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October 2014 Newsletter for Parents October 2014
Halloween (Tricks and) Treats from Kidsreads!


As the month creeps to a close, we imagine that many of your kids are anxiously awaiting Halloween, whether coming up with ingenius candy trading strategies, games for the class party, or, most importantly, their costumes! Are any of them representing favorite book characters this year? (I certainly did in third grade...see the picture on the right and see if you can guess.)

At Kidsreads, we decided to celebrate Halloween a couple of different ways this year. First, we have a roundup of great picture books and middle grade novels filled with spooks, scares, costumes and jack-o-lanterns.

Second, we asked your kids' favorite authors to tell us one of their favorite childhood Halloween costumes. One famously small author of a Newbery Medal-winning book dressed as Bugs Bunny four years in a row, and another author, whose books are filled with science-themed puns, fooled his whole class by dressing up as an old man, complete with special effects makeup made from latex and foam rubber --- can you and your kids guess who? Find out the answers in the full feature!

For a quick taste, though, here are some authors’ favorite costumes, below:

Jonathan Auxier, THE NIGHT GARDENER:

When I was ten, I went out as the drowned ghost of Captain Ahab --- peg leg, seaweed beard and green skin. Instead of saying "trick-or-treat!" I would shout "I spit my last breath at thee!," which mostly confused people. I was a huge book nerd even back then!


My favorite costume is the earliest one I can remember, from the Halloween when I was around five. It was only a dime-store princess dress with a cardboard crown, but I associate it with the wonderful excitement of running around outside in the dark after the street lights came on, something I was never allowed to do in my ordinary life.


A friend and I dressed as a two-headed monster one year, with a giant purple dress and a shared trick-or-treat bag. Trying to walk in sync was difficult, though. We fell over a few times.


The Cotton Ball Bunny. I was in preschool, and my mother thought it would be cute to pad my bunny rabbit costume around the middle with cotton balls to give me a cute chubby look. Halfway through the class Halloween party, the cotton balls had all settled down around my butt, and I discovered that I could pull down the seat of my pants and drop white balls of "bunny poop" all over the floor. Hilarity ensued. Parents were called.

Quite the mix! Do your kids have any Halloween costume ideas yet, book-related or otherwise? Let me know at, and I’d love to see a picture after the 31st (once they recover from their candy comas, that is).

And if you have teenagers in the house, be sure to send them over to where we have plenty of Halloween fun for them too, including our Thrills and Chills contest, where they can win a collection of delightfully spooky books; the YA version of our "Favorite Authors' Favorite Costumes" feature and our Beyond the Grave bookshelf, highlighting books with a ghostly bent.

We haven't gotten totally lost in the excitement that is Halloween, though. This month, not only do we have a trailer reveal and giveaway for TIMMY FAILURE: We Meet Again --- the third book in the hilarious Timmy Failure series starring the 11-year-old CEO of a detective agency --- but we also have a fun look at a NYC store event featuring some well-known kids’ graphic novel creators, plenty of great reviews and the RED BERRIES, WHITE CLOUDS, BLUE SKY contest still going strong!

Also, with your own personal reading --- and listening --- in mind, we have details about THREE ways to win books on And we share what's what's new on for all of you who are in, or considering joining, a book group.

Til we meet again! Happy Halloween, and keep reading!

--- Shara Zaval (


Special Contest: RED BERRIES, WHITE CLOUDS, BLUE SKY by Sandra Dallas

Sandra Dallas is famous for writing novels for adults, from TRUE SISTERS to THE PERSIAN PICKLE, but her newest book --- RED BERRIES, WHITE CLOUDS, BLUE SKY --- is for kids like you! This book follows 12-year-old Tomi, a second-generation Japanese-American girl who was born and raised in California. She lives a normal, happy life --- until the Japanese drop a bomb on Pearl Harbor. After that, her family faces extreme prejudices, and she's even sent to an internment camp in Colorado. Can Tomi overcome her bitterness towards a country that treats her like an enemy, and prove that she is, in fact, an honorable American?

Be one of 100 readers to win a free copy of RED BERRIES, WHITE CLOUDS, BLUE SKY by entering our contest before Tuesday, November 11th at noon ET.

