Skip to main content

June 2010 Newsletter for Parents June 2010

Celebrating Harry Potter and Savoring Some Sizzling Summer Reads

Now that summer vacation is in full swing, we’re betting that many of your kids haven't even glanced at their assigned summer reading lists yet. That’s okay, they are certainly not alone! But before they start hunkering down to tackle those "chore" books, we can provide them with more than enough excuses to fine-tune their procrastination skills for just a little while longer.

And what better way to procrastinate than to spend a couple of air-conditioned hours at the movies with an old childhood friend by the name of Ramona Quimby? On July 23rd, this rambunctious little tyke tears her way to the big screen in a charming adaptation of Beverly Cleary’s bestselling classic series. Ramona and Beezus, featured in our Books into Movies roundup, brings to life one of the most beloved characters in children’s literature in all her mischievous, hyperactive, accident-prone glory to win over a whole new generation of readers and viewers. Can you remember reading these books as a child? I know I can!

And speaking of great books that turn into adventures, have you heard that Universal Studios’ The Wizarding World of Harry Potter theme park in Orlando, FL, officially opened its doors on June 18th? From what we’ve read, it sounds pretty awesome, boasting attractions like replicas of Hogwarts Castle --- complete with the familiar classrooms, corridors and passageways --- and the shops and eateries of Hogsmeade Village, plus signature rides like Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey, Dragon Challenge, and Flight of the Hippogriff. While all of us here are dying to sample the grub at the Three Broomsticks and pick up a couple of Death Eater Masks at Filch’s Emporium of Confiscated Goods, we’d love to hear what your children think about this new vacation spot. Have them weigh in by answering this month’s poll. And if you and your family have already visited the Harry Potter theme park, drop me a line at as we would love to hear what you all think about it to share with our readers.

Perfect for wiling away the hours under the hot summer sun is Lois Duncan’s MOVIE FOR DOGS, an adorable tale of two aspiring-screenwriter brothers who get more than they bargained for when they enter a dog-themed film-making contest. Check out our review and an excerpt.

Phyllis Reynolds Naylor’s latest novel, EMILY’S FORTUNE, takes readers on a fun romp through the old Wild West as the book’s recently orphaned main character --- with Rufus, her pet turtle, in tow --- embarks on a journey via stagecoach in search of a new home. In our interview with the author, she discusses how Emily slowly evolved over the course of the story and explains why she never gives away details about her works in progress. You can also read more about the book here.

We were also lucky enough to talk to Kat Falls --- who just published her debut novel, the undersea western DARK LIFE --- as well as Di Toft, whose humorous fantasy, WOLVEN, is being featured on the site these next two months. You can read our interviews, in which they each discuss the inspiration behind their unique stories, here and here.

Do you have any Molly Moon fans in your household? If so, they will be thrilled to know that everyone’s favorite time-traveling, ketchup sandwich-eating, mind-reading orphan stars in a new novel that showcases a newly-discovered power that causes as much harm as it does good as she attempts to save the world in MOLLY MOON & THE MORPHING MYSTERY by Georgia Byng. Check it out, along with Molly’s previous escapades, in our series feature.

Remember last February when we asked our young readers to send in questions they’d like to ask INKHEART author Cornelia Funke? Well, we’re thrilled to share that this long-awaited interview is now available! Click here to see Cornelia answer questions submitted by kids from all around the world, along with a special thank you from her to readers and the intriguing trailer for RECKLESS, the first installment in her new fantasy series that will be releasing on September 14th. I had the pleasure of hearing her talk about these new books at a luncheon last week in Washington, DC.; she is so excited about them! We each received a beautifully wrapped advance reading copy that I cannot wait to read. Also, here's some interesting info to share with your children so they can pass it on to their friends. Cornelia's native language is German, and she writes her books in German. They then are translated into English.

