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June 2014 Newsletter for Parents June 2014
Beach Weather = Book Weather
Happy summer!

While I’m sure that your kids are thrilled that school is out so they can sleep late, go to camp, go swimming and run around outside, we love the summer at Kidsreads because it means there’s so much more time for good books! And believe me, there are plenty of great ones that just came out or are hitting the shelves, soon.

We recently got some rave reviews for a few summer reads --- Norah Piehl called ABSOLUTELY ALMOST by Lisa Graff “poignantly funny” and “an almost perfect book,” and Kathy Purcell said that STILL LIFE by Jacqueline West is “a firework finale” to The Books of Elsewhere series that “will make you ‘oh’ and ‘ah.’”

Then there are big ones for your series devourers --- DORK DIARIES: Tales from a Not-So-Glam TV Star by Rachel Renee Russell hit stores earlier this month, there’s a new paperback boxed set of Rick Riordan’s exploding Percy Jackson and the Olympians collection, and the final book in Lenore Look’s Alvin Ho series will be published this August.

Lastly, there are a few others that have been on my radar including THE GRAVEYARD BOOK GRAPHIC NOVEL: Volume 1 by Neil Gaiman (July), which should be huge for kids who want to read the smash hit in a new format or for graphic novel enthusiasts. I’m also excited about THE ZOO AT THE EDGE OF THE WORLD by Eric Kahn Gale, which was selected as a Middle Grade Buzz book at BEA and comes out at the end of August. This one features the son of a world-famous explorer who has a stutter --- except when he talks to animals. When a jaguar gives him the gift of understandinganimals too, he’s faced with a difficult choice.

Whew! May this make your kids’ summer pleasure reading list double in size! There’s a little something for everyone in between beach trips and soccer games.

For more great choices, be sure to check out the rest of our newsletter (and of course, the website itself.)

Finally, make sure to log onto on July 1st! We’re doing a month-long celebration of “The Boy Who Lived” to get a new generation excited about the beloved Harry Potter series. So check in for a contest, Harry Potter memories from favorite middle grade authors and readers around the country, fun Harry Potter tidbits, and more.

Now go enjoy the beach, pool or lake...and don’t forget your book!

All best,

Shara Zaval (


Quirky Celebrations --- World Oceans Day
Now that June is here, people in many parts of the country are finally brushing the snow off their shoulders and heading to the beach! In fact, June 8th was World Oceans Day, which had the theme "together we have the power to protect the ocean."

But you don't have to limit your ocean celebrations to just one day --- this June, pick up one of two great ocean-themed books, DEEP BLUE by Jennifer Donnelly and THE SHARK WHISPERER by Ellen Prager with illustrations by Antonio Caparo. In DEEP BLUE, the first book in the Waterfire Saga, six mermaid heroines must band together to prevent a war between the Mer nations. THE SHARK WHISPERER --- the first book in the Tristan Hunt and the Sea Guardians series --- follows Tristan, a 12-year-old boy who discovers he can communicate with sharks and attends a special summer camp for kids with ocean-related talents.

So read the reviews below, and choose one to dive into! Sorry, we couldn't resist.
Click here to read the full special feature!

Now in Stores: THREE BIRD SUMMER by Sara St. Antoine

THREE BIRD SUMMER by Sara St. Antoine

An introspective boy and an adventurous girl uncover a poignant family mystery during a summer on the shores of Three Bird Lake.

When Adam's grandma starts to leave strange notes in his room --- notes that hint at a hidden treasure somewhere at Three Bird Lake --- his new neighbor Alice is the one person he can rely on to help solve the mystery.

Click here to read more about the book.
Click here for the review.



Now in Stores: THE NIGHT GARDENER by Jonathan Auxier

THE NIGHT GARDENER by Jonathan Auxier

This much-anticipated follow-up to Jonathan Auxier’s exceptional debut, PETER NIMBLE AND HIS FANTASTIC EYES, is a Victorian ghost story with shades of Washington Irving and Henry James. More than just a spooky tale, it’s also a moral fable about human greed and the power of storytelling. THE NIGHT GARDENER follows two abandoned Irish siblings who 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 specter and an ancient curse that threatens their very lives.

Click here to read more about the book.
Click here for the review.





Zita the Spacegirl has saved planets, battled monsters, and wrestled with interplanetary fame. But she faces her biggest challenge yet in the third and final installment of the Zita adventures. Wrongfully imprisoned on a penitentiary planet, Zita has to plot the galaxy's greatest jailbreak before the evil prison warden can execute his plan of interstellar domination!

Click here to read more about the book!


Now in Stores: DREAMWOOD by Heather Mackey

DREAMWOOD by Heather Mackey

Determined to find her father, Lucy and her vexingly stubborn friend Pete follow William Darrington’s trail to the deadly woods on Devil’s Thumb. As they encounter Lupine princesses, giant sea serpents and all manner of terrifying creatures, Lucy hasn’t reckoned that the dreamwood itself might be the greatest threat of all.

Click here to read more about the book!



