Category Archives: Tween books


Posted by | April 12, 2015 | No Comments

We’re soon to touch down in one of our absolute favorite literary states for the Texas Library Association Conference in Austin! If there’s anything better than talking books, hanging out with authors and librarians, and enjoying sunshine and Shiners, then we don’t want to know about it.

If you’ll be in the Lone Star State, too, please swing by our booth, #1341, for galleys, giveaways, and face time with the HarperCollins Children’s Books School & Library team. We can’t wait to chat and put books in your hands.

But if you’re reading this thinking, “sure, you guys are nice, but we’re here to meet the AUTHORS, silly!” check out our top-notch signing schedule, here:

11:00am–12:00pm, Joy Preble, Aisle 7, Finding Paris
11:00am–12:00pm, Melissa Marr, Aisle 8, Made For You
12:00–1:00pm, Kiera Cass, Aisle 8, The Selection Series
1:00–2:00pm, Thanhha Lai, Aisle 8, Listen, Slowly
2:00–3:00pm, Dan Gutman, Aisle 8, Genius Files #5: License to Thrill
4:00–5:00pm, Lauren Oliver, Aisle 8, Vanishing Girls

10:00–11:00am, Sherry Thomas, Aisle 3, The Elemental Trilogy
11:30am–12:30pm, Neal & Brendan Shusterman, Aisle 1, Challenger Deep
2:00–3:00pm, Gordon Korman, Aisle 1, Masterminds
2:00–3:00pm, Julie Murphy, Aisle 2, Dumplin’ galleys
3:00–4:00pm, Becky Albertalli, Aisle 1, Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda

You don’t want to miss our coupon in the aisle by aisle guide, either! It points you to our booth for a free copy of BONE GAP, by Laura Ruby (*while supplies last), and a chance to enter to win a piece of framed original art by Jef Czekaj, from his upcoming picture book, AUSTIN, LOST IN AMERICA.

We can’t wait to see y’all!


The Pageturn Interviews Paul Durham

Posted by | March 17, 2015 | No Comments

Today we’re lucky enough to interview Paul Durham, author of the middle grade tween fantasy adventure The Luck Uglies, which received TWO starred reviews. Booklist called it “by turns funny and heart-stopping . . . a bona fide page-turner,” and Kirkus said it was “sparkling. Layers, nuance, wit and a thumping good story make this a must-read.” The Luck Uglies was also a Booklist Top 10 First Novels for Youth in 2014 and on the NYPL 100 Best Titles for Reading and Sharing  List of 2014. What a debut!

This tween fantasy adventure trilogy has legends come to life, a charming wit, and a fantastic cast of characters—and is imbued throughout with the magic of storytelling. The Luck Uglies #2: The Fork-Tongue Charmer, goes on sale today, so read on for the full scoop on this truly delightful middle grade series!


The Pageturn: Where did the idea for The Luck Uglies begin? And how did you develop that idea?

Paul Durham: The Luck Uglies originated as a short story for my oldest daughter. For years I had tried unsuccessfully to publish my adult crime fiction, until eventually I quit writing altogether. One year, my then-six-year-old asked me if I could write her a story as Christmas gift. I had never written for children before, but was willing to give it a try. I didn’t intend to seek an agent for the work, nor to have it published. My goal was far more modest but even more important—simply to finish something for my daughter.

What started as a short story turned into so much more. I wanted to write a fantasy about good and evil and everything in between, but I also wanted it to be, at its core, a book about a very real family. Every week my own family would gather around the fireplace and I would read a new chapter out loud. I worked in our family pet, characters inspired by our friends and neighbors, and even dialogue spoken around our dinner table. When it was done, my little audience adored it, and the book would have been a success even if no one else ever read it. I’m very lucky that other readers have come to enjoy it as much as we do.

TP: Were you inspired by any specific region or folklore? For instance, it feels particularly appropriate that #2 publishes on St. Patrick’s Day!