Speaking of meeting up with authors, I had a chance to hear Jon Scieszka (rhymes with Fresca) talk about his new series, Spaceheadz. You can see a picture of the two of us above. As always, he was very entertaining. Read on to learn more about how kids can not only read this book, but also participate in the SPHDZ experience online!

A hearty congrats to the winners of our contests for SAVVY, THE SUMMER BEFORE, THE DREAMER and THE CALDER GAME! We’re now offering two new giveaways, where 15 readers have a chance to get their hands on the latest installment of Jim Benton’s Dear Dumb Diary series, THE WORST THINGS IN LIFE ARE ALSO FREE, as well as the first two books in the brand new, action-packed The Amazing Adventures of Nate Banks series by Jake Bell. Our contest for Deborah Wiles’s COUNTDOWN will be running until July 23rd at noon ET, so your kids can enter here for a chance to win a copy of this documentary novel that takes place during the 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis. Also ending on July 23rd is our DARK LIFE giveaway, which they can enter here for their chance to be a winner.

For more great reading suggestions for your children, check out our Cool New Books and New in Paperback roundups, as well as this month’s reviews, which include THEODORE BOONE: KID LAWYER, John Grisham’s first novel aimed at younger readers; STORM WARNING, the next-to-last installment in the hit 39 Clues series; and John Flanagan’s eighth Ranger’s Apprentice novel, THE KINGS OF CLONMEL.

Hope you and your family continue to have a wonderful summer of reading!


Carol Fitzgerald for

Now in Stores: THEODORE BOONE: KID LAWYER by John Grisham

The legendary John Grisham brings his crafty storytelling and legal knowledge to a new children's series in THEODORE BOONE: KID LAWYER. Theo knows the truth about the Duffy murder, but what judge will believe a 13-year-old wanna-be lawyer? Theo, however, won't let anything get in the way of justice being served. Reviewed by Benjamin Boche.


Click here to read a review of THEODORE BOONE: KID LAWYER.


Now in Stores: SPHDZ Book #1! by Jon Scieszka

SPHDZ Book #1! by Jon Scieszka
Michael K. just started fifth grade at a new school. As if that wasn't hard enough, the kids he seems to have made friends with are aliens who have invaded our planet in the form of school children and a hamster. Their mission is to convince 3,400,001 kids to BE SPHDZ. But with a hamster as their leader, "kids" who talk like walking advertisements, and Michael K. as their first convert, will the SPHDZ be able to keep their cover and pull off their assignment? Reviewed by John Hogan.

-Click here to read an excerpt from SPHDZ Book #1!
-Click here to participate in the SPHDZ experience online!

Click here to read a review of SPHDZ Book #1!

Bestselling Author Cornelia Funke Answers YOUR Questions!


In February we shared the exciting news that Cornelia Funke, the internationally bestselling author of THE THIEF LORD and the Inkheart trilogy, would be answering questions from our readers in an online video from her home in California. The long-awaited interview is now available, and we are thrilled to be sharing it with you!

Click here to see Cornelia answer questions submitted by kids from all around the world, along with a special thank you from her to readers and the intriguing trailer for RECKLESS, the first installment in her new fantasy series that will be releasing on September 14th.



New Special Feature: EMILY'S FORTUNE by Phyllis Reynolds Naylor

Newbery Award winner Phyllis Reynolds Naylor has written dozens of books for children and young adults, including FAITH, HOPE, AND IVY JUNE, SHILOH and the Alice series. In this interview with's Usha Reynolds, Naylor discusses what inspired her latest work, the Western-themed EMILY'S FORTUNE, and elaborates on the slow evolution of her main character throughout the story. She also talks about how she first fell in love with telling stories, comments on the variety of subject matter, tone and themes of her novels, and explains why she never gives away details about her works in progress.

EMILY'S FORTUNE by Phyllis Reynolds Naylor
From Newbery Award winner Phyllis Reynolds Naylor comes a witty tale of the Wild West filled with comical cliffhangers and featuring a cast of plucky orphans and dastardly villains.

