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May 2014 Newsletter for Parents May 2014
Children's Books + Milkshakes ='s Favorite Combo

I have a riddle for you: Where can you see Fancy Nancy illustrator Robin Preiss Glasser wear a tiara and hold a magic wand, share a four-person table with The Life of Ty author Lauren Myracle, and take turns guessing the identity of some mysterious patties (which turned out to be delicious crab cakes) in the buffet line with John Bemelmans Marciano, the author and illustrator of Madeline and THE 9 LIVES OF ALEXANDER BADDENFIELD? Answer: At the 2014 Children's Choice Book Awards!

While there are plenty of incredibly special awards for children's books out there, the Children's Choice Book Awards is one of my favorites because YOUR KIDS are the ones who pick the winners. So find out who they are later in the newsletter. For now though, here are some event highlights!

  • Being serenaded by LaGuardia Arts’ show choir: Reading is great, but it’s just as fun to hear incredibly talented teens sing about reading! The show choir from New York City’s premiere arts high school kicked off the show by singing a medley of bookish songs, including "Paperback Writer" by the Beatles and "Unwritten" by Natasha Bedingfield.
  • Plenty of jokes: Who knew authors could be so funny? Ok, I guess we all did...there are countless laugh-out-loud hysterical books out there. But anyway, there were jokes abound at the Children’s Choice Book Awards --- Bad Kitty author Nick Bruel had the whole audience vote on who was tougher --- Kate DiCamillo or Walter Dean Myers --- and BUGS IN MY HAIR! author David Shannon said he wrote the book to “blow the lid off” of the huge secret that was the prevalence of head lice. The night was also ablaze with fire jokes (get it?)…the building was evacuated at the beginning of the night because of a small fire! No one was hurt and we were all back to eating within 30 minutes, but it definitely provided for plenty of humor, later.
  • Tables and tables of desserts: I know, this night is about reading, but who says you can’t enjoy a tiny milkshake with an edible straw...or two? Or a chocolate peanut butter brownie, a chocolate mousse-filled cake pop, an itty bitty ice cream cone, a miniature cookie-ice cream sandwich…the list goes on, but let’s just say that the CBC and The Capitale know how to look out for a girl with a sweet tooth.
  • A bespectacled child reading aloud: After Brian Floca read the nominees for Kindergarten to Second Grade Book of the Year, a very small boy came on stage and read a couple of sentences from each nominated book. I’ve loved THE DAY THE CRAYONS QUIT by Drew Daywalt with illustrations by Oliver Jeffers since I first laid eyes on it, but nothing brings the red crayon’s strife to life like the expressive voice of an adorable kid in glasses.

And in case you're wondering about the photos above, you can see Becca Worthington from the American Publishers Association, Ayanna Coleman from the CBC and me on the right, and the sets for the awards on the left...we're betting that all the kids who attended the event requested a dinosaur-and-spaceship themed bedroom when they got home!

And now, the winners!

KINDERGARTEN TO SECOND GRADE BOOK OF THE YEAR: THE DAY THE CRAYONS QUIT by Drew Daywalt, illustrated by Oliver Jeffers (Philomel)

THIRD GRADE TO FOURTH GRADE BOOK OF THE YEAR: BUGS IN MY HAIR! by David Shannon (Blue Sky Press / Scholastic Inc)

FIFTH GRADE TO SIXTH GRADE BOOK OF THE YEAR: NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC KIDS MYTHS BUSTED! by Emily Krieger, illustrated by Tom Nick Cocotos (National Geographic Children’s Books)

TEEN BOOK OF THE YEAR: ALLEGIANT by Veronica Roth (Katherine Tegen Books, an imprint of HarperCollins Children’s Books)

AUTHOR OF THE YEAR: Rush Limbaugh, RUSH REVERE AND THE BRAVE PILGRIMS (Threshold Editions/Simon & Schuster)

ILLUSTRATOR OF THE YEAR: Grace Lee, SOFIA THE FIRST: The Floating Palace (Disney Press, an imprint of Disney Book Group)

IMPACT AWARD HONOREE: LeVar Burton, former host of the Peabody-Award winning PBS show "Reading Rainbow" and co-founder of RRKidz

And there are still two more days of Children’s Book Week, so make sure to see if there are celebrations going on near you --- you can visit this website to find out. Also, we're especially excited that tomorrow is Indie’s First National Storytime Day --- visit this website to see if any authors are reading aloud at a bookstore in your neighborhood.

