Monthly Archives: August 2011


Posted by | August 30, 2011 | No Comments

It’s been an eventful couple of days: earthquakes! hurricanes!  But even Mother Nature can’t put a stop to Book Birthdays!  Today is the birthday for WILDWOOD by Colin Meloy (of Decemberists’ fame) and illustrated by his wife, Carson Ellis.  We’re so thrilled that it’s out there for everyone to read now!

Check out the reviews:

“Meloy has an immediately recognizable verbal style and creates a fully realized fantasy world…. Ellis’s illustrations perfectly capture the original world and contribute to the feel of an instant timeless classic.” ~ School Library Journal (starred review)

“Fantasy lovers of all ages will be enthralled by fast-moving plot lines, evocative descriptions, and smart, snappy dialogue.” ~ VOYA (5P, 5Q)

“A satisfying blend of fantasy, adventure story, eco-fable and political satire with broad appeal; especially recommended for preteen boys.” ~ Kirkus

Interested in teaching WILDWOOD in your classroom?  The discussion guide is here to help, and you can read the first four chapters here!

Get to know Colin Meloy and Carson Ellis:

And take a look at the book trailer to whet your appetite:

Happy publication day to WILDWOOD!

Guest Post: Reading Rants! visits Sweden

Posted by | August 25, 2011 | 3 Comments

Hi Pageturn readers,

Just like most professional book pushers, whenever I travel to a new locale, the first place I visit is the public library. For most librarians, it’s almost like a homing device: “Must. See. Stacks.” So when my husband and I visited relatives in Gothenburg, Sweden this summer, I made a beeline straight to the Gothenburg Public Library. And I’m so glad I did, because it was an absolute inspiration to see the dazzling space allotted to kids and teens. Here I am in the entrance to the youth area. I was seriously digging that cool blue dragon sign. Unfortunately, they wouldn’t let me bring it home with me. Shoot. It would have looked so good in our picture book room!

It was also very fun to get to see some of my favorite titles in Swedish. I got such a kick out of seeing “The Deluxe” series on the shelves in the youth area. Apparently the title gets an extra syllable in Swedish!

But the piece de resistance had to be the teen room downstairs. Filled with cozy couches, colorful paperbacks (including many adult titles) and entire wall of gaming devices and screens, this was a teenage dream that even Katy Perry would approve of. The full wall of windows opened out into a pretty green courtyard, where teens could go to mingle or chat on their cells.

Here’s the stage (for open mic events) and gaming area. Teens can check out gaming consoles and devices for use in the teen area just
like books. I was super impressed with how much room was provided for teens for digital recreation, a clear indication that this library values their teen patrons and understands their importance to the library’s future success. During a time when public library, and especially teen services, are being cut all over the United States, it was both thrilling and sad to see such a wonderful space being offered to teens that was so respectful of their needs and sensibilities.

On a practical note, I was also geeked out by the beautifully designed library shelving carts. “Gorgeous” isn’t usually a word you use
to describe a book truck, but doesn’t it fit this one perfectly? This is one of the ways you know you are a born librarian—when you get wistful over well-designed library accessories.

Finally, I have to mention the café area, which served snacks, coffee and…BEER. Yup, that’s a Carlsberg (a local Danish beer) cooler under the microwave. How very European! Yet another way the library can evolve to meet the needs of its patrons: community AND adult beverage center!

So that was what I did on my summer vacation. What about you? Visit any cool libraries around the 50 states or abroad?

Jennifer Hubert Swan is the middle school librarian at Little Red School House & Elisabeth Irwin High School in Manhattan.  She reviews books for Kirkus, as well as on her own blog, Reading Rants! She is also the author of Reading Rants: Guide to Books that Rock! (Neal Schuman, 2007)

Storytime Corner: DOGS

Posted by | August 24, 2011 | No Comments

Having done a Storytime Corner on cats, it only makes sense that we’d have to do one on dogs, right?  I’m a cat person myself, but these dog stories are completely irresistible.  And to keep all your parents and kids happy, you could even consider mixing up the dog and cat stories to make an integrated “Pets” program!


