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May 2016 Newsletter for Parents May 2016
Summer Reading and Bookish Vacations

Hi Kidsreaders,

The countdown to the end of your children's school year is on! For some of you, it will be this month; for others, it will be next month. Here in the New York area, we have had a really cold spring (it was 36 degrees one morning last week though this week the temps may hit the high 80s!). I am more than ready to pull out the sunscreen and wear summer clothes --- and read outside, maybe even with a beloved pet (see above left).

Summer vacation means no homework and tests for a few months, which is terrific; your nights have a lot more free time! I’ve always found that summer was a great time for me to catch up on pleasure reading, which means the books I actually wanted to read, not the ones that were assigned. The great thing about letting your child choose their own book is that it can turn their regular vacation into a trip around the world and throughout time --- all at their own pace. Of course, with so many options and such little time, it can be tough to narrow down your top literary vacation destinations. Allow me to be your travel guide and share some of my favorites:

  • New York City: UNDER THE EGG by Laura Marx Fitzgerald. In this brilliant novel, Theodora Tenpenny searches all of Manhattan for answers about the origin of a mysterious painting, visiting new landmarks and making new friends along the way.
  • The Tropics: In LOOK OUT FOR THE FITZGERALD TROUTS by Esta Spaulding, a group of kids take the lead after they are all left to their own devices by their parents. If you've ever dreamed of living off the grid on a sunny island full of exotic creatures, this fun, clever read is made for you.
  • Or maybe Earth is a little too familiar for you and you're ready to take to the skies this summer. In that case, I recommend THE DRAKE EQUATION, Bart King's book about a young boy whose lovely day of birdwatching turns into something far different when he spots a UFO.

Summer is also a perfect time for your children to delve into a book series and binge read it! Each month, I have been adding new books to our Series Feature to be sure it is kept up to date. We now will be noting these new series books in each newsletter so you can be sure to stay on top of your children's favorite series --- and maybe find a new one to read as well.

In other news, last week our own Carol Fitzgerald flew out to Chicago for BEA and BookCon, a combined four-day celebration of all things reading. While she was there, she interviewed Eoin Colfer, author of the Artemis Fowl series and the forthcoming IRON MAN: The Gauntlet, coming on October 25th. (You can see a picture of the book above in the middle and a picture of Carol and Eoin on the right!) She also had a sneak peek at some upcoming books for fall and winter! You can see this interview on Facebook here.

Speaking of summer reading, we would also like to share a few of the contests for grownups taking place on other sites in The Book Report Network. After all, why should the young people in your life have all the fun? Here are four to check out --- and enter!

  • Summer Reading 2016: Summer is here! At, this means it's time for us to share some great summer book picks with our Summer Reading Daily Contests and Feature. We will be spotlighting a different title on select days from now through the end of 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.
  • Best Books for Dad 2016: Father’s Day is a time to celebrate the men in our lives who have raised and loved us. Why not show him your appreciation by inspiring him with a great book? In our 11th annual "Best Books for Dad" contest, we have five books that are perfect gift-giving suggestions for dad, keeping him busy through the rest of the year. Five readers will be awarded a prize package that includes these titles, along with some special treats. The deadline for entries is Monday, June 20th at noon ET.
  • Win 12 Copies of DID YOU EVER HAVE A FAMILY by Bill Clegg for Your Book Group: We are celebrating the paperback release of Bill Clegg's New York Times bestselling debut novel, DID YOU EVER HAVE A FAMILY --- which follows a circle of characters whose lives are changed irrevocably when a house fire kills several members of their small community --- with a special contest that will give three groups the chance to win 12 copies. The deadline for entries is Wednesday, June 15th at noon ET.
  • "What's Your Book Group Reading This Month?": Win 12 Copies of BEACH TOWN by Mary Kay Andrews for Your Group: Each month, we ask book groups to share the titles they are reading that month and rate them. From all entries received, three groups are selected, and each wins 12 copies of that month’s prize book. This month's prize book is BEACH TOWN, New York Times bestselling author and "Queen of the Summer Beach Read" Mary Kay Andrews' charming tale of an unlikely romance between a stubborn, environmentalist mayor and the determined film location scout who'd like to set her big budget movie in his idyllic beach town. The deadline for entries is Wednesday, June 1st at noon ET. And make sure to check out Mary Kay Andrews' latest, THE WEEKENDERS --- in bookstores now.