PD: My goal was to write a book that felt timeless in setting, but that was set in a unique and entirely unexplored world. Toward that end, I researched Irish and Scottish myths, early colonial American culture, and secret societies throughout history. Then I threw them in a cauldron and stirred. Village Drowning and its denizens became a stew of faintly familiar ingredients blended in way that, I hope, readers haven’t quite tasted before. The Bog Noblins, for example, do not exist in any established folklore, but were inspired by the highly preserved, Bronze Age “bog bodies” pulled from peat bogs in Northern Europe and Ireland.

TP: Who is your favorite character in the book?

PD: I know many authors like to cop out on this question and profess love for all of their characters, but I’ll go out on a limb and share two. Rye is dear to me, of course. It was important to me to create a strong female protagonist and to infuse her with strengths and flaws that kept her human. That said, I think Rye’s strongest traits are gender-neutral, and I love that many male readers also identify her as their favorite character. My other favorite is Harmless. His relationship with Rye represents the heart of the story. Their dialogue as that relationship unfolds was even more fun to write than the all the swordplay and monsters. I adore Abby and Lottie too…oops, there I go.

TP: Can you suggest any books readers of The Luck Uglies might also like?

PD: For classic fantasy, I always recommend Lloyd Alexander’s Chronicles of Prydain series. It’s a personal favorite and I’ve even hidden several Easter eggs referencing that great work within The Luck Uglies series. Maybe I’ll have a contest to see how many of them my readers can find. I think they’d also enjoy Jonathan Auxier’s work—The Night Gardener or Peter Nimble and His Fantastic Eyes.

TP: And if you could cast the movie, who would star?

PD: I would definitely need the guidance of a casting director to find a young unknown actress with the chops to play Rye. As for Harmless, I think he would be best played by one of those 40-something action heroes who has entered a different phase of his life and career. Maybe a father to young children who could appreciate the nuances in the character. Who would that be? I don’t know. Robert Downey Jr.? Johnny Depp? Ben Affleck when he’s done with Batman?

TP: What were your favorite books as a child? Favorite books now?

PD: As a child, Lloyd Alexander’s Chronicles of Prydain series was at the top of the list. I also remember being drawn to A House with a Clock in its Walls, by John Bellairs. These days, my favorite books still tend to fall into the category of middle grade fiction. I’m especially fond of those that can be haunting, smart, and humorous at the same time. The Graveyard Book and Coraline by Neil Gaiman are favorites, as is the The Bartimaeus Trilogy and the new Lockwood & Company books by Jonathan Stroud. I also found the The One and Only Ivan by Katherine Applegate to be wonderful for very different reasons. Applegate proves that compelling children’s books need not always feature a child protagonist, and creates a wonderfully authentic, layered and believable voice for Ivan the silverback gorilla.

TP: Do you have any advice for aspiring kid writers?

PD: I’m fortunate to get to speak with a lot of kids during my school visits and workshops, and I always tell them four things.

1) Practice, as often as possible by writing creatively in your free time.

2) When you’re not writing, read. Good stuff, ideally, but you can learn what not-to-do from the poorly written stuff too.

3) Don’t be afraid to imitate your favorite writers’ styles, especially early on. As a kid, I originally learned how to write action sequences by mimicking the descriptions I found in popular movie novelizations (I can’t believe I just admitted that). The point is, your own voice and style will develop over time as you discover what works best for you.

4) You don’t need to start out by writing an entire book—that’s like running a marathon without ever going out for a jog first. Every novel starts with just one sentence. Try writing just a short paragraph of description, or a few lines of interesting dialogue, or a poem. That’s all practice that will pay off in the long run. See tip #1 above.

Thanks, Paul! The Luck Uglies #2: The Fork-Tongue Charmers, goes on sale today. If you’re new to Paul’s series, check out the first book, The Luck Uglies, here. And learn more about Paul, here!


