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November 2009 Newsletter November 2009
Home for the Holidays

This month has been very busy; I've traveled up and down the east coast and back again. In addition to events in New York City, conventions and conferences have had me on trips to Providence, North Carolina, Miami and Philadelphia. I could barely unpack my suitcase before it was time to reload my bags and head out to the next destination. Now that Thanksgiving is approaching, I can finally relax, spend time with family and friends, eat my fill of turkey, and get back to my ever-growing stack of books.

Last week in Philadelphia, I heard a talk by Jeff Kinney, who writes the Diary of a Wimpy Kid series. My younger son had read these books, but I had not. He thinks that he is like Greg and my older son is like Rodrick. My older son is now reading them, and he thinks that he is like Greg and my younger son is like Manny. This just shows that when you read a book, you may see it differently from someone else!

Have you started your Christmas shopping yet? Are you trying to think of some great books to put on your own wish list? We’ve created a special What to Give/What to Get Guide with you in mind --- it’s just for kids! We have books that we know you and your family and friends will love to unwrap this season, so check it out! And we also have our 2009 Holiday Roundup, which is full of books that are perfect for whatever holiday you may be celebrating this season.

Ever wish you and your friends were superheroes? In POWERLESS by Matthew Cody, 12-year-old Daniel, the new kid in town, soon learns that all of his new friends are superheroes. The superkids use their powers to secretly do good in the town, but for some mysterious reason, the moment they turn 13, their abilities will disappear --- along with any memory that they ever had them. Want to know more? Read our review and an excerpt.'s Amy Alessio recently talked to Chris Grabenstein, author of THE HANGING HILL. In this sequel to THE CROSSROADS, "stage fright" takes on a new meaning for Zack and Judy when the director of Judy's play tries to resurrect the dead. Chris talks about his humorous and spine-tingling storytelling in our interview.

The sixth book in The 39 Clues series is finally here! IN TOO DEEP by Jude Watson continues the story of siblings Dan and Amy, and in this installment, some dark secrets from the Cahill past are resurfaced. Also available in stores is PETER AND THE SWORD OF MERCY by Dave Barry and Ridley Pearson, the story of Peter Pan and his adventures in Neverland.

Have you entered our WELCOME TO CAMDEN FALLS Giveaway yet? This first book in Ann M. Martin's Main Street series introduces readers to sisters Flora and Ruby. You can read an excerpt, and be sure to check out the newest addition to the series, SPECIAL DELIVERY.

And speaking of contests, congratulations to the winners of our giveaways for SYREN, SINGING SENSATION and THEA STILTON AND THE MOUNTAIN OF FIRE. Your books should be arriving just in time for the holidays!

Have you read any of Lemony Snicket's A Series of Unfortunate Events books? The first installment in the series, THE BAD BEGINNING, is now available to read online for free! Click here to access the free online edition, as well as a video response from author Lemony Snicket himself.

Are you a Skippyjon Jones fan? This adorably confused, big-eared kitty thinks he's a Spanish-speaking chihuahua and gets into all kinds of funny shenanigans. Check out his latest escapade SKIPPYJON JONES, LOST IN SPICE, and
click here to see Skippyjon Jones webisodes on YouTube.

We've also updated our Chet Gecko series feature with the newest book, DIAL M FOR MONGOOSE. You can find our review here, and then test your Chet Gecko knowledge by playing the updated trivia game.

For more great gift and reading suggestions, check out our Cool New Books and New in Paperback roundups and our latest reviews --- which include graphic novel and manga titles. And don't forget to vote in our poll about your holiday wish list.

Happy reading! And HAPPY THANKSGIVING. May you tug on the wishbone and get the bigger side!

Carol Fitzgerald for



What to Give/What to Get Holiday Gift Guide for Kids
We’ve created a special What to Give/What to Get Guide with you in mind --- it’s just for kids! We have books that we know you’ll love to unwrap this season, so check it out. We’re sure you’ll end up spotting a title or two that you can add to YOUR holiday list.
Click here to see our What to Give/What to Get Gift Guide for kids.'s 2009 Holiday Roundup
No matter the time of year, books are always in season --- but this is especially true during the festive spirit of the holidays. This winter, celebrate with characters both old and new from’s featured titles, including Fancy Nancy, Mouse, Katie Kazoo, Auntie Claus, Tyrannoclaus, Stick Man and an eco-friendly Santa. Or try something more unconventional --- laugh your limbs off with winter-themed Mad Libs and experience a timeless song in 3D with the Jingle Bells pop-up book. Whatever you choose, you’ll be sure to get wrapped up in the tale!
Click here to see our 2009 Holiday Roundup.