IF YOU GIVE A DOG A DONUT by Laura Numeroff, illustrated by Felicia Bond (On-sale 10.4.11)

THAT PUP! by Lindsay Barrett George

NO DOGS ALLOWED! by Anne Davis

TEN LITTLE PUPPIES/Diez perritos by Alma Flor Ada and F. Isabel Campoy, illustrated by Ulises Wensell

Usually when I do storytimes, I like to make some books available for checkout that follow the theme.  Here are a few ideas of books you can display for checkout post-program:

CHARLIE THE RANCH DOG by Ree Drummond, illustrated by Diane deGroat
DOGS by Seymour Simon
HARRY THE DIRTY DOG by Gene Zion, illustrated by Margaret Bloy Graham
HIP HOP DOG by Chris Raschka, illustrated by Vladimir Radunsky
I AM THE DOG by Daniel Pinkwater, illustrated by Jack E. Davis
MAGGIE’S BALL by Lindsay Barrett George
ZOOMER by Ned Young

I started compiling song, rhyme, and craft ideas…and then I realized that Storytime Katie had most likely already put together something fabulous for a dog-themed storytime.  And she had.  Check out her Puppies storytime, as well as her storytime for Pets. Wonderful ideas!

Take Two

Posted by | August 23, 2011 | No Comments

For better or for worse, as parents, librarians, and teachers, we rely a lot on series to get reluctant readers to keep reading.  Heck, even very strong readers love the predictability and familiarity they have with characters and storylines they’ve encountered before.  To that end, there are some #2 books coming out in new series this fall and they just might be the perfect recommendation for the kids in your library or classroom (or home):

THE FAMILIARS #2: SECRETS OF THE CROWN by Adam Jay Epstein and Andrew Jacobson


MO WREN, LOST AND FOUND by Tricia Springstubb


What other series are your kids excited about?

Fun Travel Photos

Posted by | August 22, 2011 | No Comments

Dan Gutman!  When he first sent this photo, it sent us into gales of laughter:

Want in on the fun and laughs?  Sign up for the My Weird Classroom Club for lesson plans, discussion questions, and more!

Turning the Page with…Robison Wells

Posted by | August 18, 2011 | 1 Comment

You’ve been bounced around from foster home to foster home, and it’s becoming clear that no one cares where you end up next.  You’ve fallen between the cracks.  So imagine your luck when you discover that you’ve been accepted to an exclusive private boarding school where you might have a chance to make something of yourself.  Only…once you get to the school, you find out that there’s no leaving it.  There are no grown-ups…only classes taught by fellow students who have received the lessons from mysterious adults on the outside.  The students have formed their hierarchies so that you’re in or you’re out, and you’re constantly watching your back.  Nothing is quite what it seems.  What do you do?  Fall in line?  Try to escape?  Only…those who try to escape aren’t heard from again…

And this is the hang-on-to-the-seat-of-your-pants, twist-around-every-corner story that Robison Wells has written with VARIANT.  As Heather mentioned in her guest post yesterday, we – publishers, librarians, bloggers – read a lot of books  and we’ve become rather jaded.  But this one…this one is special.  You won’t see these twists coming.  In its starred review, Publishers Weekly says that “there are plenty of  ‘didn’t see that coming’ moments and no shortage of action or violence. With its clever premise, quick pace, and easy-to-champion characters, Well’s story is a fast, gripping read with a cliffhanger that will leave readers wanting more.”

We recently put the get-to-know-him-now-because-he’s-about-to-skyrocket-to-the-stratosphere author of VARIANT, Robison Wells, in the hot seat –  well, since it’s summer, we actually put him in a hammock – and begged him to answer The Most Important Questions He’d Ever Answer.  Here’s what he had to say:

What time is your alarm clock set for?

I know this sounds terrible, but when I’m writing I wake up at 4:00am. I still have a fulltime job, and I find that I write much better before work than after. It took a while to get used to the early schedule, but now I like it quite a bit. Everything is quiet and calm, and I don’t have a million stressors running through my head. I can really focus.

Favorite book from childhood?

I guess that would depend on the era of childhood we’re talking about, but overall I’d probably say THE PHANTOM TOLLBOOTH. I think I connected a lot with Milo, who was a little cynical and always bored. I was a smart kid and I was in advanced classes in elementary school, but I didn’t really like learning, or even reading. So, when the book starts with the main character saying “I can’t see the point in learning to solve useless problems, or subtracting turnips from turnips, or knowing where Ethiopia is or how to spell February”, I was immediately drawn in. And then the book was filled with clever wordplay that you would only get if you actually knew something about math or grammar, and everytime I got a joke it made me appreciate my education a little bit more. It made me feel smart, and it made feeling smart fun.

If you weren’t an author/illustrator, what job would you like to have?

Well, I still have a full time job that I like quite a bit: I have my MBA in marketing, and I work for a software company as a product marketing manager. I actually find a lot of similarities between writing and marketing: In writing, you have to know your characters’ motivations so well that you can plausibly extrapolate their actions; in marketing, you have to know your customers’ motivations so well that you can anticipate their needs and desires. As such, my favorite marketing subjects have always been consumer psychology and behavior.

