“'There's cold chicken inside it,' replied the Rat briefly; 'coldtonguecoldhamcoldbeefpickledgherkinssaladfrench

'O stop, stop,' cried the Mole in ecstacies: 'This is too much!'”
-- from
The Wind in the Willows

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

The Pet Sitter Books • Middle-grade fiction (illustrated)

The Pet Sitter: Tiger Taming
The Pet Sitter: Dixie in Danger
Julie Sykes • Illustrated by Nathan Reed
March 2009 •
Kingfisher • Middle grade fiction (illustrated) • Ages 7-10
Introducing Max, the pint-sized hero of a brand new series for pet lovers everywhere.
Story: Tiger Taming: Max thinks he’s going to love his new job as a pet sitter, but his first client, Miss W. Itchy, seems a little odd. His instincts prove him right when it turns out that her cat, Tiger, can talk. It’s not long before Tiger is ordering Max around, demanding bat juice and hogging the TV. But when Miss Itchy’s archenemy kidnaps Tiger, Max has to prove just what kind of pet sitter he really is.
Story: Dixie in Danger: Max is minding his own business when he receives a call from Ivor Gadget, a famous inventor who needs Max to pet sit his dormouse, Dixie. How hard could it be? thinks Max. Ivor is hardly out the door when Dixie escapes from her cage and runs through the invention-filled house. Little does Max know that the chase will land him 2,000 years back in time.
Story behind the story: Julie Sykes is the author of more than 20 books for children. Nathan Reed has illustrated many children’s books, including Kingfisher’s I Am Reading: Hocus-Pocus Hound. If you want a preview before you get your sample copy, take a sneak peek at first chapter excerpts at
http://www.kingfisherpublications.com/. Plus, Kingfisher, the publisher of the PET SITTER books, has created some widgets for Dixie in Danger and Tiger Taming for your websites and blogs.

FYI: all the review copies for this title have been sent and reviews are in the works; please check back and click on the "comments" link below to read what your colleagues have to say.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Little Oink • Picture book

Little Oink
by Amy Krouse Rosenthal and Jen Corace
Spring 2009 • Chronicle Books • Picture book • Ages 3 and up
"When I grow up, I'm going to let my kids clean up their rooms as much as they want."
Story: From the creators of Little Pea and Little Hoot comes this tidy tale of a decidedly different pig. Little Oink is a neat little fellow. Clean, clean, clean, that's all he wants to do. But Mama and Papa won't have it! They say in order to be a respectable pig, he has to learn to make a proper mess. "Don't come out until your room is a pigsty," they chide. A humorous twist on a universal dilemma.
Story behind the story: Amy's sister, Beth, came up with the idea for the story -- and her daughter wrote the book's last line (SPOILER ALERT: "And they all lived hap-pig-ly ever after.") When asked if there was anything she disliked as a child that her parents insisted on, Amy replied: "
As a kid, I always hated getting presents. My parents would insist on getting me all these great presents on my birthday every year. Can you believe that? Oh, wait. I totally loved that. It was going to the doctor that I hated. Sorry about the mix-up." Oh, and in the random information department, illustrator Jen Corace is a master at bumper cars but is unable to properly operate any other type of licensed vehicle.

The author, illustrator and publisher have created loads of downloads for your classroom or library including an event kit (with masks, pun activities, a Pin the tail on Oink game and more), a Little Oink song, poster, super cute video for “Little Oink” (narrated by the author's nephew) and video of the author on tour!

FYI: all the review copies for this title have been sent and reviews are in the works; please check back and click on the "comments" link below to read what your colleagues have to say.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Max Quigley, Technically NOT a Bully • Middle-grade fiction

Max Quigley, Technically NOT a Bully
by James Roy
Just out! • Houghton Mifflin Harcourt • Middle-grade fiction • Ages 8 - 12
"Technically, I'm not actually a bully. Bullies wait behind lunch sheds and steal kids' Twinkies. I've never stolen anything in my life. Bullies beat people up. I've never actually punched anyone in my entire life...."
Story: Max Quigley is no angel; in fact one might call him a bully. But even as he taunts "wimpy Nerdstrom," he also begins to understand him. A most unlikely friendship grows. In the end, Max wins readers over, keeps them laughing, shows he is capable of change, and ultimately, brings us to a better understanding of boy dynamics.
Story behind the story: James Roy explains how this book came to be: "Many of my middle-grade books have featured bullies…but always from the point-of-view of the victim. How I came to use this as a theme isn't worth exploring in too much more detail than this: when I was a kid, I grew up for several years in the Pacific Islands (Fiji and Papua New Guinea) and when I returned to Australia I was socially... well, behind. And as a result I got bullied. Now, in saying that, I'm not trying to illicit any kind of sympathy or pity - it's just how it was, and I'm certain that living in those places and the bullying that followed helped form me as a writer. But that has underpinned my interest in bullying as a recurring theme in my writing.

