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December 2016 Newsletter for Parents December 2016
Happy Holidays from Kidsreads --- See You Next Year!

Hi Kidsreaders,

Oh, the weather outside is frightful, but the books are so delightful, and since winter break is soon, read all night, watch cartoons, eat great food! ...Okay, so maybe I should cross "songwriter" off my resume this year, but I can live with that because there is so much else going on here at Kidsreads! Between our Holiday Bundle of Cheer Contest and all of our December features and reviews, we have a full newsletter for you this week, starting with some huge news.

Patron Mail, the company we use to send out our newsletters, will be closing at the end of the year, so this is the last newsletter you'll be receiving from this address. If you are subscribed to our newsletters, you will still receive them when we move to our new company, but you may want to add to your address book to make sure nothing goes to the dreaded SPAM folder. We have some big things in the works for 2017, so believe me, you don't want to miss a newsletter.

Now that that's out of the way, let's talk about the Kidsreads Holiday Gift Guide! My interns Amanda, Catherine, Dana and I have been scouring the Internet all month for the perfect bookish gifts for your friends, families and, of course, the ever-important "to me/from me" category of gifting (we won't tell).

Up first, as 2016 is wrapping up, you're probably seeing lots of "Best of" lists popping up everywhere, and we're jumping on board. In addition to asking our Kidsreads reviewers about their favorite books of 2016, we've compiled a handy-dandy list of all the other great "Best Of" lists for children's books, which you can find later in this newsletter. Although you'll see many of the same titles and authors appearing multiple times, each list provides a different way of looking at each book and some even group titles by genre. But first, click here to hear about the books our reviewers recommend.

Now that your book-buying is out of the way, let's move on to some bookish accessories:

  • For the classical reader, check out these Jane Austen mugs. They'll make you wish you were sipping tea at Pemberly with Darcy and the gang.
  • Know a bookworm with piles of books everywhere? This really neat bookshelf will make anyone's TBR much more manageable.
  • If you're looking to set the mood, these literary-inspired candles will create the perfect reading ambiance.
  • While you're basking in the candlelight, why not sip on some bookish tea?
  • Did you get caught reading in the candlelight and sipping your tea out of your Jane Austen mug without a bookmark? Never fear, these awesome magnetic bookmarks are here!
  • If your letter from Hogwarts is still missing in the mail, check out these adorable Harry Potter-inspired soaps. Bonus: They look like potions.
  • If you prefer reading (or playing games) on your tablet, Kindle or Nook, but still want that old-fashioned bookish look, try these adorable cases.
  • If you need to bundle up this season, these literary scarves are perfect for any reader. Although the shop has stopped taking orders for the season, we thought it was definitely worth a mention.
  • For other fashionable ways to wear your fiction, try these amazing tights or these brilliant purses.
  • Of course, this list wouldn't be complete without mentioning companies like Out of Print, Litographs and Obvious State, all of which make high-quality shirts, mugs, totes and bookish accessories based on beloved classics and new favorites alike.
  • Last, but certainly not least: book subscription boxes! While I personally love OwlCrate for older kids and GiftLit, for younger readers, other popular boxes include Uppercase, Quarterly and My Book Box. Each of these subscriptions gets you (or a friend) a new box of books and goodies each month to keep your reading and literary accessorizing on track.

Phew! Now that our holiday shopping is done (making the list means it's done, right?) we can move on to all the bookish news we've compiled this month. Up first, we have some books on screen news, as Sony has officially acquired the rights to THE LOST PROPERTY OFFICE by James R. Hannibal, one of last month's Cool & New titles. Jack Buckles is great at finding most things, but not his father, who disappeared in London without a trace. As Jack investigates, he learns that his father was a member of a secret society of detectives called the Lost Property Office. Taking his father's place, Jack must track down an evil villain, find a mysterious item and, of course, get his father home safely. Needless to say, this will make one awesome movie.