REAL TALK Publishing: Walter Mayes

On, we have a feature called REAL TALK Publishing: The People Behind the Books, where we interview people from across the industry, from editors to booksellers to book cover designers.

We thought that the latest one might be of particular interest to you --- it features Walter Mayes, the librarian at the Girls' Middle School in Palo Alto, California for the past 13 years. He's also the famed "Walter the Giant Storyteller" (he’s 6’ 7 1/2’’ tall), and has worked as a bookseller and at a publishing company.

Read the first part of his interview here, where he talks about what makes his library unique, shares a particularly memorable interaction with a student and explains why listening is actually one of the most important parts of his job.

A Giveaway for YOU at --- Summer Reading Contests
Summer is just around the corner! At, this means it's time for us to share some great summer book picks with our Summer Reading Contests and Feature. We will be spotlighting a different title on select days throughout the summer, so you will have to check the site each day to see the featured prize book and enter. We also will be sending a special daily newsletter to announce the day's title, which you can sign up for here.

Our next prize book will be announced on Monday, June 23rd at noon EST.

Books on Screen

Each month, our Books on Screen feature spotlights movies, television shows, miniseries and specials that are based on books of various genres --- including novels, memoirs, comics, children's books, short stories and poetry --- along with the latest DVD releases.

Who's ready for the return of Hiccup, Toothless and the gang? How to Train Your Dragon 2 is now in theaters, and it's as funny and charming as the first film. Based on the series by Cressida Cowell, this sequel follows Hiccup and his loyal dragon, Toothless, as they once again find themselves fighting to keep the peace between dragons and humans.

Click here to read about the first book in the bestselling series!



Click here to read Books on Screen!

June's New Picture Books Roundup
Our June picture book roundup includes FOOD TRUCKS by Mark Todd, a comically illustrated book that pays homage to food trucks of every kind; PARDON ME by David Miyares, a clever and colorful book about a bird who just wants some peace and quiet; and MONSTERS LOVE SCHOOL by Mike Austin, a charming story of energetic monsters starting school, learning monster history and having lots of fun while they’re at it.
Click here to see June's New Picture Books roundup!

June’s Cool & New Books Roundup

Our June roundup includes the much-anticipated DORK DIARIES: Tales From a Not-So-Glam TV Star by Rachel Renee Russell, where Nikki is back and has a reality TV crew following her around; LINE OF FIRE: Diary of an Unknown Soldier by Barroux, a graphic novel bringing to life a 100-year-old diary from World War I; and A HITCH AT THE FAIRMONT by Jim Averbeck and illustrated by Nick Bertozzi, where an intrepid boy teams up with director Alfred Hitchcock to solve the mystery of his mother’s death and his aunt’s disappearance.



Click here to see June's Cool & New Books roundup!
June's New in Paperback Roundup

Among the paperback titles released this month, we have “WHO COULD IT BE AT THIS HOUR?” by Lemony Snicket, the noir first novel in his All the Wrong Questions series; THE DEMON NOTEBOOK by Erika McGann, in which four failed witches discover real magic that possesses their school notebook; and PERCY JACKSON AND THE OLYMPIANS: 3 Book Paperback Boxed Set by Rick Riordan, which includes the first three books in the popular series, all with brand new cover art.



Click here to visit our June New in Paperback feature!
New Reviews

Check out our latest reviews on!

UFILES #1: A Dark Inheritance by Chris d'Lacey (Youth Paranormal Fiction)

When Michael Malone discovers his supernatural ability to alter reality, he is recruited by an organization dedicated to investigating strange and paranormal phenomena. He joins in hopes of finding his father, who mysteriously vanished three years earlier. Michael's first task is to solve the mystery of a dog he rescued from a precarious cliff top --- a mystery that leads him to a strange and sickly classmate and a young girl who was killed in a devastating accident. Reviewed by Benjamin Boche.

ALSO KNOWN AS ELVIS: The Misfits, Book 4 by James Howe (Fiction)

Skeezie Tookis, also known as Elvis, isn’t looking forward to this summer in Paintbrush Falls. While his best friends Bobby, Joe and Addie are off on exciting adventures, he’s stuck at home, taking care of his sisters and working five days a week to help out his mom. In the words of the King, Skeezie Tookis is All Shook Up. Reviewed by Amy Alessio.

PLATYPUS POLICE SQUAD: The Ostrich Conspiracy by Jarrett J. Krosoczka (Youth Mystery Fiction)

The opening of the Kalamazoo City Dome --- the world's largest indoor amusement complex --- has everyone in the city buzzing, especially because it's going to be the shooting site for Chase Mercy's new blockbuster film. But that's when things start to go haywire. Who would want to sabotage the Dome, and why? Detectives Rick Zengo and Corey O'Malley are on the case! Reviewed by Corinne Fox.

CIRCA NOW by Amber McRee Turner (Fiction)

One day, Circa's father receives a strange phone call requesting an urgent delivery, and he heads out into a storm. The unimaginable happens: a tornado, then a terrible accident, and Circa never sees her dad again. Just as Circa and her mom begin to pick up the pieces, a mysterious boy shows up on their doorstep, a boy called Miles who remembers nothing about his past. The only thing he has with him is the photograph that Circa's dad intended to deliver on the day he died. Reviewed by Kathy Purcell.

