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April 2015 Newsletter April 2015
Spring into Reading with

Happy April, Kidsreaders!

This is a great month because, like December, it’s filled with holidays. You have April Fool's Day, Easter (my best friend lives in Boston and said they had to bury their eggs in the snow, this year!), Passover (which for me involved a 13-person Seder at my apartment --- an impressive feat for New York City) and, later in the month, Earth Day.

But since we’re a book website, we’re obviously particularly excited about two major literary holidays going on in April: National Library Week (April 12th-18th) and National Poetry Month (all 30 days!). We’ve brainstormed some ways to celebrate both (despite the fact that National Library Week is halfway done). If you try any of these ideas, let me know how they work by sending me an email at!

1) It’s obvious but…visit your local library! --- Seriously, what’s better than a place that’s filled with free books on every topic imaginable; knowledgeable people whose job it is to match you with the perfect novel, a tome on guinea pig food, or a much-needed website; and a community of other patrons who could become your best friends? While we recommend that you make use of your local libraries all year long, make sure to stop by this month and see what they have in store. A lot of libraries around the country have special programming for National Library Week --- perhaps yours has a fun event or reading scheduled for tomorrow!

2) Participate in the #LibraryMade Campaign --- Libraries help “make” a lot of things --- maybe they “made” your Nelson Mandela research paper, which couldn’t have happened without their collection of biographies that you read. Or they “made” that quilt you love, since you discovered the meaning of “backing” and “penny squares” in their craft book collection. Or they helped make that website you created, since you learned HTML in their computer lab. If you have a story like this, take a picture of your creation and ask an adult you know who uses social media to share it using the hashtag #LibraryMade. It's a great way to thank libraries for all they've done!

3) Read at least one poetry book this month --- We know that poetry isn’t everyone’s favorite genre, but since it comes in all kinds of different styles, we guarantee that there’s at least one collection out there that you’ll love. Take your poetry with a side of humor? Try some Shel Silverstein classics like WHERE THE SIDEWALK ENDS. Or looking for poetry by one of your favorite artists (complete with graffiti-inspired images)? NEON ALIENS ATE MY HOMEWORK: And Other Poems by Nick Cannon might be the perfect book for you. You could also explore poetry with your younger siblings, in which case you might want to check out CHANGES: A Child's First Poetry Collection, a collection of seasonally-themed poems by the late Charlotte Zolotow set against bright illustrations.

4) Try writing some of your own poems --- After reading some poems, try your hand at creating your own! You could play with some tried and true forms like haikus (3 lines that are 5 syllables, 7 syllables and 5 syllables respectively) or limericks (five lines, with the first, second and fifth lines rhyming, and the second and third lines rhyming). Another fun type is the “persona poem,” where you write a poem from the perspective of somebody else. What would it be like to be your best friend, your grandmother, or even your teacher or that stranger on the park bench next to you? This is a great way to experiment with verse and take a walk in somebody else’s shoes.

5) Check out Novels in verse --- I love novels in verse because they often appeal to even the most staunch “prose only” advocates. This is generally because, just like other novels, novels in verse tell stories. They have characters, plot twists, fully developed worlds…they just happen to be written in the form of poems. And believe me --- there’s usually a good reason for this. Jacqueline Woodson, author of the National Book Award-winning memoir in verse BROWN GIRL DREAMING, said she wrote her book as a series of poems because it felt like a more honest way to portray her memories. She didn't remember her childhood as a continuous narrative --- just as a series of bursts --- and so it made sense to write about it in this slightly more disjointed manner. Another reason could be that poetry better reflects the speech of the characters. That was the case for Caroline Starr Rose, who thought that verse best mirrored the spare language that Kansas frontier women, the protagonists of MAY B., used. For more info on great middle grade novels in verse, check out the next section of our newsletter!

So go celebrate April, library- and poetry-style, and talk to you again in May!