Whether your family will be traveling this summer or letting your imagination set the scene, books can be your companions. Until then, below are some of the books we’re suggesting for May.

Happy reading!

--- Rebecca Munro (

Children's Choice Book Awards 2016: And the Winners Are...

For the past few months, we've been encouraging our Kidsreaders to make their voices heard by voting for their favorite books and authors in the Children's Choice Book Awards. Launched in 2008 by the Children’s Book Council and Every Child A Reader, the Children’s & Teen Choice Book Awards is the only national book awards program where the winning titles are selected by children and teens. This month, the 2016 winners were finally announced, and we're delighted to congratulate them:

Kindergarten-2nd Grade Book of the Year: THE LITTLE SHOP OF MONSTERS by R.L. Stine, illus. by Marc Brown
An illustrated, interactive story with a narrator who invites the reader to meet a vast array of pet monsters, such as the Yucky Mucky twins, and choose one to take home.

3rd-4th Grade Book of the Year: I’M TRYING TO LOVE SPIDERS by Bethany Barton
I'M TRYING TO LOVE SPIDERS will help you see these amazing arachnids in a whole new light, from their awesomely excessive eight eyes, to the 75 pounds of bugs a spider can eat in a single year! And you’re sure to feel better knowing you have a better chance of being struck by lightning than being fatally bit by a spider. Comforting, right? No? Either way, there’s heaps more information in here to help you forget your fears...or at least laugh a lot!

5th-6th Grade Book of the Year: HILO BOOK 1: The Boy Who Crashed to Earth by Judd Winick
D.J. and his friend Gina are totally normal kids. But that was before a mysterious boy came crashing down from the sky! Hilo doesn’t know where he came from, or what he’s doing on Earth. (Or why going to school in only your underwear is a bad idea!)...But what if Hilo wasn’t the only thing to fall to our planet? Can the trio unlock the secrets of his past? Can Hilo survive a day at school? And are D.J. and Gina ready to save the world?

Children's Choice Debut Author: Alex Gino for GEORGE
BE WHO YOU ARE. When people look at George, they think they see a boy. But she knows she's not a boy. She knows she's a girl.

Children's Choice Illustrator: Kate Beaton for THE PRINCESS AND THE PONY
Princess Pinecone knows exactly what she wants for her birthday this year. A BIG horse. A STRONG horse. A horse fit for a WARRIOR PRINCESS! But when the day arrives, she doesn't quite get the horse of her dreams...

Click here to see the rest of the Children's Choice Book Awards winners for 2016.


Featured Review: WANDMAKER by Ed Masessa

WANDMAKER by Ed Masessa (Fantasy)
Magic is real --- and it runs in the family --- in this charming fantasy adventure about a boy who must balance his magical education with the demands of big-brotherhood, perfect for fans of Jenny Nimmo and Angie Sage. Henry Leach the Eighth doesn't know it yet, but he's descended from a long line of wandmakers. That means he has inherited mysterious powers, a trunk full of strange artifacts...and a whole host of problems. His biggest problem at the moment, however, is his little sister, Brianna. And she takes troublemaking to new heights when she's caught in the crossfire of Henry's first major spell! Reviewed by Margret Wiggins.

- Click here to read more about the book.

Click here to read the review.


Featured Review: WHAT ELEPHANTS KNOW by Eric Dinerstein

WHAT ELEPHANTS KNOW by Eric Dinerstein (Fiction)
Abandoned in the jungle of the Nepalese Borderlands, two-year-old Nandu is found living under the protective watch of a pack of wild dogs. From his mysterious beginnings, fate delivers him to the King's elephant stable, where he is raised by unlikely parents-the wise head of the stable, Subba-sahib, and Devi Kali, a fierce and affectionate female elephant. Reviewed by Angela Warsinske.

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Click here to read the review.


Featured Review: THE HIDDEN ORACLE by Rick Riordan

THE HIDDEN ORACLE: The Trials of Apollo Book 1 by Rick Riordan (Fantasy)
Thor's hammer is missing again. The thunder god has a disturbing habit of misplacing his weapon --- the mightiest force in the Nine Worlds. But this time the hammer isn't just lost, it has fallen into enemy hands. If Magnus Chase and his friends can't retrieve the hammer quickly, the mortal worlds will be defenseless against an onslaught of giants. Ragnarok will begin. The Nine Worlds will burn. Reviewed by Katherine Szabo.