Now in Stores: THE 39 CLUES, Book Six: IN TOO DEEP by Jude Watson

THE 39 CLUES, Book Six: IN TOO DEEP by Jude Watson
A hint from their parents’ past puts Amy and Dan on the trail of secrets their grandmother Grace would NEVER have wanted them to know. Awful memories begin to crowd in on Amy, just as her enemies circle closer. How far would she go to protect Dan? How much of a Cahill is she prepared to be? Perhaps Grace was right --- some secrets are better left buried. Reviewed by Chris Shanley-Dillman.

Click here to read a review of IN TOO DEEP.


New Special Feature: POWERLESS by Matthew Cody

POWERLESS by Matthew Cody
Superheroes soar in this promising debut --- and they’re kids!

Twelve-year-old Daniel, the new kid in town, soon learns the truth about his nice --- but odd --- new friends: one can fly, another can turn invisible, yet another controls electricity. Incredible. The superkids use their powers to secretly do good in the town, but they’re haunted by the fact that the moment they turn 13, their abilities will disappear --- along with any memory that they ever had them. Is a memory-stealing supervillain sapping their powers?

The answers lie in a long-ago meteor strike, a World War II–era comic book (Fantastic Futures, starring the first superhero, Johnny Noble), the green-flamed Witch Fire, a hidden Shroud cave, and --- possibly, unbelievably --- “powerless” regular-kid Daniel himself.

Superhero kids meet comic book mystery in this action-filled debut about the true meaning of a hero.

-Click here to read more about POWERLESS.
-Click here to read an excerpt from POWERLESS.

-Click here to read Matthew Cody’s bio.


Click here to read a review of POWERLESS.

Special Feature and Giveaway: Main Street by Ann M. Martin

WELCOME TO CAMDEN FALLS, the first installment in the Main Street series, introduces readers to Flora and Ruby, orphaned sisters who move to Camden Falls to live with their grandmother. Much to their surprise, the new town soon becomes their home.

To learn more about Flora and Ruby and their stories in Camden Falls, enter the WELCOME TO CAMDEN FALLS Giveaway to be one of 25 readers to win a copy of the book.

Flora and Ruby do not want to move to Camden Falls to live with their grandmother, Min, after their parents die in a car accident. It’s strange to be in a new place, but luckily, it’s a very welcoming place. Although they never expect it to, Camden Falls becomes their home, and its stories become a part of their lives.

-Click here for all the contest details.
-Click here to read an excerpt from WELCOME TO CAMDEN FALLS.

Flora and Ruby couldn’t be more excited that their Aunt Allie is adopting a baby --- they’ve never had a cousin before, and they are full of helpful suggestions. Soon the whole family is going to New York City for the big event…a special delivery of the best possible kind. There’s only one question: Will it be a boy or a girl?

-Click here to read a review of SPECIAL DELIVERY.
-Click here to read an excerpt from SPECIAL DELIVERY.
-Click here to read Ann M. Martin’s bio. Talks to Chris Grabenstein, Author of THE HANGING HILL
Actor, screenwriter and novelist Chris Grabenstein recently spoke with's Amy Alessio about his latest release, THE HANGING HILL --- the sequel to his award-winning mystery/thriller for middle-grade readers, THE CROSSROADS. In this interview, Grabenstein describes what inspired him to try his hand at writing for a younger audience and explains the unusual angle of his books that sets them apart from typical ghost stories. He also discusses how his early training as an improvisational actor has enhanced his skills as a storyteller, reveals some of the real-life counterparts for his colorful characters, and shares details about upcoming projects, including a fantasy adventure novel and a third installment in the series called THE SMOKY CORRIDOR.

THE HANGING HILL by Chris Grabenstein
After narrowly escaping a malevolent spirit in THE CROSSROADS, Zack and Judy are hoping to relax during the rehearsals for a show based on Judy’s bestselling children’s books. Little do they know that the director is planning to raise a horde of evil specters from the dead. To accomplish this, he needs a human sacrifice…and Zack fits the bill perfectly. Reviewed by Amy Alessio.

-Click here to read a review of THE HANGING HILL.


Click here to read our interview with Chris Grabenstein.