Happy reading,

Shara Zaval (

P.S. While it's not related to libraries or poetry, I couldn't resist including a photo of my six-month-old nephew, Charlie, in this newsletter. In the picture he's pretty enamored with MUNCH! by Matthew Van Fleet.


Novels in Verse for National Poetry Month

As mentioned in the opener, novels in verse are a great way to celebrate National Poetry Month. You get all of the benefits of a full-fledged story --- characters, plot development, rich setting --- but also get pages and pages of verse. We made a bookshelf of Novels in Verse on our Teenreads site, and it includes some middle grade books we think that you might want to explore. We list them below. Enjoy! Also, please note that this is just a list of the novels in verse from the bookshelf --- there are plenty of other worthy novels in verse to check out, too!

BLUE BIRDS by Caroline Starr Rose
BROWN GIRL DREAMING by Jaqueline Woodson
CAMINAR by Skila Brown
THE CROSSOVER by Kwame Alexander
DUST OF EDEN by Mariko Nagai

RED BUTTERFLY by A.L. Sonnichsen


Children's Book Week--- Voting and Roster of Events

Children's Book Week (May 4th - May 10th, 2015) is just around the corner! There are a couple of ways you can prepare for what is sure to be an epic seven days.

1) Check out the roster of events and see if there is any great programming going on near you! --- Bookstores, libraries and even pizzerias are hosting a HUGE number of children's authors in all 50 states during Children's Book Week, and if you're lucky, there's a reading close to your house! Check out the roster of events here, and put it on your calendar now.

2) Vote for the Children's Choice Book Awards! --- This awesome award show (it's the only nationwide book awards program where the winners are selected by children and teens of all ages) kicks off Children's Book Week on Monday, May 4th. Make sure that your voice is heard by casting your vote for author, illustrator and book of the year at by May 3rd, 2015! You can see a list of the finalists below.

The Children's Choice Book Awards finalists:

Children's Choice Debut Author
Cece Bell for EL DEAFO (Abrams/Amulet)
Natalie Lloyd for A SNICKER OF MAGIC (Scholastic Press)
Katherine Roy for NEIGHBORHOOD SHARKS: Hunting with the Great Whites of California’s Farallon Islands (Roaring Brook/Macaulay Studio)
Piers Torday for THE LAST WILD (Viking)
J.A. White for THE THICKETY: A Path Begins (HarperCollins/Tegen)

Illustrator of the Year
Chris Appelhans for SPARKY by Jenny Offill (Random House/Schwartz & Wade)
Steve Light for HAVE YOU SEEN MY DRAGON? (Candlewick)
Yuyi Morales, with photography by Tim O'Meara for VIVA FRIDA (Roaring Brook/Porter)
Christian Robinson for GASTON by Kelly DiPucchio (S&S/Atheneum)
Brian Won for HOORAY FOR HAT! (HMH)

Kindergarten to Second Grade Book of the Year
DUCK, DUCK, MOOSE! by Sudipta Bardhan-Quallen, illus. by Noah Z. Jones (Disney-Hyperion)
EVA AND SADIE AND THE WORST HAIRCUT EVER! by Jeff Cohen, illus. by Ellana Allen (HarperCollins)
HOW TO BABYSIT A GRANDMA by Jean Reagan, illus. by Lee Wildish (Knopf)
A PET FOR FLY GUY by Tedd Arnold (Scholastic/Orchard)

Third to Fourth Grade Book of the Year
CLAUDE AT THE BEACH by Alex T. Smith (Peachtree)
HAPPY BIRTHDAY, BABYMOUSE by Jennifer L. Holm, illus. by Matt Holm (Random House)
KALI'S STORY: An Orphaned Polar Bear Rescue by Jennifer Keats Curtis, illus. by John Gomes (Arbordale)
SISTERS by Raina Telgemeier (Scholastic/Graphix)

Fifth to Sixth Grade Book of the Year
ICE DOGS by Terry Lynn Johnson (HMH)
PERCY JACKSON'S GREEK GODS by Rick Riordan, illus. by John Rocco (Disney-Hyperion)
TEMPLE RUN: Race Through Time to Unlock Secrets of Ancient Worlds by Tracey West (National Geographic)
THE DUMBEST IDEA EVER! by Jimmy Gownley (Scholastic/Graphix)


Click here to cast your votes for the Children's Choice Book Awards!

