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July 2015

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Canoeing, Archery and...Reading? Camp, Literary Style
That's me, the summer before fifth grade at Camp Young Judaea in New Hampshire! Note that those glasses are kind of trendy again...
That's me, the summer before fifth grade at Camp Young Judaea in New Hampshire! Note that those glasses are kind of trendy again...

Hi Kidsreaders,

I hope you are in the middle of an excellent summer! For some of you, this might mean a cross-country road trip to one of the National Parks, countless hours spent swimming in the community pool, or a chance to sleep well into the afternoon hours. For many, though, it involves a long-held American tradition: summer camp.

I went for years myself. First came day camp, where I distinctly remember writing a postcard to a fictional, recently-come-back-from-the-dead teacher in a creative writing class and mastering Michael Jackson’s legendary “Thriller” moves in a dance class; it seems like there was a strong zombie theme here.

After that came overnight camp, where I learned about the powers of friendship bracelets (and the awesomeness that is the Chinese staircase stitch), the importance of letter-writing and how color war can turn innocent young’uns into diehard enemies. My camp also had a strange ritual of putting sugar on grilled cheese --- trust me, it’s delicious (don’t try it at home, though --- your parents will kill me).

While these tried-and-true camp activities are wonderful, I started wondering what it would be like if summer camp took a literary turn. And no, I don’t mean reading books by the fire or reciting poems on canoes. Rather, what would it be like to attend a camp that’s based around a particular book? Kids at Camp MATILDA would learn the fine art of telekinesis (I’m sure you have a teacher you wouldn’t mind surreptitiously dousing with a pitcher of newt-filled water), and kids at Camp GOLDEN COMPASS would take special daemon-training courses.

I decided to ask our trusty review team what children’s book-based camp they would like to attend. Read their answers below, but we warned --- their answers might make your own archery lessons and bonfire sing-a-longs seem a bit more lackluster.

I would design a circus skills camp based off of OLIVIA SAVES THE CIRCUS by Ian Falconer. The kids would learn how to walk the tightrope, tame lions and juggle while riding the unicycle --- just in case all the real circus people get ear infections and can't perform. Plus, they would have pancakes for breakfast every morning. --- Maya Berman

I would design a camp after ALICE’S ADVENTURES IN WONDERLAND by Lewis Carroll. In this camp, kids would meet all of Alice's friends and eventually learn how to defeat the Queen. Wonderland would be a wonderful place for children since it's so magical, and Alice would be a great role model, since she never stopped in the face of adversity. – Hasnah Farraj

I would do a THE LION, THE WITCH AND THE WARDROBE-themed summer camp, replete with a wardrobe on casters that would be wheeled over to different-themed sections for the kids to explore. Themed sections could include the Professor's home, Mr. and Mrs. Beaver's home, Mr. Tumnus's (the fawn’s) home and the castle of the White Witch. --- Anita Lock

I would design a camp after A WRINKLE IN TIME by Madeleine L'Engle because it would allow me to meld math, science, sports and creativity all in one. Campers would be encouraged to use their imagination to solve brain teasers, cultivate their strengths and work together, just as Calvin and the Murray kids did in the book. --- Brianna Robinson

I would choose Chris Grabenstein's ESCAPE FROM MR. LEMONCELLO'S LIBRARY --- what better than a book about books and games to become a summer camp! Campers would solve literary puzzles, have a book-themed menu (Lemoncello's Lemonade! Escapist Enchiladas! Grabenstein's Grilled Cheese!) and work together toward common goals in teams. Of course, there would be lots of time for reading, and books would be the prizes for solving puzzles and finishing games! --- Sarah Egelman

I used to fantasize about having a camp similar to The Boxcar Children books by Rand McNally. If camp involved setting off into the woods in groups of four to solve mysteries and petty crimes, I'd be all about it. And if you ever got homesick, Grandfather would always be pretty close by. --- Abbe Wright

So that’s that! Would you attend any of these summer programs if you could? Let me know at

In the meantime, though, enjoy the rest of our newsletter and be sure to enter our contests! You only have a couple of weeks to win a host of great stories in Beach Bag of Books and to have the chance to read WARREN THE 13TH AND THE ALL-SEEING EYE earlier than anyone else! You know you want to be first to read a book like this…

Happy reading (and happy camp-attending, if that’s your thing),

--- Shara Zaval (

Get Ready for Summer 2015 --- Enter the Contest Now!

