat, and USC Press’ director, Jonathan Haupt, say grew out of a conversation between the two in fall 2011 — a move the press initiated.
“We’d been getting requests or children’s submissions for probably the full 70-year history of the press,” he says. “But children’s books aren’t something university presses typically do.”
As a result of that conversation, a plan for the new publishing arm was hatched, and Young Palmetto Books was created.
The new series, which held a “soft launch” this week, plans to have two of its books, already published under the new imprint, at the S.C. Book Festival, set for May 17-19.
Those works are “Greek Revival from the Garden: Growing and Cooking for Life” by USC first lady Patricia Moore-Pastides, and “Fragments of the Ark: A Novel” by Louise Meriwether, a writer and social activist with ties to South Carolina.
The criteria for the new publishing arm will be books that are educational and South Carolina related, says Jeffcoat who will lead the series’ editorial board.
“We have amazing talent and a lot of neat stories to tell here in South Carolina,” she says.
The creation of the university’s new children’s imprint has been helped by the increased demand for Young Adult literature over the past few years, Jeffcoat says.
“Young adult novels are very popular with lots of readers, not just for young readers,” she says.
Moore-Pastides’ “Greek Revival” is a cookbook geared toward young adults but also can be easily read by adults or culinary novices or shared as something fun to do within families, she says. The book focuses on the Mediterranean diet, with recipes and tips, and information on organic gardening.
Meriwether’s work explores the Civil War through the viewpoint of runaway slave Peter Mango who, along with his family and a band of fellow escaped slaves, commandeer a Confederate gunboat out of Charleston harbor. The story is based on the life of Robert Smalls.
In addition to the publication of these two new titles, Young Palmetto Books has about six titles “in the pipeline,” Jeffcoat says, and will pursue other works.
“We’ll accept submissions year round,” she says. “And if we can connect authors and illustrators and match authors and subject matter, that would be great.”
Reach Lucas at (803) 771-8657.