Bookseller to Be Published by Candlewick

Maggie Tokuda-Hall, a bookseller and Children’s Department director at San Francisco’s Books Inc., has sold her manuscript for a picture book, And Also an Octopus, to Candlewick Press. The book for the K - 2 set is about how to build stories, and it features an octopus who wants to fly in a spaceship.

Tokuda-Hall began working as a children’s specialist at Books Inc. after graduating from college in 2007, and her role at the bookstore has been critical in forming who she is as a writer.

“To me, writing and being a bookseller go hand in hand,” Tokuda-Hall said. “I can’t be one without the other — I am constantly inspired and excited by reading what’s current, and talking to kids about books and reading. The more I’m around kids, the more inspired I am to write.”

Entering graduate school for an M.F.A. in Creative Writing, Tokuda-Hall’s plan was to focus on writing short stories.

“But the longer I worked with Books Inc.,” she said, “the more my focus shifted to children’s writing, to the point where now I don’t think I could write for adults. I don’t know how. Bookselling was supposed to be my grad school job. Instead, it’s become my life.”

Tokuda-Hall is looking forward to working with Candlewick, and is excited to see whom the publisher will choose to illustrate her book. “I love their books so much, and completely trust their judgment,” she said. “Being an indie bookseller working with an indie publisher just makes a lot of sense.”

A publication date for And Also an Octopus has not been announced.