Monthly Archives: February 2012

BOOK BIRTHDAYS

Posted by | February 28, 2012 | No Comments

Wow– we have some really fantastic books to wish a Happy Book Birthday to today! They’re ALMOST Leap Year book babies, but not quite…

PANDEMONIUM, by Lauren Oliver. In the highly anticipated sequel to DELIRIUM, Lena completely transforms herself into a warrior for the resistance in order to push Alex and her old life far from her mind and heart.  Epic and yet heart-breakingly close, you’ll savor every minute of this one.

PENNY AND HER SONG, by Kevin Henkes.  Meet Penny– Kevin Henkes’ newest mouse, and his first foray into the world of beginning readers!

PARTIALS, by Dan Wells.  Humanity’s only hope… may not be human at all.  In this exciting thriller, a small group living on what used to be Long Island may be the only humans left after a devastating robot revolution, and Kira finds herself unexpectedly at the forefront of their survival.

Z IS FOR MOOSE, by Kelly Bingham, illustrations by Paul O. Zelinsky.  Fiesty but well-meaning Moose inserts himself into every page of this ABC book that’s already garnering multiple terrific starred reviews!

STORYTIME CORNER: MOONLIGHT

Posted by | February 23, 2012 | No Comments

Although I must confess that I’ve never have been able to see a man in it, the moon is not only beautiful, but mythical and magical, especially for little ones.  Imagine our excitement when brainstorming a storytime theme that could include our brand new beautiful picture book MOONLIGHT when we realized that the perfect answer was staring us in the face: the moon!

SONGS:

Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star

Oh Mister Sun (how sweet is the “Mister Moon” verse?)

STORIES:

MOONLIGHT, by Helen V. Griffith, illustrations by Laura Dronzek

KITTEN’S FIRST FULL MOON, written and illustrated by Kevin Henkes

…and maybe you saw this one coming? GOODNIGHT MOON, by Margaret Wise Brown, pictures by Clement Hurt

CRAFT:

Have kids create their own moonlight scene using chalk (or oil) pastels on black construction paper.  The bright marks made by the pastels are the highlights of moonlight on the nighttime scene.

THE ONE AND ONLY IVAN GIVEAWAY WINNERS

Posted by | February 21, 2012 | 1 Comment

Sorry, folks—we missed posting the winners of our IVAN giveaway on Friday! But now here we are . . .

Congratulations to the following winners:

Vikki Gremel
Allison (Allure of Books)
Brenda Steffens

We’ll contact you shortly to ask for your mailing addresses. And this guy (or one of his brethren) will be coming your way soon.

Thanks very much to all for the great comments! We loved hearing about all of your favorites.

LOVE AND LEFTOVERS

Posted by | February 14, 2012 | 1 Comment

Still looking for the perfect read for Valentine’s Day?  We’d love to introduce you to Sarah Tregay, the debut author of LOVE AND LEFTOVERS, a romantic novel in verse that Booklist said will “make teenage readers’ hearts beat a little bit faster.” And LOVE AND LEFTOVERS just received a STARRED REVIEW from School Library Journal! It’s a beautifully written story of one girl’s journey navigating family, friends, and love, and a compelling and sexy read that teens will gobble up whole.  We invited debut author Sarah Tregay to The PageTurn to give us a peek into her teenage Valentine’s Days and beyond…

SARAH TREGAY: In high school, my friends and I used to wear black on Valentine’s Day. We didn’t have boyfriends and the only carnations we got were from each other—white ones and pink ones. Never red. A red carnation symbolized true love.

The colors drew a line between us and the hopeless romantics. They wore red sweaters, passed out foil-wrapped Hershey’s kisses, and flaunted their red carnations. They loved Valentine’s Day. We hated it. (Or pretended to hate it.) It was easier to wear black than to admit we wanted boyfriends; easier to wear black than to put our hearts on our sleeves; easier to wear black than to have our hearts broken. Sure, deep down, we wanted a trio of boys to profess their undying love for us, but we kept that to ourselves.

And it’s that deep down part of me that writes love stories.

