Category Archives: Tween books
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 . . .
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.
Don’t forget to check out our Common Core Resources page for lots more teaching guides, discussion guides, lesson ideas, and more!
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:
Coretta Scott King Author Award to Rita Williams-Garcia, for P.S. BE ELEVEN
Newbery Honor to Kevin Henkes, for THE YEAR OF BILLY MILLER.
Schneider Family Book Award for Middle Grade to Merrie Haskell, for HANDBOOK FOR DRAGON SLAYERS
Theodor Seuss Geisel Honor to Kevin Henkes for PENNY AND HER MARBLE
Coretta Scott King Author Honor to Walter Dean Myers, for DARIUS & TWIG
Coretta Scott King Illustrator Honor to Kadir Nelson, for NELSON MANDELA
Pura 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!
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, 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, 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, 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!
We’re packing up and heading up to Boston tomorrow for the Annual Conference of the National Council of Teachers of English. We’ll be in HarperCollins Children’s Books Booth #1008 every day, handing out materials aligned to the Common Core State Standards (like posters and teaching guides) and galleys galleys galleys!
Come say hello to the amazing authors who will be signing copies of their books:
FRIDAY, NOVEMBER 22nd:
12:00–1:00pm, Jarrett Krosoczka
1:00–2:00pm, Anne Ursu
2:00–3:00pm, Hilary T. Smith
3:00–4:00pm, Rita Williams-Garcia
4:00–5:00pm, Kevin Emerson
*5:00–6:00pm, 50 Years Later C.S. Lewis Legacy Celebration! Come by for hot chocolate, cookies, a free copy of The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, and a free CCSS-aligned Narnia series Teaching Guide!*
Hope to see you there!
Did you know that Patricia MacLachlan’s books are now available ebooks? Look at all of these beautiful ebooks!
To mark the occasion, Patricia stopped by to share some heartwarming thoughts about writing and reading and families. She also filmed a video interview for us, so don’t forget to check that out (below)!
From Patricia MacLachlan:
I have been a reader all my life, long before I became a writer. When I was little I read under a quilt at night, in a tree (!), and all the way home from the library, my mother’s hand on my neck, leading me safely across streets. My grandchildren are readers too, and they are becoming writers with their own voices.
What does reading mean to me? Books help me find out who I am and who I want to be. Books give me courage. Books make me smile. And laugh. And sometimes they make me cry. But always books make me think about what all the children in the world have in common even though they may live far away from each other.
Writing helps me stay close to my family; Sarah, Plain and Tall is about my step great grandmother who I always thought was brave to travel from Maine to Kansas all on her own to meet her new family. My own father’s farm is in Sarah, Plain and Tall, and his farm dogs and his horse, Jack.
Cassie Binegar is a lot about me when I was about ten years old and hid under the dining room table with the tablecloth hanging down, listening to stories people at the table told. Seven Kisses in a Row was written after listening to my young daughter Emily and my husband talk one evening. In fact all my children are in Seven Kisses in a Row, my oldest son John and his younger brother Jamie, who had a great dirt collection!
I played the cello in elementary school and so The Facts and Fictions of Minna Pratt is about a group of players in a string quartet.
I notice that many of my books are about old people and young people. I like the aunts in Unclaimed Treasures (“unclaimed treasures” being my mother’s name for unmarried women) Old Pepper is another character in the book, wise and kind. My children had a wonderful relationship with my father and mother. My father, who lived to be 102, had respect for children and thought that old people and young people were connected in many ways.. That has gone into many of my books. The old and young are close in all of my stories.
My books often begin because of something a child of mine said, or a grandchild’s question. In some ways writers are watchers and listeners. Spies maybe! One day my oldest son said to a school friend, “watch out what you say in this house. You may appear in a book.”
My books are personal for me.
I truly hope they become personal for you, too. And I am happy to know that children read my books in whatever form – in hard copy books or in ebooks as well.
Thanks so much, Patricia!
One of our absolute favorite new reads this season has to be Caroline Carlson’s THE VERY NEARLY HONORABLE LEAGUE OF PIRATES: MAGIC MARKS THE SPOT. It has girl power, adventure, and of course, a missing treasure.
There are three qualities a treasure map must possess: It must be suitably ancient, have an atmospheric title, and include a dotted line leading to an X.
When Hilary Westfield escapes from finishing school to pursue her dream of being a pirate, she finds herself in possession of such a map. But the map is missing an X, and everyone is almost certain that the magical treasure she’s hunting doesn’t even exist. Hilary soon becomes caught up in a madcap quest involving a rogue governess who insists on propriety, a talking gargoyle, a crew of misfit scallywags, and the most treacherous villain on the high seas.