Click here to learn more about the book.
Click here to read the review.
Click here to read the excerpt.


Click here to enter the contest!


Check out the new series based on the hit A&E show "Duck Dynasty." Kids ages 8-12 become one of the Duck Commander characters in each zany adventure and they’ll see firsthand the value of making good choices. Readers are given the option at the end of each section, and their decisions will impact the way their adventures unfold. A special note from John Luke Robertson at the end of each book highlights its lesson.

Click here to read an excerpt of WILLIE'S REDNECK TIME MACHINE!

Click here to read our interview with John Luke Robertson!

Click here to read our review!

Click here to read the Special Feature

TIMMY FAILURE --- Trailer Reveal and Book Giveaway!

You met Timmy Failure --- the 11-year old CEO of a detective agency --- and his polar bear sidekick, Total, in TIMMY FAILURE: Mistakes Were Made and laughed along with his search for a stolen globe with his eccentric Great Aunt Colander in TIMMY FAILURE: Now Look What You've Done. On October 28th, Timmy will embark on a new hilarious adventure, this time involving the coveted Miracle Report, which is the key to good grades, among other things.

We're psyched to be hosting the TRAILER REVEAL for this third Timmy Failure book! Click the BIG image above to watch.

Then write an email to saying your favorite part of the trailer and you could win a copy of the book!



Pictionary: Graphic Novel Style!

Two weeks ago, 151,000 people attended New York City's biggest pop culture event --- Comic Con. While lots of action was happening at the Javits Center, there were a number of satellite events around the cityl Carol Fitzgerald, who founded and who runs The Book Report Network, blogged about one of the kid-centric events that happened at the McNally Jackson bookstore in downtown New York City --- "Pictionary with Graphic Novelists" starring Jarrett J. Krosoczka, Raina Telgemeier, Kazu Kibuishi, Sara Varon and Frank Cammuso.

Click here to read the post and see some awesome photos, including this one on the right of Frank drawing a very dapper bunny.



October's New Picture Books Roundup

Our October roundup includes BLIZZARD by John Rocco, a story of the Blizzard of 1978 and the 53 inches of show it brought to Rhode Island; MARCEL THE SHELL: The Most Surprised I’ve Ever Been by Dean Fleischer-Camp and Jenny Slate, the second book based on the tiny, sneakers-wearing seashell of YouTube fame; and SEBASTIAN AND THE BALLOON by Philip C. Stead, the story of a bored little boy who builds himself a hot air balloon and goes for an adventure in the sky.

Click here to see October's New Picture Books roundup!

October’s Cool & New Books Roundup

Our October roundup includes STRIKE! by Larry Dane Brimner, a nuanced history of the United Farm Works; MARY POPPINS: 80 Anniversary Collection by P.L. Travers, the anniversary edition of four classic stories of everyone’s favorite nanny; and RAIN REIGN by Ann M. Martin, told from the point of view of a girl with OCD and Asperger’s syndrome.

Click here to see October's Cool & New Books roundup!

October's New in Paperback Roundup

Among the paperback titles released this month, we have TEMPLE GRANDIN by Sy Montgomery and Temple Grandin, the compelling biography of an autistic woman who revolutionized the livestock industry; MACHINE WARS by Michael Pryor, the story of Bram Argent, on the run from a paranoid superintelligence; and BINK AND GOLLIE: The Complete Marvelous Collection by Kate DiCamillo and Alison McGhee, which includes three hilarious stories about two best friends, Bink and Gollie.

Click here to visit our October New in Paperback feature!

Contests on

Your kids shouldn't be the only ones having all the fun and winning all the prizes! We have plenty of chances for you to get some great adult reads on

1) Audiobook Survey - We're interested in receiving feedback from listeners and non-listeners alike! Finish the survey, and you can enter a drawing for the chance to win one of 25 books or audiobooks on CD. There are 25 prizes for listeners and 25 prizes for non-listeners. The survey will be live until December 1st. Take it here!

2) Fall Preview - On we have just two more days of our Fall Preview feature and contest, where we've spotlighting a number of outstanding books that we know people will be talking about in the days and months to come. Each contest is 24 hours long, so be sure to check it out and enter!