I wrote LOVE AND LEFTOVERS for the readers with the white and pink carnations who are waiting for a red one, and wanting to experience all that Valentine’s Day has to promise, complete with red paper hearts, chocolate, and poetry.

Poetry? Yes, I wrote LOVE AND LEFTOVERS in verse in order to put my readers right at the heart of the story, feeling the heartbeat of the characters’ emotions and the pulse of the action. My choice to write in verse was influenced by the voice of my main character, Marcie, and a plot element involving her blue notebook.
Marcie writes poems in her blue notebook as she navigates both a new crush, and a long distance relationship—the kind everyone says is doomed to fail. Torn between the two, her birthday wish is to fall “cranium over Converse/in dizzy, daydream-worthy love.”

Unlike me, Marcie isn’t content with dressing in black on Valentine’s Day—she wants that red carnation. To get it, she has to learn to trust that relationships can work, even though her parents’ marriage recently fell apart. She must also trust herself before she can trust that Linus really loves her, losing everything before she finally figures it out.

At the end, Marcie finally earns her wish—and the metaphorical red carnation—just in time for Valentine’s Day. After all, I didn’t want to disappoint my deep-down high school self. (She would have wanted a happy ending.)

And my friends and I? We’re married to our college sweethearts.

NEW VOICES: OPENING THE BOOK WITH… CHRISTINA MEREDITH

Posted by | February 14, 2012 | 1 Comment

Today we’re introducing you to Christina Meredith, debut author of KISS CRUSH COLLIDE and one of our Winter 2012 New Voices. Yesterday we shared an excerpt of the book (READ IT HERE!), and a few words from Christina’s editor, Virginia Duncan, on why and how this story spoke to her. Appropriately, this story is really about one girl’s summer of getting to know herself– so today, let’s Open the Book and get to know Christina…

 


Which was your favorite book from childhood, and what are you reading right now?

I am going to go with my favorite book, ever, for this — The Cheer Leader by Jill McCorkle. If you are anything like me and pick up the mood of what you are reading, be careful with this one… It is so good it makes me crazy. Right now I am finishing up my next novel and am so very, very close to the end that I am not reading much of anything. Which kills me. I am staying alive through a steady drip of magazine articles and Yahoo headlines. I scan the headlines and then make up the rest. My current favorite? Dog shoots man with own gun. There are so many places you can go with that.

What is your secret talent?

I do a killer Irish accent.

Fill in the blank: _______ always makes me laugh.

A well-dressed monkey always makes me laugh.

My current obsessions are…

Fast zombies, Fincher movies, and fair-isle sweaters. And the letter F, apparently.

Any gem of advice for aspiring writers?

Make sure the loudest voice inside your head is your own.

Finish this sentence: I hope a person who reads my book…

…is lit up. Awake and alive and ready for more.

Tell us more about how KISS CRUSH COLLIDE was born.

We all know it’s there.  We’ve felt it:  the spark, the heat, the magic. It rushed past me one day — a teenage girl on the back of a motorcycle.  She was hanging on tight to the dude in front of her, leaning in and looking past him toward the road that was rolling out before them.  Her parents must love that, I thought, immediately followed by, look how far and fast we will go sometimes to find ourselves. I started writing. I chased that idea down. I imagined a girl who had it all, but hadn’t made any choices for herself.  I remembered summers where nothing seemed to happen, but everything changed.  Then Porter came along, with his muscle cars and his sturdy silence, and the days became long and sunny.  He brought the poetry. I kept coming back to the alchemy of attraction and how ignoring it seems to lead to a life of robotic decay.  How the first guy a girl really, really falls for takes her away from her family and how they have defined her.  How sweet and scary it is to find your own way.  But, most of all, I loved the idea that someone can just show up and suddenly your life starts to sparkle.  I still do.

Thanks Christina!

