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April 2016 Newsletter for Parents

April 2016
Spring into Some New Reads with Us!

Hi Kidsreaders,

I am happy to report that spring has arrived in full force here in New York City. The weather is just beautiful --- it’s finally warm enough to read outside! I’ll definitely be taking full advantage of that this weekend, but in the meantime, I’ve really been enjoying my morning walks to work.

I've attended a few more children's book previews since our last newsletter and can barely contain myself with excitement for the new books hitting shelves this summer and fall. At the Little Brown Books for Young Readers preview a few weeks ago, attendees were surprised with a guest appearance from Javaka Steptoe, an award-winning illustrator and author whose newest book, RADIANT CHILD: The Story of Young Artist Jean-Michel Basquiat, will be released at the end of October. I got a sneak peek at some of the art and can't wait to see the finished product --- from what I saw, Steptoe did an incredible job of combining his artistic style with that of Jean-Michel Basquiat's. You can see a photo of Javaka above, along with a photo of a poster he was kind enough to sign for me.

Last week, I trekked downtown for Houghton Mifflin Harcourt's picture books preview, where I met a few authors and illustrators, and I had the opportunity to chat with author Lisa Graff. Her books are some of the most heartwarming children's books I've ever read, and it was so nice to listen to her speak about writing for children and hear some of her hilarious stories about her own son, who can be quite the picky reader, despite not even being two yet. As you can see above on the right, our place settings were definitely spring-themed. I capped off the day with a lovely walk through the park --- while totally regretting that I didn't have a book on hand to enjoy in the sun.

Of course, the weather isn’t the only great thing about this time of year. We're getting ready to kick off the 97th annual Children’s Book Week on Sunday, May 1st. There are kickoff events in both in New York City at the Jefferson Market Library and Los Angeles at YALLWEST. Children’s Book Week is a time for booksellers, authors, illustrators and especially readers to celebrate the joy of reading with young children and teen readers. Official events will be held in all 50 states --- click here to see how you can be a part of this celebration of reading. Note: You still have until Monday to vote for the Children's Choice Book Awards. More about that a bit later in this newsletter.

In other bookish news, I’m really excited about our latest Special Feature, which highlights an amazing new book called YOU GOT THIS! by Maya S. Penn. I first heard about Maya when I was sent a link to her TED Talk --- which she delivered at only 13! Maya is 16 years old now, but she started her eco-friendly clothing and accessory company, Maya’s Ideas, when she was only eight! Since then, she’s been featured in countless publications for her entrepreneurial skills and vision. Not only that, Maya is devoted to giving back and donates a percentage of her profits to charities and environmental organizations. Now she has used all of her experiences to write YOU GOT THIS!, a guide to identifying your creative personality and using it to make your wildest ideas become reality.

You only have until THIS TUESDAY to enter to win one of 50 copies of FIZZOPOLIS, the first book in Patrick Carman's new series about a sweet metropolis and one boy's fight to protect his top-secret family recipe for the world's best soda. If these hot days have you dreaming of ice cold treats, this will be the perfect book to kick off your summer reading. To enter, please fill out this form by Tuesday, April 26th at noon ET.

Read on for the rest of this month's update, and until next time, happy reading!

--- Rebecca Munro (


Special Feature: YOU GOT THIS! by Maya S. Penn

YOU GOT THIS!: Unleash Your Inner Awesomeness, Find Your Path, and Change Your World by Maya S. Penn (Nonfiction/Self-Help)

Maya Penn isn't like other 16 year olds. She started a company when she was 8! This teen has given a TED Talk (two, in fact), has been on "The View" with Whoopi Goldberg, has launched her own business, designed her own eco-friendly clothing, and been name-checked by bestselling authors like Gabrielle Bernstein, Steve Harvey, and Eve Ensler. All while still in middle school!

But while Maya is extraordinary in so many ways, what she has accomplished isn't miraculous or unique. Instead, her success is a testament to her own creativity, passion, and fearlessness ... traits that, Maya says, can be cultivated in all of us, too. YOU GOT THIS! offers readers Maya's extraordinary life story, as well as creative prompts to get them thinking about ways to cultivate that same success in their own lives.