Posted by | January 27, 2015 | 3 Comments

Happy 2015 to you! To start the year off right, we’d like to introduce our New Voices picks for Winter 2015. These debut novels entertained us, enriched us, intrigued us, and made us so excited to witness the beginnings of these authors’ sure-to-be-stellar writing careers.

Click on the links below to read the first chapter of each title, and make sure to keep an eye on these fantastic authors. We can’t wait to see what they do next!

Blackbird Fly

BLACKBIRD FLY, by Erin Entrada Kelly, follows twelve-year-old Apple Yengko as she grapples with being different, with friends and backstabbers, and with following her dreams. Apple has always felt a little different from her classmates. She and her mother moved to America from the Philippines when she was little, and her mother still cooks Filipino foods, makes mistakes with her English, and chastises Apple for becoming “too American.” But it becomes unbearable in eighth grade, when the boys—the stupid, stupid boys—in Apple’s class put her name on the Dog Log, the list of the most unpopular girls in school. When Apple’s friends turn on her and everything about her life starts to seem weird and embarrassing, Apple turns to music. If she can just save enough to buy a guitar and learn to play, maybe she can change herself. It might be the music that saves her . . . or it might be her two new friends, who show how special she really is. Read the first chapter here!

The Keepers: The Box and the Dragonfly

THE KEEPERS: THE BOX AND THE DRAGONFLY, by Ted Sanders, is the first in a four-book middle-grade fantasy series about Horace F. Andrews, a quiet boy who discovers he possesses a power that can change worlds. When a sign leads Horace underground to the House of Answers, a hidden warehouse full of mysterious objects, he unfortunately finds only questions. What is this curious place? Who are the strange, secretive people who entrust him with a rare and immensely powerful gift? And what is he to do with it? From the enormous, sinister man shadowing him to the gradual mastery of his new-found abilities to his encounters with Chloe—a girl who has an astonishing talent of her own—Horace follows a path that puts the pair in the middle of a centuries-old conflict between two warring factions in which every decision they make could have disastrous consequences. Read the first chapter here!

No Parking at the End Times

NO PARKING AT THE END TIMES, by Bryan Bliss, is a thoughtful and moving story about losing everything—and about what you will do for the people you love. Abigail’s parents never should have made that first donation to that end-of-times preacher. Or the next, or the next. They shouldn’t have sold their house. Or packed Abigail and her twin brother, Aaron, into their old van to drive across the country to San Francisco, to be there for the “end of the world.” Because now they’re living in their van. And Aaron is full of anger, disappearing to who-knows-where every night. Their family is falling apart. All Abigail wants is to hold them together, to get them back to the place where things were right. But is that too big a task for one teenage girl? Read the first chapter here!

Red Queen

RED QUEEN, by Victoria Aveyard, is a sweeping fantasy about seventeen-year-old Mare, a common girl whose latent magical powers draw her into the dangerous world of the elite ruling class. Mare Barrow’s world is divided by blood—those with Red blood serve the Silver elite, whose silver blood gifts them with superhuman abilities. Mare is a Red, scraping by as a thief in a poor, rural village until a twist of fate throws her in front of the Silver court. Before the King, princes, and all the nobles, she discovers she has an ability of her own. To cover up this impossibility, the King forces her to play the role of a lost Silver princess and betroths her to one of his own sons. As Mare is drawn further into the Silver world, she risks everything to use her new position to help the Scarlet Guard—a growing Red rebellion—even as her heart tugs her in an impossible direction. One wrong move can lead to her death, but in the dangerous game she plays, the only certainty is betrayal. Read the first chapter here!

