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August, 2010 Newsletter for Parents July 2010

Cooling Off with a Good Book

According to the weather reports, this summer is shaping up to be one of the most sweltering seasons on record! If your kids are looking for the perfect way to beat the scorching heat, we highly recommend escaping to the great indoors, where all they’ll need is a comfy chair or a soft rug (my younger son still likes reading on the floor with his legs propped up on the couch or his bed), a cool drink, and a stack of refreshing reads to while away the sticky days and muggy nights. Luckily for them (and for you!), is here to keep that “to-be-read” pile high enough to last them all summer long and well into cooler climes.

A must to add to their list is the Candy Apple Summer Vacation Trilogy, featuring WISH YOU WERE HERE, LIZA, SEE YOU SOON, SAMANTHA and MISS YOU, MINA. The books follow three attached-at-the-hip best friends who part ways for the first time and embark on their own summertime adventures. Check out our series feature here.

Also in for quite an adventure are 13-year-old Taylor Henry and her horse, Prince Albert --- heroes of Suzanne Weyn’s Wildwood Stables series, including the newly released RACING AGAINST TIME and LEARNING TO FLY. Click on the titles to read more about the books and check out some excerpts with your kids.

If your children aren't too crazy about horses, how about a small black pug who answers to the name Petula? This dog and her time-traveling, ketchup sandwich-eating, mind-reading owner can be found in Georgia Byng’s MOLLY MOON & THE MORPHING MYSTERY, which you can read more about in our series feature here.

This month, we’re continuing to spotlight Lois Duncan’s charming canine-centric MOVIE FOR DOGS and Di Toft’s humorous fantasy, WOLVEN. Also, our giveaways for the first two installments of Jake Bell’s The Amazing Adventures of Nate Banks series and Jim Benton’s latest Dear Dumb Diary book, THE WORST THINGS IN LIFE ARE ALSO FREE, close on Wednesday, August 25th at noon ET, so take a look at our contest details for Nate Banks here and THE WORST THINGS here. And in case you’re curious about the contests that just ended, you can check out our winners of COUNTDOWN here and DARK LIFE here.

Any vacation plans lined up for August? According to last month’s poll, nearly 60% of our readers are ready to hop the next plane to Orlando to check out Universal Studios’ Wizarding World of Harry Potter (in case your neck of the woods wasn’t hot enough!). I am in Orlando for a conference as I write this note, but will not have time to get over to Wizarding World. However, as soon as I walked into the airport, I passed a Wizarding World souvenir shop! Wonder if they have butter beer to go? I might have to see if I can bring some home!

Be sure your kids weigh in on this month’s new one, all about whether or not they finish books they’re not too thrilled about reading. I will share my answer next month, but here's a clue. Life is short, and there are a lot of books to read!

In case you come down with a bout of heat-related cabin fever, why not take a trip to the movies? You and your family can spend a couple of air-conditioned hours with old pals from Beverly Cleary’s classic series in Ramona and Beezus, or discover the sweetness of confusion over a first love in the big-screen adaptation of Wendelin Van Draanen’s FLIPPED. I know I loved the Beezus and Ramona books growing up, and FLIPPED was such fun as well. I may just have to make this a double header!

We’ve updated our Cool New Books and New in Paperback roundups, where you’ll find tons of great getaway reads like AMAZING MONTY by Johanna Hurwitz; Paul Stewart and Chris Riddell’s ninth Edge Chronicles book, CLASH OF THE SKY GALLEONS, now available in paperback; and THE DANGEROUS ALPHABET by Neil Gaiman. And don’t forget this month’s new reviews, which include Sara Pennypacker’s latest Clementine adventure, CLEMENTINE, FRIEND OF THE WEEK; THE BRIMSTONE KEY, book one in Derek Benz and J.S. Lewis’s new series, Grey Griffins: The Clockwork Chronicles; and THE OCEANOLOGY HANDBOOK, the newest addition to the popular ’Ologies series.

We’ll see you next month. In the meantime, make sure your children stay cool with a good read or two!


Carol Fitzgerald for

New Series Feature: Candy Apple Summer Vacation Trilogy

It’s true. Over the last three years, the Candy Apple series has taken the nation’s tween readers by storm. What could be better than another book in the series? THREE more books! Plus, the Summer Vacation Trilogy is devoted to all things young girls love: cute boys, lounging on the beach, road trips, cute boys, art and poetry in hopping New York City, red velvet cupcakes, super hip sunglasses, surfing, moonlight raids of restricted swimming pools… Did I mention cute boys?

But WISH YOU WERE HERE, LIZA, SEE YOU SOON, SAMANTHA and MISS YOU, MINA aren’t only about fun in the sun (and cute boys). There’s also some heart --- and heft --- to them. Best friends Liza, Samantha and Mina are sure their respective summers without each other will be dreadful, but it doesn’t quite turn out that way…thankfully. In fact, it’s precisely because the trio is without their usual safety nets that they grow, take chances and blossom. Before the girls realize what’s happening, they’re having what turns out to be one of the most amazing summers of their lives --- and it has nothing to do with cute boys! (Well, mostly.)


