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January 2009 Newsletter for Parents January 2009
New Year, Fresh Reads
Welcome to 2009! It is already shaping up to be a great year. This week, the ALA Youth Media Awards --- which include the John Newbery Medal, the Caldecott Medal and the Coretta Scott King Awards --- were announced. I am always reminded what great books have been published in the past year, and I get excited for all the new titles in the year to come. 

Many terrific new books are on the shelves this month for your children to devour. In Jeff Kinney’s third Diary of a Wimpy Kid book, THE LAST STRAW, Greg Heffley’s dad thinks about sending his wimpy son to military school to toughen him up. Just in time for Valentine’s Day, Geronimo Stilton is back with a new adventure, where he must juggle going on a date with Petunia Pretty Paws and solving a mystery at the same time. Click here to read our review of GERONIMO’S VALENTINE. We have also updated our Goosebumps HorrorLand series feature with the two latest creepy tales from R.L. Stine. Your kids will get the chills reading WHO'S YOUR MUMMY? and MY FRIENDS CALL ME MONSTER.

A great new fantasy series is just beginning. LYONESSE: THE WELL BETWEEN THE WORLDS by Sam Llewellyn takes place hundreds of years after the reign of King Arthur. The once glorious kingdom has fallen into shadows, and it’s up to one boy to save the land. I can’t wait to read more books in this series!

Readers who enjoy real-life stories about different cultures will want to check out THREE CUPS OF TEA: One Man’s Journey to Change the World…One Child at a Time. This book originally came out for adults, but everyone loved the story so much, they made a version just for kids. There are more photos and illustrations, and there’s even an interview with the author’s 12-year-old daughter. I had the pleasure of seeing the author, Greg Mortenson, talk about this book a couple of months ago. Hearing --- and then reading --- about his passion for creating schools for these children was pretty amazing.

Yet another great book on the shelves this month is PAINT THE WIND by Pam Munoz Ryan. Now in paperback, this tale of a girl and her horse will steal your children's heart.

In honor of Black History Month, has compiled a list of titles that are sure to both enlighten and inspire you and your kids. In this roundup, readers will march hand in hand with Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., paint southern landscapes with Clementine Hunter, sing with Doo-Wop Pop and engage in stirring conversations with Larnel and Mrs. Katz.

What do your little ones do to escape the winter blues? Let us know in this month’s poll and question. In addition to curling up with a good book, you can head to the theater with your kids for a cozy story. Three great movies based on books are hitting the big screen. Read more about Inkheart, Coraline and Hotel for Dogs as well as the books that inspired them in our Books into Movies feature.

For more bookish suggestions for your entire family, check out our Cool New Books and New in Paperback roundups as well as our most recent reviews.

Happy reading!

Carol Fitzgerald for

2009 ALA Youth Media Awards
Each year the American Library Association (ALA) honors books and media for children and teens. Recognized worldwide for the high quality they represent, ALA awards --- including the Newbery, Caldecott, Sibert and Coretta Scott King Book Awards --- guide parents, educators, librarians and others in selecting the best materials for youth. Selected by committees composed of librarians and other literature and media experts, the awards encourage original and creative work in the field of children’s and young adult literature and media. 
Click here to see this year's winning titles and honor books.

Now in Stores: DIARY OF A WIMPY KID: THE LAST STRAW by Jeff Kinney
In the third installment of Jeff Kinney’s Diary of a Wimpy Kid series, Greg Heffley's dad hopes to change his son's wimpy ways. Yes, he's actually talking soccer teams and military school here. Meanwhile, Greg has plans that go hilariously wrong, including never to wash his clothes, to somehow impress Holly Hills, and to let nobody know about his Wonder Woman Underoos. Reviewed by Terry Miller Shannon.
Click here to read a review of DIARY OF A WIMPY KID: THE LAST STRAW.

Now in Stores: THREE CUPS OF TEA: The Young Reader's Edition
THREE CUPS OF TEA: One Man's Journey to Change the World...One Child at a Time - The Young Reader’s Edition, written by Greg Mortenson and David Oliver Relin, adapted by Sarah Thomson
This edition of the worldwide bestseller THREE CUPS OF TEA has been specially adapted for younger readers and updated by Greg Mortenson to bring his remarkable story of humanitarianism up to date for the present. It includes new photos and illustrations, as well as a special interview by Greg’s 12-year-old daughter, Amira, who has traveled with her father as an advocate for the Pennies for Peace program for children. Reviewed by Jana Siciliano.

Click here to read a review of THREE CUPS OF TEA.


New Special Feature: LYONESSE: THE WELL BETWEEN THE WORLDS by Sam Llewellyn

Idris lives in Lyonesse, the noble island where King Arthur once resided with Merlin and his Knights of the Round Table. Yet thousands of years after the great king walked this country, it has become a place of shadows, where men hunt and capture the monsters that dwell in the dark depths of the sea. Under the reign of a corrupt ruler, Lyonesse is slowly drowning --- and now the fate of the land and all its citizens depends on Idris. But can one boy stop the wickedness that's been growing for centuries? 