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Featured Review: THE FIREFLY CODE by Megan Frazer Blakemore

THE FIREFLY CODE by Megan Frazer Blakemore (Science Fiction)
Mori and her friends live a normal life on Firefly Lane in their utopian community, Old Harmonie. In a world this safe and perfect, they've never had to question anything...never had to wonder about how their lives came to be. Until a new girl named Ilana moves in. She's so perfect that Mori and her friends are curious... Where exactly did Ilana come from, and why does she act so strange sometimes? Reviewed by Sarah Rachel Egelman.

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Click here to read the review.


Featured Review: WISHING DAY by Lauren Myracle

WISHING DAY by Lauren Myracle (Fantasy)
On the third night of the third month after a girl’s thirteenth birthday, every girl in the town of Willow Hill makes three wishes. Natasha is the oldest child in a family steeped in magic, though she’s not sure she believes in it. She misses her mother, who disappeared nearly eight long years ago. She has a crush on one of the cutest boys in her class. And amid the chaos of a house full of sisters, aunts, and a father lost in grief, she aches to simply be noticed. So Natasha goes to the willow tree at the top of the hill on her Wishing Day, and she makes three wishes. What unfolds is beyond anything she could have imagined. Reviewed by Matthew Burbridge.

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Featured Review: SAVE ME A SEAT by Sarah Weeks and Gita Varadarajan

SAVE ME A SEAT by Sarah Weeks and Gita Varadarajan (Fiction)
Joe and Ravi don't think they have anything in common --- but soon enough they have a common enemy (the biggest bully in their class) and a common mission: to take control of their lives over the course of a single crazy week. Reviewed by Angela Warsinske.

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Click here to read the review.


Now in Stores: WOLF HOLLOW by Lauren Wolk

WOLF HOLLOW by Lauren Wolk (Fiction)
Growing up in the shadows cast by two world wars, Annabelle has lived a mostly quiet, steady life in her small Pennsylvania town. Until the day new student Betty Glengarry walks into her class. Betty quickly reveals herself to be cruel and manipulative, and while her bullying seems isolated at first, things quickly escalate, and reclusive World War I veteran Toby becomes a target of her attacks. While others have always seen Toby’s strangeness, Annabelle knows only kindness. She will soon need to find the courage to stand as a lone voice of justice as tensions mount.

We will have our review soon!

Click here to read more about the book.


Now in Stores: LILY AND DUNKIN by Donna Gephart

LILY AND DUNKIN by Donna Gephart (Fiction)
Lily Jo McGrother, born Timothy McGrother, is a girl. But being a girl is not so easy when you look like a boy. Especially when you’re in the eighth grade. Dunkin Dorfman, birth name Norbert Dorfman, is dealing with bipolar disorder and has just moved from the New Jersey town he’s called home for the past thirteen years. One summer morning, Lily Jo McGrother meets Dunkin Dorfman, and their lives forever change.

We will have our review soon!

Click here to read more about the book.


May’s Cool & New Books Roundup

This month's Cool and New roundup includes THE PARENT AGENCY, Daniel Baddiel's story about a magical world where kids choose their own parents; THE LOST TWIN, the start of a new series by Sophie Cleverly that follows a young girl as she tries to find her missing sister; and THE DRAKE EQUATION, a hilarious science fiction adventure from Bart King about a young boy with peculiar powers.

Click here to see all of May's Cool & New Books roundup!


May’s New in Paperback Roundup

Our paperback titles this month include THE BLACKTHORN KEY, Kevin Sands' adventurous story about an apothecary's apprentice on a journey to save the world; Poly Holyoke's THE NEPTUNE CHALLENGE, the hit sequel to THE NEPTUNE PROJECT in which Nere and her friends must infiltrate a high-tech undersea fortress; and THE WAR THAT SAVED MY LIFE by Kimberly Brubaker Bradley, an award-winning novel of love and survival during World War II.

Click here to see more all of our May New in Paperback roundup!