Of course, be sure to check out the rest of our newsletter below. Along with some great new books we point out a fun May quirky celebration. We also are exploring the idea of parent-child book clubs and want your input, so see more about that later in this newsletter!

--- Shara Zaval (


Special Feature: DON'T CALL ME BABY by Gwendolyn Heasley

Blogs are fantastic --- anyone can write one, and they can take readers into the worlds of fashion, cooking, music, middle grade novels... pretty much anything a person could ever want to know. But what if there was a blog about you that spared no details --- a blog that shared everything from your first words to your school troubles, and, if you're a girl, even talked about your first period?!

That's what Imogene, the protagonist in DON'T CALL ME BABY by Gwendolyn Heasley, has to contend with every day --- her mom is a famous blogger, and Imogene is her favorite, er, only, subject. When Imogene is forced to start her own blog as part of a school project, she is reluctant to put even more of her life in cyberspace. However, she realizes that this might be the chance she's been waiting for --- the chance to define herself for the first time.

Look out for a review and an author interview, which will be posted in the next couple of weeks! In the meantime:

Click here to read the excerpt.
Click here to learn more about the book.
Click here to watch the book trailer.

Special Feature: CHITTY CHITTY BANG BANG OVER THE MOON by Frank Cottrell Boyce

Plenty of technology has been invented since the first Chitty Chitty Bang Bang book was written in the 1960s, from the internet to cell phones to iPads. But, as Frank Cottrell Boyce, the author of CHITTY CHITTY BANG BANG OVER THE MOON, says, “the idea of a car that can fly is still really magical,” even decades later! That’s why we were so excited to create a special feature for CHITTY CHITTY BANG BANG OVER THE MOON --- the latest story starring the flying car with its own personality. In our feature, you can find a review of the book, an excerpt and an author interview, where Frank talks about everything from his favorite feature of Chitty Chitty Bang Bang to how writing books is different from writing movies.

Click here to read the review.
Click here to read the excerpt.
Click here to read the interview.

Click here to see our special feature on CHITTY CHITTY BANG BANG OVER THE MOON!

Quirky Celebrations --- National Train Day

We're all for airplanes, cars, bikes, boats and scooters, but there is something truly magical about trains. You can go across the country and watch a breathtaking array of landscapes out the window, or simply go into or out of the city, always feeling a slight sense of excitement as the train comes chugging into the station.

That's why we decided to celebrate National Train Day on Kidsreads (May 10th) with two great books about trains. In THE BOUNDLESS by Kenneth Oppel, Will can't wait to ride on greatest train ever built on its maiden voyage across the country --- but when he ends up in possession of a key to a car that contains priceless treasures, the trip becomes much more dangerous. LANTERN SAM AND THE BLUE STREAK BANDITS by Michael D. Beil follows Lantern Sam, a sassy talking cat who lives aboard the Lake Erie Shoreliner and is determined to help Henry, a 10-year-old passenger, find his friend Ellie. Make sure to check out these books in honor of National Train Day...maybe on your next train ride!



Click here to read the whole feature!

Are You in a Book Club with Your Children? Would You Like to Start a Book Club with Your Children?

Are you in a book club with your children? Or would you like to start a book club with your children?

We're contemplating a feature about this subject and would love your input. If you are in a club, let me know:

1) How many people are in your group? What are the ages of the children?
2) What are you reading?
3) What tips do you have for others trying to start a club like this?
4) Where you're based?