On the Blog

THE WATER IN THE WILD Blog Tour: Lottie's Nightstand: Author K.E. Ormsbee gives us a sneak peek inside her protagonist's bedroom.

Real Things Vs. Fairytales - Guest Post by Liesl Shurtliff: Author Liesl Shurtliff parses out the difference between “real things” and “fairytales”…and it’s not as big as you’d think.

Guest Post by Fiona McIntosh --- THE WHISPERER: Author Fiona McIntosh talks about how an author can take a tried-and-true idea and make it their very own.

BookUp Guest Post --- How Science, Reading and Writing Connect: Mariam, an 11-year-old participant of the NYC-based BookUp program, writes about a field trip to the New York Academy of Sciences.

Interview with Octavia Spencer: What’s it like to record an audiobook?: Octavia Spencer gives us some behind-the-scenes info on her new audiobook, RANDI RHODES, NINJA DETECTIVE: The Sweetest Heist in History.

Infographic - Books vs. Movies: Check out cool facts about classic children's tales and their popular movie adaptations, courtesy of the British costume company Fancy Dress Ball.


Click here to read the Kidsreads blog!

April’s Cool & New Books Roundup

Our April roundup includes KRISTY’S GREAT IDEA by Ann M. Martin and illustrated by Raina Telgemeier, the graphic novel version of the original Baby-Sitters Club book, available in full color for the first time; THE WATER AND THE WILD by Katie Elise Ormsbee and illustrated by Elsa Mora, where Lottie discovers a door in an apple tree and goes on a quest to cure her best friend’s illness; and THE 39-STORY TREEHOUSE, the third book in the popular The Treehouse series by Andy Griffiths and illustrated by Terry Denton about the coolest treehouse in the world, complete with the world’s highest trampoline and a chocolate waterfall.

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

April's New in Paperback Roundup
In paperback this month we have TIMMY FAILURE: Mistakes Were Made, the first Timmy Failure book by New York Times cartoonist Stephan Pastis about a young spy and his polar bear sidekick; MY BASMATI BAT MITZVAH by Paula J. Freedman, in which Tara questions how to balance her Jewish and Indian identities amidst other middle school dramas; and MISCHIEF AND MAYHEM by Roald Dahl, with plenty of tricks inspired by the legendary author’s most beloved books, as well as excerpts and other extras.
Click here to visit our April New in Paperback feature!

New Picture Books

Our April roundup includes THE GRASSHOPPER & THE ANTS by Jerry Pinkney, a stunning rendition of the famous fable that reminds young ones not to procrastinate; MY FOOD, YOUR FOOD by Lisa Bullard, illustrated by Christine M. Schneider, a book from the new Alike and Different series from Millbrook Press that explores how everything from outfits to language vary around the world; and CHANGES: A Child's First Poetry Collection, which sets a collection of seasonally-themed poems by the late Charlotte Zolotow against bright illustrations by Tiphanie Beeke.

Click here to see April's Picture Book Roundup!

Now in Stores: BABYMOUSE #19: Bad Babysitter written by Jennifer L. Holm with illustrations by Matthew Holm

BABYMOUSE #19: Bad Babysitter written by Jennifer L. Holm with illustrations by Matthew Holm (Children's Fiction)

Wanted: Expert babysitter. Babymouse will finally have enough money to buy cool stuff! All she has to do is take care of a few kids. No problem! Who’s more responsible than Babymouse? She’s practically Mary Poppins! (Okay, maybe that’s going a little too far.) Will Babymouse be the ultimate sitter? Or will triplets mean triple trouble? Find out in BAD BABYSITTER --- the 19th laugh-out-loud installment of the beloved Babymouse graphic novel series. Bonus Page: Learn to draw a character!