Click here to read our series feature for the Candy Apple Summer Vacation Trilogy.


New Special Feature: WILDWOOD STABLES #3 and #4 by Suzanne Weyn

Thirteen-year-old Taylor Henry is finally making progress with her beloved gelding, Prince Albert. But spoiled Plum Mason is still causing problems, overtraining her new horse, Shafir. Can Taylor and the other Wildwood girls protect Shafir from this reckless rider?



Taylor feels more at home at Wildwood Stables than she does anywhere else. But she still has so much more to learn! So when Daphne offers to teach her English-style riding, Taylor can’t wait to get started. But will her horse, Prince Albert, be as excited to try something new? Especially if it means competition --- and jumping?

-Click here to read an excerpt from RACING AGAINST TIME.
-Click here to read an excerpt from LEARNING TO FLY.
-Click here to read Suzanne Weyn’s bio.



Now in Stores: CLEMENTINE, FRIEND OF THE WEEK by Sara Pennypacker

CLEMENTINE, FRIEND OF THE WEEK written by Sara Pennypacker and illustrated by Marla Frazee
It's Clementine's turn to be "Friend of the Week"! She gets to be line leader, collect the lunch money and feed the fish. Even better, the other kids will make her a booklet, full of the things they value about having her in the class. Fortunately, she has a lot of astonishing ideas for getting the kids to write great stuff about her. Unfortunately, just as she's working on the best one, something terrible happens to her beloved kitten. Reviewed by Sarah Rachel Egelman.

Click here to read a review of CLEMENTINE, FRIEND OF THE WEEK.


Books into Movies: Now Featuring Flipped

February is a long ways away, but love is in the air starting August 6th, as’s Books into Movies feature spotlights Flipped. This film, which is based on Wendelin Van Draanen’s acclaimed novel of the same name, centers on the unrequited love affair between Juli and fellow second grader and typically girl-phobic Bryce, who needs a bit more time --- try six years --- to discover how he really feels about his wannabe girlfriend.

Click here to read more about Flipped.

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.

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 a review of THE WORST THINGS IN LIFE ARE ALSO FREE.
-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.

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.


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.

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.


Circle C Adventures by Susan K. Marlow: Spotlight on ANDREA CARTER AND THE TROUBLE WITH TREASURE


When innocent horseplay gets Andi Carter and her friends in trouble, they decide that a trip into the mountains is just what they need. Accompanied by big brother Mitch and armed with a map showing old gold diggings, they can’t wait to strike it rich.


But instead of gold, they find more trouble --- heaps of it…and it leaves Mitch gravely wounded. Andi needs help fast. But who can she trust?

Click here to visit the official website of the Circle C Adventures.

Cool New Books for July

July’s roundup of Cool New Books includes CLEMENTINE, FRIEND OF THE WEEK, the fourth installment in Sara Pennypacker’s series starring Clementine, who learns the true meaning of friendship when she is picked for Friend of the Week; THE OCEANOLOGY HANDBOOK, the perfect resource for eager young oceanologists looking to discover some lesser-known secrets of the sea; Sue Stauffacher’s SPECIAL DELIVERY!, which marks the return of the Animal Rescue Team, who this time has two mysteries to solve as the Carter family tries to sort out what, and who, is creating all kinds of mayhem around town; AMAZING MONTY by Johanna Hurwitz, in which first grader Monty Gerald Morris faces a number of surprises --- some good, some not so much --- both at school and at home; and AMELIA BEDELIA’S FIRST APPLE PIE, the third in a series of picture books by Herman Parish featuring a young Amelia Bedelia, who learns that the best thing about autumn is choosing apples to bake an apple pie.


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


July's New in Paperback Roundup

July’s roundup of New in Paperback titles includes INKDEATH, the conclusion to Cornelia Funke's Inkheart trilogy; HEROES OF THE VALLEY by Jonathan Stroud, an epic fantasy thriller featuring murder, revenge and a slightly diminutive protagonist; CLASH OF THE SKY GALLEONS, the ninth installment in Paul Stewart and Chris Riddell’s The Edge Chronicles fantasy series; PEACE, LOCOMOTION, a thought-provoking companion to Jacqueline Woodson’s National Book Award finalist LOCOMOTION; MIGHTY MONTY, Johanna Hurwitz’s follow-up to MOSTLY MONTY, which marks the return of first grader Monty Gerald Morris, who, despite his small size and shyness, is mighty enough to take karate; and THE DANGEROUS ALPHABET by Neil Gaiman and Gris Grimly, a tale of adventure, piracy and heroism told in 26 alphabetical lines --- 13 short rhyming couplets.


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


This Month's Reviews

THE BRIMSTONE KEY: Grey Griffins: The Clockwork Chronicles, Book 1 by Derek Benz and J.S. Lewis
The Grey Griffins are back for more adventure in an all-new series by Derek Benz and J.S. Lewis. This time, Max, Natalia, Harley and Ernie are up against an ancient Templar foe who is stealing changelings’ souls. Will the Clockwork King succeed in powering his clockwork war machines, or will the Grey Griffins stop him before it’s too late? Reviewed by Benjamin Boche.

