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November 2014 Newsletter for Parents November 2014
Counting Our Literary Blessings at

Happy November!

With Thanksgiving less than two weeks away, we imagine that your heads are spinning with recipes and menus, as well as travel and seating plans for this big family holiday. Keep in mind that holiday memories are made up of both big and small moments --- and sometimes the things that went wrong bring up the best reminiscences in years to come.

As we know things can get crazy at holiday time, we decided to take a step back and do a good old-fashioned reflection of things we're thankful for, literary style:

Libraries: When you take a moment to think about it, it’s kind of amazing that we live in a world where libraries exist --- these are institutions where we can borrow books for free (not to mention DVDs and audiobooks, plus use the internet, meet other readers in book clubs and attend interesting community events). While there’s nothing like owning a book of your own (see the next item on this list), the idea of borrowing gives people so much more freedom to experiment.

You might not want to make a lifetime commitment to a science fiction novel if you’ve never heard of the author, or even tried out the genre. However, with a library, you can test out a huge variety of different kinds of books and discover what you save some money and some room in your house. And let’s not forget that the library is populated not only with other literary minds who can make great book buddies, but also with trusty librarians whose encyclopedic knowledge of their collections makes them the perfect people to seek out for recommendations. And, lastly, some can be truly beautiful. Check out this roundup of stunning libraries that Buzzfeed did awhile ago that I continue to be obsessed with, as well as our interview with school librarian Walter Mayes on Teenreads.

Bookstores: Let’s go back to that statement I said earlier: there is nothing like owning a book of your own. At times, favorite books can bring greater comfort than your best friends or mint chocolate chip ice cream, and there is no greater pleasure than seeing them on your shelves as you get ready for work or unwind at the end of a long day.

Like librarians, booksellers give stellar recommendations and make it their job to know the literary world backwards and forwards. If you go into a bookstore, you know that you will walk out with a whole new world in your hands…just make sure that you’ve cleared the rest of your afternoon. If you want to revel in the wonders of bookstores a bit longer, here’s a Huffington Post roundup of some of the best independent bookstores in the country, and here’s our interview with Annie Philbrick, owner of Bank Square Books in Mystic, Connecticut.

Book events: While I love getting lost in the world of books, it can be a bit of a solitary pursuit. So, what’s better than meeting the people behind the books and hearing them read aloud and talk about the inspiration for their stories while being surrounded by their other fans? Not much! While it must be exhausting for the authors, as an audience member, there is little that matches the excitement of seeing the mastermind behind a favorite book in the flesh. They bring a human element to the book that makes rereading it an entirely different experience.

The Internet: I know this is a book-themed list, but still, the internet has done a lot for books and authors in the past decade. If you’re so inclined, you can follow your favorite authors on social media and not only keep tabs on their latest releases, but also get to know them as people (what’s better than realizing that your favorite writer also loves "The Good Wife" and skiing?). And then there are websites where you can track what’s coming out, read reviews and go behind the scenes with your favorite authors (cough cough, Kidsreads!) and connect with other readers across the globe. So many opportunities that were never available to readers before!

Diversity of Books: As someone who spends much of her time seeing what is being published each month, let me tell you --- it’s a big number. And I’m just looking at children’s and teen books! While that can certainly be overwhelming for readers, it’s also amazing that there are so many stories being told…you can find picture books of every style (including wordless ones!) and middle grade tales about everything from detectives 100 years ago to aliens 100 years from now. There have also been big pushes recently amongst authors, publishers and book people of all stripes to increase the diversity of characters, and you can see the maxim "there is a story for everyone" becoming more true every day.

What did I leave off the list? Let me know at

There are plenty of things in this update for your kids, as well as some special opportunities for you (including our Holiday Cheer Daily Contests) and your older children (the Holiday Bundle of Cheer Contest), if you have them. Among them is a request to participate in a survey about how you read with your kids or grandkids. Reply and you can enter to win a copy of THE DAY THE CRAYONS QUIT, which is a fabulous picture book!

Best wishes,

--- Shara Zaval (

PS: If you’re wondering about the photos, I wanted to show off some recent feasts we had in the office. The left is our belated celebration of Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year, and the right is ziti, meatballs, biscotti and pizza in honor of our self-named “Italian Day.” Let me know if you can think of good themes for the next workplace potluck!

National Picture Book Month

November is one of our favorite months of the year. Not only do we get to celebrate Thanksgiving on the fourth Thursday, but it's also National Picture Book Month! Be sure to check in on our blog every day this month for new posts from reviewers, authors, illustrators, Teen Board members and editors all dedicated to picture books and why they are so incomparable.



Click here to read our National Picture Book Month posts, so far!

Take This Survey About Reading with Your Kids!

