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July 2009 Newsletter for Parents July 2009
Planes, Authors & Books

While many of you have probably been relaxing and enjoying your vacation time, my July has been filled with what I call "bookish travel" to conferences, conventions and award ceremonies where they talked about BOOKS. I've been to Washington, D.C., Chicago and San Diego. At one point, the phone at one of my hotels rang with a wakeup call, and when I answered I wanted to ask, “What city am I in?”


But I have found a lot of GREAT books that we will be sharing with you in the months to come, including a beautiful wordless and brilliantly drawn picture book called THE LION & THE MOUSE by Jerry Pinkney, which will be in stores in September. The cover has no title, just a fabulous drawing of a lion. As Pinkney and his publisher shared the thought that went into creating this book, it was really inspiring. I love hearing the story behind the book so we can share it with you!


Have you and your children taken our 2009 Reader Survey yet? If not, what are you waiting for? wants to give you and your family the chance to win free books while allowing us the opportunity to learn more about you, our readers. Take the survey now and you could win one of the 24 titles being given away. All respondents can enter our random drawing, and 1,000 readers will win! If your children are under 13, you must complete a form for them to be eligible to be entered in the contest. Click here for more details and be sure to enter before Tuesday, September 15th.


Oh, and if you have any older children or students who are teenagers, we have a teen survey at, another of the websites in The Book Report Network. Send them this link so they can answer this survey for us. This one closes on August 31st. Again, there is a contest to win books for all those who complete it!

To celebrate the August 20th release of Shani Petroff's BEDEVILED: DADDY'S LITTLE ANGEL, is giving 20 readers the opportunity to win a copy of the book. Enter today to win a copy of BEDEVILED and find out what it's like having a father who is the king of the underworld. (the newest site in The Book Report Network, where you can find the hottest graphic novels of the summer for kids and tweens) recently interviewed Rachel Renée Russell, author of DORK DIARIES, and Jarrett J. Krosoczka, the creator of the Lunch Lady series. To learn more about Rachel's "dorky" moments, check out her interview, and to find out what it takes to make an awesome super hero lunch lady, click here. Both series are great introductions to the world of graphic novels, so be sure to add them to your reading list.

You'll also want to pick up a copy of WHEN YOU REACH ME by Rebecca Stead, a touching story of Miranda, a young girl growing up in New York City. To get a sneak peak inside the book, read our excerpt of WHEN YOU REACH ME. Another incredible story is SKELLIG by David Almond, a classically written tale of love, life, death, and a little bit of magic that can be shared and enjoyed with people of all ages. You can find the first two chapters here.

For more great reading suggestions, rain or shine, browse inside MACKENZIE BLUE and join Zee as she tries to survive 7th grade. Author Tina Wells compares herself to the 12-year-old main character and tells us about some of her favorite childhood books in our interview. The Sherlock Holmes and the Baker Street Irregulars series chronicles the adventures of a group of street children who aid the world-famous Victorian detective in solving some very tricky mysteries and crimes. Check out the reviews of the first two cases: THE FALL OF THE AMAZING ZALINDAS and THE MYSTERY OF THE CONJURED MAN and read excerpts from CASEBOOK No. 1 and CASEBOOK No. 2. Get some behind-the-scenes info from Tracy Mack and Michael Citrin, the husband-and-wife team who brought the series and characters to life.

Also, Al Roker's latest Book Club pick is SAVVY by Ingrid Law, a magical tale of a family whose members receive special powers on their 13th birthday. Read our review of this Newbery Honor book here. I loved this one and wondered what MY special power would have been!

Be sure to take a look at our Cool New Books and New in Paperback roundups and our latest reviews --- which include graphic novel and manga titles --- for more great summer reading ideas.

Happy reading!

Carol Fitzgerald for's 2009 Reader Survey --- Give Us Your Input and Win a Free Book is conducting a survey of our readers. Our goal is to identify trends and topics that are of interest to today's readers aged 6-12 years old. We will share this information with publishers, authors, booksellers, librarians and the staff, so that we are better able to enhance your reading experience. Since we have never done a survey of the audience, we are eager to hear from you.

We estimate it will take about 10 minutes to complete the survey. All of the respondents can enter a random drawing to receive one of these 24 titles, which are being graciously provided by our publisher colleagues. The titles that have been selected are a mix of finished books and advance reading copies. Your name will not be used for any other mailing. Please note that if you are under 13, you must have your parents complete a form for you to be eligible to be entered in the contest. At the end of the survey you will be told where to access this form. 1,000 books will be given away.