-Click here to read more about EMILY'S FORTUNE.
-Click here to read a review of EMILY'S FORTUNE.

-Click here to read an excerpt from EMILY'S FORTUNE.
-Click here to read Phyllis Reynolds Naylor's bio.

Click here to read our interview with Phyllis Reynolds Naylor.

New Special Feature: MOVIE FOR DOGS by Lois Duncan

MOVIE FOR DOGS by Lois Duncan
When Andi's brother Bruce wants to enter a dog-themed film-making contest, Andi jumps at the opportunity to become a screenwriter. But neither of them expects what happens next --- a producer wants their movie! Can Andi and Bruce's show (and dogs) go Hollywood?

-Click here to read an excerpt from MOVIE FOR DOGS.
-Click here to read Lois Duncan's bio.

Click here to read a review of MOVIE FOR DOGS.

New Special Feature and Giveaway: DEAR DUMB DIARY #10: THE WORST THINGS IN LIFE ARE ALSO FREE by Jim Benton

Summer is here, and that makes everyone at Mackerel Middle School very happy. But what happens when a few of the students have too much time on their hands...and not enough money in their pockets? Sneak a peek inside the diary of Jamie Kelly to find out! is giving away 15 copies of THE WORST THINGS IN LIFE ARE ALSO FREE, the 10th installment in Jim Benton's hilarious series. The deadline for entries is Wednesday, August 25th at noon ET.

School's out for the summer, and that means no more Meat Loaf Thursdays, Sunday homework-cramming, or teachers (way way unsuccessfully) trying to act cool. It also means that certain Mackerel Middle Schoolers have a lot of time on their hands...and seriously empty pockets.

Isabella is going to change all that. And Jamie and Angeline are going to help --- whether they like it or not. It's the best kind of teamwork: When a whole bunch of people work together to do something wrong, instead of doing it wrong one at a time.

-Click here to read an excerpt from THE WORST THINGS IN LIFE ARE ALSO FREE.
-Click here to read Jim Benton's bio.

Click here to read all the contest details.

New Giveaway: Win Copies of THE AMAZING ADVENTURES OF NATE BANKS #1 and #2 by Jake Bell

SECRET IDENTITY CRISIS and FREEZER BURNED kick off The Amazing Adventures of Nate Banks, a fantastic new action-packed series by Jake Bell that introduces readers to sixth grader Nate Banks, a comic book expert who's determined to save the day. Each book in the series includes a very cool extra --- an eight-page full-color comic book insert! is giving 15 readers the opportunity to win a copy of the first two installments in the series. The deadline for entries is Wednesday, August 25th at noon ET.

THE AMAZING ADVENTURES OF NATE BANKS #1: SECRET IDENTITY CRISIS written by Jake Bell and illustrated by Chris Giarrusso
As the three-time winner of the Ultimate Comic Book Trivia Championship of Knowledge, Nate Banks has always been the sixth grade's biggest comic book expert. But when a mysterious new superhero shows up in town, not even Nate knows who she really is. And when he sets out to discover Ultraviolet's secret identity, all of the clues seem to lead Nate to the least likely suspect --- his uptight history teacher, Ms. Matthews! Could she really be moonlighting as a super-powered crime fighter? It's up to Nate to find out!

THE AMAZING ADVENTURES OF NATE BANKS #2: FREEZER BURNED by Jake Bell and illustrated by Chris Giarrusso
For a town in the middle of the desert, Kanigher Falls has been awfully cold lately. Sixth grader Nate Banks knows something odd is going on, especially when it starts to snow, and the snow smells like rotten cabbage! It's clear that the supervillain Coldsnap is on the loose. Nate thinks he knows how to defeat him, but superhero Ultraviolet thinks the case is too dangerous. When Coldsnap goes after an American treasure and Ultraviolet can't go it alone, it's up to Nate and his friends to save the day!


Click here to read all the contest details.