3) Holiday Cheer: Mark your calendars for November 7th --- the start of our Holiday Cheer contest! As our holiday gift to you, we spotlight different books each day and give five lucky readers the chance to win a copy. --- About, Contests and More!

Are you a member of a reading group? Then you might be interested in, our website specifically for members of book clubs!

The site features more than 3,900 (!) reading guides in a searchable database to help you plan a great discussion, plus monthly contests, a newsletter with book club news, and the ability to see what other book clubs are reading to help you decide what to devour next.

There are currently four live contests on the site that you should be sure to enter while there's still time!

Click here to tell us what your book group is reading this month and you will be entered to win a set of 12 copies of STILL LIFE WITH BREAD CRUMBS by Anna Quindlen

Click here to enter our contest for THE LAST BREATH by Kimberly Bell

Click here to enter our contest for MASTERING THE ART OF FRENCH EATING by Ann Mah

Click here to enter our contest for HOW TO BE PARISIAN WHEREVER YOU ARE by Anne Berest, Audrey Diwan, Caroline de Maigret and Sophie Mas


Click here to visit!

Books on Screen

It's October, the spookiest month of the year for movies! If you're looking for a monstrous good time, check out The Boxtrolls, the story of an orphaned boy named Eggs raised by trash-collecting trolls. These monsters are sillier than they are scary, so it's the perfect Halloween treat!

Or if you've eaten too much candy, can't figure out your Halloween costume and are just having a terrible time, make sure to go see Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day and watch Alexander and his family have the worst day ever. It's sure to cheer up a lousy day.

So grab a handful of pumpkin-shaped Halloween candies and head out to see some books on screen!

Click here to read Books on Screen!

Now in Stores: THE MADMAN OF PINEY WOODS by Christopher Paul Curtis

THE MADMAN OF PINEY WOODS by Christopher Paul Curtis (Fiction)

Benji and Red couldn't be more different. They aren't friends. They don't even live in the same town. But their fates are entwined. A chance meeting leads the boys to discover that they have more in common than meets the eye. Both of them have encountered a strange presence in the forest, watching them, tracking them. Could the Madman of Piney Woods be real? Reviewed by Anita Lock.

Click here to read more about the book.

Click here to read the review.

Now in Stores: RAIN REIGN by Ann M. Martin

RAIN REIGN written by Ann M. Martin

Rose Howard is obsessed with homonyms. She’s thrilled that her own name is a homonym, and she purposely gave her dog Rain a name with two homonyms (Reign, Rein), which, according to Rose’s rules of homonyms, is very special. Not everyone understands Rose’s obsessions, her rules, and the other things that make her different --- not her teachers, not other kids and not her single father.

When a storm hits their rural town, rivers overflow, the roads are flooded, and Rain goes missing. Rose’s father shouldn’t have let Rain out. Now Rose has to find her dog, even if it means leaving her routines and safe places to search.

Hearts will break and spirits will soar for this powerful story, brilliantly told from Rose’s point of view.

Click here to read more about the book.

New Reviews!


Candice Phee isn't a typical 12-year-old girl. She has more than her fair share of quirks, but she also has the very best of intentions and an unwavering determination to make sure everyone around her is happy --- which is no easy feat when dealing with a pet fish with an identity crisis, a friend who believes he came from another dimension, an age-old family feud and a sick mom. But she is on a mission. Her methods might be unique, but Candice will do whatever it takes to restore order to her world and make sure everyone is absolutely, categorically happy again. Reviewed by Aimee Rogers.

NEW! HOOK'S REVENGE written by Heidi Schulz, illustrated by John Hendrix (Youth Fiction)

Twelve-year-old Jocelyn dreams of becoming every bit as daring as her infamous father, Captain James Hook. Her grandfather, on the other hand, intends to see her starched and pressed into a fine society lady. When she's sent to Miss Eliza Crumb-Biddlecomb's Finishing School for Young Ladies, Jocelyn's hopes of following in her father's fearsome footsteps are lost in a heap of dance lessons, white gloves and way too much pink. So when Jocelyn receives a letter from her father challenging her to avenge his untimely demise at the jaws of the Neverland crocodile, she doesn't hesitate --- here at last is the adventure she has been waiting for. Reviewed by Matthew Burbridge.