NEW VOICES, A WORD FROM THE EDITOR: KISS CRUSH COLLIDE

Posted by | February 13, 2012 | 1 Comment

We haven’t forgotten about New Voices, and we hope you haven’t either!  Our next book in this series promoting debut authors, KISS CRUSH COLLIDE, by Christina Meredith, we’ve been saving for this very week, so perhaps you can guess what it’s about?  Good answer– love.  While this is a steamy novel about that kind of attraction that hits you like a truck and holds you prisoner, it’s also a novel about family, duty, obligation, and understanding.

Don’t just take our word for it: READ AN EXCERPT, free, here:

Leah’s life is going according to plan. Her mother’s plan. Cheerleading captain, valedictorian, college, and then marrying her high school sweetheart. Just like her two older sisters. But Leah wants more. More than Shane’s right hand on her thigh as he drives her around. More than the stifling life set out for her. So when the guy who parks cars at the country club offers her his strong, tan hand, he’s not just helping her out of the car. He’s pulling her into a whole new path, one filled with surprises, and journeys, and freedom. A classic American love story between the daughter of privilege and the boy from the wrong side of the tracks.

Greenwillow publisher Virginia Duncan, Christina’s editor, had this to say about KISS CRUSH COLLIDE:

When I first read Kiss Crush Collide (it was called Counting Cars then—which is a fun title once you’ve read the book and actually counted the cars), I fell hard for Porter and his green eyes. Who was this guy? And isn’t he pretty much the stuff of a dream summer romance?

Leah intrigued me. She has everything. Beauty, brains, money—and she already has a boyfriend to die for, and parents and sisters who love her and only want what is best for her. The thing is, Leah isn’t sure what “best” means anymore. She isn’t rebelling. She isn’t freaking out. Or doing drugs. She’s just become vaguely uneasy in her own skin.

Enter Porter.

Reading this manuscript made me remember seeing Dirty Dancing for the first time. It made me want to go on a John Hughes movie jag. Reading this manuscript made me remember how much I love contemporary fiction. I admired the rawness of the story and the honesty of the writing. Do I think Porter and Leah are headed for a happily-ever-after-forever future? No. But I love the idea that a single person can change your life forever and open your eyes to a path you might never have seen or attempted by yourself. And I love that this can (will!) happen on a golf course, or in the school parking lot, or in the kitchen breakfast nook, or next to the old quarry in a borrowed car—rather than in a far-flung dystopia. Thanks, Christina!

Read, ruminate on love in all its forms, and stay tuned for tomorrow, when we’ll Open the Book with debut novelist, Christina Meredith!

THE ONE AND ONLY IVAN

Posted by | February 10, 2012 | 29 Comments

In case you haven’t heard us talking about this book yet, we’ll say it again here: WE LOVE IVAN.

Ivan is an easy-going gorilla who lives at the Exit 8 Big Top Mall and Video Arcade, and he spends his days drawing, watching his TV, and being stared at by shoppers. When Ruby, a baby elephant, moves in, Ivan summons the protective instincts of his inner mighty silverback and makes a promise that Ruby will have a different kind of life than the one he has known.  

Katherine Applegate tells the story (which, by the way, is based on a true one) in Ivan’s own voice, with narration full of gentle gorilla observations and subtle, sharp insights. His voice and his story are poignant and profound and deeply moving, and we could go on for a very long time about what a fantstic read this is. But we’d rather you find out for yourself!

Others are loving Ivan, too:

“Extraordinary.” ~ Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books (starred review)

“The characters will capture readers’ hearts and never let go. A must-have.” ~ School Library Journal (starred review)

“Compelling. . . . Poignant. . . . Utterly believable.” ~ Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

We are so excited about this book, and we’re thrilled to share Ivan’s story far and wide. You can get a peek at the book by using our Browse Inside feature, and don’t miss the discussion guide for conversation starters and activities for your students.

And here’s some exciting news! We’re giving away three copies of THE ONE AND ONLY IVAN, each of which will be accompanied by an adorable gorilla stuffed animal*.  Post a note to us in the comments telling us your favorite animal character in all of children’s literature, and we’ll enter you to win a copy of the book and a stuffed Ivan.  You have until Wednesday, February 15th at 11:59 p.m. EST to enter, and we’ll announce the winners at the end of next week.  Open to U.S. and Canada only.