Do you have children or grandchildren you read with, or who read on their own? If so, we’d like to know more about what’s important to you, and how you encourage them to love reading as much as you do. Let us know by taking the Brightly Reader Survey here. You’ll also have the chance to enter to win a copy of THE DAY THE CRAYONS QUIT, the charming children's book written by Drew Daywalt and illustrated by Oliver Jeffers. Plus, sign up to be a charter member of Brightly, a community of parents and grandparents, connected by their love of reading and their dedication to inspiring that passion in their children.



Click here to take the survey!


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.

Quirky Celebrations --- November: National Button Day

Zippers, Velcro and snaps are fine, but there’s something special about a classic button. These humble objects keep our pants up, close our winter coats and are a great thing to collect. They can come in any shape, size and color you can imagine, and they’re easy enough for anyone to sew. That’s why we’re excited to celebrate National Button Day (November 16) this year with a great book called THE CURSE OF THE BUTTONS by Anne Ylvisaker. In the book, Ike Button wants to fight in the Civil War, just like the other members of his family. But, at 11 years old, everyone says Ike is too young. Rather than stay at home with his remaining family, Ike disguises himself as a drummer boy and makes his way to join the Iowa First. But was joining the Union army a terrible mistake or an unexpected opportunity?

Learn more about THE CURSE OF THE BUTTONS in our interview with Anne, where she talks about her inspiration for the book, how she’s similar to and different from Ike, and her own quirky collection.


Click here to read the full special feature!

November's New Picture Books Roundup

Our November roundup includes THE LITTLE MOON RAVEN, the story of Little Raven who wants to fly to the moon by Marcus Pfister, author of the classic picture book THE RAINBOW FISH; MALALA: A Brave Girl from Pakistan by Jeanette Winter, the brave story of Malala Yousafzai, winner of the 2014 Nobel Peace Prize; and PATCHWORK GOES UNDER COVER by Jacqueline Schmidt, about a stuffed bear looking for a cozy spot to sleep.

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

November’s Cool & New Books Roundup

Our November roundup includes DIARY OF A WIMPY KID: The Long Haul by Jeff Kinney, the latest adventure for Greg Heffley and his family; THE MAP TO EVERYWHERE by Carrie Ryan and J.P. Davis; the story of Fin and Marrill’s search for the famed map that will help them navigate a magical waterway; and THOMAS PAINE: Crusader for Liberty: How One Man's Ideas Helped Form a New Nation by Albert Marrin, the real-life story of “The Father of the American Revolution,” Thomas Paine.



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

November's New in Paperback Roundup

Among the paperback titles released this month, we have WILL SPARROW'S ROAD by Karen Cushman, the story of a runaway boy in the rowdy world of Elizabethan England; THE US CONGRESS FOR KIDS: Over 200 Years of Lawmaking, Deal-Breaking and Compromising, with 21 Activities by Ronald A. Reis, Henry A. Waxman and Kristi Noem, an interactive guide to the history of inner workings of the U.S. Congress; and FROZEN IN TIME: Clarence Birdseye's Outrageous Idea About Frozen Food by Mark Kurlansky, the true story of the man who revolutionized the frozen food industry.



Click here to visit our November New in Paperback feature!

Have Teenagers? Here's a Contest for Them!

If you have older children, you can help them ring in the holidays early with our Holiday Bundle of Cheer contest and feature on Five lucky readers will win a copy of each featured title to curl up with this holiday season, along with some incredibly festive goodies. The contest ends on December 12th at noon ET.

This year's featured titles are:

AFTER by Anna Todd
THE FASHION BOOK by various editors
HOW IT WENT DOWN by Kekla Magoon
MISS PEREGRINE'S HOME FOR PECULIAR CHILDREN (Miss Peregrine's Peculiar Children) by Ransom Riggs
HOLLOW CITY: The Second Novel of Miss Peregrine's Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs

Click here to enter our Holiday Bundle of Cheer contest on!

Features On Bookreporter and Reading Group Guides --- For YOU!
There are a few things going on on our adult sites that we thought you'd be interested reason for your kids to have all the fun!

First is our Holiday Cheer contests on, where we have 24-hour contests throughout November and December featuring titles you want to give and get. To stay up to date, you can sign up for our special Holiday Cheer newsletter here, which lets you know when new contests are live. For more information and to check out the titles we're giving away, click here.

On, we're giving five book groups a chance to win 10 copies of TEMPTING FATE by Jane Green, a riveting new novel about the events leading up to one woman's affair --- and its aftermath. We're also giving away an additional 50 copies to individual readers. Enter here before December 4th at noon for your chance to win!

And lastly, you can win one of 25 copies of MISTER OWITA'S GUIDE TO GARDENING, Carol Wall's moving memoir about friendship, love and loss. To enter, please fill out this form by Thursday, December 4th at noon ET.