THE CASTLE BEHIND THORNS by Merrie Haskell (Youth Fiction)

When blacksmith apprentice Sand wakes up in a ruined castle, he has no idea how he got there, but the thorny brambles that surround the walls prevent him from leaving. As he begins to fix up the castle in order to survive, everything he touches somehow works better than it should. Then, as he continues to explore, Sand discovers the castle's secrets, including its long-lost heir, Perrotte. Together, they must fully repair the broken castle if they ever want to leave. Reviewed by Carly Silver.

DORK DIARIES 7: Tales from a Not-So-Glam TV Star by Rachel Renee Russell (Youth Fiction)

Nikki’s juggling a lot this month. A reality TV crew is following Nikki and her friends as they record their hit song together, plus there are voice lessons, dance practice and little sister Brianna’s latest wacky hijinks. Nikki’s sure she can handle everything, but will all the excitement cause new problems for Nikki and Brandon, now that cameras are everywhere Nikki goes? Reviewed by Sarah Rachel Egelman.

I KILL THE MOCKINGBIRD by Paul Acampora (Fiction)

When Lucy, Elena and Michael receive their summer reading list, they are excited to see that TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD was included. But not everyone in their class shares the same enthusiasm. So they hatch a plot to get the entire town talking about the well-known Harper Lee classic. They plan controversial ways to get people to read the book, including re-shelving copies of the book in bookstores so that people think they are missing and starting a website committed to “destroying the mockingbird.” Their efforts are successful when all of the hullabaloo starts to direct more people to the book. But soon, their exploits start to spin out of control and they unwittingly start a mini revolution in the name of books. Reviewed by Benjamin Boche.

ODIN'S RAVENS (The Blackwell Pages) by Melissa Marr and Kelley Armstrong (Youth Fantasy)

When 13-year-old Matt Thorsen, a modern day descendant of the Norse god Thor, was chosen to represent Thor in an epic battle to prevent the apocalypse he thought he knew how things would play out. Gather the descendants standing in for gods like Loki and Odin, defeat a giant serpent and save the world. No problem, right? But the descendants' journey grinds to a halt when their friend and descendant Baldwin is poisoned and killed and Matt, Fen, and Laurie must travel to the Underworld in the hopes of saving him. But that's only their first stop on their journey to reunite the challengers, find Thor's hammer and stop the apocalypse. Reviewed by Sheena Kowalski.

THE BATTLE OF DARCY LANE by Tara Altebrando (Youth Fiction)

It's summertime, and 12-year-old Julia Richards and her best friend Taylor want some real excitement. Which arrives in the form of a new neighbor named Alyssa, who introduces a ball game called Russia . . . and an unwelcome level of BFF rivalry. Suddenly nothing stands unchallenged --- not Julia's friendships, her crush or her independence. But while Julia realizes that she cannot control all the changes in her life, she hangs onto the hope that everything will go in her favor if she can just win one magnificent showdown. Reviewed by Harman K., Teen Board Member.

ABSOLUTELY ALMOST by Lisa Graff (Youth Fiction)

Albie has never been the smartest kid in his class. He has never been the tallest. Or the best at gym. Or the greatest artist. Or the most musical. In fact, Albie has a long list of the things he's not very good at. But then Albie gets a new babysitter, Calista, who helps him figure out all of the things he is good at and how he can take pride in himself. Reviewed by Norah Piehl.

THE DEMON NOTEBOOK by Erika McGann (Youth Paranormal Fiction)

Things have gone wrong for Grace, Jenny, Rachel, Adie and Una. Very wrong. A freak snowstorm stranded the whole school, the history teacher's gone bonkers and their notebook has taken on a diabolical life of its own, bringing all of their previously failed spells to life. At first the girls are thrilled to see their magic finally working. But the spells are botched and people might get hurt, plus Una's not acting quite right. Can the girls stop the madness before the demon notebook works through their list of spells, slowly creeping towards the last, truly awful spell that they didn't really want to happen? Reviewed by Sheena Kowalski.

STILL LIFE (The Book of Elsewhere) by Jacqueline West (Fiction)

In this fifth and final book, Olive must seek the full, complex story of Elsewhere, its magical origins and its creator, and in so doing, face her own fears and limitations --- and possibly the destruction of Elsewhere itself. How far will Olive go to save the people and home she loves? And what will be the final cost? Reviewed by Kathy Purcell.

LINE OF FIRE: Diary of an Unknown Soldier by Barroux (Graphic Novel)

One winter morning, Barroux was walking down a street in Paris when he made an extraordinary find: the real diary of a soldier in World War I. Barroux rescued the diary from the trash and illustrated the soldier's words. In this striking black and white graphic novel adaptation of a 100-year-old diary, the events of the first two months of World War I are given fresh meaning and relevance to modern audiences. Reviewed by Aimee Rogers.

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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