New Picture Books

In picture books this month, we have THERE IS A TRIBE OF KIDS, Lane Smith's beautifully illustrated story of a boy on a journey for friendship; WE CAME TO AMERICA, Faith Ringgold's ode to the diversities of our nation; and DOUGLAS, YOU NEED GLASSES, a humorous look at man's best (bespectacled) friend from Ged Adamson.

Click here to see May's Picture Book Roundup!


New Series Books for May

THE LOST COMPASS (The Fog Diver, Book 2) by Joel Ross (Science Fiction)
Chess and his crew --- Hazel, Swedish, Loretta, and Bea --- may have escaped the slums, but they cannot escape the Fog that threatens to swallow the entire mountaintop city of Port Oro. Only one thing can stop the Fog: an ancient machine known as the Compass. And only one person can find it: Chess. With the help of his crew, Chess faces dangerous encounters and deadly driftsharks to unearth the hidden instrument. It’s a race against time to save this sanctuary in the sky.

SOMEBODY STOP IVY POCKET (Ivy Pocket, Book 2) by Caleb Krisp (Fiction)
Everyone seems to want a piece of Ivy Pocket. Her adoptive parents keep trying to get her to clean the funeral home, even though Ivy’s certain she’s already the picture of a perfect daughter. A beautiful heiress named Estelle wants Ivy to uncover the dark truth behind her brother’s death. Her new friend, Miss Carnage, keeps asking Ivy the most curious questions (the poor, clueless dear). To top it all off, Ivy must protect the Clock Diamond from the evil Miss Always, who seems to be lurking around every corner!

ISLAND OF THE SUN (Dark Gravity Sequence, Book 2) by Matthew J. Kirby (Fantasy)
Eleanor and her friends have shut down the mysterious Concentrator in the Arctic, but their mission is far from over. The earth is still spinning out of its orbit and growing colder by the day. Their only chance is to find the other Concentrators embedded around the world and deactivate them before it’s too late, but it won't be easy. The Global Energy Trust has branded Eleanor, her mother, and their friends international terrorists and is tracking their every move. They'll stop at nothing to harness the power of the Concentrators in order to preserve the select few people its leaders deem worthy, and Eleanor is soon forced to ask herself whether it’s worth risking the lives of the entire human race for a slim chance to save it.

HILO BOOK 2: Saving the Whole Wide World by Judd Winick (Adventure/Graphic Novel)
DJ and Gina are TOTALLY ordinary kids. But Hilo...isn’t. HILO is just settling into life on earth (Bowling? Knock-knock jokes? OUTSTANDING!) when strange portals begin opening up all over town. And HOLY MACKEREL! Even STRANGER creatures are coming through them! But it will take more than a GIANT MUTANT CHICKEN, A VIKING HIPPO, A MAGICAL WARRIOR CAT, or even a few MILLION KILLER VEGETABLES to stop Team, WON’T IT? Can Hilo, DJ and GINA figure out how to send these creatures back to their worlds before they DESTROY the earth?

FROM THE NOTEBOOKS OF A MIDDLE SCHOOL PRINCESS: Book 2: Royal Wedding Disaster by Meg Cabot (Fiction)
Olivia Grace Clarisse Mignonette Harrison still finds it hard to believe that she's a real live princess of Genovia. While her half-sister Mia is busy learning how to take over the country while trying to plan a wedding, her father is getting remarried himself, and spends most of his time "renovating" the summer palace, although Grandmere says he is just hiding from the wedding preparations. Fortunately, Grandmere has her own plans for Mia's wedding, and needs Olivia's help to pull them off. Just when Olivia starts to think that things are going to work out after all, the palace is invaded by a host of new cousins and other royals who all seem to be angry at Olivia. Can Olivia keep this royal wedding from becoming a royal disaster?

THEODORE BOONE: THE SCANDAL (Book 6) by John Grisham (Mystery)
When an anonymous tip leads the school board to investigate a suspicious increase in scores at another local middle school, Theo finds himself thrust in the middle of a cheating scandal. With insider knowledge and his future on the line, Theo must follow his keen instincts to do what’s right in the newest case for clever kid lawyer Theo Boone.

THE SKELETH (The Nethergrim, Book 2) by Matthew Jobin (Fantasy)
One ambitious lord, eager for the chance to conquer and rule, succumbs to temptation and helps to free the Skeleth—eerie, otherworldly beings said to be unstoppable in battle. The Skeleth merge with the bodies of their victims, ruling their minds and turning them into remorseless killers. Teamed up with the legendary hero Tristan and his best friends—Katherine the trainer of war-horses and Tom the runaway slave—Edmund searches for a magical weakness in the Skeleth, something that might allow him to break their never-ending curse.