Some of our older Kidsreaders may remember THE WAR WITH GRANDPA, a book by Robert Kimmel Smith that released way back in 1984, when we carved books on stone tablets. In this adorable book, a boy plays outrageous pranks on his grandfather after being forced to give up his room. In a funny twist, his grandfather turns out to be quite the prankster himself and an all-out war ensues. Next October, you can watch the prank war come to life with Robert De Niro as the wacky grandpa. Click here to learn more.

In picture book news, we have two cool behind-the-scenes looks at some of our favorite authors and illustrators, Oliver Jeffers and Javaka Steptoe. First, click here to take a tour of Oliver Jeffers' studio, where he has worked on books like A CHILD OF BOOKS and STUCK. If you look closely, you can see where he gets some of his inspiration for his beautiful drawings.

Next we have this interview with Javaka Steptoe, whose nonfiction biography of Jean-Michel Basquiat, RADIANT CHILD, was one of our featured picture books back in October. I loved reading about how Javaka was surrounded by illustrated books as a kid. Who knows, maybe one of you will be the next big picture book artists thanks to your love of reading!

Moving on to the actual books mentioned in this newsletter, you'll notice that December is a pretty light month as far as releases go, but all of our regular features are still there, including Cool & New, New Picture Books, and our series update --- with 11 new books! --- at the bottom of this newsletter.

Don't forget that there is still time to enter our Holiday Bundle of Cheer Contest for your chance to win three amazing books for your child --- one of which, IMPYRIUM, has scored a place on several "Best Of" lists this year! If you haven't already entered, click here to enter by Wednesday, December 21st at noon ET for your chance to win. And remember, this will be your last newsletter reminder.

Finally, I wanted to take a moment to thank you all for reading along this year and welcoming me into Kidsreads so warmly. It's been such a pleasure working with our reviewers and interns, but none of it would matter without all of you reading at home. Here's to another wonderful year!

Happy reading,

--- Rebecca Munro (

Holiday Bundle of Cheer --- Enter for Your Chance to Win

At, we're kicking off the holiday season with our second annual Holiday Bundle of Cheer Contest and Feature. We are spotlighting some amazing books. From now until Wednesday, December 21st at noon ET, five lucky readers will win a copy of each featured title to curl up with this holiday season, along with some incredibly festive goodies. From now until December 21st at noon ET

This year's featured titles include:

Click here to enter our Holiday Bundle of Cheer contest!


Best of Lists for 2016

There's no better way to start an argument with self-proclaimed book nerds than to ask "what is the best book of 2016?" After we decided to get our lovely reviewers involved in the debate by asking them to tell us a few of their favorites, we scoured the web for other great "Best Of" lists to share with you.

Kidsreads Reviewers --- Why not turn to our trusty reviewers for advice? They ranked their top five favorites of the year in our special feature.

New York Times --- It’s a brand name that you know you can trust. The children’s books editor at the Times selected her favorite picture books, middle grade novels and YA, and it’s a diverse, high-quality list.

Publishers Weekly --- One of the premier book review publications, this is another highly trustworthy source.

School Library Journal --- Another highly respectable and reputable source for book reviews and news.

Kirkus --- Known for its highly respected reviews and starred ratings, this publication has divided YA into different genres so you can easily find the best books for you.

National Public Radio --- This site has interactive filters you can use to check out the more than 300 titles the NPR staff and other critics loved this year.

Goodreads --- Voted on by readers like you, these books all went through different rounds of voting to be labeled the best of the best. The coolest part is that you can see exactly how many votes each book received.

Amazon --- Selected by Amazon editors, these books are listed in best-selling order, with user reviews only a click away.

Contests for YOU!

Holiday Cheer 2016: At, we kick off the holiday season in style with our Holiday Cheer Contests and Feature. As our gift to you, on select days in November and December, we will spotlight a book and give five lucky readers the chance to win it. You have to visit the site each day to see the featured prize book and enter the 24-hour contest. As always, we will send our special Holiday Cheer newsletter on the days when there are contests.