If that doesn’t hook you, I don’t know what will.
We had to get to know the person behind such a piratical tale. So, today, Caroline stopped by to answer some of our hard-hitting questions!
Which was your favorite book from childhood, and what are you reading right now?
I have so many favorite books that it’s hard to choose just one, but one of my all-time favorites is HOWL’S MOVING CASTLE by Diana Wynne Jones. Right now, I’m reading THE STOCKHOLM OCTAVO by Karen Engelmann.
What is your secret talent?
Like Hilary, the heroine of MAGIC MARKS THE SPOT, I can tread water for a really long time.
Fill in the blank: _______ always makes me laugh.
The movie CLUE. I’ve memorized all the jokes by now, but they never get any less funny.
My current obsessions are…
Cooking and baking—after spending all day writing at my computer, I love doing something concrete and hands-on in the kitchen. While I cook, I like to listen to two of my other obsessions: news podcasts and music by Girlyman and Antje Duvekot.
Any gem of advice for aspiring writers?
Try to learn a lot about all the things that interest you—not just writing. Read newspapers and nonfiction books. Do some exploring, check out your local museums and libraries, or take a class in a subject that fascinates you. If you stay curious about the world around you, you’re sure to stumble across lots of good ideas for stories.
Finish this sentence: I hope a person who reads my book…
…laughs out loud at least once!
How did you come to write this book?
MAGIC MARKS THE SPOT actually started its life as a submission for a workshop at Vermont College of Fine Arts, where I was working toward a degree in writing for children. I had to write 20 pages of an entirely new story, the deadline was tight, and I was running short on story ideas. I’d always loved pirates, though, and I’d dreamed of writing a book about a grand pirate treasure hunt. I was also rereading some of my favorite books by Jaclyn Moriarty at the time, and I wanted to experiment with Moriarty’s technique of telling a story through letters, postcards, newspaper clippings and other documents. When I tossed both of these ideas together, I ended up with 20 pages about a girl who receives a letter informing her that since only boys are allowed to be pirates, her application to the pirate league has been rejected.
I wasn’t expecting much to come of my experiment, but I ended up loving the results, and when my workshop-mates told me that they wanted to know what happened next to my pirate heroine and her gargoyle sidekick, I knew I’d hit on a story idea with potential. Those pages that I wrote for my workshop 3 years ago are still more or less the first 20 pages of MAGIC MARKS THE SPOT. And the story took on a life of its own from there—I wrote the first draft in 4 months flat, which was a whole lot faster than I’d ever written anything before! Plenty has changed since that first draft; in revisions with my editor, I strengthened the magic system of my fictional world, I turned a minor character into a major one, and I rewrote nearly the entire ending from scratch. But MAGIC MARKS THE SPOT is still the kind of book I loved to read when I was growing up: an adventure full of twists, humor, and magic. I had a wonderful time writing it, and I hope readers will enjoy it, too.
Thanks, Caroline! You can find THE VERY NEARLY HONORABLE LEAGUE OF PIRATES: MAGIC MARKS THE SPOT in stores tomorrow!
You may remember the charming (and young and talented and funny and, and, and . . .) Stefan Bachmann from his debut novel THE PECULIAR, which came out last year. His new book, THE WHATNOT (a companion to THE PECULIAR) will be out on September 24th, and we had Stefan in our video studio talking about the new book and some of his experiences meeting kids during school visits. Here he is!
You’re invited to a live webcast with the one and only KEVIN HENKES!
Join us on Tuesday, September 17 at 2PM EST to hear Kevin talk about his work, his inspirations, and his upcoming novel THE YEAR OF BILLY MILLER—an acclaimed and irresistible story about friendship, siblings, and the perils of elementary school. There will also be an opportunity to ask him your questions!
The event will be broadcast live from Bank Street College of Education in New York City, and we encourage you to set up an assembly and invite kids, parents, and teachers to watch and participate.
And don’t forget to keep an eye out for THE YEAR OF BILLY MILLER, which will be available September 17 and has been garnering rave reviews!
“[Henkes has] created a character for the ages. . . . Absolutely remarkable.”—Elizabeth Bird, A Fuse #8 Production
“A story with a lot of heart.”—Booklist
“Smartly attuned to emerging readers.”—Publishers Weekly
The lovely Jane Kurtz was kind enough to write some thoughts on her new book, ANNA WAS HERE, for us. ANNA WAS HERE is a beautifully-written middle-grade novel about a young girl whose family moves from Colorado to Kansas, in the middle of Tornado Alley, because of her father’s job as a preacher. As Anna tries to find a way to make this strange new place her home, she must unravel a family mystery in the process.