Click here
to read more about the book.


Now in Stores: THE TERRIBLE TWO by Mac Barnett and Jory John

April Fool's Day may be over, but that doesn't mean that you should stop pulling pranks (shh, don't tell your teachers we told you so). If you're looking for inspiration, be sure to check out THE TERRIBLE TWO, the first book in the series of the same name.

In THE TERRIBLE TWO, Miles Murphy is not happy to be moving to Yawnee Valley, a sleepy town that’s famous for one thing and one thing only: cows. In his old school, everyone knew him as the town’s best prankster, but Miles quickly discovers that Yawnee Valley already has a prankster, and a great one. If Miles 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: a prank so huge that it would make the members of the International Order of Disorder proud.

Click here to learn more about the book.

Click here to read the review.

Now in Stores: WONDER AT THE EDGE OF THE WORLD by Nicole Helget

WONDER AT THE EDGE OF THE WORLD by Nicole Helget (Fantasy)

Hallelujah Wonder wants to become one of the first female scientists of the 19th century. Her father was a scientist and explorer, but his life was cruelly cut short by an evil Navy captain who coveted his cache of artifacts. Hallelujah feels a great responsibility to protect the objects --- particularly a mesmerizing (and dangerous) one called the Medicine Head --- before the captain can succeed. Now she and her best friend, a slave boy about to be sold, must set out on a sweeping adventure by land and by sea to the only place where no one will ever be able to find the cursed talisman: the forbidding land of Antarctica.

Click here to read more about the book.

Click here to read a review of the book.
New Reviews!

New! THE ISLAND OF DR. LIBRIS by Chris Grabenstein (Youth Fiction, Adventure)

What if your favorite characters came to life? Billy’s spending the summer in a lakeside cabin that belongs to the mysterious Dr. Libris. But something strange is going on. Besides the security cameras everywhere, there’s Dr. Libris’s private bookcase. Whenever Billy opens the books inside, he can hear sounds coming from the island in the middle of the lake. The clash of swords. The twang of arrows. Sometimes he can even feel the ground shaking. It’s almost as if the stories he’s reading are coming to life! But that’s impossible...isn’t it? --- Reviewed by Aimee Rogers.

New! PIECES AND PLAYERS by Blue Balliett (Youth Fiction, Mystery, Adventure)

Thirteen extremely valuable pieces of art have been stolen from one of the most secretive museums in the world, and five kids who are no strangers to heists and puzzles have to solve the mystery. But Mrs. Sharpe, who told them about the crime, is acting suspiciously, plus there's a ghost in the museum, a cat who acts like a spy and blue-clad strangers who keep popping up. Reviewed by Norah Piehl.

New! THE LOST TRACK OF TIME by Page Britt with illustrations by Lee White (Youth Fiction, Adventure)

She dreams of being a writer, but how can she pursue her passion when her mother schedules every minute of her life? Then one day, Penelope discovers a hole in her schedule --- an entire day completely unplanned! --- and she mysteriously falls into it. What follows is a mesmerizing journey through the Realm of Possibility where Penelope sets out to find and free the Great Moodler, the one person who may have the answers she seeks. Along the way, she must face an army of Clockworkers, battle the evil Chronos, take a daring Flight of Fancy and save herself from the grip of time. Reviewed by Christine Irvin.

NEW! ROLLER GIRL by Victoria Jamieson (Graphic Novel)

For most of her 12 years, Astrid has done everything with her best friend Nicole. But after Astrid falls in love with roller derby and signs up for derby camp, Nicole decides to go to dance camp instead. And so begins the most difficult summer of Astrid's life as she struggles to keep up with the older girls at camp, hang onto the friend she feels slipping away and cautiously embark on a new friendship. Reviewed by Norah Piehl.