-Click here to read an excerpt from LYONESSE: THE WELL BETWEEN THE WORLDS.
-Click here to read Sam Llewellyn’s bio.
Click here to read a review of LYONESSE, BOOK 1: THE WELL BETWEEN THE WORLDS.

New Special Feature: PAINT THE WIND by Pam Munoz Ryan --- Now Available in Paperback

PAINT THE WIND by Pam Munoz Ryan 
In Grandmother's house in California, Maya's every word and action are strictly monitored, and even Maya's memories of her mother have been erased.

In the rugged Wyoming wilderness, a Tobiano Paint horse called Artemisia runs free. She embodies the spirit of the wild --- and she holds the key to Maya's memories. 

-Click here to read an excerpt from PAINT THE WIND.
-Click here to read Pam Munoz Ryan’s bio.
Click here to read a review of PAINT THE WIND.

Books into Movies: Now Featuring Inkheart, Coraline and Hotel for Dogs
With the latest book-inspired films teeming with talking animals, alternate universes, escaped fairy tale villains, havoc-wreaking children and an entire neighborhood full of strays, a trip to the local theater is bound to be a bit chaotic. But the three offerings in January and February’s Books into Movies feature promise to be the perfect antidote for the winter doldrums that are oh so common this time of year.

Inkheart is an action-packed fantasy adventure about a father and daughter who possess the ability to bring storybook characters to life --- and its unexpected and disastrous consequences. Coraline is a delightfully creepy animated film à la The Nightmare Before Christmas featuring a young girl who stumbles upon an alternate mirrored universe and risks becoming trapped “on the other side” forever. And Hotel for Dogs is an adorable family- (and pet-) friendly flick that follows two foster kids who manage to turn an abandoned building into a home for themselves, along with nine cuddly canines.

Click here for more details about these films.

Celebrating Black History Month

Each February we reflect upon the significant role that African Americans have played in the formation of our country. Through the struggles of extraordinarily courageous men and women, the “dream” for human equality has become a reality.  Although the days of slavery and legal segregation are gone, we remember the hardships and obstacles once faced by people of color in the United States and celebrate the culture born out of that experience.

Therefore, in honor of Black History Month, has compiled a list of titles that are sure to both enlighten and inspire. In this roundup, readers will march hand in hand with Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., paint southern landscapes with Clementine Hunter, sing with Doo-Wop Pop and engage in stirring conversations with Larnel and Mrs. Katz. Through these characters, we discover the meaning of togetherness, the resilience of the human spirit and the overall power of love. Most importantly, we learn never to stop dreaming.

Click here to see our roundup of books celebrating Black History Month.

Series Feature: Star Wars: The Clone Wars
Fans of Star Wars just can’t get enough of that galaxy far, far away. That’s one of the reasons why Lucasfilm developed an animated television series focusing on the events of the pivotal Clone Wars that helped shape the career, and eventual downfall, of Anakin Skywalker. During the summer of 2008, the creators of Star Wars kick-started the launch of the program with an animated feature film, Star Wars: The Clone Wars, which itself sparked a whole range of books designed to appeal to the epic’s younger set. The movie was a box office hit, and the books are likely to be just as popular.
Click here to read our Star Wars: The Clone Wars series feature.

Series Feature Update: Goosebumps HorrorLand by R.L. Stine

When Abby and her brother Peter go to visit their Uncle Jonathan, creepy things start happening immediately. A village woman warns them to stay away. Jonathan's big old house is crammed full of weird Egyptian artifacts --- including a mummy. Abby sees bats circling Jonathan's roof in broad daylight. Will Abby survive long enough to get an invitation to
HorrorLand Theme Park? Reviewed by Terry Miller Shannon.

Michael "Monster" Munroe is having a difficult time with his extremely weird teacher, Mrs. Hardesty. To get back at her, he and his friends pull a little prank on her --- and it backfires like you cannot believe, in yet another horrorfest by the master of gore. Reviewed by Terry Miller Shannon.

-Click here to play the updated Goosebumps HorrorLand trivia game.

Click here to read our Goosebumps HorrorLand series feature.

Series Feature Update: Geronimo Stilton
GERONIMO'S VALENTINE by Geronimo Stilton
Valentine's Day is one of Geronimo’s favorite holidays. This year he has a date with a very special rodent --- Petunia Pretty Paws. But then he gets a call from his private investigator friend Hercule Poirat, who desperately needs his help in solving a mystery. Now Geronimo must assist Hercule AND impress Petunia at the same time. Reviewed by Terry Miller Shannon.

-Click here to play the updated Geronimo Stilton trivia game.
-Click here to read our Geronimo Stilton series feature.

Click here to read a review of GERONIMO'S VALENTINE.