*

THURSDAY TRAILERS

Posted by | February 9, 2012 | No Comments

We’re feeling that near-the-end-of-the-week fatigue set in a bit (and did anyone else wake up thinking it was Friday today? Because that is just not cool!), which is when we love to sit back and watch a few of our newest book trailers.   And these are some doozies of goodness:

Meet modern-day teen Robin Hood Willa, whose plan is simple: take from the rich kids at her prep school and give to the poor.  But things go off the rails as the string of burglaries gain notice and Willa starts falling for Aidan, conceited trust-funder ace degenerate.  Elisa Ludwig’s PRETTY CROOKED is the first in a fun three-book teen caper series.

Next, in BEWITCHING we hear from Kendra, the witch you might remember from BEASTLY– she’s back again, and telling things from her point of view.  So a few of her plans to help people went a little bit astray, so what?  She had good intentions, she swears!  Alex Flinn’s twists on fairy tale classics are not to be missed.

And finally, get lost in National Book Award Finalist Patricia McCormick’s NEVER FALL DOWN: the truly unforgettable novelization of Arn Chorn-Pond’s childhood experience of the murderous Khmer Rouge regime.  Patricia interviewed Arn extensively and traveled with the human rights activist to Cambodia in order to immerse herself in his experience and do his story justice.  The result is haunting, unforgettable, and ultimately incredibly uplifting.

Enjoy these– and see you tomorrow, the REAL Friday!

AUDREY VERNICK ADOPTS A SCHOOL- P.S. 184

Posted by | February 7, 2012 | No Comments

I set up a lot of school visits in the course of the year, but few warm my heart as much as the annual Adopt-a-School visit. The Adopt-a-School Initiative is a collaboration between the American Association of Publishers, the Children’s Book Council, the NYC Department of Education, school librarians, and publishing houses. The program sends well-known children’s and young adult authors into New York area schools. We at HarperCollins Children’s Books take great pleasure in connecting our authors with these deserving schools. Authors generously donate their time and energy, and we support the visit by sending classroom sets of books to the participating schools. This past December the wonderful Audrey Vernick enthusiastically agreed to follow in the footsteps of past participants such as Walter Dean Myers, Robert Lipsyte, and Maryrose Wood. Audrey’s picture books include SHE LOVED BASEBALL: THE EFFA MANLEY STORY, IS YOUR BUFFALO READY FOR KINDERGARTEN?, and TEACH YOUR BUFFALO TO PLAY DRUMS. We asked Audrey for a first-hand account of this very special school visit… and homecoming.
-Tony Hirt (Our Author Visit Coordinator Extraordinaire- tony.hirt(at)gmail(dot)com)

When I was asked by HarperCollins if I’d be interested in participating in the CBC/AAP’s adopt-a-school week, during which authors visit public schools throughout New York City, I asked, almost as an afterthought, if it might be possible to visit the elementary school I attended—P.S. 184 Queens. I was pretty sure this wasn’t the kind of thing one could ask, but something pushed me to try anyway.

And then, thanks to the persistence of AAP’s Becca Worthington, and the cooperation of school principal Dora Pantelis and media specialist Adriana Tibbetts at P.S. 184, it all came together. On December 13, 2011, I returned to my elementary school.

I graduated from P.S. 184 in 1976, a time when all the fire hydrants in our town were painted red, white and blue in celebration of the bicentennial. In the decades since, my elementary school memories have not dulled. (Don’t ask me about junior high school, high school or college. But you can ask me to name the kids in size order in my first-grade class and I’ll get nearly every one.)

I walked in that building and knew its geography. The smell in the cafeteria was unnamable but profoundly familiar. The faces on the kids were different, the computers in the classrooms looked ridiculously out of place—especially with a lot of the same old furniture—but more than anything, it felt like something very close to home.

I met with kids in kindergarten, first and second grade. I read to the kindergarteners and talked with the first- and second-graders about where I find my story ideas and where they might find their own. I encouraged them to listen to the stories around them and to be curious. They listened, they laughed, they agreed that I looked like I was “from history” when I showed them my own first-grade picture. (I didn’t tell them that I borrowed that term from Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure, but in the interest of giving credit, that is the whole truth.)

