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January 2015

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Happy 2015, readers!

When a new year comes around, it’s pretty common to get introspective. What will we change to make the next 365 days even better than the last?

At Kidsreads, we’re definitely in that mindset. When Carol Fitzgerald started the site in 1998, it was on the “kids only” section of America Online. The site was called Bookworm, and children were our primary visitors. This made our mission easy --- create and deliver news each month about great children’s books FOR children.

Now, 17 years later, we know that a lot has changed! While we certainly have kids coming to our site, we also have a huge number of parents, teachers, grandparents, media specialists and librarians looking for book recommendations for young readers (and some just visit because they have a warm place in their heart for young people’s literature).

On that note, we want to know more about our readers --- who you are, why you go to the site and what you think of our newsletters --- so we can give you more of what you want to see!

To accomplish this, we’ve created a survey here. By completing it, you will give us the intel we need to be sure we are in track for 2015. Ten (10) people who complete the survey will win a $25 gift card for the brick-and-mortar or online bookstore of their choice.

So before you read the rest of the newsletter, please take a few minutes to answer.

Then read on for our first issue of 2015 with ideas for making YOUR 2015 your best year of reading ever! One last thing...we've included some books and contests that we think will be of interest to you as parents --- and as readers. Enjoy them as you look for ideas for the children in your lives!

--- Shara Zaval ( Visits the Studio of Some of Your Favorite Picture Book Illustrators!
Are you one of those teens who can't attend a class without doodling all over your notebook? Or maybe your best efforts look more like scribbles, but a beautiful painting takes your breath away.

Either way, we think you'll love our "sneak peek" into the shared studio of five of the most beloved picture book artists in the publishing business: Sophie Blackall, Brian Floca, Edward Hemingway, John Bemelmans Maricano and Sergio Ruzzier.

You'll see their wildly different art spaces, get a behind-the-scenes look at some of their recent and upcoming projects, and just revel in the whimsical energy of it all.

Click here to read the article!

Now Available in Paperback: ALL JOY AND NO FUN by Jennifer Senior
Thousands of books have examined the effects of parents on their children. But almost none have though to ask: What are the effects of children on their parents?

Now in paperback! In ALL JOY AND NO FUN, award-winning journalist Jennifer Senior analyzes the many ways children reshape their parents' lives, whether it's their marriages, their jobs, their habits, their hobbies, their friendships or their internal senses of self. She argues that changes in the last half century have radically altered the roles of today's mothers and fathers, making their mandates at once more complex and far less clear. ALL JOY AND NO FUN is the instant bestseller that The Christian Science Monitor declared "an important book, much the way THE FEMININE MYSTIQUE was, because it offers parents a common language, an understanding that they're not alone." The paperback includes a discussion guide and a Q&A between Jennifer Senior and author Curtis Sittenfeld.

Contest for YOU: Winter Reading on is kicking off 2015 with its first annual Winter Reading Contests and Feature. On select days between now and mid-February, the site will be hosting a series of 24-hour contests spotlighting a book releasing this winter and giving five (5) lucky readers a chance to win it. We also will be sending a special newsletter to announce the day's title, which you can sign up for here.

We encourage you to take a look at this year's featured titles, as these are the books you'll want to read during the winter months --- and into the warmer ones!

Click here to enter the latest Winter Reading contest!

Two Great Contests for You and Your Book Group!

Are you in a book club? If so, you and your group can enter to win 12 copies of two fantastic books.

THE MAGICIAN'S LIE by Greer Macallister follows the Amazing Arden, a notorious female illusionist. When she swaps her saw for a fire ax, Officer Virgil Holt will have to decide if it's a new trick or an all-too-real murder --- but will Arden reveal her secrets, even when her life's at stake?

THE SECRET WISDOM OF THE EARTH by Christopher Scotton is a dramatic and novel about an act of violence in a small, Southern town and the repercussions that will forever change a young man’s view of human cruelty and compassion.

Click here to enter to win 12 copies of THE MAGICIAN'S LIE.

Click here to enter to win 12 copies of THE SECRET WISDOM OF THE EARTH.


Guest Post from THE CASE OF THE MISSING MOONSTONE Author Jordan Stratford

What would happen if Ada Lovelace --- the world's first computer programmer --- and Mary Shelley --- the author of FRANKENSTEIN --- were to meet as children in 1826? Well, according to Jordan Straford's new series, they'd combine Ada's logical mind and Mary's imagination to create their own detective agency!

Jordan wrote a guest post that features two letters from the fictionalized versions of Ada and Mary, shining a light on their very different voices and the way they complement each other.

Click here to read the post, and be sure to check out the first book in The Wollstonecraft Detective Agency, THE CASE OF THE MISSING MOONSTONE!


January’s Cool & New Books Roundup
In January’s Cool and New roundup, we have STELLA BY STARLIGHT by Sharon M. Draper, about a girl living in the segregated south whose world turns upside down when she witnesses the Ku Klux Klan doing an unimaginable act; TOMBQUEST BOOK 1: Book of the Dead By Michael Northrop, the first of a new series about Ancient Egyptian magic taking over modern times that has an accompanying computer game; and THE TRUTH ABOUT TWINKIE PIE by Kat Yeh, which follows two sisters who move from a trailer park in South Carolina to New York City after winning a million dollars from a cooking contest.
Click here to see January's Cool & New Books roundup!