New Series Feature: Molly Moon by Georgia Byng

MOLLY MOON Series by Georgia Byng
Like most of you, Molly Moon is a preteen. But, probably not at all like you, Molly just happens to be a master hypnotist with a few other skills up her sleeve, such as time traveling and mind reading. The girl has a potato-shaped nose, mesmerizing green eyes, and a droning voice...all the better to hypnotize villains. She also has the ability to attract the kind of amazing adventures any fantasy lover enjoys.

Molly invites you to come along as she uses her unusual talents to stop bad guys. Get ready to time travel, snack on a few ketchup sandwiches, and cheer for your new favorite hero. Hang on tight --- you have a wild ride ahead of you!

Molly Moon is back and braver than ever in the fifth book in the wildly popular Molly Moon series. Not only can she hypnotize anyone who crosses her path, travel through time and read minds, now she has a new power: morphing! From human to animal and back again, Molly must find her way back to her own body --- and save the world while she’s at it --- before it’s too late.

-Click here to play the new Molly Moon match game!

Click here to read our Molly Moon series feature.

New Special Feature: WOLVEN by Di Toft

Di Toft's WOLVEN is a humorous fantasy adventure that centers on a young boy whose unlikely new pet seems to have caught the eye of government scientists looking to breed a new form of biological weapon. In this interview with's Usha Reynolds, Toft talks about what inspired the unique relationship between her two main characters and discusses the new twist she has added to the traditional werewolf legend. She also reveals the real-life model for her shape-shifting protagonist, explains why she chose to incorporate historical events into the story, and hints at what's to come in the next installment of the series.

WOLVEN by Di Toft
With his big snaggly teeth, patchy black fur, and glowing golden eyes, Woody is far from the cutest of dogs, yet Nat is strangely drawn to the rough mutt that howls at the moon. And before long Nat discovers that Woody's not a dog at all --- he's a wolven: a shape-shifter who changes from wolf to boy without much warning. A secret government agency knows about Woody's mutant status, too, and wants to trap him and turn him into a hairy new breed of bioweapon. To escape capture, and to make sense of Woody's strange identity, the two friends --- boy and werewolf --- set off on a great adventure.

-Click here to read a review of WOLVEN.
-Click here to read an excerpt from WOLVEN.
-Click here to read Di Toft's bio.

Click here to read our interview with Di Toft.

Series Feature and Giveaway: COUNTDOWN by Deborah Wiles

Featuring a captivating story interspersed with footage from 1962 during the Cuban Missile Crisis, COUNTDOWN by award-winning author Deborah Wiles is a documentary novel that will put you right alongside 11-year-old Franny Chapman as she navigates a dangerous time in both her history and our history. It is an experience you will never forget, and is giving 10 readers the chance to win a copy of the book. The deadline for entries is Friday, July 23rd at noon ET.

COUNTDOWN by Deborah Wiles
It's 1962, and it seems the whole country is living in fear. When President Kennedy goes on television to say that Russia is sending nuclear missiles to Cuba, it only gets worse. Eleven-year-old Franny Chapman doesn't know how to deal with what's going on in the world --- no more than she knows how to deal with what's going on with her family and friends. But somehow she's going to make it through.

-Click here to read more about COUNTDOWN.
-Click here to read a review of COUNTDOWN.
-Click here to read an excerpt (in PDF format) from COUNTDOWN.
-Click here to read Deborah Wiles's bio.


Click here for all the contest details.

Special Feature and Giveaway: DARK LIFE by Kat Falls

Kat Falls recently spoke with’s Sarah Rachel Egelman about her debut novel, DARK LIFE, which is a classic pioneer tale set in a rather unexpected time and place --- a futuristic, dystopian undersea community inhabited by settlers who fled the Earth’s surface. In this interview, Falls explains what prompted her to combine these seemingly contrasting elements and why she borrowed common themes and images from old westerns to create the plot of her story. She also discusses the research she performed on oceanic life, elaborates on some of her favorite genres to read, and shares details on the next book in the series.

