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January 2010 Newsletter for Parents January 2010
New Year, New Reads

As I mentioned in our special 2010 ALA Youth Media Awards Newsletter last week, I had the pleasure of being in Boston last Monday when the American Library Association (ALA) announced their winners of some of the biggest book awards of the year. I was so happy to be a part of all the excitement of the day! If you haven't gotten a chance to see the winners and honorees, please take a minute to look over these noteworthy titles. Taking time to recognize the literary contributions of authors is important in the fast-paced technological world of today.’s Books into Movies feature is spotlighting a buzzworthy new film based on the first installment of one of our favorite fantasy adventure series, Percy Jackson & the Olympians by Rick Riordan. Hitting theaters on February 12th, Percy Jackson and the Olympians: The Lightning Thief --- directed by Chris Columbus, who brought us the first two Harry Potter movies --- follows a seemingly ordinary high school student who discovers he’s the son of a Greek god and finds himself caught up in a war being fought among the other residents of Mount Olympus. When we were at the movies watching Avatar, we saw a preview for this and my younger son elbowed me in the ribs and pointed, which when you are 15 means that I will be driving him --- and probably his friends --- to see it on the 12th! I have heard Rick talk about the background of the books, and thus I am looking forward to seeing it. He's done something very special with these books making mythology easy to understand.

The seventh book in the Ranger's Apprentice series, ERAK'S RANSOM by John Flanagan, is now on sale. Read our review, and check it out with your child at a store near you. There's also a new sequel to the classic children's tale A LITTLE PRINCESS now available in stores. WISHING FOR TOMORROW by Hilary McKay is the story of what happened to the girls left behind at Miss Minchin’s Seminary for Girls after Sara’s departure. Click here to read our review and share the excerpt with your child.

To kick off the new year, we have two great book giveaways for you. First, 15 lucky readers will win a copy of NOTHING BUT THE TRUTH by Avi. In this Newbery Honor book, a classroom incident becomes a nationwide news story. Read our review and an excerpt, and check out all the contest details here.
Our second giveaway is in support of Erin Dionne's THE TOTAL TRAGEDY OF A GIRL NAMED HAMLET. With a name like Hamlet, life is doomed to be anything but average. Read an excerpt, and click here for your chance to win a copy of this hilarious book for your son or daughter. Okay, if any of you named your child Hamlet, I want to know!

This month, we're featuring a great new adventure title called A WHOLE NOTHER STORY by Dr. Cuthbert Soup, which follows the Cheeseman family as they outsmart some of the world's most evil villains in hopes of protecting one of Mr. and Mrs. Cheeseman's precious inventions. To find out more, read our review and an excerpt, and get to know Dr. Cuthbert Soup himself in our interview.

We're also featuring a great new graphic novel for kids, MISSILE MOUSE: THE STAR CRUSHER by Jake Parker. A storyline that follows a butt-kicking, secret agent mouse in space is brought to life
on vividly colored pages. We’re betting your son or daughter will be thrilled to grab a sneak peek we have available, and for more on the book, read our review. I read this one a few weeks ago and loved the way the art pops so wonderfully.

Has your child read any of the books in the Dear Dumb Diary series? We're spotlighting the newest addition to the series by Jim Benton, THAT'S WHAT FRIENDS AREN'T FOR. He or she can catch up with Jamie's latest diary entries by reading our review and an excerpt.

Kathryn Lasky tells us a story of survival, courage and love in her book, WOLVES OF THE BEYOND #1: LONE WOLF. Read an excerpt, as well as our interview with Kathryn, in which she discuses her plans for the Wolves of the Beyond series.

Also, Black History Month kicks off February 1st, and we have a great roundup of books to celebrate. So make sure you take a look. Perhaps you may want to share this list with your child's teacher.

Check out our Cool New Books and New in Paperback roundups and our latest reviews --- which include graphic novel and manhwa titles. And don't forget to vote in our poll about your child's school library.

And since we know how tough it is to be a parent, we wanted to alert you to some non-parental content on Thus the countdown to Valentine's Day is on! Enter to win one of our five Valentine's Day Baskets on for the perfect gift for your bookish valentine (or yourself!). From January 22nd through February 5th, you can enter to win a basket filled with one copy of each of the featured books, as well as some irresistible Valentine's Day-themed goodies: a plush pink blanket, Godiva chocolates, a cherry-flavored handmade lollipop, gourmet Valentine cookies, a mesh shower sponge and a heart-adorned basket. Click here for more details.