- Click here to read a review.

- Click here to read more about the book.

- Click here to read an excerpt.

- Click here to read Maya Penn's bio.

- Visit Maya's website and blog.

- Connect with Maya on Facebook,Twitter and Instagram.

- Watch Maya on TEDTalks and TEDxYouth.

Click here to read more in our Special Feature.


Children's Choice Book Awards Voting: Voting ENDS THIS MONDAY! Vote NOW!

You have just until Monday to vote in the Children's Book Council's Children's Choice Book Awards! This is a big deal in the publishing industry, as it is the only national book awards program where kids and teens decide all of the winners. Vote now not only for your favorite book of 2016, but your favorite debut author and favorite illustrator as well.

This is your chance to make a difference, so click here to show your favorite books and authors some well-deserved love!


Special Contest: FIZZOPOLIS by Patrick Carman; Enter by Tuesday for Your Chance to WIN!

We have 50 copies of FIZZOPOLIS: The Trouble with Fuzzwonker Fizz written by Patrick Carman and illustrated by Brian Sheesley to give away to readers who would like to read the book, which is now in stores. To enter, please fill out this form by Tuesday, April 26th at noon ET.

If you are under 13 years old, you must print out this form, get a parent or guardian's signature and send it to office by Tuesday, April 26th at noon ET.

FIZZOPOLIS: The Trouble with Fuzzwonker Fizz by Patrick Carman, with illustrations by Brian Sheesley (Adventure)
Welcome to Fizzopolis! Home to the world’s greatest soda pop, Fuzzwonker Fizz, and the Fizzies! For Harold Fuzzwonker, it isn’t easy keeping his fizzy friend, Floyd, a secret. But when the secret family recipe for Fuzzwonker Fizz is on the line, Harold does what any good friend would do. He puts Floyd in his backpack! In this wild and wacky heavily illustrated POB series, Harold chronicles his epic adventures to protect the Fuzzwonker family trust from the evil Snood Candy factory, with a little artistic help from Floyd.

- Click here to read a review.
- Click here to read more about the book.
- Click here to read an excerpt.
- Click here to read Patrick Carman's bio.
- Click here to read Brian Sheesley's bio.
- Click here to read our interview with Patrick Carman.

In our interview, Patrick Carman tells us about the inspiration for FIZZOPOLIS, what kind of tasty treat he'd like to invent and what it was like collaborating with Brian Sheesley.

Click here to read more in our Special Feature and to enter the contest.


Featured Review: RAYMIE NIGHTINGALE by Kate DiCamillo

RAYMIE NIGHTINGALE by Kate DiCamillo (Youth Fiction)
Raymie thinks if she can win the Little Miss Central Florida Tire competition, then her father, who left town two days ago with a dental hygienist, will see Raymie's picture in the paper and (maybe) come home. To win, not only does Raymie have to do good deeds and learn how to twirl a baton; she also has to contend with the wispy, frequently fainting Louisiana Elefante, who has a show-business background, and the fiery, stubborn Beverly Tapinski, who’s determined to sabotage the contest. But as the competition approaches, the three girls are drawn into an unlikely friendship --- and challenge each of them to come to the rescue in unexpected ways. Reviewed by Norah Piehl.

- Click here to read more about the book.

Click here to read the review. Talks to Liesl Shurtliff, Author of RED

According to award-winning author Liesl Shurtliff, rewriting popular fairytales was always part of her inevitable destiny. From fan favorite RUMP: The True Story of Rumpelstiltskin to her new twisted tale, RED: The True Story of Red Riding Hood, Shurtliff never fails to surprise readers with fresh new spins on these charming tales. In this book, Red is on a quest to cure her grandmother who has fallen ill, but cannot seem to complete her journey without a few unexpected bumps in the road. In this interview,'s Angela Warsinske asks Shurtfill the questions that help readers to understand her inspiration for her child-like sense of wonder.