Then came something of an epiphany - the recognition that the bully has a story as well. To regard the bully as a cardboard cutout character is a simple but common mistake. As I say in my author talk in schools, the kid who steals your lunch money every day is rarely doing it because they need more lunch money. It's almost always because their sense of power is lacking, usually stemming from issues that begin long before they get on the bus to come to school, and as a result they need to improve their position of power....So I asked myself, 'What is the bully's story?' And at that moment Max Quigley emerged into my world."

MAX QUIGLEY is funny, and so I asked the author spoke to the humor element as well: "It's all well and good to write a book that makes kids think, but if they aren't engaged enough to get to the payoff at the end, the whole exercise is pointless. Hence the humour. I wanted kids to read Max's unreliable (and self-justified) recount of the events and initially find them funny, and to side entirely with the diabolical Max. But then, as the story went on, I wanted them to begin to squirm a little, and to recognize that Max's actions were causing real pain to his victim, all the while wondering whether redemption might come to Max. I had such fun writing this book, and I really hope that young readers everywhere love it too."

What some early reviewers have to say:

"Roy has a . . . substantive story to tell . . . Max’s small but accumulating steps toward reformation are believable as he becomes more aware of his effect on others—especially a wannabe-bully first grader who seems destined to follow in Max’s footsteps and whom Max has been training in 'leadership skills.'" —Horn Book

"Roy gives the . . . genuine growth in Max’s humanity a light touch and some realistic stumbling blocks, in a not unsympathetic look at bullying from the other side."—Kirkus Reviews

"This Australian import looks at bullying from the inside. Max tells his story in the first person, illustrating it with occasional line drawings on notebook paper. His self-justifying voice is convincing; readers will be sucked into going along with his worldview and just as surprised as he is when playful fighting becomes real. Straightforward chronology, believable dialogue, self-contained chapters, and plenty of humor make this accessible to reluctant readers and particularly appealing to boys who may see a bit of themselves in this realistic school story."—Booklist
FYI: all the review copies for this title have been sent and reviews are in the works; please check back and click on the "comments" link below to read what your colleagues have to say.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

The Sisters Club: Rule of Three • Middle-grade fiction

The Sisters Club: Rule of Three
by Megan McDonald

August 2009 • Candlewick Press • Middle-grade fiction • Ages 9 - 12
A brand-new book in the Sisters Club series from best-selling author Megan McDonald!
Story: Alex has always been the Actor-with-a-capital-A in the Reel family, and middle-sister Stevie has always been content to stay behind the scenes. But when auditions for the school musical are announced, Stevie decides that maybe she’s tired of being the Sensible One. Maybe, for once, she’d like to be the one in the spotlight.
Story behind the story: The Sisters Club is the perfect series for readers who love Megan’s laugh-out-loud humor, but are looking to transition from Judy Moody to older chapter books. Megan McDonald is also the youngest of five sisters. She knows a thing or two about the ups and downs of sisterhood.
A special announcement: Drum roll, please. Candlewick is thrilled to announce a better-than-best-ever e-newsletter for teachers: Megan McDonald’s Totally RARE Teachers’ Club! Sign up
today for:

  • behind the scenes with Megan McDonald

  • classroom activities and downloadable materials

  • advance announcement of upcoming contests and giveaway

  • and, the chance to exchange ideas with other teachers on using Megan’s books in your curriculum!

FYI: all the review copies for this title have been sent and reviews are in the works; please check back and click on the "comments" link below to read what your colleagues have to say.

Monday, April 20, 2009

The Baseball Card Kid • Middle grade fiction (illustrated)

The Baseball Card Kid
by Adam Osterweil • illustrated by Craig Smith
March 2009 • Front Street, an Imprint of Boyds Mills Press • Middle grade fiction (illustrated)
A valuable baseball card, a sinking ship, a distant planet, and vampire tales fill this fast-paced time-travel story.
Story: When an advertisement for a TimeQuest 2 comic suddenly attracts Paul and Brian, their only question is: How do you mail something to the year 100,000? Question answered, they begin a quest to replace a Honus Wagner card that Brian accidentally destroyed when he was younger. To find it, all they have to do is warp the space-time continuum to the year 1912, board the Titanic, and find Brian’s great-great-uncle Sean. No problem. As the TimeQuest 2 Comic magically chronicles their travels, the boys discover that their actions have doomed all of humankind. Now they must travel back to the distant reaches of the universe and darkest Transylvania to set things right again. Can they fix the world and make it home with the million-dollar baseball card before it’s too late?
Story behind the story: Adam Osterweil, teaches junior high English at Springs School in Springs, New York, and tries to make reading fun and relevant for reluctant readers by writing fast-paced action-packed adventure stories about topics that kids enjoy -- baseball being an obvious choice. Here's some interesting info on Honus Wagner, one of the greatest players of all time and his baseball card: .327 lifetime batting average, known also known for his playing career with the Pittsburgh Pirates from 1900-1917, and as a coach thereafter. Osterweil explains a bit about the card: "The T206 Honus Wagner card was released in 1909, but very few cards were distributed to the public (estimates placed the number in circulation at 50-200). Rumors abound about the reasons for the small number of printed cards, but their scarcity has made it the most coveted baseball card in history. One specimen in 8.0 condition (10.0 being the highest) recently sold for 2.8 million dollars. Even a lesser card in 3.0 condition recently sold for $791,000."