Jane has some things in common with Anna, including the fact that they’re both preachers’ kids. Here, she tells us a bit about her upbringing and her own life and how they’ve informed her writing.
I—like Anna—am a preacher’s kid. My dad, like Anna’s dad, was mostly a lot of fun—he loved to belt out songs and ham it up. When we were camping on the Ethiopian savannah, he would tell stories that could put me back to sleep even with lions rumbling in the distance, and he was always willing to be the donkey when my sisters and I acted out Old Testament scenes. But sometimes when Papa Duck had world change on his mind, he could seem to forget the ducklings running along behind. And sometimes I was really, really, really sure he was preaching about me.
Preachers’ kids often have to move, to face agonies of new neighborhoods and schools and kids. I’ve lived in Oregon, California, Idaho, Illinois, Colorado, North Dakota, Kansas…and I grew up in Ethiopia, where my mom and dad worked for the Presbyterian Church for 23 years. In Ethiopia, I, like Anna, learned to wonder: if God watched over sparrows and us, why did bad things sometimes happen to good kids? Why were there even such things as plane crashes and crocodiles? Why didn’t my Ethiopian friends (who were girls) get to go to school or have books to read?
I was discussing Anna Was Here with a friend one day and she said, “When we read about the Ice Age in fourth grade, I was instantly making survival plans for my family in case another one came along.” It made me laugh…and understand Anna a little better.
My husband, Leonard Goering, grew up on a wheat farm in Kansas, in a small Mennonite community. For him, the family stories were about how his ancestors—clinging to their German language and their peacemaker beliefs—moved from France and Switzerland and Germany to Russia and how, a hundred years later, these Germans from Russia packed up their red winter wheat and their poppy seeds and settled up and down the Great Plains. When Leonard left Kansas for Northwestern University in Chicago, he sang in the choir of a Presbyterian church and eventually became a Presbyterian minister. So our three children, too, are preacher’s kids.
One day we left Colorado, where two of our kids were born, and headed toward Kansas (with our cat huddled under the seat). For us, the farm community of Kansas was only a week’s stop on our way to North Dakota, where Leonard was a campus minister and university professor for twelve years. When the Red River flooded in North Dakota and we had to evacuate from our house for six weeks, our daughter was about Anna’s age, suddenly separated from her best friends, her books, and her cat. After a summer of grimy cleaning up, we ended up in a FEMA trailer while her house and elementary school were torn down, and she was confused and sad.
At some time or another, most humans ask life’s big questions. Some people come to answers of great certainty. I envy them.
What I know about for sure is what one friend calls the “messy glory” of families and the comfort of a good cat or dog. Emus and chickens and lavender. Communities cleaning up together, after disasters whirl everything around and dump things upside down. What I finally know for certain is that we can’t stop change or natural disasters, but that telling our stories almost always helps, and that forgiveness and kindness sometimes can heal the disasters of the human heart.
Thank you so much for these timely and uplifting words, Jane!
ANNA WAS HERE will be available 8/27/13.
Take a walk down memory lane with us via this photo-dump of our very favorite ALA images…
Our booth was looking pretty snazzy. This is before 26,000 people descended on the exhibit hall, so we still all had all of our fingers and toes…
Were you lucky enough to attend this year’s ALSC Preconference, “A Wild Ride: 75 Years of the Caldecott Medal” at the Art Institute of Chicago? If so, we’re horribly jealous.
It takes a village to run a Veronica Roth signing– and we are happy to be that village! It’s amazing to see how involved fans feel in Veronica’s world, and how highly they (and we) are anticipating the movie (coming out in 2014!) and ALLEGIANT (on sale 10.22.13).
A moment to pinch yourself and make sure you’re not dreaming: THREE Newbery medalists in our booth at the same time. Katherine Patterson, Katherine Applegate, and Patricia McLachlan. We might have gone a little paparazzi on these lovely ladies… but who can blame us?!
During our Newbery committee dinner celebrating THE ONE AND ONLY IVAN, a beautiful rainbow appeared in the sky over the city.
Our very own (we can claim her as all ours since she wrote GIANT DANCE PARTY for Greenwillow Books) Betsy Bird, wearing our favorite ensemble of the Newbery-Caldecott-Wilder Banquet, which represented all 5 of this year’s Caldecott books.
This crew (Kevin Henkes, Laura Dronzek, Judy Zuckerman, and Virginia Duncan) all dressed up in honor of Kevin’s 2005 Caldecott-winning KITTEN’S FIRST FULL MOON.
A HUGE thank you to all who helped make this ALA one for the ages!