NEW! MY BROTHER'S SHADOW by Tom Avery (Fiction)

Eleven-year-old Kaia, who has felt isolated since her older brother committed suicide more than a year before, befriends a wild boy who mysteriously appears at her London school. Though the boy is mute and can only communicate with a flash of his gray eyes, he might be the friend Kaia needs to bring her through her grief. Reviewed by Sheena Troyanski.

NEW! THE CONTRACT by Derek Jeter (Fiction)

As a young boy, Derek Jeter dreams of being the shortstop for the New York Yankees. He even imagines himself in the World Series. But when Derek is chosen for the Little League Tigers, he starts at second base. Still, he tries his best while he wishes and dreams of that shortstop spot. And to help him stay focused on school, his parents make him a contract: keep up the grades or no baseball. Derek makes sure he always plays his best game --- on and off the baseball field. Reviewed by Eric Rhodes.

NEW! MAGIC TREEHOUSE SURVIVAL GUIDE by Mary Pope Osborne, Natalie Pope Boyce, and Sal Murdocca (Nonfiction)

Jack and Annie have survived all kinds of dangers on their adventures in the magic tree house. Find out how you can survive lots of scary situations, including sharks, earthquakes, fires, shipwrecks and many more. With full-color photographs and illustrations, facts about real-life survival stories and tips from Jack and Annie, this is a must-have for all survivors of the bestselling Magic Tree House series. Reviewed by Matthew Burbridge.

NEW! INSIDE CHARLIE'S CHOCOLATE FACTORY: The Complete Story of Willy Wonka, the Golden Ticket and Roald Dahl's Most Famous Creation by Lucy Mangan (Nonfiction)

INSIDE CHARLIE'S CHOCOLATE FACTORY explores the unique appeal and lasting cultural impact of Roald Dahl’s beloved classic. This nonfiction book looks at the development of the original story and characters, its social history, and the varying film and stage adaptations. With never-before-seen material from the archives, full-color photos and illustrations throughout, and quotes from Roald Dahl enthusiasts, this gorgeously produced gift book is a great way for fans to celebrate Charlie, Wonka and Roald Dahl! Reviewed by Rebecca Czochor.

NEW! STRIKE! The Farm Workers' Fight for Their Rights by Larry Dane Brimner (Nonfiction)

In the 1960s, while the United States was at war and racial tensions were boiling over, Filipino American workers were demanding fair wages and decent living conditions in California’s vineyards. When the workers walked out of the fields in September 1965, the great Delano grape strike began. Did the signing of labor contracts with growers in 1970 mean an end to the problems of American field laborers, or was it a short-lived truce? Reviewed by Anita Lock.

NEW! MACHINE WARS by Michael Pryor (Youth Science Fiction)

Unknown to the world, a superintelligence has emerged --- and it wants to eliminate Bram Argent. The paranoid superintelligence can control any machine connected to the net, and it uses these machines as unstoppable agents to achieve its ends. Controlling the entire world is its only way to ensure its own existence. Reviewed by Matthew Burbridge.

NEW! UNSTOPPABLE OCTOBIA MAY by Sharon Flake (Fiction)

Octobia May is a girl filled with questions. Her heart condition makes her special --- and, some folks would argue, gives this ten-year-old powers that make her a "wise soul." Thank goodness for Auntie, who convinces Octobia's parents to let her live in her boarding house that is filled with old folks. That's when trouble, excitement and wonder begin. Reviewed by Anita Lock.

NEW! THE GRAVEYARD BOOK GRAPHIC NOVEL VOLUME 2 written by Neil Gaiman illustrated by P. Craig Russell (Youth Graphic Novel)

Inventive, chilling and filled with wonder, Neil Gaiman's THE GRAVEYARD BOOK reaches new heights in this stunning adaptation. Artists Kevin Nowlan, P. Craig Russell, Galen Showman, Scott Hampton and David Lafuente lend their own signature styles to create an imaginatively diverse and yet cohesive interpretation of Neil Gaiman's luminous novel. Reviewed by Sarah Rachel Egelman.