RED: The True Story of Red Riding Hood by Liesl Shurtliff (Fairy Tale)
Red is not afraid of the big bad wolf. She’s not afraid of anything... except magic. But when Red’s granny falls ill, it seems that only magic can save her, and fearless Red is forced to confront her one weakness. With the help of a blond, porridge-sampling nuisance called Goldie, Red goes on a quest to cure Granny. Her journey takes her through dwarves’ caverns to a haunted well and a beast’s castle. All the while, Red and Goldie are followed by a wolf and a huntsman --- two mortal enemies who seek the girls’ help to defeat each other. And one of them just might have the magical solution Red is looking for.... Reviewed by Angela Warsinske.

- Click here to read more about the book.

Click here to read the review.


Featured Review: THE WILD ROBOT by Peter Brown

THE WILD ROBOT by Peter Brown (Science Fiction)
When robot Roz opens her eyes for the first time, she discovers that she is alone on a remote, wild island. Why is she there? Where did she come from? And, most important, how will she survive in her harsh surroundings? Roz's only hope is to learn from the island's hostile animal inhabitants. When she tries to care for an orphaned gosling, the other animals finally decide to help, and the island starts to feel like home. Until one day, the robot's mysterious past comes back to haunt her.... Reviewed by Norah Piehl.

- Click here to read more about the book.

Click here to read the review.


Featured Review: SHADOW MAGIC by Joshua Khan

SHADOW MAGIC by Joshua Khan (Fantasy)
Thorn, an outlaw's son, wasn't supposed to be a slave. He's been sold to Tyburn, an executioner, and they're headed to Castle Gloom in Gehenna, the land of undead, where Thorn will probably be fed to a vampire. Lilith Shadow wasn't supposed to be ruler of Gehenna. But following the murder of her family, young Lily became the last surviving member of House Shadow, a long line of dark sorcerers. Her country is surrounded by enemies and the only way she can save it is by embracing her heritage and practicing the magic of the undead. But how can she when, as a girl, magic is forbidden to her? Just when it looks like Lily will have to leave her home forever, Thorn arrives at Castle Gloom. A sudden death brings them together, inspires them to break the rules, and leads them to soar to new heights in this fantasy with all the sparkle and luster of a starry night sky. Reviewed by Katherine Szabo.

- Click here to read more about the book.

Click here to read the review.


Featured Review: THE NOCTURNALS by Tracey Hecht

THE NOCTURNALS: The Mysterious Abductions written by Tracey Hecht, with illustrations by Kate Liebman (Fantasy)
THE NOCTURNALS features three unlikely friends: Dawn, a serious fox, Tobin, a sweet pangolin and Bismark, the loud mouthed, pint sized sugar glider. The stories all play out in their nighttime world with teamwork, friendship and humor in every adventure. In THE MYSTERIOUS ABDUCTIONS, the animals form a brigade of the night after a random encounter with a blood-thirsty snake, and just in time because something is threatening their night realm. Animals are disappearing without a trace. Together with the help of a wombat, a band of coyotes and many others, Dawn, Tobin and Bismark journey to the depths of the earth in a wacky, high stakes game that will determine all of their survival. Reviewed by Sally Tibbetts.

- Click here to read more about the book.
- Click here to watch a book trailer from Fabled Films.

Click here to read the review.


Featured Review: THE NAMELESS CITY by Faith Erin Hicks

THE NAMELESS CITY by Faith Erin Hicks (Graphic Novel)
Every nation that invades the City gives it a new name. But before long, new invaders arrive and the City changes hands once again. The natives don't let themselves get caught up in the unending wars. To them, their home is the Nameless City, and those who try to name it are forever outsiders. Kaidu is one such outsider. He's a Dao born and bred --- a member of the latest occupying nation. Rat is a native of the Nameless City. At first, she hates Kai for everything he stands for, but his love of his new home may be the one thing that can bring these two unlikely friends together. Reviewed by Aimee Rogers.