NEW! DIARY OF A WAITRESS: The Not-So-Glamorous Life of a Harvey Girl by Carolyn Meyer (Fiction)

It's 1926 and one spunky girl, Kitty Evans, joins the thousands of well–trained waitresses providing first-class service in Harvey House. As Kitty writes about her escapades, a loveable teenager emerges; she embraces adventure, independence, her position as a Harvey Girl and a freelance writing career. Reviewed by Sally Tibbetts.

NEW! ANYWHERE BUT PARADISE by Anne Bustard (Fiction)

Moving from Texas to Hawaii in 1960, 12-year-old Peggy Sue faces a difficult transition when she is bullied as one of the few haole (white) students in her school. But when her parents take a trip to Hilo, life takes an unexpected twist in the form of a tsunami. Reviewed by Corinne Fox.

NEW! WATCH THE SKY by Kirsten Hubbard (Fiction)

The signs are everywhere, Jory's stepfather, Caleb, says. Red leaves in the springtime. Pages torn from a library book. All the fish in an aquarium facing the same way. A cracked egg with twin yolks. Everywhere and anywhere. And because of them, Jory's life is far from ordinary. He must follow a very specific set of rules: don't trust anyone outside the family, have your work boots at the ready just in case and always, always watch out for the signs. The end is coming, and they must be prepared. Reviewed by Brianna Robinson.

NEW! MOON BEAR written by Gill Lewis with illustrations by Alessandro Gottardo (Fiction)

Both torn from their homes in Laos, a boy and a moon bear cub form a deep bond in this piercing tale of impossible odds and resilient hope, based on true conditions in Eastern Asia. Deeply and powerfully moving, MOON BEAR is an unforgettable story of compassion, hope and bravery against overwhelming odds, and brings to light the real-life, heartwrenching plight of Asia’s endangered moon bears. Reviewed by Anita Lock.

NEW! JACK: The True Story of Jack and the Beanstalk by Liesl Shurtliff (Fiction)

All work and no play makes Jack extremely bored. And when Jack gets bored, he makes mischief. It’s not that he’s bad; he just longs for adventure. One day, adventure finally arrives in the form of giants, and soon Jack is chasing them to a land beyond the clouds, with his little sister, Annabella, in tow. But Jack and Annabella are on a mission. The king of the giants has taken something that belongs to them, and they’ll do anything to get it back. Reviewed by Christine Irvin.

NEW! THE TRAP by Steven Arntson (Science Fiction)

It's the summer of 1963, and something strange is afoot in the quiet town of Farro, Iowa. The school district's most notorious bully has gone missing without a trace, and furthermore, seventh grader Henry Nilsson and his friends have just found an odd book stashed in the woods by Longbelly Gulch --- a moldy instruction guide written to teach the art of "subtle travel," a kind of out-of-body experience. The foursome will soon discover that out-of-body life isn't so subtle after all --- there are some very real, and very dangerous, things happening out there in the woods. Reviewed by Kathy Purcell.

NEW! THE DETECTIVE'S ASSISTANT by Kate Hannigan (Historical Fiction)

Eleven-year-old Nell Warne arrives on her aunt's doorstep lugging a heavy sack of sorrows. If her Aunt Kate rejects her, it's the miserable Home for the Friendless. Luckily, canny Nell makes herself indispensable to Aunt Kate...and not just by helping out with household chores. For Aunt Kate is the first-ever female detective employed by the legendary Pinkerton Detective Agency. And Nell has a knack for the kind of close listening and bold action that made Pinkerton detectives famous in Civil War-era America. With huge, nation-changing events simmering in the background, Nell uses skills new and old to uncover truths about her past and solve mysteries in the present. Reviewed by Sally Tibbetts.

NEW! LOST IN NYC: A Subway Adventure written by Nadja Spiegelman with illustrations by Sergio García Sánchez (Fiction)

When Pablo gets separated from his new schoolmates during his first field trip in New York City, he doesn't know how he'll be able to find them again. Luckily, he has a little knowledge, a new friend and the surprisingly approachable city itself to guide his way. This story features maps, archival photos and fascinating facts to help readers explore the subway. Reviewed by Norah Piehl.


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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