If you know other readers who may be interested in responding to this survey, may we ask you to forward this link to them? The more voices that are heard for this, the better!

The survey will close on September 15, 2009 at 11:59 PM. Please click here to answer the survey NOW.

One quick note: Given customs and mailing restrictions, the prize offerings are only available to residents of the United States and Canada. To our international readers, we welcome your participation and regret we cannot send prizes overseas.

Click here to take part in the 2009 Reader Survey.

Win a Copy of BEDEVILED: DADDY'S LITTLE ANGEL by Shani Petroff

There's nothing like a little father-daughter bonding time, right? Well...that is unless your dad is the Devil.

To celebrate the August 20th release of Shani Petroff's BEDEVILED: DADDY'S
LITTLE ANGEL, is giving 20 readers the opportunity to win a copy of the book. All Angel’s father (a.k.a. the Devil) wants is to be a part of his daughter's life. But even though he can give Angel anything she desires, what if what she wants most is a normal dad? Enter the giveaway now for your chance to receive a copy of BEDEVILED and find out what happens!

“Mom always said my dad is the devil. I never knew she meant it literally!”

All Angel’s father (a.k.a. the Devil) wants is to be a part of her life. And in return he has the power to give her anything she wants --- including popularity and a date with her long-time crush, Cole Daniels. But Angel will only accept him on her terms: get out of the devil business and leave his special powers out of the equation. Is Angel condemning herself to an eternity of lunch at the losers’ table? Or can she and Daddy Dearest strike some kind of deal?

Click here for all the contest details. Talks to Rachel Renée Russell, Author of DORK DIARIES

John Hogan, the Editorial Director for (the newest site in The Book Report Network), recently spoke with Rachel Renée Russell, author and illustrator of DORK DIARIES: Tales from a Not-So-Fabulous-Life. While primarily a prose novel, this first installment in the series is accompanied by comic art throughout. In this interview, Russell discusses the "dorky" qualities of the book's main character, Nikki Maxwell, and the real-life inspirations behind some of the things she experiences. She also shares a few memories of her own awkward middle-school years and names the authors and illustrators who have influenced her work.

DORK DIARIES: Tales from a Not-So-Fabulous Life by Rachel Renée Russell
Eighth-grader Nikki Maxwell has just moved to a new school, one in which she doesn’t fit and where she definitely feels unwelcome. But that’s nothing compared to what she really wants: an iPhone. As this “dork” makes her way through the travails of school life, writer and artist Rachel Renée Russell introduces us to a lovable character along the lines of Jeff Kinney’s Diary of a Wimpy Kid and Bryan Lee O’Malley’s Scott Pilgrim. Reviewed by John Hogan.

-Click here to read a review of DORK DIARIES.

Click here to read an interview with Rachel Renée Russell. Talks to Jarrett J. Krosoczka, Creator of the Lunch Lady Series

Jarrett J. Krosoczka is the author and illustrator of such books as GOOD NIGHT, MONKEY BOY, MAX FOR PRESIDENT, and the newly released Lunch Lady graphic novel series --- which so far consists of LUNCH LADY AND THE CYBORG SUBSTITUTE and LUNCH LADY AND THE LEAGUE OF LIBRARIANS. Bridget Alverson, a contributor to (the newest site in The Book Report Network), spoke with Krosoczka, who talks about what inspired him to create this rather unusual character and explains what sets her apart from your average superhero. He also discusses how he decided to tell her story in comic form instead of through picture books or even a television series, elaborates on the books' color scheme, and shares when we can expect to see the next two Lunch Lady adventures.

Hector, Terrence and Dee have always wondered about their school lunch lady. What does she do when she isn’t dishing out the daily special? Where does she live? Does she have a lot of cats at home? Little do they know, Lunch Lady doesn’t just serve sloppy joes --- she serves justice! Whatever danger lies ahead, it’s no match for LUNCH LADY!

Lunch Lady can sniff out something rotten like no one else --- and there’s definitely something rotten going on in the library. The usually friendly librarians have become cold and secretive. Even Dee can’t seem to crack a smile out of them. What darkness may lurk in the hearts of librarians? Lunch Lady is on the case! And Hector, Terrence and Dee are along for a wild ride!

Click here to read an interview with Jarrett J. Krosoczka.