The kids asked smart questions, as kids always do. As I drove home later, I finally accepted the fact that I can no longer be someone who is unable to select favorites, as nearly every question demanded a favorite be chosen: Which is your favorite of the books you’ve written? What was your favorite subject when you went to school here?

They also wanted to know how long it takes to write a book (anywhere from an afternoon to six years). Who inspired me? I had to high five that kid, because he gave me a chance to talk about my mother. How many books have I written (prompting a brief discussion of books written and not published and those in the pipeline and coming out in the next two years).

Were there pre-kindergarten students here when I attended (no, but it was K-6, not pre-K-5). They could have asked questions all day—turns out I didn’t need to tell them to be curious. Their teachers were friendly and helpful. It seemed like everyone in the building really knew how to do this school-visit thing.

So it came as quite a surprise to learn I was the first author to visit their school in a very long time, if ever. They were so happy to have me. And I was so happy to be there.

I love that this program exists, that a school I remember with great affection was able to take part in this initiative. They were lovely hosts—decorated a hallway in my honor (Audrey Lane!) and had the students paint a buffalo and his yellow pigtailed sidekick with a sign that said simply, Welcome back, Audrey.

I felt way beyond welcome. I felt like a part of that school. The principal, media specialist and I talked about my return someday. I bet it will always feel good to go back.

Visit http://www.publishers.org/press/54/ for more information on the AAP/CBC Adopt-a-School Initiative.

A little more on Audrey and the program from the United Federation of Teachers.

Visit Audrey Vernick’s site for more info on her books and appearances.

BLACK HISTORY MONTH

Posted by | February 3, 2012 | 1 Comment

February is Black History Month, and we have three terrific new picture books that are perfect for the celebration.

WHEN GRANDMAMA SINGS, by Margaree King Mitchell, illustrated by James Ransome.

Everyone in Belle’s hometown of Pecan Flats, Mississippi, loves when her Grandmama sings in the church choir. And it turns out, they’re not the only ones who love to hear Grandmama sing. When a man offers to book Grandmama and a swing jazz band on a singing tour of the South, Belle can’t wait to spend the summer on the road with Grandmama, helping her read signs and menus and hearing her sing. Belle’s never been outside Pecan Flats, and there are so many new things to see on their travels through the deep South. Some things aren’t new, though. Everything is segregated, just like at home. But Grandmama stands up for what’s right. And when she sings, Belle knows that Grandmama’s song can bring everyone together.

“Belle, tonight was special. I could feel all of those folks with me. I want us to feel this way all the time. I want to sing in a place where black people and white people aren’t kept apart,” Grandmama said. “That’s the kind of world I want for you.”

FREEDOM’S A-CALLIN ME, by Ntozake Shange, paintings by Rod Brown.

In her signature writing style, acclaimed poet Ntozake Shange’s fifteen poems evoke the fear, hope, and courage of those who risked their lives on the Underground Railroad. This collection of stirring poetry and striking artwork reimagines the journeys of the brave men and women who made their way to freedom.

FREEDOM SONG, by Sally M. Walker, illustrations by Sean Qualls.

Henry “Box” Brown’s ingenious escape from slavery is celebrated for its daring and originality. Throughout his life, Henry was fortified by music, family, and a dream of freedom. When he seemed to lose everything, he forged these elements into the song that sustained him through the careful planning and execution of his perilous journey to the North. Honoring Henry’s determination and courage, Sibert Award-winning author Sally M. Walker weaves a lyrical, moving story of the human spirit. And in nuanced illustrations, Sean Qualls captures the moments of strength, despair, and gratitude that highlight the remarkable story of a man determined to be free.

Don’t forget these terrific titles for your displays and collections:

Links we like:
Reading Rockets’ great round up of resources.
The New York Public Library’s nice list of titles.
The Florida Department of Education breaks it down by age group.

  • Blogroll