End-of-the-Year Contest 2016: We are thrilled to announce a very special contest featuring Carol Fitzgerald’s Bets On picks from 2016. One Grand Prize winner will be awarded all 40 books (which you can see here), while eight other winners will receive a selection of five of these titles. The deadline for entries is Monday, January 9th at noon ET.

"What's Your Book Group Reading This Month?": Win 12 Copies of THE BOOK THAT MATTERS MOST by Ann Hood --- 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. November's prize book is THE BOOK THAT MATTERS MOST by Ann Hood, an enthralling novel about love, loss, secrets, friendship and the healing power of literature --- not to mention the story of how joining a book group forever changes one woman’s life. The deadline for entries is Wednesday, January 4th at noon ET.

Holiday Bundle of Cheer 2016: The holidays are right around the corner, and as our gift to you, we are spotlighting some amazing books. The deadline to enter the Holiday Bundle of Cheer Feature/Contest is Wednesday, December 21st at noon ET. Enter for your chance to be one of five lucky readers who will win a copy of each of the featured titles, along with some incredibly festive goodies.

Holiday Bundle of Cheer 2016: Here at Teenreads we're kicking off the holiday season with our Holiday Bundle of Cheer Contest and Feature. As our gift to you, we are spotlighting some amazing books. Five lucky readers will win a copy of each featured titles to curl up with this holiday season, along with some incredibly festive goodies.

Holiday Picture Books 2016 Bookshelf

Believe it or not, the holidays are right around the corner! What better way to celebrate than with some holiday picture books to get you in the festive mood?

We made a list --- and we checked it twice --- so that only the best of the best holiday books are on our shelf, no matter how you celebrate! Whether you like traditional stories about Christmas, like THE NUTCRACKER, or are looking for a fun spin on Christmas, like in THE BIGGEST SMALLEST CHRISTMAS PRESENT, there's sure to be something on our shelf that will warm your heart on those frosty winter days. For those of us who like a grand adventure, SHMELF THE HANUKKAH ELF takes readers on a mission to find out why children are missing from Santa's list only to uncover Hanukkah. There are also perfect books here for nonfiction fans such as BEST IN SNOW, which allows animal fans to see beautiful pictures of animals in the snow. Or, if you like a more factual approach, WONDERFUL WINTER: All Kinds of Winter Facts and Fun brings out the science behind snow (and allows you to make some cool crafts while you're at it). Finally, after all this holiday madness is over for the year, we can sit back and relax with Santa, who is taking a well-deserved break himself in SANTA'S ELEVEN MONTHS OFF.

Click here to see our Holiday Picture Books Bookshelf.


On the Kidsreads Blog

Celebrate National Ninja Day with a Picture Book! --- Do you ever dream about being a ninja? We definitely do! That's why we were super excited about December 5th --- aka National Ninja Day --- here at In honor of this high-kicking, judo-chopping holiday, we're celebrating with some excellent ninja-themed picture books. Get ready to wow and impress your friends and family with your impressive strength, excellent balance and extreme bravery, because National Ninja Day is almost here!

Kidsreads Talks with Picture Book Publisher NubeOcho --- Here at, we love compiling our monthly roundup of new picture books. With minimal text and tons of gorgeous spreads, our selections often feature issues big and small, from dealing with new siblings to counting to 10 and even receiving dragons in the mail. In recent months, one publisher has really gained our attention with its artistic books full of big messages for small readers. Although NubeOcho is relatively new on the scene, they've been earning tons of praise for their gorgeous but insightful books. We had the chance to ask them a few questions about their picture books and goals for young readers.

S.F. Said, Author of PHOENIX, on Collaborating with Illustrator David McKean --- PHOENIX is an epic science fiction novel set in space amidst a galactic war, following a young boy named Lucky as he discovers his destiny. This novel features some incredibly inventive world building, which is heightened by the amazing artwork that accompanies the text. In this post, we have S.F. Said sharing about his experience collaborating with David McKean on PHOENIX as well as offering some explanations of the different artistic choices made in the novel.

Click here to visit the Kidsreads blog.