PRINCESS JUNIPER OF THE ANJU (Princess Juniper, Book 2) by Ammi-Joan Paquette (Fantasy)
Juniper arrives at the Anju settlement just as the tribe members are about to begin ritual trials to select their next leader. Juniper, whose mother had been next in line for the Anju throne, throws her own hat in the ring. As she competes, however, she must answer the question that's been tugging at her heart: Does she want to rule the Anju because they are her mother's people, or does she have less noble intentions in mind?

THE FAMILY FLETCHER TAKES ROCK ISLAND (The Family Fletcher, Book 2) by Dana Alison Levy (Fiction)
The Fletchers are back on Rock Island, home of all their best summer memories. But from their first day on vacation, it’s clear that this year, things have changed. Their favorite lighthouse is all boarded up‘ and the Fletcher boys can’t figure out why or how to save it. Add a dose of Shakespeare, a very tippy kayak, a video camera, (maybe, possibly, or not) a swimming cat and some new neighbors, and the recipe for a crazy vacation is complete.


More New Reviews

BOOKED by Kwame Alexander (Fiction)
In this follow-up to the Newbery-winning novel THE CROSSOVER, soccer, family, love and friendship, take center stage as 12-year-old Nick learns the power of words as he wrestles with problems at home, stands up to a bully, and tries to impress the girl of his dreams. Helping him along are his best friend and sometimes teammate Coby, and The Mac, a rapping librarian who gives Nick inspiring books to read. Reviewed by Sally Witchalls.

Laura Shovan’s engaging, big-hearted debut is a time capsule of one class’s poems during a transformative school year. Families change and new friendships form as these terrific kids grow up and move on in this whimsical novel-in-verse about finding your voice and making sure others hear it. Reviewed by Aimee Rogers.

RED'S PLANET: Book 1 by Eddie Pittman (Science Fiction)
Meet Red, a quirky, headstrong 10-year-old who longs to live in her own perfect paradise far away from her annoying foster family. But when a UFO mistakenly kidnaps her, Red finds herself farther away than she could have possibly imagined --- across the galaxy and aboard an enormous spaceship owned by the Aquilari, an ancient creature with a taste for rare and unusual treasures. Before Red can be discovered as a stowaway, the great ship crashes on a small deserted planet, leaving her marooned with a menagerie of misfit aliens. With her newfound friend, a small gray alien named Tawee, Red must find a way to survive the hostile castaways, evade the ravenous wildlife, and contend with Goose, the planet’s grumpy, felinoid custodian. Reviewed by Sarah Rachel Egelman.

OUTLAWS OF TIME: The Legend of Sam Miracle by N. D. Wilson (Science Fiction)
Sam Miracle’s life is made up of dreams, dreams where he’s a courageous, legendary hero instead of a foster kid with two bad arms that can barely move. Sometimes these dreams feel so real, they seem like forgotten memories. And sometimes they make him believe that his arms might come alive again. But Sam is about to discover that the world he knows and the world he imagines are separated by only one thing: time. And that separation is only an illusion. The laws of time can be bent and shifted by people with special magic. But not all of these “time walkers” can be trusted. One is out to protect Sam so that he can accept his greatest destiny, and another is out to kill him so that a prophecy will never be fulfilled. However, it’s an adventurous girl named Glory and two peculiar snakes who show Sam the way through the dark paths of yesterday to help him make sure there will be a tomorrow for every last person on earth. Reviewed by Margret Wiggins.

The next person who compares Chloe Cho with famous violinist Abigail Yang is going to HEAR it. Chloe has just about had it with people not knowing the difference between someone who's Chinese, Japanese or Korean. She's had it with people thinking that everything she does well is due to her being ASIAN. Of course, her own parents don't want to have anything to DO with their Korean background. Any time Chloe asks them a question they change the subject. They seem perfectly happy to be the only Asian family in town. It's only when Chloe's with her best friend, Shelly, that she doesn't feel like a total alien. Then a new teacher comes to town: Ms. Lee. She's Korean American, and for the first time Chloe has a person to talk to who seems to understand completely. 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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