If you would like to start a club, let me know:

1) How old are the children?
2) What would you need to know to get started?
3) How else can we help you get your group going?

Likewise if a library or bookstore near you has a book club program, let us know about that as well!

One of our other sites is, so we have a lot of info on what works with book clubs. If there is enough interest, we can develop program ideas and book lists for you!

Please write me at

Now in Stores: THE LUCK UGLIES by Paul Durham

THE LUCK UGLIES by Paul Durham

Strange things are happening in Village Drowning, and a terrifying encounter has 11-year-old Rye O'Chanter convinced that the monstrous, supposedly extinct Bog Noblins have returned. Now Rye's only hope is an exiled secret society so notorious its name can't be spoken aloud: the Luck Uglies. As Rye dives into Village Drowning's maze of secrets, rules and lies, she'll discover the truth behind the village's legends of outlaws and beasts . . . and that it may take a villain to save them from the monsters.

Click here to learn more about the book.

Click here to read the review.



Now in Stores: DEEP BLUE by Jennifer Donnelly

DEEP BLUE (Waterfire Saga Book 1) by Jennifer Donnelly

When Serafina, a mermaid of the Mediterranean Sea, awakens on the morning of her betrothal, her biggest worry should be winning the love of handsome Prince Mahdi. And yet Sera finds herself haunted by strange dreams that foretell the return of an ancient evil. Her dark premonitions are confirmed when an assassin's arrow poisons Sera's mother. Now, Serafina must embark on a quest to find the assassin's master and prevent a war between the Mer nations. Led only by her shadowy dreams, Sera searches for five other mermaid heroines who are scattered across the six seas. Together, they will form an unbreakable bond of sisterhood and uncover a conspiracy that threatens their world's very existence.

Click here to learn more about the book.

Click here to read the review.

Now in Stores: THE THICKETY by J.A. White


When Kara Westfall was six years old, her mother was convicted of the worst of all crimes: witchcraft. Years later, Kara and her little brother Taff are still shunned by the people of their village, who believe that nothing is more evil than magic…except, perhaps, the mysterious forest that covers nearly the entire island. It has many names, this place. Sometimes it is called the Dark Wood, or Sordyr’s Realm. But mostly it’s called the Thickety.

The villagers live in fear of the Thickety and the terrible creatures that live there. But when an unusual bird lures Kara into the forbidden forest, she discovers a strange book with unspeakable powers. A book that might have belonged to her mother. And that is just the beginning of the story.

Click here to learn more about the book.

Click here to read the review.

May's New Picture Books Roundup
Our May picture book roundup includes THE NUMBERLYS by William Joyce and illustrated by Christina Ellis, a story about how the alphabet was created that includes a stunning transition from black-and-white to color illustrations; THE PILOT AND THE LITTLE PRINCE written and illustrated by Peter Sís, a detailed, beautifully rendered biography of the man behind one of the most beloved children’s books of all time; and COUNT ON THE SUBWAY by Paul DuBois Jacobs and Jennifer Swender with illustrations by Dan Yaccarino, which uses New York City’s legendary transportation system to teach young ones how to count.
Click here to see May's New Picture Books roundup!

May’s Cool & New Books Roundup
Our May roundup includes DEEP BLUE, the first book in the Waterfire Saga series by Jennifer Donnelly, which follows the mermaid Serafina and five other mermaid heroines as they attempt to prevent war between the Mer nations; I KILL THE MOCKINGBIRD by Paul Acampora, in which three friends hatch a plan to get the whole town excited about Harper Lee’s classic; and FLIGHTS AND CHIMES AND MYSTERIOUS TIMES by Emma Trevayne, which follows 10-year-old Jack, whose only hope of escaping an alternate, steampunk London is a legendary clockwork bird.
Click here to see May's Cool & New Books roundup!
May's New in Paperback Roundup
Among the paperback titles released this month, we have THE WATER CASTLE by Megan Frazer Blakemore, which follows Ephraim as he moves back to his family’s ancestral home in Maine and discovers a mysterious fountain of youth; the next installment in Jeopardy champion Ken Jennings’Junior Genius Guides series, U.S. PRESIDENTS, which includes trivia about Lincoln’s holiday plans, Jefferson’s food preferences and everything in between; and STONEWALL HINKLEMAN AND THE BATTLE OF BULL RUN by Origami Yoda author Tom Angleberger, which follows a 12-year-old boy who gets transported back to the time of the famous Civil War battle by a mysterious bugle.
Click here to visit our May New in Paperback feature!
New Reviews!