It's time to think about summer reading. We're talking about the kinds of books that you're glad you now have time to kick back with and enjoy. The way we see it, it wouldn't be summer without sun, surf and great reading. We'll give you some fantastic ideas in our first Get Ready for Summer promotion. From now through Monday, July 27th at noon ET, five lucky readers will win a copy of each of the featured books.

This year's featured titles include:

MIDDLE SCHOOL: Just My Rotten Luck by James Patterson and Chris Tebbetts
PIP BARTLETT'S GUIDE TO MAGICAL CREATURES by Maggie Stiefvater and Jackson Pearce
STONEBIRD by Mike Revell
TREASURE HUNTERS: Danger Down the Nile by James Patterson

Click here to enter our Get Ready for Summer contest!


Double the Fun, or Double the Trouble?: Twins in Middle Grade and YA Lit

Uh-oh: double trouble! We seem to love stories about twins. Maybe it's because we get a kick out of reading about two people who switch places without anyone noticing. Or because the sibling bond we enjoy seeing in books is that much stronger if the two were born at the same time and grew up together. Whatever the reason, YA and Children's lit is chock-full of books featuring twins, or one in a set of twins, as the protagonist.

In this bookshelf, we rounded up 20 recent books about twins in Children's and Young Adult literature. These books span a wide array of genres, from ONE by Sarah Crossan --- a novel about conjoined twins --- to CJ Omololu's THE THIRD TWIN, a thriller exploring the long-lost-twin trope. There's something for everyone: whether you're looking for a lighthearted comedy or a fast-paced mystery, this list of books will have you doing a double-take!


View the entire twins bookshelf here!


What's cooler than winning a free book? Winning a free book that won't hit the shelves until the late fall (talk about being a trendsetter)...and getting to give your feedback on it!

That's what you get to do in our Sneak Peek promotion --- you can win a copy of WARREN THE 13TH AND THE ALL-SEEING EYE, written by Tania del Rio and illustrated/created by Will Staehle (published on November 24, 2015) and tell us what you thought about it.

We're giving away 100 copies, and the deadline for contest entries is Tuesday, July 28th at noon ET. If you win, we'll need your comments by Friday, August 28th.


Meet Warren the 13th, a cursed 12-year-old Victorian bellhop who’s terribly unlucky...yet perpetually optimistic, hard-working, and curious. Orphan Warren’s pride and joy is his family’s hotel, but he’s been miserable ever since his evil Aunt Anaconda took over the management. Anaconda believes a mysterious treasure known as the All-Seeing Eye is hidden somewhere on the grounds, and she’ll do anything to find it. If Warren wants to preserve his family’s legacy, he’ll need to find the treasure first --- if the hotel’s many strange and wacky guests don’t beat him to it! This middle-grade adventure features gorgeous two-color illustrations on every page and a lavish two-column Victorian design that will pull you into a spooky and delightful mystery.

Click here to enter the contest to win your own copy!

Summer Buzz Books
Summer means a lot of things --- going to the beach, relaxing by the pool, going to camp, taking a break from school and...drumroll please…summer reading!

There are so many books that came out this spring (and are coming out later this summer), and we asked some of our bookseller friends to weigh in on their very favorites. Read below for some of their suggestions, and get yourself to a bookstore, stat! Then slather on the sunscreen, head to the nearest sunny locale and crack open your literary prize.
Click here to see the full list of Summer Buzz Books!

Books on Screen: July to December 2015

Prepare for a cinematic season to remember! Between July and December, film adaptations of popular books spanning the decades will be coming to a theater near you. We know that many of you want the full literary experience before seeing the movie, so we’re helping you out with this bookshelf, featuring 10 novels about to hit the big screen.

