What Is Lori Benton Wearing?

Scholastic Publisher Lori Benton is of course dressed for work as she's at sales conference (I've never been to one of those but it certainly seems like a completely different world from your and my end of the business). Lori lives in Astoria, claims she's in the same apartment where my Richard spent his baby days (ghosts?), and tells the best blind-date-gone-south story I've ever heard. Ask her.

You're at (virtual) sales conference. What part of non-virtual sales conference do you miss the most?

Seeing the sales reps! Everyone on our sales team are passionate readers and advocates who play a vital role in a book’s journey. The editorial, sales and marketing teams have done an amazing job creating a very effective virtual environment to present and position the Spring 2021 list, but I still miss seeing everyone in person.

Which of all the titles being discussed at the conference is the one book that most sparks joy? (In your heart, not the Scholastic coffers 😉.)

There are so many that it is a difficult question to answer… A personal backlist favorite coming into new formats is Dav Pilkey’s Dog Breath: The Horrible Trouble with Hally Tosis, which is a hilarious picture book about a family dog with breathtakingly bad breath. It’s being released in board book on our Cartwheel list and as an animated video and an audio book from Weston Woods. I strongly suspect there are a lot of families self-isolating with their dogs that will find it very relatable.

Are your cooking skills up to snuff? Or is it true that you publishing types all store sweaters in your stoves?

No sweaters in my stove! I took a trip to Sicily last fall, which included a few cooking classes, so I’ve taken advantage of this opportunity to hone my skills. This week’s menu has included celery salad with shaved parmigiana, pantelleria salad, and almond pesto. And I’ve become a boss of hand-rolled pasta.

What is your favorite thing to look at out the window?

I’m lucky to be in a second floor apartment with a gorgeous tree right outside the sun room windows. In these weeks I’ve watched the buds transform to leaves and a myriad of birds arrive. Spotted an indigo bunting this morning!  

I’ve also gotten to get better acquainted (from a safe distance) with my neighbors, including 3 ½-year-old Benny, who lives next door. He’s in a serious fireman phase and most afternoons he’s out front in his helmet with his fire truck. His mother rings the buzzer and that’s my cue to open the window and hold out something that is ‘on fire’ and could he please put it out? He’s always happy to oblige.

What's impressing you about New Yorkers right now?

The boundless creativity applied to so many aspects of life. We’ve had to bring a new approach to so many things -- how to connect with co-workers, friends, and family, distance learning for your kids, or taking care of basic needs, all from a safe distance and often in lovely and unusual ways. In my neighborhood, we’ve created a group on WhatsApp so we can check in on each other and help with errands. Yesterday someone left poems in everyone’s mailbox, and every evening another neighbor plays a short cello concert on her front porch. Similar scenes are playing out all across the city. Humans are inherently creative. It’s a resounding reminder that no matter the circumstance, art finds a way.

Roger Sutton
Roger Sutton
Roger Sutton has been the editor in chief of The Horn Book, Inc, since 1996. He was previously editor of The Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books and a children's and young adult librarian. He received his M.A. in library science from the University of Chicago in 1982 and a B.A. from Pitzer College in 1978. Follow him on Twitter: @RogerReads.
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Jeanette Larson

Good to see Lori!

Posted : May 03, 2020 12:07


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