Check out our latest reviews on!

THE NIGHT GARDENER by Jonathan Auxier (Youth Paranormal Fiction)

Two abandoned Irish siblings travel to work as servants at a creepy, crumbling English manor house. But the house and its family are not quite what they seem. Soon the children are confronted by a mysterious spectre and an ancient curse that threatens their very lives. Reviewed by Emma Kantor.

LIZZY BENNET'S DIARY: Inspired by Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice by Marcia Williams (Youth Historical Fiction)

Published to coincide with the 200th anniversary of PRIDE AND PREJUDICE, this is a glorious retelling of Jane Austen's most famous novel from the point of view of Lizzy Bennet, its feisty heroine. This is the story of PRIDE AND PREJUDICE, told through Lizzy Bennet's secret diary. It is a beautifully detailed and completely fresh take on one of the best-loved stories in English literature. Reviewed by Sally M. Tibbetts.

NORTHWOOD by Brian Falkner and illustrated by Donovan Bixley (Youth Fiction)

Cecilia Undergarment likes a challenge. So when she discovers a sad and neglected dog, she is determined to rescue him. But her daring dog rescue lands her lost and alone in the dark forest of Northwood. A forest where ferocious black lions roam. A forest where those who enter never return. But then Northwood has never seen the likes of Cecilia Undergarment before... Reviewed by Sarah Rachel Egelman.

THE SHARK WHISPERER (Tristan Hunt and the Sea Guardians) by Ellen Prager and illustrated by Antonio Caparo (Youth Fantasy Fiction)

After his most klutzy move ever, falling into a pool of sharks, things for Tristan Hunt begin to look up. Tristan is invited to an ocean-themed summer camp in the Florida Keys where he discovers that he and the other young teens there have very special and rare talents when it comes to the ocean. After the camp receives a distress call from ocean animals, Tristan and his new friends get pulled into a daring rescue in the Bahamas. With the help of sharks, dolphins, a quick-escape artist octopus and some seabird bombers, the campers must use their young talents in an attempt to outwit an evil shark-finning, reef-blasting billionaire. Reviewed by Quinn Colter.

HOW THEY CHOKED: Failures, Flops, and Flaws of the Awfully Famous by Georgia Bragg (Youth Nonfiction)

Everyone makes mistakes. Sometimes, epic failures even lead to super successes . . . sometimes they become deep dark secrets. But remember --- to fail is human, to laugh about our shortcomings, divine. From Montezuma II’s mistaking a conqueror for a god to Isaac Newton turning from science to alchemy to J. Bruce Ismay’s jumping the lifeboat line on the Titanic, HOW THEY CHOKED knocks 14 famous achievers off their pedestals to reveal the human side of history. Reviewed by Corinne Fox.

CHASING CHEETAHS: The Race to Save Africa's Fastest Cat by Sy Montgomery and illustrated by Nic Bishop (Youth Nonfiction)

Since the year 1900, cheetah footprints quickly dwindled in African dirt as the species plummeted from more than 100,000 to fewer than 10,000. At the Cheetah Conservation Fund's (CCF) African headquarters in Namibia, Laurie Marker and her team save these stunning, swift and slender creatures from extinction. Since the organization's start in 1990, they've rescued more than 900 cheetahs, most of whom have been returned to the wild. Sy Montgomery and Nic Bishop join CCF in studying the cheetah's ecological, genetic and behavioral patterns in order to chase down the fastest animal on land and save the species --- before it is too late. Reviewed by Christine Irvin.