Have you signed up for the or newsletters? Both have GREAT ideas for reading for YOU! You know those moments when the kids are finally asleep?

And one last thing. On our teen site,, teens can vote for the titles that they would like to see as finalists for the Teen Choice Book of the Year. If you have a teen in your house, please send them to this link to vote. Voting for the nominees closes Monday, February 1st, so the time to get on this is NOW. No teen procrastinating! And you ALL know what that is if you have a teen.

Happy reading!

Carol Fitzgerald for


The 2010 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: RANGER'S APPRENTICE, Book 7: ERAK'S RANSOM by John Flanagan

A few months shy of his graduation from the Ranger Corps, Will is unsure of what the future holds. Feelings are put on hold, however, as the capture of the Skandian Oberjarl, Erak, prompt Will and Halt to launch a rescue mission into the harsh desert region of Arrida. Reviewed by Benjamin Boche.

Click here to read a review of ERAK’S RANSOM.

Now in Stores: WISHING FOR TOMORROW by Hilary McKay

WISHING FOR TOMORROW: The Sequel to A Little Princess by Hilary McKay
A LITTLE PRINCESS, which features the riches-to-rags-to-riches adventures of Sara Crewe, has been a children’s classic for 100 years. Picking up where Frances Hodgson Burnett left off, WISHING FOR TOMORROW is the story of what happened to the girls left behind at Miss Minchin’s Seminary for Girls after Sara’s departure. Reviewed by Sarah A. Wood.

-Click here to read an excerpt from WISHING FOR TOMORROW.

Click here to read a review of WISHING FOR TOMORROW.


Series Feature Update: Redwall by Brian Jacques

REDWALL by Brian Jacques
For those not in the know, Redwall is a magic place populated by animals. The book series name comes from Redwall Abbey, the community most of the characters live in. Author Brian Jacques brings to life these animals in astounding detail, making each one a true character. But don't think these books are too sweet. They are actually thrilling action-adventure stories.

Jacques pits the peaceful mice, squirrels and moles who live in the Mossflower Wood and Redwall Abbey against evil animal villains --- weasels, foxes, stoats and the like --- who want to take over the Abbey and enslave its inhabitants. Good guys like Martin the Warrior (a sword-wielding mouse) triumph against baddies like Cluny the Scourge, a wicked one-eyed rat. Once you start reading, you'll be addicted to the world of Redwall!

In anticipation of the February 23rd release of THE SABLE QUEAN, we offer you a sneak peek at this newest Redwall adventure and spotlight the previous three installments of the series, including the new paperback edition of DOOMWYTE.

-HIGH RHULAIN: Read a review, excerpt and about the book.
-EULALIA!: Read a review, excerpt and about the book.
-DOOMWYTE: Read a review and about the book.
-THE SABLE QUEAN: Read an excerpt
and about the book.


Click here to read our Redwall series feature.

New Special Feature and Giveaway: NOTHING BUT THE TRUTH by Avi

A ninth-grader's suspension for singing "The Star-Spangled Banner" during homeroom becomes a national news story in this 1992 Newbery Honor Book that addresses themes of freedom, patriotism and respect.

For your chance to learn more about the hum that was heard around the world, is giving away 15 copies of NOTHING BUT THE TRUTH by Avi, which is now available in a new paperback edition.

Ninth-grader Philip Malloy has one thing on his mind: running. When a failing English grade keeps him from joining the track team, he believes his teacher, Mrs. Narwin, has it in for him. One morning during announcements, he disregards the school’s policy of observing the “The Star-Spangled Banner” in respectful silence and hums along, hoping to get transferred out of her class. Little does he know that his minor infraction will make him the subject of national media attention. What truly happened that morning in Mrs. Narwin's class? Examine the events and reach your own conclusion. But --- can you swear to tell the truth and nothing but the truth?

-Click here to read a review of NOTHING BUT THE TRUTH.
-Click here to read an excerpt from NOTHING BUT THE TRUTH.
-Click here to read Avi’s bio.