Osterweil and Smith's first book -- The Comic Book Kid (2001) -- was named a “Best Book of the Year” in 2002 by Bank Street College of Education, and won a Walt Disney Children’s Choice award for Best Adventure Book in 2002.

Early praise for The Baseball Card Kid:

“The slapstick time-travel antics continue in this sequel to The Comic Book Kid…Osterweil laces his narrative with middle-grade-style yuks and injects frequent reviews of events into his breathlessly paced tale. Smith punches up the short chapters further with frequent scenes of frantic-looking young folk in bizarre situations.” -- Kirkus Reviews

FYI: all the review copies for this title have been sent and reviews are in the works; please check back and click on the "comments" link below to read what your colleagues have to say.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

We love librarians. What about you?

Let's hear it for librarians! In honor of National Library Week (April 12-18, 2009), an annual celebration of the contributions of our nation's libraries and librarians, I've asked some author friends to share a few words:

(and a former New York City public librarian):
"I will never forget the day I got my first library card -- it was green -- and the thrill of signing my name -- oh, so carefully -- at that tall (and scary) desk as the librarian looked on, and my mother. Doors were opening ..."

Carolyn MacCullough, author of Once A Witch (September 2009):
"My first job that came with a real paycheck was in the town library. I was a shelver. For four hours a day, three times a week, I made an endless loop of the shelves where I tucked books back into their proper home. If I could empty a cart in less than fifteen minutes, I let myself have five minutes to duck down in some semi lit corner and dive deep into whatever book I was reading at the time. Surrounded by the smell of ink, and the rustle of thousands and thousands of pages, it was then that I decided librarians were some of the luckiest people on earth."

G. Neri, author of Surf Mules (June 2009):
"When I first moved to Temple Terrace, Florida from Los Angeles 6 years ago, the local library was the first place that made me feel things were going to be alright. They had a great collection and super friendly people, and after I learned how to order from the Hillsborough County’s online catalogue, I found I could get virtually any book, DVD, or CD my heart desired, no matter how obscure. As I got to know the people who worked at my branch, they knew of me not as the author, but as the guy who had the most interesting holds waiting for him. Since then, they’ve come to know me as a writer and the guy who has 20-40 books and DVDs checked out at any given time. I love my library."

"I’ll never forget my first jaw-dropping visit to the Public Library in Flushing, Queens. I was seven years old and a newcomer to America, and I couldn’t believe my eyes. All of these books, for me, for free? My sister took me back every Saturday, without fail, so that I could hunt down and consume story after story — a habit that helped me survive life as an immigrant kid, and still keeps me sane to this day."

Anyone else? Come on... share stories of your favorite librarian or library or library experience with us!

Monday, April 13, 2009

Dork Diaries: Tales from a NOT-SO-Fabulous Life • Middle-grade fiction

by Rachel Renee Russell
June 2009 • Aladdin Paperbacks/Simon & Schuster • Ages 9-13

It's THE DIARY OF A WIMPY KID for girls in a hilarious new novel.
Story: Join Nikki Maxwell in her personal chronicle about life as a new kid, aspiring artist and librarian shelving assistant. Dork Diaries follows this eighth grader as she chronicles through text and sketches her move to a snooty new school; her epic battle with her mom for an iPhone, her enthusiasm for drawing and art; and a love/hate fascination with the new school's queen bee. Nikki writes about friendships, crushes, popularity and family with a unique and fresh voice that still conveys a universal authenticity.
Story behind the story: April 12 - 18 is National Library Week and I'm thrilled that we can offer preview copies of Dork Diaries at this time. While adjusting to life at Westchester Country Day, Nikki becomes a Library Shelving Assistant (LSA) and much of the story takes place in the school library. The librarian, Mrs. Peach, is planning a trip to NYC for National Library Week to take some of her LSAs to a "Meet-N-Greet" with authors at the renowned New York Public Library. So here's to lots of stories taking place in school (and public) libraries everywhere, to Meeting-N-Greeting authors and illustrators galore, and to all the Mrs. Peach's who inspire kids to enjoy the power of stories - and libraries.
FYI: all the review copies for this title have been sent and reviews are in the works; please check back and click on the "comments" link below to read what your colleagues have to say. Know that the publisher was having some email issues and some of you may have received error messages, but they've informed me that all emails were indeed received and they've fulfilled the requests on a first-come, first-served basis. Thanks for your patience!