Now in Stores: WHEN YOU REACH ME by Rebecca Stead

WHEN YOU REACH ME by Rebecca Stead
By sixth grade, Miranda and her best friend, Sal, know how to navigate their New York City neighborhood. But things start to unravel. Sal gets punched by a new kid for what seems like no reason, and he shuts Miranda out of his life. The apartment key that Miranda’s mom keeps hidden for emergencies is stolen. And then Miranda begins receiving mysterious notes --- notes that will change her life forever. Reviewed by Norah Piehl.

-Click here to read an excerpt from WHEN YOU REACH ME.

Click here to read a review of WHEN YOU REACH ME.

Now in Stores: SKELLIG: 10th-Anniversary Edition, by David Almond

SKELLIG: 10th-Anniversary Edition by David Almond
Ten-year-old Michael was looking forward to moving into a new house. But now his baby sister is ill, his parents are frantic, and Doctor Death has come to call. Michael feels helpless. Then he steps into the crumbling garage…. What is this thing beneath the spiders' webs and dead flies? A human being, or a strange kind of beast never before seen? The only person Michael can confide in is his new friend, Mina. Together, they carry the creature out into the light, and Michael's world changes forever. Reviewed by Sarah Rachel Egelman.

-Click here to read an excerpt from SKELLIG: 10th-Anniversary Edition.

Click here to read a review of SKELLIG: 10th-Anniversary Edition.


Special Feature: MACKENZIE BLUE by Tina Wells

In this interview with's Sarah Rachel Egelman, Tina Wells compares herself to Zee, the 12-year-old main character of her new novel MACKENZIE BLUE, and explains why she chose to write this story for middle-grade readers. She also mentions some of her favorite books from childhood, stresses the importance of writing as a form of self-expression, and shares what we can look forward to in future installments of the series.

Meet Mackenzie Blue, aka Zee.

She has it all --- smarts, talent, humor and style. Is it enough to survive middle school?

Countdown to a 7th Grade Meltdown:

1. Your BFF moves away.
2. Someone steals your diary and reveals your deepest secrets --- to the ENTIRE class.
3. You have one chance to become a rock star and one chance to totally blow it.

Guess what!? All three happened to me! School's a disaster already. Don't get me wrong --- I love Brookdale Academy and I have a fabulous crew of friends. (At least, I think I do.) But, if I'm going to survive, I need all the help I can get!

Now that her secrets are out, Mackenzie’s world is turned upside down. Who can she trust?

-Click here to read more about MACKENZIE BLUE.
-Click here to browse inside MACKENZIE BLUE.
-Click here to read our interview with Tina Wells.
-Click here to read Tina Wells’s bio.


Click here to read a review of MACKENZIE BLUE.

Special Feature: SHERLOCK HOLMES AND THE BAKER STREET IRREGULARS by Tracy Mack and Michael Citrin
Tracy Mack and Michael Citrin are the co-authors of Sherlock Holmes and the Baker Street Irregulars, which chronicles the adventures of a group of street children who aid the world-famous Victorian detective in solving some very tricky cases. In this interview with's Donna Volkenannt, the husband-and-wife team talk about why they chose to devote their series to these figures who played miniscule roles in the original Arthur Conan Doyle stories and recall the true inspiration behind the characters' charming, ragamuffin personalities. They also explain how they divide their collaborative duties, discuss their hands-on research while visiting London, and share details about the third installment of the series.

Few know that Sherlock Holmes was assisted by a band of devoted boys, street urchins who loved to solve mysteries, called the Baker Street Irregulars. When a murder at the circus unravels to reveal another far more treacherous crime, Holmes calls on the gang for help. Can the Baker Street Irregulars solve the mystery before it’s too late?

by Tracy Mack and Michael Citrin
Casebook No. 2 in this exciting series gives Sherlock Holmes and the Baker Street Irregulars a most unusual case to crack. A young woman named Elsa Hoffman seeks out the detective when her aunt dies mysteriously. As Ozzie, Wiggins and the gang start investigating, seemingly real ghosts suddenly appear and Elsa is followed by shady characters. Holmes must decide if he and his assistants can solve the case without facing mortal danger. Join the Irregulars for a mysterious and fright-filled adventure and decide if this is a case of the supernatural --- or dark con men, thieves and murderers!

-Click here to read our interview with Tracy Mack and Michael Citrin
-Click here to read bios of Tracy Mack and Michael Citrin.