- Click here to read more about the book.

Click here to read the review.


April’s Cool & New Books Roundup

This month’s Cool and New roundup includes MISCHIEF SEASON, the first book in a new series by John Bemelmans Marciano and Sophie Blackall that whisks children away to Benevento, an ancient town famous for its witches; DEADLY FLOWERS, Sarah L. Thomson's action-packed novel about a young ninja's first mission; and THE SECRET OF DREADWILLOW CARSE, Brian Farrey's spooky fairy tale that celebrates the power of friendship through two strong-willed young girls.

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


April’s New in Paperback Roundup

In paperback titles this month, we have THE BOOK THAT PROVES TIME TRAVEL HAPPENS, a time-bending adventure from Henry Clark in which three diverse children find themselves in the year 1852 after visiting a mysterious fortune-teller; DR. CRITCHLORE'S SCHOOL OF MINIONS: Book 1, the first book in a contemporary fantasy series written by Sheila Grau, where kids can discover that being unorthodox isn't always such a bad thing; and PIECES AND PLAYERS by Blue Balliett, in which students of Mrs. Sharpee's class find themselves in the midst of a mysterious museum robbery. Can these students follow the suspicious clues to solve this puzzle?

Click here to visit our April New in Paperback feature!


New Picture Books

In picture books this month, we have THE BEST DAYS ARE DOG DAYS by Aaron Meshon and Zachariah Ohora, where Meshon lovingly outlines the nature of true companionship with his own added style and flare; HORRIBLE BEAR!, written by Amy Dyckman, in which readers are asked to explore the concept of forgiveness in this engaging story of an angry bear and a compassionate girl; and THE BEAR AND THE PIANO by David Litchfield, in which a talented bear is granted an opportunity that he simply cannot resist, even if it may alienate him from his forest friends.

Click here to see April's Picture Book Roundup!


On the Kidsreads Blog

Cover Reveal --- NANOBOTS by Chris Gall --- Chris Gall is releasing the first book in his new series this August, but we have an exclusive preview of the cover here.

Scarlet and Ivy - Guest Post by Sophie Cleverly, Author of THE LOST TWIN --- In this post, debut author Sophie Cleverly introduces her new series, Scarlet and Ivy, by discussing some of her favorite heroes and villains throughout the years.

Putting It All Together - Guest Post by Chris Gall, Author of DINOTRUX --- Chris Gall's hit series Dinotrux is making the transition from book to screen, and we celebrated by asking Gall how he decided to combine dinosaurs and monster trucks to create his characters.

A Daughter’s Help - Guest Post by Nancy Cavanaugh, Author of JUST LIKE ME --- Author Nancy Cavanaugh explains how having a child at home has inspired and informed her, especially when it came to writing her newest book, JUST LIKE ME.

Click here to see the Kidsreads Blog.


More New Reviews
SUMMERLOST by Ally Condie (Fiction)
It's the first real summer since the devastating accident that killed Cedar's father and younger brother, Ben. But now Cedar and what’s left of her family are returning to the town of Iron Creek for the summer. They’re just settling into their new house when a boy named Leo, dressed in costume, rides by on his bike. Intrigued, Cedar follows him to the renowned Summerlost theatre festival. Soon, she not only has a new friend in Leo and a job working concessions at the festival, she finds herself surrounded by mystery. The mystery of the tragic, too-short life of the Hollywood actress who haunts the halls of Summerlost. And the mystery of the strange gifts that keep appearing for Cedar. Reviewed by Alyssa Luis.

In the center of the verdant Monarchy lies Dreadwillow Carse, a black and desolate bog that little is known about it, except for one dire warning: If any monarch enters Dreadwillow Carse, then the Monarchy will fall. Twelve-year-old Princess Jeniah yearns to know what the marsh could possibly conceal that might topple her family’s thousand-year reign of peace and prosperity. Meanwhile, in the nearby town of Emberfell, where everyone lives with unending joy, a girl named Aon hides a sorrow she can never reveal. She knows that something in the carse --- something that sings a haunting tune only Aon can hear--holds the cure for her sadness. After a chance meeting, Princess Jeniah and Aon hatch a plan to send Aon into the heart of the carse to unlock its darkest secret. But when Aon doesn’t return, a guilt-stricken Jeniah must enter the carse to try and rescue her friend--even if it means risking the entire Monarchy. Reviewed by Katherine Szabo.

