“'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

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Brand New Readers: Three Little Bears Play All Day • Early Readers

Brand New Readers: Three Little Bears Play All Day
By David Martin • Illustrated by Akemi Gutierrez
Available now! Published February 2010 • Candlewick Press • Early Readers, Ages 4-8
EVERY child can read Brand New Readers! Baby Bear’s antics lead to unexpected results as he returns with Brother Bear and Sister Bear in four simple, funny stories.
Story: Whether jumping, juggling, munching, or building with blocks, Baby Bear finds a new way to make mischief while playing with his ever-patient big brother and sister. This Brand New Reader includes the four stories, Three Little Bears Build, Three Little Bears Eat, Three Little Bears Juggle, and Three Little Bears Jump.

Brand New Readers are short, funny stories written by award-winning authors, full of bright, colorful artworkby illustrators kids know and love.  Each Brand New Reader has:

- funny stories
- pictures that make words easy to guess
- eight-page stories that can be finished in one sitting, ensuring a satisfying reading experience
- notes for parents and teachers to help them guide beginning readers
Story behind the story: “For me, all my Brand New Reader collections are about mischief,” said author David Martin.  “Crashing, kidding, making messes and having fun.   Just the kind of stuff my five-year-old self likes.  My grown-up self wants to help children become good readers.  Fortunately the two selves joined, and that’s the story behind the story, behind these stories.”

Asked which of the three bears he readily identifies with, David replies without hesitation, “Baby Bear, of course.  And what do I do?  Spin ‘til I’m dizzy.  Knock down the blocks.  Refuse green food except for mint ice cream, and juggle Boston cream pies – or at least try.  Full disclosure:  I really like broccoli a lot, and spinning nowadays makes me queasy.  But I can juggle.  As for block towers, to build them high or knock them down, that is the question.  Okay, both.  And thanks to three grandkids, I have good models to keep the mischief fresh.” 

DAVID MARTIN was a teacher for eighteen years. He began in special education and then went from fourth grade to seventh-grade language arts. But it was his work as a first-grade Reading Recovery teacher that helped him understand the needs of “brand-new readers.”

PS:  I worked at Candlewick Press when the Brand New Readers series launched and used them with my son, then 5 1/2.  The series works so well to inspire confidence and get kids reading.  He was so proud of himself -- and I'm proud to see that the series has continued 10 years later!  


The Brand New Readers series is one of the best out there to motivate new readers.  We think they’re so good that we give a set to every primary grade teacher attending our Summer Institutes on the Teaching of Reading.” Lucy Calkins, Professor of Curriculum and Teaching, Teacher’s College, Columbia University, and author of The Art of Reading

“The Brand New Readers series was designed especially for children who are learning to read for the very first time.  The brevity of the eight-page books offers new readers a sense of accomplishment and success.  I find this series consistently cheerful and frankly funny.” – Esme Raji Codell, author of Educating Esme: Diary of a Teacher’s First Year

Visit WWW.BRANDNEWREADERS.COM for a complete listing of Brand New Readers, an online sample, a downloadable certificate, and reading levels and early intervention levels.

FYI: all the review copies for this title have been sent; please check back on the "comments" link to read what your colleagues have to say.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Mirror Mirror: A Book of Reversible Verse • Poetry Picture Book

Mirror Mirror:  A Book of Reversible Verse
by Marilyn Singer  illustrated by Josee Masse
Just out!  Dutton Children's Books Ages 6 and up
In this truly unique collection of reversible verse, classic fairy tales are turned on their heads!
Story:  There are two sides to every story, from the princess and the frog, to the beauty and the beast, to Sleeping Beauty and that charming prince.  Marilyn Singer turns classic fairy tales on their heads.  Literally.  Here's an example of how it works -- read these clever little poems from top to bottom.

Down --
A poem in 
a puzzle

Then reverse the lines and read from bottom to top

A puzzle
a poem --
or Up

Now imagine reversible poems written about fairy tales showing different characters' take on the story.  Witty and irreverent, this unique collection holds a cheeky mirror up to language and fairy tales, and renews the magic of both. 

