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May 07, 2015

Celebrate Memorial Day with these Random House Reads

For most young students, Memorial Day is a simple as a free Monday away from school. For some people, it’s the mark to break out white pants and shoes as a sign that summer is on the way.

Memorial Day is about much more than the three day weekend. Begun as a tribute to more than 600,000 American soldiers who died during the Civil War, this day now honors all soldiers who died while serving our country.

Use these books to spark discussion about military history and Memorial Day traditions.

by Laura Hillenbrand
Hardcover: 9780385742511
GLB: 9780375990625
EPUB: 9780307975652 
by James Bradley and Ron Powers;
Adapted by Michael French
Hardcover: 9780385729321
GLB: 9780385900096
EPUB: 9780307979261


by Eric Haney
Hardcover: 9780385732512
GLB: 9780385902731
by Lucille Recht Penner;
illustrated by David Wenzel
Trade Paperback: 9780375822001
by Albert Marrin
Hardcover: 9780307981523
GLB: 9780307981530
EPUB: 9780385753401


by by Mary Pope Osborne;
illustrated by Sal Murdocca
Trade Paperback: 9780679890676
EL: 9780375894787
by Karen Schwabach
Trade Paperback: 9780375858673
GLB: 9780385755122
EL: 9780375893186

A Debut Middle Grade Novel from Kelly Jones; Illustrated by Katie Kath
May 07, 2015

A Debut Middle Grade Novel from Kelly Jones; Illustrated by Katie Kath

Not just regular chickens and not just any poultry farmer. Unusual Chickens for the Exceptional Poultry Farmer by Kelly Jones; illustrated by Katie Kath features twelve-year-old, energetic, creative and loving Sophie Brown, who feels like a fish out of water when she and her parents move from Los Angeles to the farm they’ve inherited from her Great Uncle Jim.

Sophie’s father is looking for a new grocery store job, and Sophie writes to her late abuela and  Great Uncle Jim about the changes in her life and the cranky chicken that appears on the farmhouse. Farm life gets even more interesting once Sophie discovers this hen can move objects with the power of her little chicken brain: jam jars, the latch to her henhouse, the entire henhouse…

In addition to writing her abuela, Sophie also sends away to Redwood Farm for a Beginning Poultry Course Kit.

As more of Great Uncle Jim’s unusual chickens come home to roost, Sophie learns to care for her flock, earning money for chicken feed by collecting eggs.

Told through letters, quizzes a chicken-care correspondence course, to-do lists, and more, Unusual Chickens is a quirky, clucky classic in the making. Kelly Jones easily weaves Spanish with English and thoughtfully takes on the Sophie’s gentle voice.

Librarians are the hero in this story as Sophie turns to her local library every week for more information on chickens.

“What if some other kids find chickens like mine?”, she asks in a letter to her abuela. “They’ll need all the help they can get. I go to the library every week, and there aren’t many books about chickens with superpowers. I think I would like those kids to know my story.”

Te extrano,

Families, Families, Families!
May 05, 2015

Families, Families, Families!

Celebrate families in all their wonderful, different combinations!

In Families, Families, Families! a host of silly animals represent all kinds of families. Cleverly depicted as portraits, framed and hung, these goofy creatures offer a warm celebration of family love.

Use this book during storytime to spark discussions about modern family dynamics. As you read, engage children with questions about their own families. When you’ve finished reading, ask children to flip through the pages and see if their family portraits match any of the images depicted. If their family were animals, what kind would they be?


Use our Family Tree Activity Brochure to supplement your story time.




May 05, 2015

May – Diversity Continued

by Pat Scales

Last month the focus was on diversity in children’s books, and the importance of building a diverse collection so that young readers might connect with all populations in their communities, and gain an appreciation of cultures from around the world. Books that present various cultural traditions and celebrations are very important if we expect the young to become globally conscious.

  • Folk and fairy tales reveal a lot about world cultures. Display copies of fairy tales, especially those that reflect specific cultures. For example, almost every culture has a version of Cinderella. Ask readers to compare and contrast the stories.
  • Suggest that readers find other books from the oral tradition that introduces diverse cultures. Suggestions from Random House include:

The Beautiful Lady: Our Lady of Guadalupe (picture book) by Pat Mora & illus. by Steve Johnson & Lou Faucher

Borreguita and the Coyote (picture book) by Verna Aardema

John Henry (picture book) by Ezra Jack Keats

Mirandy and Brother Wind (picture book) by Patricia McKissack & illus. by Jerry Pinkney

The Mitten String (picture book)  by Jennifer Rosner & illus. by Kristina Swarner

The Secret Footprints (picture book) by Julia Alvarez & illus. by Fabin Negrin

The Silk Princess (picture book) by Charles Santore

Sootface (all ages) by Robert D. San Souci

The Legend of Bass Reeves (middle grade) by Gary Paulsen

Porch Lies (all ages) by Patricia McKissick & illus. by Andre Carrilho

Many Thousand Gone (all ages) by Virginia Hamilton & illus. by Leo and Diane Dillon

The People Could Fly (all ages) by Virginia Hamilton & illus. by Leo and Diane Dillon