Cool New Books for January

January’s roundup of Cool New Books includes THE LAST STRAW, the highly anticipated third installment in Jeff Kinney’s Diary of a Wimpy Kid series, which takes the art of being wimpy to a whole new level; SCAT by Carl Hiaasen, a mystery involving the disappearance of a fearsome biology teacher while on a field trip to Black Vine Swamp; HEROES OF THE VALLEY, an epic fantasy thriller from Jonathan Stroud, who follows up his Bartimaeus Trilogy with a tale featuring murder, revenge and a slightly diminutive protagonist; THE EYE OF THE FOREST, the fifth book in P. B. Kerr's Children of the Lamp series featuring djinn twins John and Philippa Gaunt; and a young readers edition of the worldwide bestseller THREE CUPS OF TEA, Greg Mortenson’s remarkable story of humanitarianism.

Click here to read our roundup of Cool New Books for January.

January's New in Paperback Roundup
The fourth installments of two popular fantasy/adventure series are now available in paperback: THE CURSE OF THE GLOAMGLOZER (The Edge Chronicles by Paul Stewart and Chris Riddell) and THE BATTLE FOR SKANDIA (Ranger’s Apprentice by John Flanagan). January’s roundup of New in Paperback titles also includes FEATHERS, a novel about differences, understanding, faith and hope from award-winning author Jacqueline Woodson, who introduces her audience to two memorable characters; CLEMENTINE’S LETTER, Sara Pennypacker’s third chapter book starring third-grader Clementine, who this time hatches a plan to return her beloved teacher to the classroom; and SWORD QUEST, teen author Nancy Yi Fan’s richly layered novel full of adventure, bravery, heroism and a fascinating bird world.
Click here to read what's New in Paperback for January.

This Month's Reviews

PEACE, LOCOMOTION by Jacqueline Woodson
Lonnie Collins Motion, the kid poet from Jacqueline Woodson’s LOCOMOTION, is back, this time writing letters instead of poems. He and his younger sibling Lili live in separate foster homes, and as the older brother, Lonnie believes it's his job to remember everything and record it for his baby sister. Reviewed by Sarah Hannah Gómez.

Wendy Mass
It's Amanda's 11th birthday and she is super excited. After all, 11 is so different from 10. But from the start, everything goes wrong. Combining realism, fantasy and family history, Wendy Mass's new novel also cleverly explores the dynamics of preteen friendships and boy-girl relations --- 11 entertaining times. Reviewed by Norah Piehl

HOTEL FOR DOGS by Lois Duncan
Ten-year-old Andi Walker and her older brother, Bruce, love dogs. But as long as they are living with their Aunt Alice --- who is extremely allergic to canines --- they cannot have a pet. So when a stray shows up on Aunt Alice’s doorstep, Andi and Bruce must find a way to care for it. Reviewed by Donna Volkenannt.

Following the defeat of the Collector, numerous new hauntings were reported across England, as ghosts and humans alike enjoyed the holiday season. It seemed like the joy would never end. Then January arrives, along with the First Day Back to School, a day often filled with excitement and dread for students of Thorbleton Secondary School. But for Tom Golden, it is also the beginning of yet another daring adventure involving the Ghost World. Reviewed by Sarah Sawtelle.

THE SECOND SIEGE: Book Two of The Tapestry by Henry H. Neff
Thirteen-year-old Max McDaniels is psyched for his second year at Rowan Academy. Both he and his best friend, David, already have soared past the abilities of even the oldest students, but they still have much to learn. However, their classes are interrupted by another, far greater task --- they must decipher a coded message, find a key and get their hands on the powerful Book of Thoth before the evil demon Astaroth does. Reviewed by Chris Shanley-Dillman.

One day in the hot Arizona desert, a gopher snake was spied and then abducted by a fierce and ruthless predator. She was forced to live in a small box, and a dead mouse was thrown at her for food. The gopher snake tried to scare the predator, hissing and rattling her tail, but her captor was not impressed and kept her prisoner despite her threats and pleas. In his new book, Patrick Jennings tells the tale of that wild and proud gopher snake and the boy who tries to tame her. Reviewed by Sarah Rachel Egelman.

SUNNY HOLIDAY by Coleen Murtagh Paratore
Sunny Holiday thinks that every month should have a kid-friendly holiday. So she takes it upon herself to make new holidays for the months that need them, getting her friends and family involved. Sunny is headstrong, funny and trying to make the best out of every situation --- whether it involves holidays or family problems. Reviewed by Sarah Rachel Egelman. 

Click here to read this month's reviews.

Poll and Question: Beating the Winter Blues

What do you like to do when bad weather forces you to stay indoors? Check as many as apply.

Read a book
Watch a TV show or movie
Surf the web
IM with friends
Play video games

Play board games
Talk on the phone

Cook or bake
Take a nap
None of the above

-Click here to answer the poll.


Sometimes there's no better winter activity than curling up on the couch with a cup of hot cocoa and a good book. Name up to three of your favorite cozy winter reads.

here to answer the question.