Little Peach

LITTLE PEACH, by Peggy Kern, is the gritty and riveting story of a runaway who comes to New York City and is lured into prostitution by a manipulative pimp. When Michelle runs away from her drug-addicted mother, she has just enough money to make it to New York, where she hopes to move in with a friend. But once she arrives at the bustling Port Authority, she is confronted with the terrifying truth: She is alone and out of options. Then she meets Devon, a good-looking, well-dressed guy who emerges from the crowd armed with a kind smile, a place for her to stay, and eyes that seem to understand exactly how she feels. But Devon is not what he seems to be, and soon Michelle finds herself engulfed in the world of child prostitution. It is a world of impossible choices, where the line between love and abuse, captor and savior, is blurred beyond recognition. This hauntingly vivid story illustrates the human spirit’s indomitable search for home, and one girl’s struggle to survive. Read the first chapter here.

Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda

SIMON VS. THE HOMO SAPIENS AGENDA, by Becky Albertalli, is an incredibly funny and poignant twenty-first-century coming-of-age, coming-out story—wrapped in a geek romance. Sixteen-year-old and not-so-openly gay Simon Spier prefers to save his drama for the school musical. But when an email falls into the wrong hands, his secret is at risk of being thrust into the spotlight. Now Simon is actually being blackmailed: If he doesn’t play wingman for class clown Martin, his sexual identity will become everyone’s business. Worse, the privacy of Blue, the pen name of the boy he’s been emailing with, will be jeopardized. With some messy dynamics emerging in his once tight-knit group of friends, and his email correspondence with Blue growing more flirtatious every day, Simon’s junior year has suddenly gotten all kinds of complicated. Now, change-averse Simon has to find a way to step out of his comfort zone before he’s pushed out—without alienating his friends, compromising himself, or fumbling a shot at happiness with the most confusing, adorable guy he’s never met. Read the first chapter here!

Check back here for “Opening the Book” Q&A’s with the authors and insightful words from the editors of these fantastic New Voices!


Posted by | September 12, 2014 | No Comments

Looking for a fantasy read that’s great for the classroom this fall? One stellar recommendation is The Copernicus Legacy: The Forbidden Stone by bestselling author Tony Abbott – now in paperback!


A perfect pick for kids who love Percy Jackson, Kingdom Keepers, or Seven Wonders series, The Copernicus Legacy is a Da Vinci Code-style story for young readers. The book follows four kids who stumble upon a powerful ancient secret of the famous astronomer, Nicolaus Copernicus. Protected by notables throughout history, it now falls to our young heroes to become guardians of Copernicus’s secret, racing across the globe, cracking codes, and unraveling centuries-old mysteries in order to prevent it from falling into the hands of a vast and evil shadow network called the New Teutonic Order.

It’s the worldwide adventure and historical scope that makes the series both page turning and educational, earning it many great reviews including a starred review from Kirkus: “With engaging characters, a globe-trotting plot and dangerous villains, it is hard to find something not to like. Equal parts edge-of-your-seat suspense and heartfelt coming-of-age.”

There’s even a downloadable Common Core-aligned activities guide and star map poster so you can bring the adventure into the classroom.

Veteran children’s book author Tony Abbott is no stranger to epic adventure series having written over a hundred books including The Secrets of Droon. The Copernicus Legacy will include six full-length novels and six shorter novellas, each told from the perspective of one of the kids. The first novella, The Copernicus Archives #1: Wade and the Scorpion’s Claw, is available now and the next full-length novel, The Copernicus Legacy #2: The Serpent’s Curse, will be out on October 7.9780062194466_p0_v1_s260x420


To celebrate the launch of the next books in this exciting series, on Saturday, September 13th, Tony Abbott will be leading a scavenger hunt at the American Museum of Natural History in New York City, where four lucky winners of a national sweepstakes will work together to find hidden clues amongst the exhibits, crack codes, and earn prizes. You and all readers across the country will have another chance to win a trip to New York for the second Relic Hunt starting October 7 at!

After the Relic Hunt, Tony Abbott will be signing copies of The Forbidden Stone at 2:30pm at the Barnes & Noble on 82nd and Broadway in Manhattan.  The Barnes & Noble event is open to the public, and we invite you to join us there for a pizza party! It’s no mystery—the whole family will be in for good food and fun!