SEEKERS #5: FIRE IN THE SKY by Erin Hunter

The Seeker bears explore the unknown as they leave the safety of land and strike out onto the Arctic ice. But the ice presents new dangers to the bears, and shocking revelations about the past tear the foursome apart --- until they reunite to save one of their own from this unforgiving terrain. Reviewed by Chris Shanley-Dillman.

FAIRIES AND THE QUEST FOR NEVER LAND written by Gail Carson Levine and illustrated by David Christiana
In this third installment of Gail Carson Levine’s chapter book series, Peter Pan comes at last and blows fairy dust on Gwendolyn Carlisle. The instant they reach Never Land, she sets out to find fairies. But the fairies are not eager to meet her. Then the evil dragon Kyto escapes, intending to destroy Never Land, starting with Fairy Haven. As the fairies set out on their desperate quest to stop Kyto, they must decide if Gwendolyn can help or hinder. Reviewed by Joy Held.

HAWKSMAID: The Untold Story of Robin Hood and Maid Marian by Kathryn Lasky
Just before Matty turns 10, her entire world crashes to the ground. With King Richard away, his brother, Prince John, attempts to take control of the kingdom by terrorizing the people. During one of his evil rampages, Matty’s mother is murdered, and she and her father are reduced to scavenging the land just to feed themselves. But Matty and her friend Fynn refuse to sit by and watch their families starve. Reviewed by Chris Shanley-Dillman.

THE OCEANOLOGY HANDBOOK: A Course for Underwater Explorers written by Professor Arronax, edited by Emily Hawkins and Clint Twist
What’s the difference between a steamer and a schooner? How would you navigate in stormy seas? How are underwater volcanoes formed? And which creatures lurk in the inky depths of the deepest oceans? All this and much more await eager young oceanologists in this exciting handbook, prepared for Zoticus de Lesseps, the young author of OCEANOLOGY, by his tutor, Professor Aronnax, during their around-the-world journey aboard the mysterious Captain Nemo’s Nautilus. Reviewed by Sarah Rachel Egelman.

THE GECKO & STICKY: THE POWER POTION written by Wendelin Van Draanen and illustrated by Stephen Gilpin
Thirteen-year-old superhero Dave Sanchez (aka The Gecko) and his kleptomaniac pet gecko Sticky are caught in a web of intrigue after Dave intercepts a package with a suspicious-looking amber bottle intended for the dastardly demonic Damien Black. Reviewed by Donna Volkenannt.

THE DANCING PANCAKE by Eileen Spinelli
The grand opening of the Dancing Pancake isn't the only new thing in Bindi's life: new friends, a new apartment, maybe even a cute new crush? But there are other changes, like her dad's move to a new city, that have left Bindi confused and wondering: What will happen to my family? Will this new life ever feel normal? Reviewed by Jana Siciliano.

AMAZING MONTY: More First-Grade Adventures written by Johanna Hurwitz and illustrated by Anik McGrory
First-grader Monty Morris is quite the excellent reader. One morning, while in line in the school office, he happens to read an ad on the bulletin board offering a pair of parakeets for free. This discovery sets him off on a chain of satisfying adventures in this third book of Johanna Hurwitz’s early chapter book series. Reviewed by Terry Miller Shannon.

Fadi Nurzai’s little sister, Mariam, was left behind as his family fled Afghanistan in the summer of 2001. As he begins middle school in California, he shoulders the responsibility of returning to find Mariam. When a photography competition offers a trip to India, Fadi eagerly searches for the perfect picture to win. Reviewed by Benjamin Boche.

13 TREASURES by Michelle Harrison
No one else can see the evil fairies that rouse Tanya from her sleep, torturing her at the slightest mention of their existence. It is her insistence on responding to them that has her banished to her grandmother's secluded countryside manor. There is much to explore and even more to fear in the woods surrounding the estate, and Tanya soon finds herself entangled in a mystery that could trap her in the fairy realm forever. Reviewed by Jana Siciliano.

MAMBA POINT by Kurtis Scaletta
Twelve-year-old Linus Tuttle has the chance to reinvent himself into a brave and fearless person after he and his family relocate to Liberia, Africa. He just needs the chance to prove himself. Linus didn’t expect, though, to have a mysterious connection to the black mamba, one of Africa’s deadliest snakes. Reviewed by Benjamin Boche.


This Month's Poll: To Finish or Not to Finish...

What do you typically do if you start reading a book for pleasure and then realize you’re not liking it?


I continue reading all the way to the end.

I continue reading, but if it doesn’t get better, I stop.

I stop reading immediately.

It depends on the book and how familiar I am with the author’s previous work.


Do you feel like you “should” finish reading books you’ve started, even if you’re not liking them?


Yes, all the time.

Yes, sometimes.


Not sure


Click here to answer the poll.


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