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

The Chosen One • Young adult fiction

The Chosen One
by Carol Lynch Williams
May 12, 2009 • St. Martin's Griffin • YA fiction • Ages 12 and up
Family or freedom? She must choose.
Story: Thirteen-year-old Kyra has grown up in an isolated community without questioning the fact that her father has three wives and she has twenty brothers and sisters. Or at least without questioning them much -- if you don't count her secret visits to the Mobile Library on Wheels to read forbidden books, or her meetings with the boy she hopes to choose for herself instead of having a man chosen for her. But when the Prophet decrees that Kyra must marry her sixty-year-old uncle -- who already has six wives -- Kyra must make a desperate choice in the face of violence and her own fears of losing her family.
Story behind the story: Carol Lynch Williams tells us a bit about the idea behind The Chosen One: "Many years ago I heard of a young woman who ran from her polygamist community. She was dragged home, beaten and yet she ran again. I knew at that moment -- at least a decade ago -- that I would write this novel.

One of my goals in writing this book was to show the difference between polygamist groups and The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints of which I am a member. Some people still think that most men in Utah have more than one wife. Polygamists are not Latter-day Saints.

I did a huge amount of research before and during the writing. There are many different kinds of polygamist groups around the world. So while this book is grounded in fact, it is still fiction. I looked up everything I could online. This was a few years back, before the Warren Jeffs arrest. And it was kind of weird, because when I knew I was ready to start writing, it suddenly seemed that TV was full of stories of polygamists. I watched several nationwide news programs, read many newspaper articles, and read both positive and negative accounts of polygamy."

Fellow authors offer their praise for The Chosen One:

"The Chosen One makes the heart race, the teeth grind, and the brow bead up in sweat...I could choose no other book or newspaper until I had finished the final page." -- Gregory Maguire, New York Times bestselling author of Wicked and A Lion Among Men

"A powerful and heartbreaking novel of love and hope. One girl's poignant journey as she struggles to find herself and, ultimately, the truth." -- Meg Cabot, New York Times bestselling author of The Princess Diaries and Airhead

"Imagine Anna Quindlen or Sue Miller writing a young adult novel...Spare, direct, and startling, Kyra Leigh's story is one every young woman should hear. Be forewarned; this book is a compulsive read." -- Audrey Couloumbis, author of the 2000 Newbury Honor Book Getting Near to Baby

"In this extraordinary novel, Carol Lynch Williams probes the deepest wells of the heart. Against the intertwining prism of faith and love she gives us Kyra, a young woman who meets head-on the power of both to simultaneously buoy and corrupt the human spirit. The Chosen One is brave, its plumb is true, it's a masterpiece." -- Kathi Appelt, author of The Underneath, Finalist for the 2008 National Book Award for Young People's Literature

Many more authors, educators, librarians and bloggers have chimed in. See the Facebook page for even more praise. What's important, though, is what YOU have to say about The Chosen One.

FYI: all the review copies for this title have been sent and reviews are in the works; please check back and click on the "comments" link below to read what your colleagues have to say.

Friday, April 3, 2009

Little Chick • Picture book

Little Chick
by Amy Hest and illustrated by Anita Jeram • March 2009 • Candlewick Press • Picture BookAges 2 and up
What if you are a good and patient gardener but simply can’t wait for your carrot to grow tall? What if you skip like a pro but still can’t lift your kite in the air? Or if you’re a really good stretcher but can’t reach your favorite star?
Story: The creators of the New York Times bestselling Kiss Good Night share gentle tales about a special intergenerational bond. With affection and humor, Amy Hest offers three vignettes about a curious chick and a loving auntie who knows how to soften disappointments by keeping the spark of wonder alive. And the incomparable Anita Jeram renders Little Chick’s gestures and movements with a mastery that captures the spirit of every young child.
Story behind the story: Long ago, when Amy Hest was just a little chick herself, she had a teeny little carrot garden behind her house. She waited and waited, but nothing grew. Then one day, lo and behold, a CARROT!! And a very large carrot at that! She was so proud of herself!

Years later, she discovered that her mom, feeling so sad for her, took a carrot from the refrigerator and put it in the garden.

“To this day, I am NO gardener,” says Amy. “Hence, I live in New York City, where thankfully gardening is not required.”

★“Infused with tenderness… Light humor and visual charm.” – Publishers Weekly, starred review

FYI: all the review copies for this title have been sent and reviews are in the works; please check back and click on the "comments" link below to read what your colleagues have to say.