December’s Cool & New Books Roundup

This month's Cool & New roundup includes WORD OF MOUSE by James Patterson, which tells the story of a mouse with blue fur who can read, write and talk to humans! Next up is a book that will be a favorite for all nonfiction readers and sports fans: ALL HEART, in which Carli Lloyd tells the inspiring story of how she became one of the world's biggest soccer stars. Last, but not least, we have the first installment of Aaron Blabey's newest book series, THE BAD GUYS, where Mr. Wolf, Mr. Piranha, Mr. Snake and Mr. Shark go on a series of adventures to try and become the "Good Guys."

Click here to see the rest of December's Cool & New Books roundup!


December’s New in Paperback Roundup

Our New in Paperback roundup for December brings us some great new additions to popular series. First up, we have the second book in the Mark of the Thief series by Jennifer Nielson, RISE OF THE WOLF, where Nic must once again harness his magic and gather the strength to defeat his enemies. Then we have the fifth installment of the Pegasus series by Kate O'Hearn, RISE OF THE TITANS, where Emily and Pegasus must venture to Hawaii in order to save Olympus. Finally we have the second book in James Riely's Story Thieves series, THE STOLEN CHAPTERS, which follows Owen, Kiel and Bethany as they confront secrets, stolen memories and some very familiar faces.

Click here to see the rest of our December New in Paperback roundup!


New Picture Books

Our Picture Book roundup this month includes THE FRIEND SHIP by Kat Yeh, where little hedgehog searches high and low for the friend ship in order to make some friends. Next, Sophie Ambrose's THE LONELY GIANT teaches young readers about the value of the natural world around us. Last, but certainly not least, BABY BRAINS by Simon James tells the story of Baby Brains, who can read the paper, fix the family car, work as a doctor in the local hospital and even go into space.

Click here to see the rest of December's Picture Book Roundup!


New Series Books for December

ANTON AND CECIL: CATS ALOFT (Anton and Cecil, Book 3) by Lisa Martin (Fiction)
Tuckered out from a journey across the Wild West, cat brothers Anton and Cecil are ready to head east for home --- until a minor stop to change trains in Chicago turns into a major escapade. The brothers are recruited by a police bloodhound to help solve a case: puppies are disappearing right off their leashes!

PETER POWERS AND THE ROWDY ROBOT RAIDERS! (Peter Powers, Book 2) by Kent Clark, Brandon T. Snider, and illustrated by Dave Bardin (Graphic Novel)
Everyone in Peter Powers' family has super awesome superpowers --- except Peter. All he can do is make ice cubes and flash freeze little stuff. At least his brother and sister have finally stopped picking on him --- mostly. But at school, an even more menacing bully has it out for Peter and his friends. As if that wasn't enough, Boulder City is being raided by robots! When his parents are captured, will Peter and his siblings be able to work together and save the day? Or will the town --- and possibly the world--be iced?

Oz and Lily have a top-secret mission. Alba the witch has gotten her hands on a magical chocolate phoenix and is plotting to use it for some serious evil. With the help of an army of rats and an unreliable talking cat, the children must pursue her not only across London but through time itself. This might be their toughest adventure yet.

DOG MAN UNLEASHED (Dog Man #2) by Dav Pilkey (Graphic Novel)
Dog Man, the newest hero from the creator of Captain Underpants, is still learning a few tricks of the trade. Petey the cat is out of the bag, and his criminal curiosity is taking the city by storm. Something fishy is going on! Can Dog Man unleash justice on this ruffian in time to save the city, or will Petey get away with the purr-fect crime?

BOLLYWOOD BURGLARY (Geronimo Stilton #65) by Geronimo Stilton (Fiction)
My detective friend Hercule Poirat and I were headed to India. A Bollywood star we're friends with had received a valuable ruby and wanted us to help her protect it... which meant that I ended up acting in the movie she was filming! Rancid ricotta --- I'm a terrible actor! Even worse, just when we least expected it, the ruby was stolen. Could we find the thief?