Click here for all the contest details.

Win a Copy of THE TOTAL TRAGEDY OF A GIRL NAMED HAMLET by Erin Dionne is giving away 15 copies of THE TOTAL TRAGEDY OF A GIRL NAMED HAMLET, Erin Dionne’s second novel. This humorous, Shakespearean-inspired tale follows Hamlet, an eighth grader who yearns for a simple, normal life. But with a name like Hamlet, life is doomed to be anything but average.

Hamlet Kennedy just wants to be your average, happy, vanilla eighth grader. But with Shakespearean scholar parents who dress in Elizabethan regalia and generally go about in public as if it were the 16th century, that’s not terribly easy. It gets worse when they decide that Hamlet’s genius seven-year-old sister will attend middle school with her --- and even worse when the Shakespeare project is announced and her sister is named the new math tutor. By the time an in-class recitation reveals that our heroine is an extraordinary Shakespearean actress, Hamlet can no longer hide from the fact that she --- like her family --- is anything but average.

In a novel every bit as funny as her debut, Erin Dionne has created another eighth grader whose situation is utterly unique --- but whose foibles and farces will resound with every girl currently suffering through middle school.

-Click here to read an excerpt from THE TOTAL TRAGEDY OF A GIRL NAMED HAMLET.
-Visit Erin Dionne’s official website,

Click here for all the contest details.

New Special Feature: A WHOLE NOTHER STORY by Dr. Cuthbert Soup

In this interview with's Melanie Smith, Dr. Cuthbert Soup --- author and narrator of A WHOLE NOTHER STORY --- recounts the series of events that inspired him to chronicle the madcap adventures of Ethan Cheeseman and his children, and discusses the similarities between his own family and the characters in his debut. He also shares his thoughts on nurturing creativity in young minds, names a few of his favorite humor writers, and muses on the possibility of carrying on the Cheesemans' story in several sequels.

A WHOLE NOTHER STORY by Dr. Cuthbert Soup
In a story that’s like no other, you will meet: three attractive, polite, relatively odor-free children, a psychic hairless dog, top secret government agents, international superspies (one of whom happens to be a chimpanzee), corporate villains, a cowboy poet, various members of a traveling circus, and, of course, a sock puppet named Steve.

The Cheesemans are a family on the run. Mr. Cheeseman and his late wife invented a device so powerful and totally unique that all sorts of evildoers want to get their greedy hands on it. Mr. Cheeseman and his three children must keep their identities secret and stay one step ahead of the villains as they run from town to town, escape dangerous situations, and even change their names. Luckily, though they may not have the names they were born with, they do have their smarts --- and quite a bit of good luck. The Cheesemans are about to encounter a bunch of unusual but helpful characters, some of whom are far more than they appear to be.

-Click here to read an excerpt from A WHOLE NOTHER STORY.
-Click here to read our interview with Dr. Cuthbert Soup.
-Click here to read Dr. Cuthbert Soup’s bio.
-Visit the book’s official website,

Click here to read a review of A WHOLE NOTHER STORY.


New Special Feature: DEAR DUMB DIARY #9: THAT'S WHAT FRIENDS AREN'T FOR by Jim Benton

Making new friends is hard. How can you tell which ones will always be there for you, doing what you tell them, and giving you junk?

Jamie Kelly and BFF Isabella have finally decided that Angeline might not be totally terrible. She might even be OK to hang out with now and then. But in a group of three, someone is always the odd girl out….

-Click here to read an excerpt from THAT’S WHAT FRIENDS AREN’T FOR.
-Click here to read
Jim Benton’s bio.

Click here to read a review of THAT'S WHAT FRIENDS AREN'T FOR.

New Special Feature: MISSILE MOUSE: THE STAR CRUSHER written and illustrated by Jake Parker

MISSILE MOUSE: THE STAR CRUSHER written and illustrated by Jake Parker
Missile Mouse, a secret agent for the Galactic Security Agency, is a risk taker and a rule breaker, which is why he’s in hot water at GSA headquarters. Then RIP, the Rogue Imperium of Planets, kidnaps a scientist who knows about the Star Crusher, a doomsday machine capable of destroying the entire universe.

Time to let loose the mouse!