January's New in Paperback Roundup
In paperback this month, we have a 40th anniversary edition of Natalie Babbitt’s classic immortality tale TUCK EVERLASTING, which has a new introduction by Gregory Maguire and extra bonus materials; SKY RAIDERS, the first of Brandon Mull’s Five Kingdoms series, which follows Cole as he gets stuck in the kingdoms that lie between wakefulness and dreaming; and NIGHTINGALE'S NEST by Nikki Loftin, the highly acclaimed story of a Texan boy who meets a girl with a beautiful voice and has to make a heartbreaking choice.
Click here to visit our January New in Paperback feature!

New Picture Books
Our January roundup includes the debut picture book BLOWN AWAY by Rob Biddulph, which follows a brave blue penguin who flies a kite to a tropical paradise and learns the meaning of home; LAST STOP ON MARKET STREET by Matt de la Pena and illustrated by Christian Robinson, where CJ questions his grandmother about their lives and community on their bus ride across town; and A FINE DESSERT: Four Centuries, Four Families, One Delicious Treat by Emily Jenkins and illustrated by Sophie Blackall, which shows how the scrumptious blackberry fool has been made and consumed across time and space, and includes a recipe so young ones can make it with their own families.
Click here to see January's Picture Book Roundup!

Interview with Representative John Lewis, Author of MARCH
Recently, John Maher of The Book Report Network interviewed Representative John Lewis, the author of the graphic memoir MARCH: Book Two, the second in a series about his experiences during the American Civil Rights Movement. The former chairman of the Student Nonviolence Coordinating Committee, Lewis was one of the leading voices for nonviolent protest and civil disobedience in the 1960s. He is the only living member of the "Big Six," and one of 10 activists to speak to the more than 250,000 Americans gathered at the Lincoln Memorial during the March on Washington in 1963. Lewis has served as the U.S. Representative for Georgia's 5th congressional district since 1987, and is a recipient of the Presidential Medal of Freedom.
Click here to read the interview.

Books on Screen
This January, look out for the American release of Paddington, the fun and charming story about a bear who journeys from his home in Peru to find a famous explorer in London. While there, he warms the hearts of the Brown family and avoids being captured by a museum taxidermist. Based on Michael Bond's A Bear Called Paddington series, Paddington is the perfect family-friendly adventure story filled with lots of laughs --- and a cuddly bear!

If you want to see Paddington come to life, be sure to head out and see this irresistible book-to-movie adaptation!

Click here to read Books on Screen!

Now in Stores: THE WAR THAT SAVED MY LIFE by Kimberly Brubaker Bradley

THE WAR THAT SAVED MY LIFE by Kimberly Brubaker Bradley (Historical Fiction, Youth Fiction)

Nine-year-old Ada has never left her apartment. Her mother is too humiliated by Ada’s twisted foot to let her outside. So when her brother Jamie is shipped out of London to escape the war, Ada sneaks out to join him. So begins a new adventure of Ada, and for Susan Smith, the woman who takes the kids in. As Ada teaches herself to ride a pony, learns to read, and watches for German spies, she begins to trust Susan --- and Susan begins to love Ada and Jamie. But in the end, will their bond be enough to hold them together through wartime? Or will Ada and her brother fall back into the cruel hands of their mother?

Click here to read the review.

Click here to read more about the book.

Kidsreads Reviewers Pick Their Favorite Books of 2014!

There's no better way to start an argument with self-proclaimed book nerds than to ask "what is the best children's book of 2014?" We decided to get our lovely reviewers and Teen Board members involved in the debate by asking them to tell us a few of their favorites. Click here for their picks and a few fun quotes. Do you agree with their choices?


New Reviews!

NEW! PASSENGER ON THE PEARL: The True Story of Emily Edmonson's Flight from Slavery by Winifred Conkling (Historical Nonfiction, Children 10+)

In 1848, Emily Edmonson, thirteen, along with five siblings and 70 other enslaved people, boarded the Pearl in the Potomac River in Washington, D.C., in a bid to reach freedom. Within a day, the schooner was captured, and the six Edmonsons were sent to New Orleans to be sold. Emily and Mary were saved from the even crueler conditions when the threat of yellow fever forced their return to Virginia. They were eventually ransomed with the help of their parents and abolitionists, including Harriet Beecher Stowe, who later used them as models for characters in Uncle Tom’s Cabin.Emily became a teacher and worked on behalf of abolition for the rest of her life. Reviewed by Anita Lock.

NEW! THE CASE OF THE MISSING MOONSTONE by Jordan Stratford and illus. by Kelly Murphy (Historical Fiction, Mystery)

Lady Ada Byron, age 11, is a genius. Isolated, awkward and a bit rude --- but a genius. Mary Godwin, age 14, is a romantic. Adventurous, astute and kind, Mary is to become Ada’s first true friend. And together, the girls conspire to form the Wollstonecraft Detective Agency --- a secret constabulary for the apprehension of clever criminals. Their first case involves a stolen heirloom, a false confession and an array of fishy suspects. But it’s no match for the deductive powers and bold hearts of Ada and Mary.