That said, if I could have any job, I’d love to work with railroads. I don’t even know what specific job I’d want, but MAN, I love trains. Historic ones, new ones, all of them. I think I’m just a big kid.

How many stamps are in your passport?

I’m embarrassed to say I don’t even have a passport. I’ve been to Canada and Mexico, but that was before passports were required to cross the border. I really need to fix this situation.

Favorite word?

I love “obsequious”. And “sycophant”. I like them because of the way they sound, but I try to tell myself that the similar definitions are purely coincidental. If not, I don’t know what my subconcious is trying to say.

What are you reading right now?

I’m just about done with INCOGNITO: THE SECRET LIVES OF THE BRAIN, by David Eagleman. It’s non-fiction neuroscience, but written so that even non-science dummies like me can understand it. Every page is fascinating, and it has sparked more conversations than any book I’ve read in years. Go read it so we can talk about how cool it is.

Finish this sentence: “I always smile when…”

I always smile when I sit quietly and hold my sleeping baby, and also when I’m really, super, ultra rich. (That last part is based on assumptions, but I stand behind them.)

Funniest (or most interesting) question from a fan?
I had someone email me asking about an old book I’d published in 2004, in a niche market, which has long been out of print. The reader was saying he loved it but couldn’t find it for sale anywhere, and did I mind if he made a copy of library version? (I told him to go ahead. I have no idea if I can legally make that decision. Oh well.)

Thanks so much for turning the page with us!

Readers, for more tantalizing information about VARIANT, you’ve gotta check out the discussion over at Presenting Lenore.  How they manage to both discuss it in-depth and not give anything away is incredibly impressive.  You’ll love the post and it’ll just whet your appetite further.  VARIANT is on-sale October 4th.

Check out Robison Wells’ website and follow him on Twitter.

Exciting Up-and-Coming Reads

Posted by | August 17, 2011 | 1 Comment

As book lovers, we all have something in common: there’s too much to read and too little time.  When I’m having a hard time deciding, I’ll often as my colleague Heather Doss.  She’s one of our National Account Managers and one of the most well-read and knowledgeable children’s/young adult folks I know.  So when I asked Heather which teen books she was excited about for the upcoming fall season, here’s what she told me:

SWEET VENOM by Tera Lynn Childs
ISBN 9780062001818
On-sale 9.6.11

“I’m a sucker for anything that is a retelling or twist of classic myths so was drawn to this book from the initial description. With three main characters each having their own personalities, this is perfect for teens that have grown up reading Percy Jackson while watching reruns of Buffy.”

DEADLY COOL by Gemma Halliday
ISBN 9780062003317
On-sale 10.11.11

“A murder mystery with a snarky Heathers feel so funny I literally spit a French fry at a pigeon while reading…genius!

VARIANT by Robinson Wells
ISBN 9780062026088
On-sale 10.4.11

“As a voracious reader, I feel like I’ve read it all & can usually figure out the plot before page 100 (not that that will stop me from reading). This boarding school thriller had a plot twist that I did NOT see coming & still has me puzzled to this day as to ‘what it all means’.”

ISBN 9780062026484
On-sale 9.20.11

“A fantasy for those who think they don’t like that genre, a setting that is lush & exotic, a romance that develops naturally & not instantaneously, a female protagonist who starts off unsure of herself & finds her inner warrior: this one has all the elements of my favorite books combined into one fantastic read!”

FROST by Marianna Baer
ISBN 9780061799495
On-sale 9.13.11

“Call it the ‘attack of boarding school thrillers’ but this one had a very different feel from VARIANT: deliciously psychologically creepy while leaving you wondering by the end who or what was behind it all.”

ISBN 9781442421769
On-sale 9.27.11

“I’d had this debut from Simon & Schuster on my GoodReads list for over a year & dived into it the second I got my greedy little hands on the ARC: a psychological mystery wrapped in a steamy romance & a hint of paranormal activity.”