Now in Stores: PETER AND THE SWORD OF MERCY by Dave Barry and Ridley Pearson

PETER AND THE SWORD OF MERCY by Dave Barry and Ridley Pearson
All is good in Neverland. So good, in fact, that Peter never expects to leave the wonderful island where he and the Mollusks continue their friendship. The infamous Captain Hook is stranded there with a few of his men, but he is sure to stay away from that “wretched flying boy.” They live a kind of peaceful co-existence. However, as new developments arise, that all is about to change. Reviewed by Sally M. Tibbetts.



Click here to read a review of PETER AND THE SWORD OF MERCY.

Series Feature Update: Chet Gecko by Bruce Hale
DIAL M FOR MONGOOSE: A Chet Gecko Mystery by Bruce Hale
When trouble plagues Emerson Hicky Elementary --- in the form of stink bombs, stolen cafeteria veggies and other dastardly doings --- Chet must prove the innocence of his good friend, janitor Maureen DeBree. Never fear: He's on the case like the crust of a potato-bug pie. Reviewed by Terry Miller Shannon.

-Click here to play the updated Chet Gecko trivia game.
-Click here to read our Chet Gecko series feature.


Click here to read a review of DIAL M FOR MONGOOSE.

Now Available: Free Online Edition of Lemony Snicket's THE BAD BEGINNING

THE BAD BEGINNING by Lemony Snicket
"My book is free? Lock it up at once!"

---Lemony Snicket, regarding the new free online edition of THE BAD BEGINNING

The entire text of THE BAD BEGINNING, the first book in A Series of Unfortunate Events, has been made available online. For FREE. Open to anyone. Including horrible villains, innocent readers, and you.


Visit to access the free online edition of THE BAD BEGINNING and view Lemony Snicket’s video response to this latest unfortunate event.

Click here to visit the official Lemony Snicket website.


Now in Stores: SKIPPYJON JONES, LOST IN SPICE written and illustrated by Judy Schachner

SKIPPYJON JONES, LOST IN SPICE written and illustrated by Judy Schachner
The New York Times bestselling kitty boy blasts off into another hilarious adventure.

Buckle up, amigos --- everyone's favorite kitty boy is about to lift off. You'll want to be there when the brave Skippito gets lost in spice!

That's right, spice. Skippy knows --- from his big ears to his toes --- that the planet Mars is red because it's covered in spicy red pepper. To prove it, he's off on a space jaunt replete with craters, crazies and creatures from Mars. His new adventure is packed with witty wordplay, Spanish phrases and Judy Schachner's trademark hilarity. This rollicking romp is simply out of this world.

-Click here to see Skippyjon Jones on YouTube, with animated webisodes from each Skippy adventure!

Click here to visit Skippyjon Jones’s official website.

Cool New Books for November and December

November and December's roundup of Cool New Books includes CROCODILE TEARS, the highly anticipated eighth installment in Anthony Horowitz's action-packed series starring teenage superspy Alex Rider; MILLION-DOLLAR THROW, Mike Lupica's newest sports novel about a 13-year-old who wins the chance to throw a pass through a target at a New England Patriots game for one million dollars; IN TOO DEEP by Jude Watson, book six in The 39 Clues series that finds Amy and Dan on the trail of secrets their grandmother Grace never would have wanted them to know; LONE WOLF, Kathryn Lasky's story of a courageous wolf pup who rises up to change the Wolves of the Beyond forever; the latest additions to the Fancy Nancy and Amelia Bedelia series of picture books; and THE EVER BREATH, a fast-paced tale from Julianna Baggot in which two young siblings are involved in an epic battle to save not just one world, but two.

Click here to read our Cool New Books feature for November and December.

November and December's New in Paperback Roundup

November and December’s roundup of New in Paperback titles includes LONG SHADOWS, Erin Hunter’s fifth Warriors: Power of Three book that finds three young cats having to put their powers to the ultimate test to save the Clans from destruction; THE SÉANCE by Iain Lawrence, a murder mystery set during the Roaring Twenties in which a boy discovers a dead man in Harry Houdini's Burmese Torture Tank; SHOOTING THE MOON, a timeless novel from Frances O’Roark Dowell about the sacrifices we make for what we believe in and for the people we love; IGNATIUS MACFARLAND: FREQUENAUT!, the first book in a series by Paul Feig that features a seventh grader who decides to build a rocket after being teased one too many times at school; and THIS IS THE DREAM, a picture book that sweeps readers along on a compelling journey through American history to show how far we have come in attaining freedom and justice for all.

Click here to see what’s New in Paperback for November and December.