Explore the World of Flat Stanley!
Flat Stanley is back with new adventures and a new online home!

Visit to find the latest books in the Flat Stanley’s Worldwide Adventures series, as well as new editions of classic Flat Stanley books. And for more Flat Stanley fun, check out all-new online games, quizzes, character guides, printables, and more!


Click here to visit the official Flat Stanley website,


Series Feature Update: Geronimo Stilton

When Geronimo's nephew Benjamin invites him to speak at his school during Career Day, Geronimo has a big goal: to make Benjamin proud. However, things don't go quite the way Geronimo pictured. 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 A FABUMOUSE SCHOOL ADVENTURE.

Cool New Books for July

July’s roundup of Cool New Books includes WHEN YOU REACH ME by Rebecca Stead, a thought-provoking and compelling novel in which four mysterious letters change a sixth-grader’s world forever; MERCY WATSON: SOMETHING WONKY THIS WAY COMES, the latest installment in Kate DiCamillo’s series starring the porcine wonder, who is off to the drive-in --- and driven to follow that buttery smell; Megan McDonald’s THE MAD, MAD, MAD, MAD TREASURE HUNT, a swashbuckling adventure of puzzles and pirates featuring Judy Moody and Stink, who are racing in search of gold; STRAWBERRY HILL, a heartfelt coming-of-age novel from National Book Award winner Mary Ann Hoberman; and MARLEY GOES TO SCHOOL by John Grogan, a follow-up to BAD DOG, MARLEY! and A VERY MARLEY CHRISTMAS that finds the lovable and rowdy dog roaming the halls, looking for Cassie on her first day of school.

Click here to read our Cool New Books feature for July.

July's New in Paperback Roundup

Internal and external struggle, and, eventually, peaceful resolution, are the key ingredients in the heady potion that is HARRY POTTER AND THE DEATHLY HALLOWS. The final installment in J. K. Rowling’s classic series is now available in paperback.

July’s roundup of New in Paperback titles also includes ECLIPSE, the fourth installment in Erin Hunter’s Warriors: Power of Three series, in which Firestar’s three grandchildren begin to discover what their prophesied power might mean for the future of the Clans; HAUNTED HIKE by Patrick Carman, the second Elliot’s Park chapter book that finds Elliot and his friends trying to figure out who is haunting the park on Halloween after they think they see a ghost in Camp Canyon; and SPELLBOUND, Anna Dale’s novel about an innocent summer holiday that turns out to be anything but for Athene and her younger brother, Zach, when they find themselves caught up in a skirmish between two groups of gnome-like creatures.


Click here to see what's New in Paperback for July.

This Month's Reviews Reviews:

When Troy White proved his remarkable "football genius" to the Atlanta Falcons, they brought him on board as a team consultant. Now, thanks to Troy's ability to predict winning plays, the Falcons are pulling in victories. Troy is thrilled to have NFL star linebacker Seth Halloway (who's dating Troy's mom) to coach his own Duluth Tigers team on their way to a state championship. But then Troy's perfect world comes crashing down. Reviewed by Joy Held.

MERCY WATSON: SOMETHING WONKY THIS WAY COMES written by Kate DiCamillo and illustrated by Chris Van Dusen
In Kate DiCamillo’s latest Mercy Watson adventure, the Watson family and assorted guests attend the drive-in to watch a movie with the intriguing title When Pigs Fly. Here, our favorite "porcine wonder" is a little too enthralled by the buttery scent in the air, which tempts her into calamity and excitement galore. Reviewed by Terry Miller Shannon.

FAITH, HOPE, AND IVY JUNE by Phyllis Reynolds Naylor
Beloved author Phyllis Reynolds Naylor turns her perceptive, compassionate eye to the heart of Kentucky coal country in FAITH, HOPE, AND IVY JUNE, a thoughtful novel about how a simple student exchange program results in profound new insights about oneself and others. Reviewed by Norah Piehl.

EXTRA CREDIT written by Andrew Clements and illustrated by Mark Elliott
Abby Carson has far more important things to do than homework. At least she thinks she does, until the school threatens to hold her back to repeat the sixth grade. Determined to pass, Abby agrees to work hard the rest of the year, including taking on an extra credit project --- writing to a pen pal in Afghanistan. Reviewed by Chris Shanley-Dillman.