NEW! THE COURAGE OF CAT CAMPBELL by Natasha Lowe (Fiction, Fantasy)

Cat Campbell has had magical powers since the day she was born, but her mother believes magic ruins lives, and even as Cat’s passion for magic grows over the years, no one suspects she has the gift. But she has inherited the magic gene of her famed great-great-grandmother Mabel, a discovery she makes in a most surprising way. And when she finds a book called THE LATE BLOOMER'S GUIDE TO MAGIC, she finds the encouragement and spells she needs. Then her town is threatened by a notoriously feared witch, and Cat has the chance to help --- and to prove herself in the process.

NEW! THE TERRIBLE TWO by Mac Barnett and Jory John, illustrated by Kevin Cornell (Fiction)

Miles Murphy is not happy to be moving to Yawnee Valley, a sleepy town that’s famous for one thing: cows. In his old school, he was the best prankster, but Miles soon discovers that Yawnee Valley already has a prankster. If he is going to take the title from this mystery kid, he is going to have to raise his game. It’s prankster against prankster in an epic war of trickery, until the two finally decide to join forces and pull off the biggest prank ever seen.

NEW! NNEWTS: Escape from the Lizzarks by Doug TenNapel (Graphic Novel)

The first book in the Nnewts series follows the story of Herk, a lovable Nnewt who longs for stronger legs, something his mother and father wish they could give him. When his quaint village is attacked by the reptile Lizzarks, he's forced to flee his home and leave behind the only life he's ever known. Now, all alone and on the run, Herk navigates a dangerous world filled with strange creatures and mysterious wonders, where friends are few and an evil lord is in hot pursuit. Reviewed by Norah Piehl.

NEW! ALISTAIR GRIM’S ODDITORIUM by Gregory Funaro (Fantasy)

Grubb has never known anything beyond his miserable existence as a chimney sweep, paid only in insults and abuse by his cruel master. All of that changes the day he stows away in the coach and emerges into the wondrous world of the Odditorium. Fueled by a glowing blue energy that Grubb can only begin to understand, the Odditorium is home to countless enchanted objects and an eccentric crew that embraces Grubb as one of their own. There's no time for Grubb to settle into his new role as apprentice to the strange, secretive Mr. Grim; the Odditorium comes under attack, and only Grubb can prevent the Odditorium's magic from falling into evil hands. Reviewed by Charles Payseur.

NEW! BIRDOLOGY: 30 Activities and Observations for Exploring the World of Birds by Monica Russo with photographs by Kevin Byron (Nature)

This generously illustrated, full-color book teaches kids that birds can be seen almost anywhere: in city parks and streets, zoos, farms and backyards. Using “Try This,” “Look For” and “Listen For” prompts, BIRDOLOGY promotes independent observation and analysis, writing and drawing skills and nature literacy. Reviewed by Christine M. Irvin.

NEW! STELLA BY STARLIGHT by Sharon M. Draper (History)

Stella lives in the segregated South --- in Bumblebee, North Carolina, to be exact about it. Some stores she can go into. Some stores she can’t. Some folks are right pleasant. Others are a lot less so. To Stella, it sort of evens out, and heck, the Klan hasn’t bothered them for years. But one late night, later than she should ever be up, much less wandering around outside, Stella and her little brother see something they’re never supposed to see, something that is the first flicker of change to come, unwelcome change by any stretch of the imagination. As Stella’s community is upended, she decides to fight fire with fire. And she learns that ashes don’t necessarily signify an end. Reviewed by Rebecca Czochor.

NEW! GRETEL AND THE CASE OF THE MISSING FROG PRINTS: A Brothers Grimm Mystery by P.J. Brackston (Mystery)

When Albrecht Durer the Much Much Younger's Frog Prints go missing, he knows exactly where to turn for help. Gretel (yes, that Gretel), now 35 and still living with her gluttonous brother, Hans, is the country's most famous private investigator, and she leaps at the opportunity to travel to cosmopolitan Nuremberg. But amid the city’s annual sausage festival, Gretel struggles to find any clues. Even with the aid of the mice living under her bed, Gretel is forced to get creative in her search for the truth. Reviewed by Kathleen M. Purcell.

NEW! CHASING FREEDOM: The Life Journeys of Harriet Tubman and Susan B. Anthony, Inspired by Historical Facts by Nikki Grimes, illustrated by Michele Wood (Historical Fiction)

What if Harriet Tubman and Susan B. Anthony sat down over tea to reminisce about their extraordinary lives? What would they recall of their triumphs and struggles as they fought to achieve civil rights for African Americans and equal rights for women? And what other historical figures played parts in their stories? These questions led Coretta Scott King Award winner Nikki Grimes to create CHASING FREEDOM, an engaging work of historical fiction about two of the 19th century's most powerful, and inspiring, American women. Reviewed by Christine M. 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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