MIDDLE-GRADE FANTASY (for the beach AND the classroom)

Posted by | July 29, 2014 | No Comments

Looking for some recommendations for a middle grader who loves fantasy? Well, we’ve got just the list for you!

Here are some stellar picks for the kid looking for magical powers, mysterious forests, heros, and villains to take to the beach with him.

The Thickety

THE THICKETY, by J. A. White, is the start of a new fantasy series set in a world where magic is forbidden but exists in the dark woods called the Thickety. This book would be a great recommendation for fans of the Septimus Heap series, and here’s a book talk prepared by librarian, author, and Common Core workshop presenter Kathleen Odean:

How would you like to have the power to summon amazing creatures to do your will? When Kara finds a book in the Thickety, a dangerous forest, it awakens her magical powers. Local villagers view magic as evil but for Kara, it’s a connection to her mother, who was executed as a witch. The spells thrill Kara until the magic starts to change her in frightening ways. Is Kara in control of the magic—or is it in control of her? If she doesn’t figure it out soon, she could lose everyone and everything she loves.

There’s even a Common Core-aligned discussion guide with activities written by the author, J. A. White—an elementary school teacher! (You may not want to send this to the beach, though. Maybe save it for September.)


The Castle Behind Thorns

THE CASTLE BEHIND THORNS, by Schneider Award winner Merrie Haskell, is a magical adventure set in an enchanted castle that will appeal to fans of Gail Carson Levine, Karen Cushman, and Shannon Hale.

When Sand wakes up alone in a long-abandoned castle, he has no idea how he got there. Everything in the castle—from dishes to candles to apples—is torn in half or slashed to bits. Nothing lives here and nothing grows, except the vicious, thorny bramble that prevents Sand from leaving. To survive, Sand does what he knows best—he fires up the castle’s forge to mend what he needs to live. But the things he fixes work somehow better than they ought to. Is there magic in the mending, granted by the saints who once guarded this place? With gorgeous language and breathtaking magic, THE CASTLE BEHIND THORNS tells of the power of memory and story, forgiveness and strength, and the true gifts of craft and imagination.

Thinking ahead to the new school year, Common Core applications include: Comparing and contrasting texts in different forms or genres; determining the meaning of words and phrases as they are used in a text, including figurative and connotative meanings; and analyzing the impact of a specific word choice on meaning and tone.

The Dyerville Tales

THE DYERVILLE TALES, by M. P. Kozlowsky, tells the story of a young orphan who searches for his family and the meaning in his grandfather’s book of lost fairy tales.

Vince Elgin is an orphan, having lost his mother and father in a fire when he was young. With only a senile grandfather he barely knows to call family, Vince was interned in a group home, dreaming that his father, whose body was never found, might one day return for him. When a letter arrives telling Vince his grandfather has passed away, he is convinced that if his father is still alive, he’ll find him at the funeral. He strikes out for the small town of Dyerville carrying only one thing with him: his grandfather’s journal. The journal tells a fantastical story of witches and giants and magic, one that can’t be true. But as Vince reads on, he finds that his very real adventure may have more in common with his grandfather’s than he ever could have known.

If you’d like to bring this one into your classroom next year, Common Core applications include: Determining the meaning of words and phrases as they are used in a text; analyzing the impact of a specific word choice on meaning and tone; describing how a particular story’s plot unfolds in a series of episodes; and describing how the characters respond or change as the plot moves toward a resolution.

The Hero's Guide to Being an Outlaw

THE HERO’S GUIDE TO BEING AN OUTLAW, by Christopher Healy, is the hilarious and action-packed conclusion to the acclaimed hit series that began with THE HERO’S GUIDE TO SAVING YOUR KINGDOM.