Weekend Reading

Posted by | August 15, 2011 | No Comments

The kidlitosphere was hopping this weekend with news, reviews, and commentary.  Here are some of the gems we uncovered while reading through our blogroll:

  • Lee Wind at I’m Here, I’m Queer.  What the Hell Do I Read? went to the SCBWI Conference in Los Angeles and shared some of his favorite quotes.  I loved this one from Donna Jo Napoli: “Any civilization is built on empathy. If dreadful things happen to you, you learn empathy. …And for the protected child …the safest way for them to develop empathy is through a book.”  Yes.
  • Oh, Roger.  We adore you.  Thanks so much for sharing your criticisms thoughts on the strike-through trend.
  • Sarah’s YA Movie News posts on her blog GreenBeanTeenQueen are some of my favorites!  She mentions the Hunger Games movie stills many of us have seen – I’m not a fan, I have to admit.  Katniss and Peeta are fighting for their lives so why do they look so pretty and stagnant?  And what do you make of the upcoming Snow White movies?
  • Chicken Spaghetti shares a great list of picture books about New York.  I’d also love to add SUBWAY by Christoph Niemann, which is one of my recent favorites that captures the energy and vitality of New York’s iconic subway system.
  • Kiersten White’s blog is one of my favorite things – she is just completely charming and hilarious and silly.  Sure, her book PARANORMALCY just got a director…but what Kiersten is really excited about is Saved by the Bell’s Mr. Belding tweeting about it!  I would be too.  I mean, it’s Saved by the Bell!
  • It’s been all over the web but, just in case you haven’t seen it, these minimalist posters of children’s stories from Flavorwire are a must-see.  Do you have a favorite?  This is mine:

Read and Bleed with Ellen Schreiber

Posted by | August 10, 2011 | 1 Comment

It takes a very good reason for vampires (and their fans) to brave the harsh light of day.  An Alabama library found the perfect thing to coax them out into the hot summer sun.  Gadsden Public Library’s Read and Bleed event challenged teens to donate money, time, and—most importantly—blood.  Library director Amanda Buckner Jackson explains how Read and Bleed came about: “With all the destruction the State of Alabama and our area had faced in April, we wanted to do our part to help with the recovery efforts and to keep the need for assistance fresh in the minds of our community. The Red Cross has been such an integral part of the relief efforts, that partnering with them seemed like the most logical decision.”  After some inspired brainstorming, Read and Bleed fell into place.

Gadsden Public Library reached out to an old friend who knows a little something about blood.  Vampire Kisses author Ellen Schreiber had visited Gadsden for the library’s fantastic Geekfest.  When asked to return, Ellen jumped at the chance to reconnect with Gadsden’s enthusiastic teens.  She flew down from Ohio just for Read and Bleed.  Teens came from as far away as Huntsville to see Ellen and give blood.  A Red Cross van collected blood donations while Ellen signed books and read to the gathered fans.  Ellen says she loved the goths who showed up in monster boots and corsets.  But Ellen admits, “We were so hot we had to go inside for the rest of event.  We vampires were melting in the sun!”

Ellen couldn’t give blood because she was getting on a plane right after the event, (and we’d hate to see her pass out at 30,000 feet).  But she did donate her entire speaking fee to the American Red Cross.  Ellen wasn’t alone in her generosity.  The summer book club raised $1000 for the Red Cross.  Amanda Buckner Jackson reports that Read and Bleed had close to 100 participants through fundraising, reading, donating blood, and helping to publicize the blood drive.  Not only did the blood drive collect donations at a critical time, it also encouraged Gadsden’s teens to be more civic minded.  As Amanda says, “We wanted them to see that just because you are young doesn’t mean you can’t be the change you want to see in your community.”  And that warms the heart more than a pint of AB negative.

~ Tony


Posted by | August 9, 2011 | No Comments

Chocolate chip…white chocolate macadamia nut…peanut butter…oatmeal raisin…sugar…  Yep, we’re getting hungry too, given that laundry list of fabulous cookies!  What’s your favorite kind of cookie?

I love making a storytime theme out of things that I personally enjoy – it keeps things fresh after your 100th storytime, not to mention I think that your enthusiasm really shines through for a topic in which you’re personally invested.  So, if you’re like me, you can try a cookie-themed storytime:

Who Stole the Cookie from the Cookie Jar?


COOKIES: BITE-SIZE LIFE LESSONS by Amy Krouse Rosenthal, illustrated by Jane Dyer

COOKIEBOT! by Katie Van Camp, illustrated by Lincoln Agnew (watch the adorable book trailer)

IF YOU GIVE A MOUSE A COOKIE by Laura Numeroff, illustrated by Felicia Bond


Food version – Use already-baked cookies and let kids decorate with sprinkles, frosting, chocolate chips, dried cranberries, raisins, and anything else delicious you can think of.

Non-food Version – Cut out circles of paper and let kids decorate their “cookies” with confetti, strips of paper, glitter (if your library allows it), stickers.

Photo source
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