Let these popular tales capture your imagination, then watch in the months to come as your favorite protagonists turn into flesh and blood characters. Journey with Katniss into the rebellious world of the thirteen Districts as she takes her final stand in MOCKINGJAY by Suzanne Collins, or reminisce with the familiar, fantastical adventures of J.M. Barrie’s PETER PAN. No matter your age, these famous stories will get you ready for their highly anticipated movie premieres.

Click to see what books will be on the big screen soon!

July's Cool & New Books Roundup

In this month’s roundup, we have THE GOLDEN SPECIFIC by S.E. Grove, the highly anticipated sequel to the bestselling THE GLASS SENTENCE, which follows a boy and girl in a world where history, magic and time are precariously intertwined; IRA'S SHAKESPEARE DREAM written by Glenda Armand and illustrated by Floyd Cooper, a nonfiction biography that witnesses the rise of an African American actor despite the period’s racism; and BACKYARD WITCH: Sadie’s Story written by Christine Heppermann and Ron Koertge and illustrated by Deborah Marcero, where a lonely girl befriends a witch and together they embark on a new adventure.

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

July's New in Paperback Roundup

July’s paperback roundup includes HEROES OF HURRICANE KATRINA (Ten True Tales) by bestselling author Allan Zullo, which recounts the harrowing true tales of real-life people during the natural disaster; THE GREAT DEPRESSION FOR KIDS: Hardship and Hope in 1930s America, with 21 Activities by Cheryl Mullenbach, exploring the struggles and spirit of people during the 1930s; and MISSION: Tiger Rescue by Kitson Jazynka, a National Geographic book about all things related to the striped feline.

Click here to visit our July New in Paperback feature!

New Picture Books

Our picture book roundup this month includes OUT OF THE WOODS by Rebecca Bond, a true story about animals and humans forced together by a devastating forest fire; SEEN AND NOT HEARD by Katie May Green, an imaginative book where dainty pictures of children come to life every night; and LILLIAN’S RIGHT TO VOTE written by Jonah Winter and illustrated by Shane W. Evans, which celebrates the 50th anniversary of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 with one African American woman’s tales about family and suffrage.

Click here to see July's Picture Books roundup!

Now in Stores: THE DOUBLECROSS: (And Other Skills I Learned as a Superspy) by Jackson Pearce

THE DOUBLECROSS: (And Other Skills I Learned as a Superspy) by Jackson Pearce (Adventure)

Everyone in 12-year-old Hale's family is a spy, going way back. They've all worked for the Sub Rosa Society, an elite organization that's so top secret that new agents aren't recruited; they're born. His parents may be the ultimate spy team at S.R.S., but Hale isn't your typical stealthy spy --- he is, as his mother puts it, "big-boned," and as some of his classmates put it, "fat." Still, he's convinced he will someday be a great field agent. After all, it's his legacy.

But when both his mother and father go missing on a secret mission --- likely captured by the S.R.S.'s number one enemy --- it's Hale's time to step up and (with a little help from his acrobat-cheerleader little sister) save the day.

With a hilarious and charismatic cast of characters, popular teen author Jackson Pearce embarks on her debut mission into the middle grade field with THE DOUBLECROSS.

Click here to learn more about the book.


Now in Stores: THE CURIOUS WORLD OF CALPURNIA TATE by Jacqueline Kelly

THE CURIOUS WORLD OF CALPURNIA TATE by Jacqueline Kelly (Youth Fiction)

Callie Vee, Travis, Granddaddy, and the whole Tate clan are back in this follow-up to Newbery Honor-winner THE EVOLUTION OF CALPURNIA TATE.

Travis keeps bringing home strays. And Callie has her hands full keeping the wild animals --- her brother included --- away from her mother's critical eye. Whether it's wrangling a rogue armadillo or stray dog, a guileless younger brother or standoffish cousin, the trials and tribulations of Callie Vee will have readers laughing and crying and cheering for this most endearing heroine.

Click here to learn more about the book.


Now in Stores: NIGHTBORN by Lou Anders

NIGHTBORN by Lou Anders (Fantasy)

From the author of FROSTBORN comes Book Two in the acclaimed Thrones and Bones fantasy-adventure trilogy for fans of Lloyd Alexander and Brandon Mull.