Prince Liam. Prince Frederic. Prince Duncan. Prince Gustav. You think you know those guys pretty well by now, don’t you? Well, think again. Posters plastered across the thirteen kingdoms are saying that Briar Rose has been murdered—and the four Princes Charming are the prime suspects. Now they’re on the run in a desperate attempt to clear their names. Along the way, however, they discover that Briar’s murder is just one part of a nefarious plot to take control of all thirteen kingdoms—a plot that will lead to the doorstep of an eerily familiar fortress for a final showdown with an eerily familiar enemy.

And Common Core applications for this one include: Explaining how an author develops the point of view of the narrator or speaker in a text; comparing and contrasting texts in different forms or genres; and analyzing how differences in the points of view of the characters and the reader (e.g., created through the use of dramatic irony) create such effects as suspense or humor.

Happy reading!


Posted by | April 29, 2014 | No Comments

The lovely Lisa Ann Scott, author of the enchanting debut novel SCHOOL OF CHARM, stopped by recently to answer our “opening the book” questions. In case you missed it, here’s a little intro and sneak peek of the book from earlier this year. And now, without further ado . . . Lisa Ann Scott!

School of Charm

Which was your favorite book from childhood, and what are you reading right now?
I am reading fellow Class of 2K14 member Rebecca Behrens’ adorable middle-grade novel, When Audrey Met Alice. Can I claim the entire Little House series as my favorite book growing up? [WE SAY “YES!”]

What is your secret talent?
While I tend to kill most indoor plants, I have beautiful outdoor gardens and a koi pond. People tell me I should design gardens for a living. But then I wouldn’t have time to write!

Fill in the blank: My two kids always make me laugh.

My current obsessions are . . .
Whatever series I’ve found on Netflix, HBO GO etc. that I will binge watch. (Game of Thrones and Dexter are recent addictions.)

Any gem of advice for aspiring writers?
Never give up. (See story below.)

Finish this sentence: I hope a person who reads my book . . .
. . . looks for real life magic in their world, and remembers all the wonderful things about themselves that make them unique and special.

How did you come to write this book?
Grab a snack and sit back for this answer. The seeds of this story came from a dream. I woke one morning with the image of a lovely older woman standing in a clearing in the forest. She was surrounded by a small group of girls and it was clear she was teaching them something, but she had a very knowing look on her face, like there was a secret they had yet to learn.  Now most people would have shrugged and thought, hey, weird dream. But when you’re a writer, something like that tugs at the imagination.  So I walked around with this story in my head for a while, trying to figure out who was there and why they were there.  I wrote this during my lunch breaks when I was working as a news anchor back in 2007.  In 2008, I started the query process, looking for an agent. But then I lost my job, and that grief on top of the inevitable rejection that comes with the query process was just too much to take. So I set the book aside and actually stopped writing for a while.  It wasn’t long before I was writing again (romance!) and in 2011, took another look at the manuscript. I thought, hey this is pretty good, and a writer friend urged me to send it out again. So I did.  To one agent. And then I remembered how much I hated the query process and stopped. But that one lovely agent, Jennifer Unter, loved the book and sold it a few months later.


Thanks for visiting, Lisa!



Posted by | April 28, 2014 | 1 Comment

THE ISLANDS OF CHALDEA, a new, stand-alone novel of magic and adventure, is the last book from the beloved Diana Wynne Jones. Almost finished upon her death in 2011, the manuscript was completed by Diana’s sister Ursula Jones, a popular author and actress.

The Islands of Chaldea

Read on for some lovely thoughts from Ursula on growing up with such a talented storyteller for a sister and on the challenges of finishing her sister’s work . . .

Dear Readers,

When I first read this lovely, searching, last novel by my sister, Diana Wynne Jones, it stopped short where she became too ill to continue. It was a shock: it was like being woken from sleepwalking or nearly running off the edge of a cliff. It had elements of a much happier time in our childhood, too.