The Dark Thirty (all ages) by Patricia McKissack & illus. by Brian Pinkney

  • Invite speakers from various cultures in your town of community to the school or library and ask them to talk about specific traditions of their culture. Then ask readers to research customs and traditions of cultures from around the world. How many cultures are represented? Suggest they prepare a power point presentation that introduces the culture, the traditions, and recommendations of several books to read. Books from Random House may include:

Bringing in the New Year (picture book) by Grace Lin

Daddy Christmas and Hanukkah Mama (picture book) by Selina Alko

Everybody Says Shalom (picture book) by Leslie Kimmelman & illus. by Talitha Shipman

Dim Sum for Everyone (picture book) by Grace Lin

Happy, Happy Chinese New Year (picture book) by Demi

Honeyky Hanukah (picture book) by Woody Guthrie & illus. by Dave Horowitz

Max Makes a Cake (picture book) by Michelle Edwards & illus. by Charles Santoso

Thanking the Moon: Celebrating the Mid-Autumn Moon Festival (picture book) by Grace Lin

The Longest Night (picture book) by Laurel Snyder & illus. by Catia Chien

Together for Kwanza (picture book) by Juwanda G. Ford & illus. by Shelley Hehenberger

What You Can do with a Paleta (picture book) by Carmen Tafolla & illus. by Magaly Morales

The Tequila Worm (middle grade) by Viola Canales

ZigaZak! (picture book) by Eric Kimmel & illus. by Jon Goodell

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

Chinese Cinderella (young adult) by Adeline Yen Mah

Shabanu Daughter of the Wind, Haveli, and The House of Djinn (young adult) by Suzanne Fisher Staples

The Shadows of Ghadames (young adult) by Joelle Stolz

Ties that Bind, Ties That Break (young adult) by Lensey Namioka

  • Have readers locate recipes from various cultures. Older readers may wish to prepare some of them. Make a cookbook that represents the cultures studies. Write a paragraph that describes if the food is used for a special holiday, or if it is commonly served.

Two Stars for Unusual Chickens for the Exceptional Poultry Farmer by Kelly Jones; illustrated by Katie Kath
May 05, 2015

Two Stars for Unusual Chickens for the Exceptional Poultry Farmer by Kelly Jones; illustrated by Katie Kath

★ “Gr 4-6–Sophie Brown is new to farm life, new to being one of the only “brown people” in town (the others being her mother and Gregory, the mailman), and definitely new to caring for chickens—and these are some challenging chickens. To help herself adjust to life away from Los Angeles and her extended family, she writes letters to her great-uncle Jim and her beloved Abuelita, both recently deceased, and embarks on a correspondence course in poultry care with the mysterious Agnes of Redwood Farm Supply. Agnes’s poorly typed responses assure Sophie that the chickens that keep turning up on the farm (including Henrietta, a small white hen with a permanent unibrow of fury) belonged to her great-uncle, from whom Sophie’s father inherited the farm and who implores her to keep the chickens safe—and to be careful. But how will she protect chickens that are capable of levitating their own coop, becoming invisible, and turning enemies to stone? And why does the town’s resident chicken expert, Ms. Griegson, seem intent on stealing Sophie’s brood? Told in letters, quizzes, newspaper clippings, and delicious ink drawings reminiscent of Quentin Blake, this middle grade epistolary novel has a little magic and a lot of warm family humor. Jones delivers a dynamic Latina protagonist in Sophie, who describes her experiences in satisfying detail: the discomfort of facing microaggressions based on her heritage (such as when the town librarian assumes that she and her family are migrant workers); love and concern for her parents, both struggling to find and keep work; and willingness to learn and grow despite typical tween self-consciousness. VERDICT Readers will cheer for Sophie and clamor for more of those amazing chickens. Exceptional, indeed.”—SLJ
★ “Moving to the farm her family inherited from Great-Uncle Jim, Sophie Brown, 12, discovers a flyer from a local poultry purveyor promoting its “unusual chickens” and quickly discovers it’s not false advertising.Sophie’s story unfolds through her correspondence with the poultry people and her letters to Great-Uncle Jim and her beloved abuelita (both deceased but very much alive to Sophie). While Dad’s white, brown-skinned, U.S.-born Sophie and her freelance-writer mother are frequently assumed to be migrant farmworkers, legal or otherwise, but they take it in stride. (The town of Gravenstein’s fairly diverse, but some residents need remedial multicultural ed.) The chickens Sophie acquires are plenty diverse themselves, from Henrietta, who lays glass eggs, to Chameleon, with her nifty gift for turning invisible when predators are near. The chickens’ superpowers aren’t a secret. Most who are in the know are trustworthy with one big exception: a wannabe poultry thief. Genuinely informative, entertaining chicken-raising tips are offered (and may prompt readers to lobby parents for chickens of their own). Matching the text in tone and substance, the illustrations honor the tale’s serious chicken-raising elements, portraying breeds in anatomically correct detail, while perfectly capturing that intense, slightly demented demeanor chickens, unusual and otherwise, are known for. A delightful protagonist, interesting fowl of various breeds and a cast of appealing second-string characters make this a top pick for young readers, poultry fanciers or not.”—Kirkus