Best of luck!

Books on Screen

If you're feeling a little heroic this November, check out Big Hero 6, Disney’s latest animated film about a band of high-tech heroes and their faithful robot determined to save the day. Based on characters from a Marvel comic book, Big Hero 6 looks like it's going to be just as much fun as last year's Frozen.

So if you want some action, adventure and a lot of humor, grab your superhero capes and get out and see some books on screen!

Click here to read Books on Screen!

Now in Stores: HEAP HOUSE by Edward Carey

HEAP HOUSE by Edward Carey (Fiction)

Clod is an Iremonger. He lives in the Heaps, a vast sea of lost and discarded items collected from all over London. At the centre is Heap House, a puzzle of houses, castles, homes and mysteries reclaimed from the city and built into a living maze of staircases and scurrying rats. The Iremongers are a mean and cruel family, robust and hardworking, but Clod has an illness. He can hear the objects whispering. His birth object, a universal bath plug, says 'James Henry', Cousin Tummis' tap is squeaking 'Hilary Evelyn Ward-Jackson' and something in the attic is shouting 'Robert Burrington' and it sounds angry. A storm is brewing over Heap House. The Iremongers are growing restless and the whispers are getting louder. When Clod meets Lucy Pennant, a girl newly arrived from the city, everything changes. The secrets that bind Heap House together begin to unravel to reveal a dark truth that threatens to destroy Clod's world.

Click here to read more about the book.



Click here to read the review.

Now in Stores: ABSOLUTELY TRULY: A Pumpkin Falls Mystery by Heather Vogel Frederick

ABSOLUTELY TRULY: A Pumpkin Falls Mystery by Heather Vogel Frederick (Fiction)

An unsent letter in a first edition copy of Charlotte’s Web leads to a hunt for treasure in this heartwarming middle grade mystery from the author of THE MOTHER-DAUGHTER BOOK CLUB.

Now that Truly Lovejoy’s father has been injured by an IED in Afghanistan and is having trouble finding work back home, the family moves from Texas to tiny Pumpkin Falls, New Hampshire, to take over Lovejoy’s Books, a struggling bookstore that’s been in the family for one hundred years.

With two older brothers and two younger sisters clamoring for attention, her mother back in school, and everyone up to their eyebrows trying to keep Lovejoy’s Books afloat, Truly feels more overlooked than usual. So she pours herself into uncovering the mystery of an undelivered letter she finds stuck in a valuable autographed first edtion of Charlotte’s Web, which subsequently goes missing from the bookshop. What’s inside the envelope leads Truly and her new Pumpkin Falls friends on a madcap treasure hunt around town, chasing clues that could spell danger.

Click here to read more about the book.



Click here to read the review.

New Reviews!

NEW! RHYME SCHEMER by K. A. Holt (Youth Poetry)

Kevin has a bad attitude. He's the one who laughs when you trip and fall. In fact, he may have been the one who tripped you in the first place. He has a real knack for rubbing people the wrong way --- and he's even figured out a secret way to do it with poems. But what happens when the tables are turned and he is the one getting picked on? RHYME SCHEMER is a touching and hilarious middle grade novel in verse about one seventh grader's journey from bully-er to bully-ee, as he learns about friendship, family and the influence that words can have on people's lives. Reviewed by Aimee Rogers.

NEW! NIGHTMARES! by Jason Segel and Kirsten Miller (Youth Horror Fiction)

Sleeping has never been so scary, and now waking up is even worse! Charlie Laird has several problems. First, his dad married a woman he is sure moonlights as a witch. Second, he had to move into her purple mansion, which is NOT a place you want to find yourself after dark. Third, he can’t remember the last time sleeping wasn’t a nightmarish prospect. Like even a nap. Reviewed by Charles Payseur.

NEW! THE WITCH'S BOY by Kelly Barnhill (Youth Supernatural Fiction)

When Ned and his identical twin brother tumble from their raft into a raging, bewitched river, only Ned survives. Villagers are convinced the wrong boy lived. Sure enough, Ned grows up weak and slow, and stays as much as possible within the safe boundaries of his family’s cottage and yard. But when a Bandit King comes to steal the magic that Ned’s mother, a witch, is meant to protect, it's Ned who safeguards the magic and summons the strength to protect his family and community. Reviewed by Rebecca Czochor.

NEW! ARCADY'S GOAL by Eugene Yelchin (Youth Historical Fiction)

Soccer is more than just a game for 12-year-old Arcady, who was sent to live in a children’s home after his parents are declared enemies of the state. It is a means of survival, securing extra rations, respect and protection. Ultimately, it proves to be his chance to leave. But in Soviet Russia, second chances are few and far between. Will Arcady seize his opportunity and achieve his goal? Or will he miss his shot? Reviewed by Aimee Rogers.