Story behind the story: Once upon a time, Marilyn Singer wrote a poem that could be read both up and down so that it would have different meanings in each direction.  Then she challenged herself to a game -- could she write more poems like it?  Indeed she could!  Singer calls these poems "reversos."

"This book is a sheer delight in every way.....Josee’ Masse’s equally clever illustrations add delightful visual clues for the reader as well. Share this book with kids and challenge them to try writing their own reversible verse. Singer used familiar fairy tales as her subject but the range of topics is wide open. Irresistible!" -- Cindy Dobrez and Lynn Rutan,BookEnds blog, Booklist

★ "This is a remarkably clever and versatile book that would work in any poetry or fairy-tale unit. A must-have for any library." –Joan Kindig, James Madison University, Harrisonburg, VA, School Library Journal

★ "Ingenious.... Singer also issues an invitation for readers to try to write their own reversos on any topic. Matching the cleverness of the text, Masse’s deep-hued paintings create split images that reflect the twisted meaning of the irreverently witty poems and brilliantly employ artistic elements of form and shape—Cinderella’s clock on one side morphs to the moon on the other. A must-purchase that will have readers marveling over a visual and verbal feast. — Patricia Austin, Booklist

Selected by Indie Booksellers for the Spring 2010 Kids' Next List

“Each two-page spread of Mirror Mirror features poetry created by word reversal, all accompanied by beautiful illustrations. This is absolutely the most inventive children's book that I have seen in ages, and a wonderful way to make poetry interesting to everyone!”-- Andi Allen, Piece of Mind Books, Edwardsville, IL

“A poetry book innovative enough to get kids to try writing their own versions. Each of the fairy tale poems in this book are presented vertically, then flipped on the page. When you read them first up and then down, the meaning of each poem is changed. It is so amazing, you just need to read one for yourself. Have fun!”
-- Katherine Fergason, Bunch of Grapes Bookstore, Vineyard Haven, MA

FYI: all the review copies for this title have been sent; please check back on the "comments" link to read what your colleagues have to say.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

The Boneshaker • Middle-grade fiction (historical fanstasy)

The Boneshaker
by Kate Milford illustrated by Andrea Offermann 
May 2010 Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Ages 10 and up
"This is one of those books that's a delight from start to finish, quirky but grounded, with characters you'll fall in love with." -- Charles de Lint, author of Little (Grrl) Lost  and The Blue Girl
Story:  Strange things can happen at a crossroads, and the crossroads outside of Arcane, MO, is no exception.  13-year-old Natalie Minks knows all the odd, mysterious tales about her little town -- she grew up hearing her mother tell them.  But even Natalie is not prepared for the strangeness that's unleashed when Doctor Hake Limberleg's Nostrum Fair and Technological medicine Show rolls into town with its bizarre tonics and elaborate, inexplicable machines.

Natalie loves machines.   She's fascinated by mechanical things of all sorts -- especially automata like the little clockwork flyer her dad is helping her build.  And when she finally gets a close look at the machines within the intricate maze of the medicine show, she knows in her gut that something about this caravan of healers is not right... and that Arcane is in grave danger.
Story behind the story:  This story about family, community, courage and the necessity of looking evil directly in the face to conquer it is Kate Milford's first novel.  And it's getting some enthusiastic pre-publication buzz like this from Colleen Mondor at ChasingRay.com: "I am reading Kate Milford's The Boneshaker and all of you who have heard early Newbery [Award] rumblings about this one would do well to heed them. It certainly has some Bradbury (ala Something Wicked This Way Comes) touches, but also a delightful bit of Wright Brothers bicycle invention/repair, Robert Johnson at the crossroads and Dewey Kerrigan (via The Green Glass Sea). I am most pleased with this one (about one third of the way through) and will have a review in my May column."

FYI: all the review copies for this title have been sent; please check back on the "comments" link to read what your colleagues have to say.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Beware the Ides of March? Nah!