Diana wrote her first full-length novel when she was fourteen years old. It filled a series of exercise books, and she would read the newest section to us, her two younger sisters, in bed at night. When she suddenly stopped reading, we would wail, “Go on, go on. What happens next?” and she’d say, “Don’t you understand? I haven’t written any more yet.” And we would go to sleep, agog for the next section. It always duly turned up the next night, which is where the present day diverged so unhappily from our childhood past. This time, the next section couldn’t turn up. Her book had ended without an ending.

Diana Wynne Jones was such a masterly storyteller that it was impossible to imagine where she planned to take it. She left no notes: she never ever made any. Her books always came straight out of her extraordinary mind onto the page, and she never discussed her work while it was in progress. There was not so much as a hint of what she was up to, and it seemed The Islands of Chaldea was lost to its readers.

Then the family suggested that I might complete it. I was nervous. Diana was my big sister, and big sisters notoriously don’t like kid sisters messing with their stuff. Particularly when the big sister in question is very good at her stuff. Nevertheless, her family and friends had a meeting to pool their ideas on how the story might continue. We were all steeped in her work. We’d all known her well. Everyone was sure that, by the end of the afternoon, we would come up with something. We didn’t; she had us all stumped. Eventually, Diana’s son closed the session with, “Well, Ursula, you’ll just have to make it up.”

It took months. I scoured the text for those clues that Diana always dropped for her readers as to where the narrative was headed, and which I’d always unfailingly overlooked until I’d read the final page. I hadn’t changed. I found nothing.

Initially, I was working at the National Theatre in London, too (I’m an actress when I’m wearing my other hat), and the play I was in was full of eerie happenings and second sight. I would catch the bus home across the river after the show and dream weird and often frightening dreams as I tried to break into my sister’s thinking. I believe I got even closer to her at this point than I was during her lifetime. But although I hunted and pondered, nothing came to me. Then, just as I was beginning to feel like a sous chef, endlessly producing flat soufflés under the slightly disapproving gaze of the Chef, I found one of her clues. I found it near the beginning of her manuscript. And we were off!

When I started to write, it came easily. It was almost as if Diana were at my elbow, prompting, prodding, turning sentences around, working alongside—and then it was finished, and she was gone again. That was a terrible wrench. But her book was there—complete.

So far, no one who has come to The Islands of Chaldea freshly has spotted exactly where Diana Wynne Jones left off and I begin. Perhaps you will be able to, perhaps you won’t. It doesn’t really matter. It is intrinsically and utterly her book, and I hope you and all its readers love it as much as I do.

Ursula Jones


Posted by | February 5, 2014 | No Comments

We’re so proud of our award-winning authors, and we’d love for you to be able to use these great books in your classroom right away (if you aren’t already, of course)! Read on for some teaching resources to help jump-start discussions and lessons centered around these stellar titles . . .

billy miller

penny and her

Here’s a downloadable Kevin Henkes Author Study that includes Common Core-aligned teaching guides for THE YEAR OF BILLY MILLER, PENNY AND HER MARBLE, and several more Kevin Henkes titles.


Here’s a downloadable Common Core-aligned discussion guide for Rita Williams-Garcia’s P.S. BE ELEVEN, and one for ONE CRAZY SUMMER, as well.

nelson mandela

Here are a handful of images from NELSON MANDELA that you can use as visual inspiration for lessons or projects on history, politics, biography, or even just to print and hang in your classroom or library.

Mandela image 1
Mandela image 2
Mandela image 3

Don’t forget to check out our Common Core Resources page for lots more teaching guides, discussion guides, lesson ideas, and more!