Karn Korlundsson is a gamer. Not a riddle solver. But in order to rescue his best friend, Thianna Frostborn, he will need to travel to the faraway city of Castlebriar (by wyvern), learn how to play a new board game called Charioteers (not a problem), decipher the Riddle of the Horn, and tangle with mysterious elves.

Meet Desstra. She’s in training to join the Underhand --- the elite agents of the dark elves. When she crosses paths with Karn, she is not all that she appears to be.

Everyone is chasing after the horn of Osius, an ancient artifact with the power to change the world. The lengths to which Karn will go in the name of friendship will be sorely tested. Who knew that solving a riddle could be so deadly?

The novel includes instructions for playing the board game Charioteers. Visit for additional games, maps, character profiles and more!

Click here to learn more about the book.


New Reviews

New! THE BOOK OF DARES FOR LOST FRIENDS by Jane Kelley (Youth Fiction, Magic, Friendship)

Val doesn't know what to do until a stray cat leads her to a strange boy who lives in an even stranger bookshop. Together they embark on a quest. Will they be able to save a lost friend? Will they get lost themselves? Or will they find a way to help each other become who they want to be? --- Reviewed by Sydney Scott.

New! SERAFINA AND THE BLACK CLOAK by Robert Beatty (Youth Fiction, Historical Fantasy)

When children at the Biltmore estate start disappearing, only Serafina knows who the culprit is: a terrifying man in a black cloak who stalks the corridors at night. Following her own harrowing escape, Serafina risks everything by joining forces with Braeden Vanderbilt, the young nephew of the Biltmore's owners. Braeden and Serafina must uncover the Man in the Black Cloak's true identity before all of the children vanish one by one. --- Reviewed by Corinne Fox.

New! ANOTHER KIND OF HURRICANE by Tamara Ellis Smith (Youth Fiction, Historical Fiction)

A hurricane, a tragic death, two boys, one marble. When 10-year-old Zavion loses his home in Hurricane Katrina, he and his father are forced to flee to Baton Rouge. And when Henry, a 10-year-old boy in northern Vermont, tragically loses his best friend, Wayne, he flees to ravaged New Orleans to help with hurricane relief efforts --- and to search for a marble that was in the pocket of a pair of jeans donated to the Red Cross. --- Reviewed by Kathleen Purcell.

New! RIVER RUNS DEEP by Jennifer Bradbury (Youth Fiction, Historical Fiction)

There are more than just tunnels and stalagmites in Kentucky's Mammoth Cave; there are mysteries hiding around every turn. The truths they conceal are far more stunning than anything Elias could ever have imagined, and he finds himself caught right in the middle of it all. But how can he focus on saving his own life when so many others are in danger? --- Reviewed by Christine M. Irvin.

New! STONE RIDER by David Hofmeyr (Youth Fiction, Dystopian, Science Fiction)

In the vein of THE OUTSIDERS and the early Western novels of Elmore Leonard, this inventive debut novel, a cross between the cult classic Mad Max movie series and Cormac McCarthy’s THE ROAD, blends adrenaline-fueled action with an improbable yet tender romance to offer a rich and vivid portrayal of misfits and loners forced together in their struggle for a better life. --- Reviewed by Maya B., Teen Board member

New! SECRETS OF SELKIE BAY by Shelley Moore Thomas (Culture, Fantasy)

For twelve-year-old Emily, the best thing about moving to San Francisco is that it's the home city of her literary idol: Garrison Griswold, book publisher and creator of the online sensation Book Scavenger (a game where books are hidden in cities all over the country and clues to find them are revealed through puzzles). --- Reviewed by Charles Payseur.

New! THE STORM MAKERS by Jennifer E. Smith, illus. by Brett Helquist (Adventure, Fantasy)

A stranger informs Simon that he is a Storm Maker --- part of a clandestine group of people entrusted with controlling and taming the weather --- and that he is in great danger. Soon Simon and his twin Ruby must race against the clock as they try to master Simon's powers in time to stop a rogue Storm Maker's treacherous --- and potentially deadly --- plans. --- Reviewed by Sarah Rachel Egelman.

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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