Category Archives: Tween books
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!
If you peeked into our offices today, you might be a little alarmed at the frantic packing and printing and prepping for ALA Annual in Chicago at the end of the week! Chicago itself might be a little frantic today as well, considering that the Blackhawks won their 5th Stanley Cup last night! Full disclosure: Chicago gal here !
Will you be in the Windy City as well? If so, please come by our booth and say hello to our amazing group of absurdly talented authors and illustrators. Can you believe this crew? Too good!
All signings take place in Booth #2407:
FRIDAY, JUNE 28th:
SATURDAY, JUNE 29th:
9:30–10:00am, Betsy Bird
9:30–10:00am, Margaret McNamara
10:00–11:00am, emily m. danforth (Morris Award Finalist!)
11:00am–12:00pm, Mo Willems
12:00–1:00pm, Peter Lerangis
2:00–3:00pm, Veronica Roth (*limited, ticketed signing. Tickets will be available in our booth beginning Friday (6/28) at 5:30pm, while supplies last*)
4:00–5:00pm, Kadir Nelson
SUNDAY, JUNE 30th:
9:30–10:30am, Kevin Henkes
10:30–11:30am, Katherine Patterson (Wilder Award Winner!)
10:30–11:30am, Patricia McLachlan
10:30–11:30am, Katherine Applegate (Newbery Award Winner!)
12:30–1:30pm, Michael Grant
1:30–2:00pm, Jarrett Krosoczka
1:30–2:00pm, Francesca Lia Block
2:00–3:00pm, James Dean & Eric Litwin (Geisel Honorees!)
3:00–3:30pm, Melissa Sweet
MONDAY, JULY 1st:
Hope to see you there!
Fans of pulse-pounding wilderness survival stories, this one’s for you! In NEVER SAY DIE, the latest from outdoor adventure master Will Hobbs, two brothers encounter disaster on a rafting trip in the Canadian Arctic when their raft hits a solid block of ice that flips them and pins them underneath. Narrowly making it out alive, Nick and Ryan—on opposite sides of the river—are forced to survive with only the clothes on their backs. Cold and hungry, they’re up against a world of wolves, caribou, and grizzlies, their every move haunted by the monstrous grolar bear (half grizzly, half polar bear).
We’re not the only ones who are crazy about NEVER SAY DIE. Here’s what reviewers are saying:
“Spectacular.”—The Horn Book
“A plot lit up with extremes of privation and deadly danger.”—Booklist
“The imagery is truly majestic.”—SLJ
“A nonstop survival adventure.”—Kirkus Reviews
Don’t miss this Q&A with Will Hobbs, in which he talks about his own experiences in the Arctic, his research, and whether or not the grolar bear is a real thing (it is!). Featuring photos from Will’s trips to the Arctic, the Q & A (and the book of course) is perfect for sharing with students who just can’t get enough of wilderness adventure stories.
It’s such fun to see our authors supporting other authors– what a generous and smart crew of talented folks writing books for children! An example: Ellen Oh, author of this winter’s fantasy YA-debut PROPHECY, interviews Soman Chainani, author of the just published middle grade debut, SCHOOL FOR GOOD AND EVIL, on The Enchanted Inkpot today.
Both of these authors are the kind of accomplished, multi-talented people that make us feel a little inadequate (but in a good way, we swear!)– they’re total movers and shakers, and, you heard it here first, doing big things. Also, they both have terribly snazzy websites and gorgeous author photos!
A little bit more about each of their books…
PROPHECY, by Ellen Oh
She’s the demon slayer.
She’s the most feared girl in the whole Kingdom.
And now she’s on the run.
Kira’s the only female in the king’s army, and the prince’s bodyguard. She’s a demon slayer and an outcast, hated by nearly everyone in her home city of Hansong. And, she’s their only hope…
Murdered kings, traitors, and a demon invasion sends Kira on the run with the young prince, who may be the true heir to the Dragon King’s throne, destined to reunite the seven kingdoms. But without the lost treasures, there will be nothing left to reunite. With only the guidance of a cryptic prophecy, Kira must battle demon soldiers, evil shaman, and the Demon Lord himself to find what was once lost and raise a prince into a king.
Intrigue and mystery, ancient lore and action-packed fantasy come together in this heart-stopping first in a three book series.
- Marie Lu, author of the LEGEND trilogy, raved of PROPHECY, “What an adventure! I fell in love with the lush, richly woven world of PROPHECY. Kira is truly a force to be reckoned with. When I finished my journey with her, all I wanted was more. Spectacular!”
- Watch the trailer for PROPHECY here.
THE SCHOOL FOR GOOD AND EVIL, by Soman Chainani
The School for Good and Evil series unleashes a dazzling new fantasy world, one in which ordinary boys and girls are trained to be perfect heroes or perfect villains. Book One subverts the assumed roles of our indelible heroines, when witch-girl Agatha is “mistakenly” sent to the School for Good, and wannabe-princess Sophie to the School for Evil. As rivalries bloom and jealousy sets in, Agatha and Sophie discover that these fates may not be a mistake, after all…
- Gregory Maguire, author of WICKED, had this to say about THE SCHOOL FOR GOOD AND EVIL: “Invention in overdrive, indulging in a gnarly smackdown of folklore conventions, THE SCHOOL OF GOOD AND EVIL is a comedic education by a writer primed to shoot to the head of the class.”
- And Entertainment Weekly said this: “If I could bewitch you all to read it, I would.”
- Download the discussion guide here.
- And watch the AMAZING trailer here!