NEW! THE COPERNICUS LEGACY: The Serpent's Curse by Tony Abbott (Youth Mystery/Adventure)

The hunt for Copernicus's first relic sent Wade, Darrell, Lily, and Becca to the far reaches of the world in the first book in the Copernicus Legacy series, and put them in serious danger. But they never imagined Sara Kaplan --- Darrell and Wade's mother --- would be kidnapped by the conniving Galina Krause. Now they must race the evil Teutonic Order to find the Serpens relic and rescue Sara before it's too late. Reviewed by Sarah Rachel Egelman.

NEW! URBAN OUTLAWS by Peter Jay Black (Youth Thriller)

Deep beneath the city live five extraordinary kids: world-famous hacker Jack, gadget geek Charlie, free runner Slink, communications chief Obi and decoy expert Wren. Orphans bonded over their shared sense of justice, the kids have formed the Urban Outlaws, a group dedicated to outsmarting criminals and handing out their stolen money through Random Acts of Kindness (R.A.K.s). But the kids find themselves in serious trouble when they're caught in an epic battle to control Proteus, a genius super-computer. Proteus can crack any code in the world and steal top-secret documents in nanoseconds. It's down to the Urban Outlaws to use their guile, guts and skill to destroy the computer, avert world domination . . . and stay alive. Reviewed by Matthew Burbridge.

NEW! CENTAUR RISING by Jane Yolen (Youth Fantasy Fiction)

One night during the Perseid meteor shower, Arianne thinks she sees a shooting star land in the fields surrounding her family’s horse farm. About a year later, one of their horses gives birth to a baby centaur. The family has enough attention already as Arianne’s six-year-old brother was born with birth defects caused by an experimental drug --- the last thing they need is more scrutiny. But their clients soon start growing suspicious. Just how long is it possible to keep a secret? And what will happen if the world finds out? Reviewed by Anita Lock.

NEW! THE GOOD, THE BAD, AND THE BEAGLE by Catherine Lloyd Burns (Youth Fiction)

Feisty 11-year-old Veronica Morgan believes that a beagle from the neighborhood pet store will be the solution to the endless worries she has about life in general and friendship in particular. This is a problem, since her bumbling psychiatrist parents won’t buy her the puppy she wants or stop meddling in her life at her challenging new school. But things never turn out the way you plan. Reviewed by Sally Tibbetts.

NEW! BLUE MOUNTAIN by Martine Leavitt (Youth Fiction)

Tuk the bighorn sheep is told he will be the one to save his herd, but he is young and would rather play with his bandmates than figure out why the herd needs saving. As humans encroach further and further into their territory, there is less room for the sheep to wander, food becomes scarce, and the herd's very survival is in danger. Tuk and his friends set out to find Blue Mountain, a place that Tuk sometimes sees far in the distance and thinks might be a better home. The journey is treacherous, filled with threatening pumas and bears and dangerous lands, leading Tuk down a path that goes against every one of his instincts. Still, Tuk perseveres, reaching Blue Mountain and leading his herd into a new, safe place. Reviewed by Sarah Rachel Egelman.

NEW! GRACEFULLY GRAYSON by Ami Polonsky (Young Adult Fiction)

Grayson Sender has been holding onto a secret for what seems like forever: "he" is a girl on the inside, stuck in the wrong gender's body. The weight of this secret is crushing, but sharing it would mean facing ridicule, scorn, rejection or worse. Despite the risks, Grayson's true self itches to break free. Will new strength from an unexpected friendship and a caring teacher's wisdom be enough to help Grayson step into the spotlight she was born to inhabit? Reviewed by Corinne Fox.

NEW! COOL ART: 50 Fantastic Facts for Kids of All Ages by Simon Armstrong (Youth Nonfiction)

A primer on all things art, COOL ART introduces all the key characters, moments and movements in the history of art to the present day. From Caravaggio to Banksy, the Renaissance to Minimalism, young readers can explore the ideas, meaning and techniques behind the world's masterpieces with a hefty dose of fun along the way. Much more than a basic history of art, this fascinating book explains how color works, how to have a profound experience in an art gallery (and what not to say while you're there) and how to tap into one's own innate creativity and become an artist. Reviewed by Kathleen M. Purcell.

NEW! MADDY KETTLE BOOK 1: The Adventure of the Thimblewitch by Eric Orchard (Youth Fantasy Fiction)

Eleven-year-old Maddy loved working in her parents' bookstore... especially when joined by her pet flying toad Ralph. But that was before the mysterious Thimblewitch turned her mom & dad into kangaroo rats! Now Maddy's on the adventure of a lifetime. To save her parents, she'll need to sneak past an army of spider-goblins, scarecrow warriors and much more. Reviewed by Matthew Burbridge.

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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