YOU CAN'T HIDE (Shadow House, Book 2) by Dan Poblocki (Horror)
Poppy, Marcus, Dash, Dylan, and Azumi are all trapped within Shadow House, a sinister estate where past and present intertwine. As they fight to find a way out, the kids think the ghosts of the house are the greatest danger they face. Little do the kids know it's the secrets they're each hiding that will prove even more lethal.

SHOWING OFF (Upside-Down Magic #3) by Sarah Mlynowski, Lauren Myracle, and Emily Jenkins (Fiction)
The kids in Upside-Down Magic know their magic is a little out of control. But that doesn't make them weird --- it only makes them human. When things get messy, it's up to Nory, Bax, and their friends to find their way out of trouble before something really wacky happens.

BILLY KID ENTREPRENEUR AND THE EVERYTHING LOCATOR (Billy Sure Kid Entrepreneur, Book 10) by Luke Sharpe and illustrated by Graham Ross (Fiction)
What’s a kid entrepreneur to do when he loses his math homework? Invent the Everything Locator, of course! Billy’s next invention is a device that will find any lost item and return it to you. But the Everything Locator has one teeny, tiny problem…it returns every item that Billy has ever lost, all at once! Will Billy find a way to make everything right with the Everything Locator? Will he even be able to dig his way out of this pile of junk?

THE CIRCLE OF LIES (Hunters of Chaos, Book 2) by Crystal Velasquez (Fantasy)
Ana’s life changed dramatically when she accepted a position at an exclusive boarding school in New Mexico. She found three great new friends —-- Shani, Doli, and Lin --— and together, they discovered that they each had the power to turn into a wildcat. Their new friendship and powers were put to the test in a battle against the god Anubis and his newly resurrected Brotherhood of Chaos.

RISE OF THE TITANS (Pegasus, Book 5) by Kate O'Hearn (Fantasy)
The ancient rivalry between the Olympians and the Titans has been rekindled. However, this time the Titans have a secret weapon --- a weapon that rivals the Flame of Olympus. The balance of power is tipped in Saturn’s favor now that he has found his own Flame of Titus. Olympus is almost in his grasp! And just when the Olympians need Emily most, she finds her own grip on the flame weakening.

THE TUNDRA TRIALS (Bounders, Book 2) by Monica Tesler (Science Fiction)
After discovering that Earth Force is waging a covert alien war, Jasper and his friends return to space and continue their training. This time, Earth Force brings them to the remote planet of Gulaga, where the cadets compete in the Tundra Trials: a grueling pod race across the planet’s frigid landscape.


Click here for more series features.


New Reviews

SWAN BOY by Nikki Sheehan (Fiction)
When Johnny’s father dies, his family must leave their home, move to a tiny apartment in a busy city and start life over. When all hope for fitting in seems lost, a chance encounter with a swan sparks a series of events that result in Johnny playing the lead in his school’s all-boy version of Swan Lake. But will he be strong or brave enough to beat his bullies, take care of his brother, support his mother and find a place for himself among all of the chaos in his life? Reviewed by Angela Warsinske.

SOME WRITER!: The Story of E.B. White by Melissa Sweet (Biography)
“SOME PIG,” Charlotte the spider’s praise for Wilbur, is just one fondly remembered snippet from E. B. White’s CHARLOTTE'S WEB. In SOME WRITER!, the two-time Caldecott Honor winner Melissa Sweet mixes White’s personal letters, photos and family ephemera with her own exquisite artwork to tell his story, from his birth in 1899 to his death in 1985. Budding young writers will be fascinated and inspired by the journalist, New Yorker contributor and children’s book author who loved words his whole life. Reviewed by Aimee Rogers.

THINGS THAT MAKE YOU GO YUCK!: Crooked Critters by Jenn Dlugos and Charlie Hatton (Nonfiction)
It's a rogue's gallery of some of nature's roughest, meanest species. Whether it's nature's slimiest organisms or the weirdest mutations, THINGS THAT MAKE YOU GO YUCK! celebrates survival of the fittest, grossest, craziest and creepiest things in nature, proving once and for all that life in the wild is anything but ordinary. Reviewed by Christine M. Irvin.


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