THE EIGHTH DAY by Dianne K. Salerni (Youth Fantasy Fiction)

When Jax wakes up to a world without any people in it, he assumes it's the zombie apocalypse. But when he runs into his 18-year-old guardian, Riley Pendare, he learns that he's really in the eighth day --- an extra day sandwiched between Wednesday and Thursday. Some people --- like Jax and Riley --- are Transitioners, able to live in all eight days, while others, including Evangeline, the elusive teenage girl who's been hiding in the house next door, exist only on this special day. And there's a reason Evangeline's hiding. She is a descendant of the powerful wizard Merlin, and there is a group of people who wish to use her in order to destroy the normal seven-day world and all who live in it. Torn between protecting his new friend and saving the entire human race from complete destruction, Jax is faced with an impossible choice. Even with an eighth day, time is running out. Reviewed by Rebecca Czochor.

GUSTAV GLOOM AND THE PEOPLE TAKER (#1) by Adam-Troy Castro (Youth Paranormal Fiction)

Fernie finds herself lost in the Gloom mansion after her cat appears to have been chased there by its own shadow. Fernie discovers a library full of every book that was never written and a gallery of statues that are just plain awkward --- and finds herself at dinner watching her own shadow take part in the feast! Along the way Fernie is chased by the People Taker who is determined to take her to the Shadow Country. It's up to Fernie and Gustav to stop the People Taker before he takes Fernie's family. Reviewed by Lily Philpott.

BOYS OF BLUR by N. D. Wilson (Youth Fiction)

When Charlie moves from Palm Beach to the small town of Taper, Florida, he discovers a different world. Pinned between the everglades and the swampy banks of Lake Okeechobee, the small town produces sugar cane . . . and the fastest runners in the country. But there are things in the swamp, roaming the cane at night, that cannot be explained, and they seem connected to sprawling mounds older than the swamps. Together with his step-second cousin Herman "Cotton" Mack, the fastest boy on the muck, Charlie hunts secrets in the glades and on the muck flats where the cane grows secrets as old as the soft earth, secrets that haunted, tripped, and trapped the original native tribes, ensnared conquistadors and buried runaway slaves. Secrets only the muck knows. Reviewed by Anita Lock.


Ten-year-old Jack Foster has stepped through a doorway and into quite a different London. Londinium is a smoky, dark and dangerous place, home to mischievous metal fairies and fearsome clockwork dragons that breathe scalding steam. The people wear goggles to protect their eyes, brass grill insets in their nostrils to filter air, or mechanical limbs to replace missing ones. Over it all rules the Lady, and the Lady has demanded a new son --- a perfect flesh-and-blood child. She has chosen Jack. His only hope of escape lies with a legendary clockwork bird. The Gearwing grants wishes --- or it did, before it was broken --- before it was killed. But some things don’t stay dead forever. Reviewed by Sarah Rachel Egelman.

THE SPY CATCHERS OF MAPLE HILL by Megan Frazer Blakemore (Youth Fiction)

Hazel Kaplansky is a firm believer in the pursuit of knowledge and truth --- and she also happens to love a good mystery. When suspicions swirl that a Russian spy has infiltrated her small town of Maple Hill, Vermont, amidst the fervor of Cold War era McCarthyism, Hazel knows it’s up to her to find a suspect… starting with Mr. Jones, the quietly suspicious grave digger. Plus she’s found a perfect sleuthing partner in Samuel Butler, the new boy in school with a few secrets of his own. But as Hazel and Samuel piece together clues from the past and present, the truth is suddenly not what they expected, and what they find reveals more about themselves and the people of their cozy little town than they could ever have imagined. Reviewed by Christine Irvin.

Remember to be safe online. NEVER tell anyone personal information --- which includes your real name, age, address, phone number or school. Hey, pretend you are undercover when you go online and protect yourself at all times!

Keep reading!

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