NEW! THE MADMAN OF PINEY WOODS by Christopher Paul Curtis (Fiction)

Benji and Red couldn't be more different. They aren't friends. They don't even live in the same town. But their fates are entwined. A chance meeting leads the boys to discover that they have more in common than meets the eye. Both of them have encountered a strange presence in the forest, watching them, tracking them. Could the Madman of Piney Woods be real? Reviewed by Anita Lock.

NEW! HELLO FROM 2030: The Science of the Future and You by Jan Paul Schutten (Youth Nonfiction)

Will the future be what we think, or will our predictions be laughably wrong? Get a glimpse of what’s coming --- and how we know --- in this firsthand look at futurology, the science of predicting the future. What will the future look like? From “living” homes to computers as thin as paper to cars that drive themselves, you’ll get a peek at what’s coming just around the corner in Hello from 2030. In the year 2030, issues we’re just now starting to address will be a very big deal. Like: What will 8 billion people eat? How can humans produce less trash? Which cool technologies will be used to figure all this out? Packed with real-world relevance and brain-stretching scenarios, this book empowers the problem solvers of tomorrow to start taking action today. Reviewed by Corinne Fox.

NEW! SHOULDN'T YOU BE IN SCHOOL? by Lemony Snicket (Youth Mystery)

Do you smell smoke? Young apprentice Lemony Snicket is investigating a case of arson but soon finds himself enveloped in the ever-increasing mystery that haunts the town of Stain'd-by-the-Sea. Who is setting the fires? What secrets are hidden in the Department of Education? Why are so many schoolchildren in danger? Is it all the work of the notorious villain Hangfire? How could you even ask that? What kind of education have you had? Reviewed by Emma Kantor.

NEW! BROWN GIRL DREAMING by Jacqueline Woodson (Youth Fiction)

Raised in South Carolina and New York, Woodson always felt halfway home in each place. In vivid poems, she shares what it was like to grow up as an African American in the 1960s and 1970s, living with the remnants of Jim Crow and her growing awareness of the Civil Rights movement. Touching and powerful, each poem is both accessible and emotionally charged, each line a glimpse into a child’s soul as she searches for her place in the world. Woodson’s eloquent poetry also reflects the joy of finding her voice through writing stories, despite the fact that she struggled with reading as a child. Her love of stories inspired her and stayed with her, creating the first sparks of the gifted writer she was to become. Reviewed by Brianna Robinson.

NEW! PENNYROYAL ACADEMY by M. A. Larson (Youth Fantasy Fiction)

A girl from the forest arrives in a bustling kingdom with no name and no idea why she is there, only to find herself at the center of a world at war. She enlists at Pennyroyal Academy, where princesses and knights are trained to battle the two great menaces of the day: witches and dragons. There, given the name “Evie,” she must endure a harsh training regimen under the steel glare of her Fairy Drillsergeant, while also navigating an entirely new world of friends and enemies. As Evie learns what it truly means to be a princess, she realizes surprising things about herself and her family, about human compassion and inhuman cruelty. And with the witch forces moving nearer, she discovers that the war between princesses and witches is much more personal than she could ever have imagined. Reviewed by Sarah Rachel Egelman.

NEW! JUST A DROP OF WATER by Kerry O'Malley Cerra (Youth Fiction)

Ever since he was little, Jake Green has longed to be a soldier and a hero like his grandpa, who died serving his country. Right now, though, he just wants to outsmart --- and outrun --- the rival cross country team, the Palmetto Bugs. But then the tragedy of September 11 happens. Reviewed by Aimee Rogers.

NEW! VANGO: Between Sky and Earth by Timothee de Fombelle (Youth Fiction)

In a world between wars, a young man on the cusp of taking priestly vows is suddenly made a fugitive. Fleeing the accusations of police who blame him for a murder, as well as more sinister forces with darker intentions, Vango attempts to trace the secrets of his shrouded past and prove his innocence before all is lost. As he crisscrosses the continent via train, boat, and even the Graf Zeppelin airship, his adventures take him from Parisian rooftops to Mediterranean islands to Scottish forests. A mysterious, unforgettable and romantic protagonist, Vango tells a thrilling story sure to captivate lovers of daring escapades and subversive heroes. Reviewed by Anita Lock.

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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