DARK LIFE by Kat Falls
The oceans rose, swallowing up the lowlands. Earthquakes shattered the continents, toppling entire regions into the rising water. Now, humans live packed into stack cities. The only ones with any space of their own are those who live on the ocean floor, the Dark Life.

Ty has spent his whole life living deep undersea, helping his family farm the ocean floor. But when outlaws attack his homestead, Ty finds himself in a fight to save the only home he has ever known. Joined by Gemma, a girl from the Topside who has come subsea to look for her brother, Ty ventures into the frontier's rough underworld and discovers some dark secrets to Dark Life...secrets that threaten to destroy everything.

To celebrate the release of Kat Falls's debut novel, is giving 20 readers the chance to win a copy of the book. The deadline for entries is Friday, July 23, 2010 at noon ET.

-Click here for all the contest details.
-Click here to read a review of DARK LIFE.
-Click here to read an excerpt from DARK LIFE.
-Click here to read Kat Falls's bio.


Click here to read our interview with Kat Falls.

Cool New Books for June

June's roundup of Cool New Books includes THE SUBURB BEYOND THE STARS, the long-awaited follow-up to M.T. Anderson's quirky sci-fi/fantasy adventure, THE GAME OF SUNKEN PLACES; SPHDZ Book #1!, the start of a new series from Jon Scieszka told not just on the books' pages, but also across the Internet with secret codes, alternate endings and interactive content; THE BRIMSTONE KEY, the first installment in Derek Benz and J.S. Lewis's Clockwork Chronicles trilogy, starring the Grey Griffins, who are now monster-hunters, celebrated heroes, and allies to the legendary Templar knights; GHOST HUNTER, the final volume in Michelle Paver's Chronicles of Ancient Darkness series, which draws readers for the last time into the shadowy world of the Stone Age and brings Torak to the end of his incredible journey; and OOH LA LA! IT'S BEAUTY DAY, a new Fancy Nancy book that finds Jane O'Connor's glamorous young heroine giving Mom a total makeover on her birthday.

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

June's New in Paperback Roundup

June's roundup of New in Paperback titles includes THE WINTER KNIGHTS, the eighth installment in Paul Stewart and Chris Riddell's bestselling fantasy series The Edge Chronicles; THE DARK PLANET, the final book in Patrick Carman's Atherton trilogy, which continues Edgar's quest to discover the truth about a mad scientist's plan to save the Earth from self-destruction; FOOTBALL CHAMP by Tim Green, the sequel to FOOTBALL GENIUS that delves into the flashy world of American sports media, revealing its dark underside; and ACTING OUT, a collection of original one-act plays written by six Newbery Medal winners: Avi, Susan Cooper, Sharon Creech, Patricia MacLachlan, Katherine Paterson and Richard Peck.

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

This Month's Reviews Reviews:

THE 39 CLUES, Book Nine: STORM WARNING by Linda Sue Park
Throughout the hunt for the 39 Clues, Amy and Dan have encountered some of the darkest aspects of history...and had to deal with the role their family played. But are they ready for the truth? In this thrilling ninth installment, Amy and Dan hit the high seas as they follow the trail of some infamous ancestors to track down a long lost treasure. Reviewed by Chris Shanley-Dillman.

In this latest installment of the popular Ranger's Apprentice series, the Outsiders, a religious fanatical group, are threatening Clonmel, a southern kingdom bordering Araluen. Will, Halt and Horace are dispatched by the Ranger Corp to discover the threat and stop it. Halt, however, has ties to Clonmel that run deep and could potentially endanger the mission. Reviewed by Benjamin Boche.


Casey and Lacey Nicefolk, who were introduced in THE ADVENTURES OF VIN FIZ, are back for another magical adventure. This time, the twins have entered the Hotsy Totsy into the Gold Cup powerboat race along the California coastline. Will the Hotsy Totsy have enough to overcome dangerous conditions, the Boss and his henchman, and a high-speed race? Reviewed by Benjamin Boche.