March 15 may be the Ides of March, but it's also the date of the latest Kidsbookclubbing e-newsletter featuring book giveaways and behind-the-scenes stories from top authors:
- Gayle Brandeis, who "seamlessly intersperses serious topics with laugh-out loud humor" (School Library Journal) in her middle-grade historical novel, My Life with the Lincolns. (for ages 10 and up)
 -Chris Bradford: he tells us about martial arts, special powers, and his 17th-century action-adventure series Young Samurai (for ages 10 and up).

- and Y.S. Lee, who reimagines Victorian England with her smart teenage heroine Mary Quinn in The Agency: A Spy in the House. (for ages 12 and up)
Perhaps these are possibilities for your next book group read?  Enjoy.
PS  A new Picnic Basket title will be featured in the next day or two...stay tuned...

Friday, March 5, 2010

Big Night for Salamanders • Picture Book

Big Night for Salamanders
by Sarah Marwil Lamstein illustrated by Carol Benioff 
Just out! March 2010 Boyds Mills Press Ages 4-9
Go slow!  Salamander crossing!
Story:  During the first warm rainy night of spring -- Big Night -- spotted salamanders by the hundreds crawl out of the woods and down to a natural pool across the road.  There they will breed and lay their eggs.  Evan and his parents know the salamanders need their help.  Crossing a road at night is dangerous, especially for small amphibians.  The family slows the traffic.  They carry salamanders across the road.  But the cars keep coming, and the hour is late.  How can the family help these delicate creatures cross the road in safety?  Evan has the solution.... Throughout North America, people help salamanders and other amphibians cross roads during their spring migration.  They watch weather forecasts.  They call one another by telephone.  They announce the event by e-mail.  "Here come the spotted salamanders.  It's Big Night!"
Story behind the story:  "Over the years on Big Night, I’ve joined crews of people, young and old, patrolling roads that slice the salamanders’ path." Sarah says.  "We gently lift the spotted creatures and carry them across the road, out of harm’s way, then set them down on the other side to continue their important journey.  Always the children among us are the most eager to help.  This happy intersection of child and critter is what I write about in Big Night for Salamanders."

"The gouache paintings add color and drama to this informative picture book.  A solid choice for primary-grade science units." -- Booklist

"The text elegantly blends fiction and nonfiction, alternating between lyrical, italicized descriptions of the salamanders and their movements and a straightforward narrative about the family helping them. The use of present tense lends immediacy and suspense to the tale, and Benioff's gouache illustrations impart a sense of wonder. A comprehensive afterword gives more details about the life cycle of the spotted salamander, Big Night, and vernal pools. An excellent addition to science units, and could be paired with Anne Mazer's The Salamander Room (Knopf, 1991) for a super salamander storytime." -- School Library Journal

For more information on vernal pool ecology and the protection of resources, see the Vernal Pool Association's website.

FYI: all the review copies for this title have been sent; please check back on the "comments" link to read what your colleagues have to say.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Kidsbookclubbing Wednesday

In our latest KidsBuzz bookclubbing issue you'll find book giveaways and behind-the-scenes stories from top kids' and teen authors. Don't miss your chance to win a free set of books for your book club, arrange for your readers to talk with the author, get discussion questions, and hear directly from the authors why and how they wrote their books. This week you'll meet:

Mary Amato
, who gives younger readers plenty of adventure in the latest installment of her highly praised Riot Brothers series, Take The Mummy and Run. (ages 6-10)

Pat Lowery Collins
, who takes readers to 17th century Venice in her historical novel, Hidden Voices. (ages 14 and up). (PS: Be sure to go to Pat's website to hear Vivaldi music performed by the San Francisco Girls' Chorus -- terrific inspiration while reading the book!)

Julie Anne Peters
as she talks about "bullycide" and the long-term effects that bullying can have on teenagers, as well as the process of writing her well-regarded young adult novel, By the Time You Read This, I'll Be Dead. (ages 14 and up)

What are you waiting for? Check it all out at KidsBuzz.