Posted by | January 30, 2014 | No Comments

Working in children’s books, there are few days that can compare to the Monday morning of the ALA Midwinter conference, when the ALA Youth Media Awards are announced.  Cheers and gasps follow the announcement of every award named, and hugs and happiness end the conference on the highest of notes. What a great day for authors, illustrators, librarians, teachers, publishing professionals, and book lovers all over the world! We are so honored that awards committees named the following HarperCollins Children’s Books titles amongst the best and the brightest this year:

ps beCoretta Scott King Author Award to Rita Williams-Garcia, for P.S. BE ELEVEN

billy millerNewbery Honor to Kevin Henkes, for THE YEAR OF BILLY MILLER.

handbookSchneider Family Book Award for Middle Grade to Merrie Haskell, for HANDBOOK FOR DRAGON SLAYERS

penny and herTheodor Seuss Geisel Honor to Kevin Henkes for PENNY AND HER MARBLE

dariusCoretta Scott King Author Honor to Walter Dean Myers, for DARIUS & TWIG

nelson mandelaCoretta Scott King Illustrator Honor to Kadir Nelson, for NELSON MANDELA

tito puentePura Belpre Illustrator Honor to Rafael Lopez for TITO PUENTE, MAMBO KING (written by Monica Brown)


We’re grateful to publish these books, written and illustrated by the most creative, dedicated folks we know, and put them into your hands, the teachers and librarians who give them to children and promote a life-long love of learning. What a fine day to do what we do!


Posted by | January 29, 2014 | 8 Comments

We’re thrilled to introduce our New Voices picks for Winter 2014! We absolutely loved these four debut novels, and we think you will, too. Be sure to click on the links below to read the first chapter of each title, and if you’re hungry for more, comment and we’ll send you a galley (while supplies last).

And now, without further ado . . .


SALVAGE, by Alexandra Duncan, is a sweeping, epic, literary science fiction story with a feminist twist. Teenaged Ava has lived aboard the male-dominated, conservative deep space merchant ship Parastrata her whole life. When a passionate mistake causes Ava’s people to turn against her, she faces banishment and death. Taking her fate into her own hands, she flees to the Gyre, a floating continent of garbage and scrap in the Pacific Ocean. Her struggle to survive outside the insular world of her childhood is harrowing, full of surprises, and constantly thrilling. You’ll be rooting for Ava all the way! Read the first chapter here!


Faking Normal

FAKING NORMAL, by Courtney C. Stevens, is a powerful, moving story about a teen girl struggling to forget a traumatic experience from her recent past. Alexi Littrell hasn’t told anyone what happened to her over the summer by her backyard pool. Instead, she hides in her closet, counts the slats in the air vent, and compulsively scratches the back of her neck, trying to make the outside hurt more than the inside does. When Bodee Lennox—”the Kool-Aid Kid”—moves in with the Littrells after a family tragedy, Alexi discovers an unlikely friend in this quiet, awkward boy who has secrets of his own. As their friendship grows, Alexi gives him the strength to deal with his past, and Bodee helps her summon the courage to find her voice and speak up. Read the first chapter here!


Cruel Beauty

CRUEL BEAUTY, by Rosamund Hodge, is a dazzling twist on the story of Beauty and the Beast. Betrothed to the evil ruler of her kingdom, Nyx has always known her fate was to marry him, kill him, and free her people from his tyranny. But on her seventeenth birthday, when she moves into his castle high on the kingdom’s mountaintop, nothing is as she expected—particularly her charming and beguiling new husband. Nyx knows she must save her homeland at all costs, yet she can’t resist the pull of her sworn enemy—who’s gotten in her way by stealing her heart. Read the first chapter here!


School of Charm

SCHOOL OF CHARM, by Lisa Ann Scott, is an enchanting story full of spirit and hope, with a hint of magic. Eleven-year-old Chip has always been her daddy’s girl, so when he dies she pins her hopes on winning a beauty pageant to show her family of southern belles that she still belongs. The problem is, she’d rather be covered in mud than makeup! Can a rough-and-tumble girl ever become a beauty queen? SCHOOL OF CHARM tells the tale of one girl’s struggle with a universal question: How do you stay true to yourself and find a way to belong at the same time? Read the first chapter here!

Stay tuned for “Opening the Book” Q&A’s with the authors and insightful words from the editors of these fantastic New Voices!


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