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Archive for July, 2013

Plan YOUR Escape
July 31, 2013

Plan YOUR Escape

We’re so thrilled by the success of Escape from Mr. Lemoncello’s Library, an instant New York Times bestseller from award-winning author Chris Grabenstein. One part Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, one part From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler, with a dash of puzzle solving through in, it’s just a flat-out fun, exciting read, and filled with Chris’ signature clever, kid-friendly humor.

There are so many ways to introduce your readers to this great story: there’s a study guide available, and(!), if they solve the final puzzle featured in the book they can win two sets of Chris’ books—one for themselves, and one for their favorite library.

Even better, Darrell Robertson, one of the Children’s Services Librarians at the Finksburg Branch of the Carroll County, MD Library System helped design a game that libraries everywhere can adapt to get their patrons engaged and having a blast this summer.



Click here to find the downloadable PDF, which includes:

  • Set Up and Game Play Instructions
  • Game Master Guide
  • Answer Sheets for players to fill in
  • Clue Cards
  • Less Challenging WORD Answer Cards
  • More Challenging PICTOGRAM Answer Cards

Are you planning an Escape from Mr. Lemoncello’s Library event? Let us know in the comments below!

July 29, 2013

The Spectacular Now

“Hits you like a shot in the heart.”

Those are Rolling Stone writer Peter Travers words, summing up the emotional rollercoaster that is The Spectacular Now, a new film soon to hit theaters. Since it premiered at the 2013 Sundance Film Festival, the film has been almost universally lauded by critics—the buzz has been non-stop. Particularly heavy praise has been showered on YA film adaptation darling Shailene Woodley and Miles Teller, who star as the central couple, as they ease into messy, beautiful, complicated, realistic teenage love.  In the words of another critic, “John Hughes would be proud.”


  What you may not have heard about, though, is that the film is based on a novel of the same name by Tim Tharp. Originally published in 2008, The Spectacular Now was a National Book Award finalist, a BBYA, and received two starred reviews.   It tells the story of Sutter Keely, a hard-partying teenager who’s as friendly and fun to be around as he is self-destructive. He’s following in his alcoholic father’s footsteps, and is never far from his supersized Thirst Master cup which has more than a little whiskey mixed in.  After he’s dumped by his girlfriend, he yet again drinks himself into oblivion and wakes up on the lawn of Aimee Finicky—a girl who couldn’t be more different. She’s a good girl and a bit of a geek, but, more importantly, she dreams of the future—and Sutter can only delude himself into believing he is and should be living in “a spectacular now.”

Tim’s impressive backlist of titles is unified by several defining traits: they’re heart wrenching, realistic, and touch on that strange, beautiful balance of extraordinary/ordinary that comes with being a teenager. He’s a next-read for fans of John Green and The Perks of Being a Wallflower.

Check out the trailer below and let us know if you and your students plan on seeing The Spectacular now when it releases in theaters on August 2nd!


July 26, 2013

Things We Love This Week!

  • Some of us (ahem, me) may have spent one too many hours staring at the double doors of the Lindo Wing at St. Mary’s Hospital, waiting for the Royal Baby to make his debut. Our Publicity department has helpfully rounded up a section of books Prince George Alexander Louis of Cambridge—and your own little princes and princesses may enjoy!
  • MentalFloss has 16 great quotes about writing for children. Steven Kellogg, illustrator of our upcoming picture book Snowflakes Fall, said about his decision to become an author/illustrator: “When I was a kid, I was very aware of the fact that a lot of the adults in my neighborhood hated their jobs … Knowing that one day I would be an adult, I really didn’t want to lose the fun of childhood by going into this dark period where every day started off with resignation and gloom or worse. And so I was determined to get to know myself very well and choose a job that I thought would be just right for me.”
  • 19 Quintessential Books of the ‘90s for adults.  How many have you read?
  • Whether you agree or not, Salon’s piece Here’s How Amazon Self-Destructs raises a few interesting points about how we use brick-and-mortar stores to browse and discover titles, and what it would mean for publishing as a whole if these spaces were to one day disappear.
  • How cool is this? New Yorkers, be sure to check out the amazing new exhibit at the NYPL about the history of children’s books. Here’s more information for you.
  • Need a laugh to carry you into the weekend? Check out Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee!

Have a wonderful weekend!