THE DRAGON DIARY: The Dragonology Chronicles, Volume Two written by Dugald A. Steer and illustrated by Douglas Carrel
Apprentice dragonologists Daniel and Beatrice Cook eagerly await the hatching of the dragon’s egg in their care. But just as the shell begins to crack, their mentor, Dr. Ernest Drake, is called off to India to look for their missing parents and tend to the gravely ill naga dragons they’ve left behind. Meanwhile, the siblings receive a tip that the secret to curing dragons may lie in an age-old Dragon Diary --- if only they could decipher it. Reviewed by Sally M. Tibbetts.

SLUGGERS #4: WATER, WATER EVERYWHERE by Loren Long and Phil Bildner
Ruby, Graham and Griffith Payne accompany the Travelin’ Nine as they barnstorm across the Midwest. In Game 4, the Travelin’ Nine arrive in Minnesota, where they are tricked into playing a winner-take-all game against a professional team --- the Minneapolis Millers. Reviewed by Donna Volkenannt.

THE IMMORTAL FIRE: The Cronus Chronicles, Book Three by Anne Ursu
In the final book of the Cronus Chronicles trilogy, cousins Charlotte and Zee face their biggest test yet. After strolling through the underworld to stop a shadow army and living it up on Poseidon’s yacht afloat with deadly sea creatures, confronting Zeus at Mount Olympus should be easy, right? Right? Reviewed by Benjamin Boche.

In this gripping and poignant page-turner from Jen Bryant, Lyza tells her story in a series of poems set in 1968 during the Vietnam War. When her grandfather dies, he bequeathes Lyza a mysterious envelope, which leads her to a quest for pirates’ treasure. Reviewed by Terry Miller Shannon.

Ever since her brother died, 10-year-old Annie Richards spends every moment being extra careful to keep safe in this dangerous world. She even gives up her favorite activities, like racing bikes and obstacle courses. But then she meets a new neighbor who helps her to see that by worrying so much, she may be missing out on life. Reviewed by Chris Shanley-Dillman.

BORN TO FLY by Michael Ferrari
Eleven-year-old Bird McGill loves airplanes and flying with her father. But when the United States enters World War II, Bird’s father leaves to join the military and a Japanese-American joins Bird’s school. Everyone turns against the new student just because of his ancestry, but when Bird gets to know him, they quickly become best friends. Soon after, they discover a real enemy in town, one who threatens the very safety of the entire country. Reviewed by Chris Shanley-Dillman.

THE BROOKLYN NINE: A Novel in Nine Innings by Alan Gratz
What happens when you combine America’s favorite pastime with a journey through history? You get a compelling look at how baseball can unite a family. Nine generations of one family and their love of baseball are told in nine innings that any sports fan will appreciate. Reviewed by Benjamin Boche.

-Click here to read our reviews.

Graphic Novel Review:

JOEY FLY, PRIVATE EYE IN CREEPY CRAWLY CRIME written by Aaron Reynolds and illustrated by Neil Numberman
A six-legged detective and his scorpion sidekick set out to find a stolen pencil box in this clever spoof of private-eye movies. While some of the references may go over kids' heads, the humor in this book is broad enough to appeal to all readers. Reviewed by Brigid Alverson.

Manga Reviews:

DINOSAUR HOUR!, Volume 1 written and illustrated by Hitoshi Shioya
Who would have thought that Jurassic Park could be such a fun-filled playland? If dinosaurs really were as wacky as the ones featured in Dinosaur Hour!, it's no wonder they went extinct! Reviewed by Casey Brienza.

LEAVE IT TO PET!, Volume 1 written and illustrated by Kenji Sonishi
Nine-year-old Noboru does the responsible thing and recycles a plastic bottle. But little does he know that the bottle is about to come back to life as PET, a robot with a mission: to pay Noboru back for recycling him! The only problem is that PET's sense of "helping" isn't quite in touch with reality. Reviewed by Casey Brienza.

SWANS IN SPACE, Volume 1 written and illustrated by Lun Lun Yamamoto
Corona is just your average overachieving sixth-grader until the day she is recruited to join Space Patrol. Now she flies around in a swan-shaped boat, scooping up spilled Martian papayas and straightening out slacker aliens in this colorful, supercute kids' manga. Reviewed by Brigid Alverson.

-Click here to read our graphic novel and manga reviews.


Poll and Question: Summer Reading Habits


Do you read more during the summer?


Not sure

-Click here to participate in the poll.


What has been your favorite book this summer? (You can name up to three since we know it may be tough to pick just one.)

-Click here to answer the question.


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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