Missile Mouse battles giant space slugs, corrupt agents, killer bugs, and a pair of shark-headed thugs to save the day (and the scientist!).

-Click here to look inside MISSILE MOUSE: THE STAR CRUSHER.
-Click here to read Jake Parker’s bio.


Click here to read a review of MISSILE MOUSE: THE STAR CRUSHER.

Special Feature: WOLVES OF THE BEYOND #1: LONE WOLF by Kathryn Lasky

Kathryn Lasky is the author of over 100 books for children, teens and adults, most notably the 15-part Guardians of Ga'Hoole series, as well as installments of Dear America and The Royal Diaries. In this interview with's Donna Volkenannt, Lasky discusses her latest novel, LONE WOLF --- the first chapter of a new series called Wolves of the Beyond --- and the surprising amount of research and attention to detail needed in order to write this fantasy story. She also gives some insight into her writing process, explains why she would prefer that her work provide a sense of validation for her readers rather than send them messages, and shares details about an upcoming film based on the Ga'Hoole series.

A wolf mother has given birth, but the warm bundle snuffling next to her brings only anguish. The pup, otherwise healthy, has a twisted leg, and the mother knows what the harsh code of the pack demands. Her pup will be taken from her and abandoned on a desolate hill. The pack cannot have weakness --- the wolf mother knows that her pup is condemned to die.

But alone in the wilderness, the pup, Faolan, does not perish. This is his story --- a story of survival, of courage, and of love triumphant. This is Faolan's story, the wolf pup who rose up to change forever the Wolves of the Beyond.

-Click here to read an excerpt from LONE WOLF.
-Click here to read our interview with Kathryn Lasky.
-Click here to read Kathryn Lasky’s bio.


Click here to read a review of LONE WOLF.

Celebrating Black History Month
Every February, our nation comes together to recognize the contributions of and the hardships endured by the black community. Throughout the decades, African Americans have been able to rise above the many obstacles presented before them, and through it all, they have given the world such gifts as the wisdom of Martin Luther King, Jr., the courage of Rosa Parks and the leadership of Barack Obama. We encourage you to celebrate Black History Month with these inspirational stories from near and far, past and present, fiction and nonfiction. But no matter the time or place, each story will leave you pondering a deep message about overcoming adversity, pride in one’s self, and doing what you know is right.
Click here to see our roundup of books celebrating Black History Month.

Cool New Books for January

January’s roundup of Cool New Books includes WISHING FOR TOMORROW, Hilary McKay’s magical, long-awaited sequel to the beloved classic A LITTLE PRINCESS; ERAK’S RANSOM, the seventh installment in John Flanagan’s Ranger’s Apprentice fantasy/adventure series; A MILLION SHADES OF GRAY, Newbery Medal winner Cynthia Kadohata’s novel about a boy and his elephant who escape into the jungle when the Viet Cong attack his village immediately after the Vietnam War; COSMIC by Frank Cottrell Boyce, a funny and touching story of the many ways in which grown-upness is truly wasted on grown-ups; and CALAMITY JACK, a follow-up to Shannon and Dean Hale’s RAPUNZEL’S REVENGE, in which Jack (with the help of Rapunzel and her trusty braids) attempts to free his beloved city of Shyport from a crew of enormous Ant-People who have been terrorizing the townspeople.

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

January's New in Paperback Roundup
January’s roundup of New in Paperback titles includes CHAINS, Laurie Halse Anderson's compelling examination of the very different implications of freedom and loyalty for slaves during the American Revolution; DOOMWYTE by Brian Jacques, a thrilling tale from Redwall featuring a hunt for long-lost treasure; SEEKERS #2: GREAT BEAR LAKE, the second installment in Erin Hunter’s bestselling bear fantasy series; THE UNDERNEATH by Kathi Appelt, the 2008 National Book Award finalist about the unlikely friendship between an abandoned calico cat and a chained-up, abused hound dog; and SASSY: LITTLE SISTER IS NOT MY NAME!, Sharon M. Draper’s middle-grade girl book debut that features an unforgettable heroine, a loving family, a diverse cast of teachers, friends and neighbors --- and a little magic.
Click here to see what’s New in Paperback for January.