July 08, 2013

Congratulations to BECAUSE OF MR. TERUPT!

Because of Mr. Terupt by Rob Buyea is on a state award-winning roll! In addition to winning the 2013 Indiana Young Hoosier Book Award in the Intermediate Grades category, it also nabbed the 2013 Nebraska Intermediate Golden Sower Book Award, the 2013 Conneticut Nutmeg Book Award in the Intermediate category, and the 2013 Arizona Grand Canyon State Book Award in the Intermediate category.  Congratulations, Rob!

July 08, 2013

July: Don’t Know Much About Geography

Public libraries are well into their summer reading programs, and schools are out for the summer, but children and young adults have the world available to them through books that give them a sense of geography.  What prompted me to focus on geography is a newspaper article that said that students know very, very little about national or global geography.  I admit that I didn’t especially enjoy the study of geography in school, but books like Heidi, The Secret Garden, and the books by Lois Lenski caused me to ponder long moments over maps.  If the young are exposed to geography through story (setting) then they may be better prepared for a global focus in their studies.  Don’t think that incorporating geography into summer reading turns kids off to reading.  It likely will turn them on to books and all they have to offer.  Here are a few ideas:

  • Ask readers to share a picture postcard that has been sent to them or their family by a friend or relative.  Then ask them to hone their reference skills in the following way:
  1. Locate the state, country, and city on a map
  2. What are the bordering states or countries?
  3. Name the largest cities in the state or country.
  4. Trace the principle rivers
  5. Are there mountain ranges, deserts, etc.?
  6. What is the primary religion?
  7. When is the best time to travel to the state or country?
  8. What is the currency?
  • Teach very young readers how to look at maps by using There’s a Map on My Lap (picture book) by Tish Rabe. Have all readers draw a map from their school to their neighborhood.  How much detail should be included?
  • For younger readers, read aloud The Little Island (picture book) by Margaret Wise Brown & illus. by Leonard Weisgard.  Ask them (with the help of older readers) to look on a map and name the number of island countries in the world.
  • Introduce them to deserts by reading Why Oh, Why Are Deserts Dry (picture book) by Tish Rabe & illus. by Aristides Ruiz & Joe Mathiew.   In small groups, have them study a map and name the principal deserts of the world.
  • Display and book talk books that are set in locales that readers are likely to know very little.  Ask them to study sample questions on the National Geographic Geography Bee website. Then have them make 5 geography related questions from the book(s) they choose to read. Book selections from Random House may include:

                      We Planted a Tree (picture Book) by Diane Muldrow & illus. by Bob Staake – several countries are mentioned.

                      Alia’s Mission: Saving the Books of Iraq (picture book) by Mark Alan Stamaty – Iraq

                      Enrique’s Journey (middle grade) by Sonia Nazario – Hondurus &  Mexico

                      Ice Island (middle grade) by Sherry Shahan – of the coast of Alaska

                      Laugh with the Moon (middle grade) by Shana Burg – Malawi

                                Along the River: A Chinese Cinderella Novel (young adult) by Adeline Yen Mah – China

                      I Am Messenger (young adult) by Markus Zusak – Australia

                      Nine Days (middle grade) bt Fred Hiatt – Hong Kong, Vietnam & the  China border

                      Shabanu, Haveli, & The House of Djinn (young adult) by Suzanne Fisher Staples – Pakistan

                      Mountains Beyond Mountains (young adult) by Tracy Kidder &  adapted for young people by Michael French – various countries that  have a high poverty rate

  • Don’t forget books set in our own nation.   Selections from Randam House include:

 A Place Where Hurricanes Happen(picture book) by Renee Watson &  illus by Shadra Strickland – New Orleans, LA

 Look Out Washington DC(easy reader) by Patricia Reilly Giff – DC

Next Stop New York City (easy reader) by Patricia Reilly Giff -  New York

 Chomp (middle grade) – Florida Everglades

The Mighty Miss Malone (middle grade) – Michigan

Navigating Early (middle grade) – Maine

The Beet Fields (young adult) by Gary Paulsen – North Dakota

 Lord of the Deep (young adult) by Graham Salisbury – Hawaii

  • Ask readers to make picture postcards that best represents the geographical locations of the books they read.  Then plan a postcard exhibit and invite parents and community leaders in to see the display.  Readers may also prepare a short presentation that includes the geographical facts they learned.