JACKY HA-HA written by James Patterson and Chris Grabenstein, with illustrations by Kerascoët (Youth Fiction)
With her irresistible urge to tell a joke in every situation --- even when she really, really shouldn't --- 12-year-old Jacky Ha-Ha loves to make people laugh. And cracking wise helps distract her from thinking about not-so-funny things in her life, like her mom serving in a dangerous, faraway war, and a dad who's hardly ever home. But no matter how much fun Jacky has, she can't seem to escape her worries. So one starlit night, she makes a promise to keep her family together...even if she has to give up the one thing that makes her happy. But can she stop being Jacky Ha-Ha, if that's who she really is? Reviewed by Jared William Bowers.

THE CLASSY CROOKS CLUB by Alison Cherry (Fiction)
AJ does not, under any circumstances, want to spend an entire month living with her strict Grandma Jo. Jo wants nothing more than to transform her adventurous, fun-loving granddaughter into a prim and proper lady…and AJ hates it. But AJ’s dull summer takes an exciting turn when she discovers that her grandmother’s “bridge group” is actually a club of crooks! And when Grandma Jo offers to teach AJ lock picking instead of embroidery in exchange for help with a few capers, AJ is thrilled to join her grandmother’s madcap band of thieves who claim to steal only for ethical reasons. AJ must decide for herself what it truly means to be one of the good guys. Reviewed by Christine Irvin.

HOW TO TURN $100 INTO $1,000,000 by James McKenna, Jeannine Glista and Matt Fontaine (Nonfiction)
Written in a humorous but informative voice that engages young readers, it’s the book that every parent who wants to raise financially savvy and unspoiled children should buy for their kids. It is packed with lively illustrations to make difficult concepts easy to understand --- all as a way of building financial literacy, good decision-making, and the appreciation of a hard-earned dollar. Reviewed by Christine Irvin.

JUST LIKE ME by Nancy Cavanaugh (Fiction)
Who eats Cheetos with chopsticks?! Avery and Becca, my "Chinese Sisters," that's who. We're not really sisters-we were just adopted from the same orphanage. And we're nothing alike. They like egg rolls, and I like pizza. They're wave around Chinese fans, and I pretend like I don't know them. Which is not easy since we're all going to summer camp to "bond." We have to journal about our time at camp so the adoption agency can do some kind of "where are they now" newsletter. I'll tell you where I am: At Camp Little Big Lake in a cabin with five other girls who aren't getting along, competing for a camp trophy and losing (badly). Reviewed by Margret Wiggins

NOTHING UP MY SLEEVE by Diana Lopez (Fantasy)
Sixth graders Dominic, Loop, and Z stumble upon a new magic shop in town and can't wait to spend their summer mastering cool tricks to gain access to the Vault, a key holders-only back room bound to hold all kinds of secrets. And once they get in, they set their sights even higher: a huge competition at the end of the summer. Reviewed by Angela Warsinske.

SLACKER by Gordon Korman (Fiction)
Cameron Boxer is very happy to spend his life avoiding homework, hanging out with his friends, and gaming for hours in his basement. It's not too hard for him to get away with it . . . until he gets so caught up in one game that he almost lets his house burn down around him. Oops. It's time for some serious damage control --- so Cameron and his friends invent a fake school club that will make it seem like they're doing good deeds instead of slacking off. The problem? Some kids think the club is real --- and Cameron is stuck being president. Soon Cameron is part of a mission to save a beaver named Elvis from certain extinction. Along the way, he makes some new friends --- and some powerful new enemies. 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!

Booker T. Worm and Friends
The Book Report Network
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