This Month's Reviews Reviews:

Steven "Steel" Trapp has been placed in an East Coast boarding school for gifted kids by his FBI agent father. He soon discovers that there's a clubby element of the faculty and upper classmen that is very secretive and protective. To his surprise, his friend Kaleigh arrives to board at the school, and it isn't long before the two realize that this is not your normal boarding school. Reviewed by Chris Shanley-Dillman.

A MILLION SHADES OF GRAY by Cynthia Kadohata
Cynthia Kadohata, author of the Newbery Medal-winning novel KIRA-KIRA, returns with a well-researched, emotionally harrowing exploration of what happened in Vietnam after the American troops pulled out. Reviewed by Norah Piehl.

THE GECKO & STICKY: SINISTER SUBSTITUTE written by Wendelin Van Draanen and illustrated by Stephen Gilpin
Seventh-grader Dave Sanchez is thrilled when his strict science teacher, Ms. Veronica Krockle, is uncharacteristically absent on frog-dissecting day. She has been replaced by nattily dressed substitute teacher Dr. Schwarz, who is funny and cool. But after he shows an unusual interest in finding out which students own geckos, Dave gets suspicious. Reviewed by Donna Volkenannt.

RICH: A Dyamonde Daniel Book written by Nikki Grimes and illustrated by R. Gregory Christie
Dyamonde Daniel is excited about the local library’s poetry contest, and so is her friend Free. The prize is $100 --- just think what they could buy with that much money! But when they find out that Damaris, one of their classmates, has been living in a homeless shelter, their ideas about what it means to be rich or poor start to change. Reviewed by Christine M. Irvin.

GREEN by Laura Peyton Roberts
Laura Peyton Roberts’s latest novel is a sweet and original exploration of growing up and being true to yourself. There is plenty of adventure and wisdom in these pages, as 13-year-old Lily goes to the land of the leprechauns and tries to understand the birthright she has inherited and the position she is being asked to earn. Reviewed by Sarah Rachel Egelman.

THE EVER BREATH by Julianna Baggott
Truman and his twin sister, Camille, have just met their grandmother...and she’s a little strange. She whispers a tale about something called the Ever Breath, an amber orb that maintains the balance between our world and a dreamy one of imagination --- and evil. Soon Truman and Camille find themselves in the Breath World, a magical place where ogres clash and a mouse holds the key to a mystery. Reviewed by Kristi Olson.

-Click here to read our reviews.

Series Feature Updates:

Twelve-year-olds Andy and Marnie had an awesome week in HorrorLand --- despite their freaky encounter with Murder the Clown and the zombie mob. Then they think they've won big when they get a FREE souvenir from HorrorLand's Chiller House. But when Andy hears howling at night and Marnie starts acting strange, they begin to rethink the gift from HorrorLand. Unlucky book #13 of the Goosebumps HorrorLand series kicks off an entirely new type of terror that will keep you guessing and quaking until book #19. Reviewed by Jana Siciliano.

-Click here to play the updated Goosebumps HorrorLand trivia game.
-Click here to read our Goosebumps HorrorLand series feature.

THE KARATE MOUSE by Geronimo Stilton
Geronimo Stilton gets caught up in the World Karate Championships, thanks to the efforts of Bruce Hyena and Piccolo Tao, Bruce's super-sporty cousin. Geronimo only has a week to become real champion material. Will Geronimo manage to overcome his fears in order to win the competition? Reviewed by Jana Siciliano.

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

Graphic Novel Reviews:

CALAMITY JACK written by Shannon Hale and Dean Hale, illustrated by Nathan Hale
Jack is back in this sequel to RAPUNZEL’S REVENGE --- but when Jack and Rapunzel head to the big city to find Jack's momma, they discover that Jack left behind a world of trouble when he ran away from home. Reviewed by Snow Wildsmith.

THE SECRET SCIENCE ALLIANCE AND THE COPYCAT CROOK written and illustrated by Eleanor Davis
Three preteen science geniuses create their own alliance. Unfortunately, someone else is interested in stealing their hard work. Reviewed by Danica Davidson.

Manhwa Review:

THE STARRY NIGHT written and illustrated by Kimjin
Four short stories reveal different sides of children’s lives. These include stories about a schoolgirl crush and enchanted dolls. Reviewed by Danica Davidson.

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


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