This Month's Reviews Reviews:

THIS BOOK IS NOT GOOD FOR YOU by Pseudonymous Bosch
Don’t believe the title of this book. The third installment in Pseudonymous Bosch’s whimsical series (following THE NAME OF THIS BOOK IS SECRET and IF YOU’RE READING THIS, IT’S TOO LATE) really is good for you! Like rich dark chocolate, it will surprise and delight and keep you wanting more. Reviewed by Donna Volkenannt.

Take an extraordinary angel, a spunky girl named Zola, a whole lot of orphans, and one funny pigeon --- mix them all up and you’ve got magic. Newbery Medal winner Sharon Creech spins a charming story about the healing powers of love. Reviewed by Joy Held.

Nine-year-old Sassy is excited to be heading to Florida with her family for her grandmother’s birthday party. But some of this excitement turns to fear with the threat of a hurricane in the forecast. And when Grammy and Sassy discover a turtle nest in danger of being washed away, the entire family comes to the rescue. Reviewed by Chris Shanley-Dillman.

Loyal pals Jasper Dash, Katie Mulligan and Lily Gefelty embark on their most daring adventure yet --- rescuing an endangered young monk from certain doom at a possibly mythical monastery in the fabled mountainous wilds of darkest Delaware. Reviewed by Norah Piehl.

A SEASON OF GIFTS by Richard Peck
Grandma Dowdel is back and hasn’t slowed down one bit. A new family moves in next door and finds themselves in desperate need of their neighbor’s help, even if they don’t realize it yet. Watch out, because when Grandma Dowdel gets involved, chaos and excitement are sure to follow. Reviewed by Benjamin Boche.

WILLIAM S. AND THE GREAT ESCAPE by Zilpha Keatley Snyder
William S. Baggett is a good kid trapped in a really awful family. When his big brothers flush his sister's pet guinea pig down the toilet, she insists they leave now and take the two littlest Baggetts with them. So they head out in the middle of the night, ready to escape to their aunt Fiona's house. Unfortunately, the trip doesn't go exactly as planned. Reviewed by Norah Piehl.

CAPTAIN NOBODY by Dean Pitchford
Ten-year-old Newt Newman’s Halloween isn’t shaping up to what he expected it to be. Newt’s older brother is in the hospital in a coma following a football accident, and Newt doesn’t know what to do to help. Perhaps Captain Nobody, Newt’s last-minute costume creation, can save the day. Reviewed by Benjamin Boche.

-Click here to read our reviews.

Graphic Novel Reviews:

KIT FEENY: ON THE MOVE written and illustrated by Michael Townsend
When Kit's family moves away from the farm and into the big city, he knows he'll be lonely without his best friend, Arnold, so the two come up with a terrific plan to stay together. Now if only they had remembered to put a toilet in the moving box! Reviewed by Snow Wildsmith.

SALT WATER TAFFY, Volumes 1-3 written and illustrated by Matthew Loux
Jack and his brother, Benny, aren’t very excited about spending the summer in Chowder Bay, Maine. But when they move there, they discover that adventure is always waiting just outside, though it may not take the form they expect. Reviewed by Snow Wildsmith.

TINY TYRANT, Volume One: THE ETHELBERTOSAURUS written by Lewis Trondheim and illustrated by Fabrice Parme
Ethelbert lives every kid's dream --- he's the king, so he gets everything he wants, even if he wishes to clone his own dinosaur or have Santa Claus give his chef cooking lessons. Of course, nothing ever ends up the way he plans, but that's when the fun really starts. Reviewed by Brigid Alverson.

CLAIRE AND THE BAKERY THIEF/CLAIRE AND THE WATER WISH written and illustrated by Janice Poon
Claire is not happy about moving to the country and leaving her old friends. But a friendship and a double dose of mystery will help her learn to love her new home. Reviewed by Snow Wildsmith.

THE INCREDIBLES: FAMILY MATTERS written by Mark Waid and illustrated by Marcio Takara
The superpowered family known as The Incredibles returns for another adventure, but this time the danger is even more pressing --- Mr. Incredible has lost his powers! Reviewed by John Hogan.

Manga Review:

DOMO: THE MANGA written and illustrated by Clint Bickham
You know the kid who always got carried away and ended up wrecking stuff? That’s Domo, a big, lovable slab of fur with more enthusiasm than common sense and a knack for getting himself in trouble. Reviewed by Brigid Alverson.

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


This Month's Poll: Your Holiday Wish List

Have you made a wish list for the holidays?

No, but I'm working on one.
No, I'm not interested in this.
Not sure

Are any books on your wish list?

No, but they will be.
I don't have a wish list.
Not sure


Click here to answer the poll.


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!

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