CHASING ORION by Kathryn Lasky
It's a hot Indiana summer in 1952, and public places are closing to slow the spread of polio. Despite all the headlines, 11-year-old Georgie never thought she'd come as close to the fearful disease as she does when she spies a silver glint in her neighbor's yard. There she discovers a monstrous, hissing machine, and inside is Phyllis, a girl encased in an iron lung. Phyllis's ability to breathe may be limited, but her strength to manipulate is boundless. Reviewed by Norah Piehl.

THE BOY WHO CLIMBED INTO THE MOON written by David Almond and illustrated by Polly Dunbar
There are some strange ideas floating around in Paul's apartment block. There's Mabel, who now calls herself Molly and whose brother hides under a paper bag. Then there's Clarence, the poodle who thinks he can fly. But the strangest notion of all is Paul's. Paul believes that the moon is not the moon but a great hole in the sky. Reviewed by Norah Piehl.

HOUSE OF DOLLS written by Francesca Lia Block and illustrated by Barbara McClintock
Madison's dolls have a secret life that she wishes she was a part of. Her grandmother pays more attention to them than to her, and while the dolls have each other, Madison is all alone in her big, empty apartment. Then one day, everything changes.... Reviewed by Sarah Rachel Egelman.

THE SHADOWS: The Books of Elsewhere, Volume 1 by Jacqueline West
When her parents buy the ancient mansion on Linden Street where old Ms. McMartin died, 11-year-old Olive expects life will continue much like usual. Which means she'll be just as lonely as ever since no one wants to be her friend. But Olive could never have prepared herself for the adventures that await her. Reviewed by Chris Shanley-Dillman.

BLIMPO: The Third Circle of Heck by Dale E. Basye
Siblings Milton and Marlo Fauster are back for more in this tasteful third installment of the Circle of Heck series. Marlo has begun her new Infernship program but is failing miserably, and Milton is on a quest to save his best friend, Virgil, from the circle of Heck that is punishing overweight children. Reviewed by Benjamin Boche.

Series Feature Update:

THEA STILTON AND THE SECRET CITY: Geronimo Stilton Special Edition by Thea Stilton
In this amazing adventure, Thea's friends the Thea Sisters head to Peru, where a good friend of Paulina's is in danger. There, the five mice climb the Andes mountains in search of a mysterious treasure that's hidden in the Secret City of the Incas. Reviewed by Jana Siciliano.

here to read our Geronimo Stilton series feature --- with updated trivia and characters.

Graphic Novel Reviews:

Frankie Pickle's overactive imagination keeps him company whether he's (not) cleaning his room or building the ultimate model race car. Reviewed by Snow Wildsmith.

GARGOYLES: CLAN BUILDING, Volume One written and illustrated by Greg Weisman
"Gargoyles," a Disney-animated series from the '90s, gets new life in the form of comic books. While officially aimed at children, both the program and the comic books attract fans of all ages. Reviewed by Danica Davidson.

Manga Reviews:

FAIRY NAVIGATOR RUNA, Volume 1 written by Miyoko Ikeda and illustrated by Michiyo Kikuta
Runa was left at an orphanage as a baby and never knew her parents. Nonetheless, she loves her life at the orphanage and has a close circle of friends. Then one day, two strangers arrive with startling news: Runa is really a fairy princess --- and she is in great danger! Reviewed by Brigid Alverson.

THE LIZARD PRINCE, Volume 1 written and illustrated by Asuka Izumi
Princess Canary and Prince Heath are supposed to get married, but it's not going to work out that way. Instead, Canary falls in love with Prince Heath's talking lizard! Reviewed by Danica Davidson.

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!

Booker T. Worm and Friends
The Book Report Network
250 W. 57th Street - Suite 1228
New York, New York 10107