RHCB | More Sites
More Sites
Magic Tree House
Junie B. Jones
Random House
Return Home

Our House

February 02, 2016

Love & Friendship in the Air

There are many special occasions to celebrate the month of February.  Almost all schools find creative ways to connect Presidents Day to the curriculum, and many school and public libraries include a way to commemorate Valentine’s Day.  When I was in elementary school, and even into junior high school we had a class Valentine’s box.  There was usually a committee of students charged with decorating it.  Then everyone put valentines addressed to their friends in the box.  Sometimes we made our valentines; other times we bought a variety package of cards with the idea that there would be a card appropriate for each special friend.  I seem to remember that the number of cards we received was far more important than the sentiment inside.  Then in high school everything changed –the sentiment meant everything to you.  I don’t think that I, or any of my classmates ever understood the history of Valentine’s Day; it was simply a time to have a class party or display love and friendship.

There are so many resources available about all holidays that it’s easy to develop curriculum and library programming around this special day.  Here are some ideas:

  • Readers may enjoy finding images of vintage Valentines. A book that may be used with all ages is Vintage Valentines by Golden Books. Encourage them to explore the Vintage Valentine Museum on the following website: http://www.vintagevalentinemuseum.com. Then have them create a vintage Valentine for someone in their family.
  • Have older readers research the history of Valentine’s Day and create Valentine’s trivia. The following websites are helpful:





Then have them divide the trivia into five categories.  Ask for volunteers to compete in a Jeopardy style game with the clues taken from the research.

  • Allow older readers to create a Valentine maze for younger readers where a card is delivered from a postal worker to a recipient.  Or, consider a Valentine’s Day hidden picture.
  • Have readers draw various sizes of hearts and cut them in puzzle pieces.  Then mix up the pieces and take them to another class or group and see how long it takes them to fit the pieces together.
  • Finally, introduce readers to books that celebrate love.  The youngest readers may want to make a Valentine card for a character in a book.  Older readers may enjoy writing a special love poem from one character to another.  Suggested titles from Random House include:

Picture Books

Donovan’s Big Day by Leslea Newman & illus. by Mike Dutton

Everything I Need to Know about Love I Learned from a Golden Book by Diane Muldrow

How to Mend a heart by Sara Gillingham

Love Always Everywhere by Sarah Massini

Three Little Words by Clemency Pearce & illus. by Rosalind Beardshaw

Tweet Hearts by Susan Reagan


Easy to Read

Honey Bunny’s Honey Bear by Marilyn Sadler & illus. by Roger Bollen

Junie B. My Valentime by Barbara Park & illus. by Denise Brunkus

Princess hearts (Disney Princess) by Jennifer Liberts Weinbert & illus. by Francesco Legramandi


Middle Grade

Chasing Secrets by Gennifer Choldenko

Crush by Gary Paulsen

Goodbye Stranger by Rebecca Stead

With Love from Spain, Melanie Martin by Carol Weston


Young Adult

Another Day by David Levithan

Everything, Everything by Nicola Yoon

Flipped by Wendelin Van Draanen

Hollywood and Maine by Allison Whittenbert

Mismatch by Lensey Namioka

January 26, 2016


Random House Children’s Books is happy to announce this year’s winners, from the American Library Association’s Midwinter Meeting in Boston.








For picture books

EMMANUEL’S DREAM: The True Story of Emmanuel Ofosu Yeboah
illustrated by Sean Qualls, written by Laurie Ann Thompson

Born in Ghana, West Africa, with one deformed leg, he was dismissed by most people-but not by his mother, who taught him to reach for his dreams. As a boy, Emmanuel hopped to school more than two miles each way, learned to play soccer, left home at age thirteen to provide for his family, and, eventually, became a cyclist. He rode an astonishing four hundred miles across Ghana in 2001, spreading his powerful message: disability is not inability. Today, Emmanuel continues to work on behalf of the disabled.


For teen

The Unlikely Hero of Room 13B
by Teresa Toten

The instant Adam Spencer Ross meets Robyn Plummer in his Young Adult OCD Support Group, he is hopelessly, desperately drawn to her. Robyn has an hypnotic voice, blue eyes the shade of an angry sky, and ravishing beauty that makes Adam’s insides ache. She’s also just been released from a residential psychiatric program-the kind for the worst, most difficult-to-cure cases; the kind that Adam and his fellow support group members will do anything to avoid joining. Adam immediately knows that he has to save Robyn, must save Robyn, or die trying. But is it really Robyn who needs rescuing? And is it possible to have a normal relationship when your life is anything but?




Wonders of the Invisible World
by Christopher Barzak

Seventeen-year-old Aidan Lockwood lives in the sleepy farming community of Temperance, Ohio-known for its cattle ranches and not much else. That is, until Jarrod, a friend he hasn’t seen in five years, moves back to town and opens Aidan’s eyes in startling ways: to Aidan’s ability to see the spirit world; to the red-bearded specter of Death; to a family curse that has claimed the lives of the Lockwood men one by one . . . and to the new feelings he has developed for Jarrod.Seventeen-year-old Aidan Lockwood lives in the sleepy farming community of Temperance, Ohio-known for its cattle ranches and not much else. That is, until Jarrod, a friend he hasn’t seen in five years, moves back to town and opens Aidan’s eyes in startling ways: to Aidan’s ability to see the spirit world; to the red-bearded specter of Death; to a family curse that has claimed the lives of the Lockwood men one by one . . . and to the new feelings he has developed for Jarrod.

November 10, 2015


By Philip Earle, author of The Bubble Wrap Boy

The Bubble Wrap Boy









You’re probably looking at these five words and thinking one of them shouldn’t sit with the other four. But to me they all fit together perfectly.

In fact, I’d argue that you can’t become a true hero unless you’ve been either a dork, a wimp, a loser, an outcast, or even all four.

You want proof? I can give you plenty, from history and from life today, but most importantly, from books aimed at young people. It was books, you see, that first pricked my interest in underdogs, that made me (to be honest) obsessed with them. I can’t imagine I’ll ever write a novel that doesn’t have an underdog at its heart—the kid you meet who has NOBODY tattooed across their forehead.

I can tell you exactly when this fascination started. It started the second I met Stanley Yelnats.

I came to Louis Sachar’s Holes late, at the age of twenty-six, but as soon as I met Stanley? Well, the fire was lit. Nobody likes Yelnats Junior. He’s branded a thief and said to be bad luck. Even the other cons at Camp Green Lake, a ragtag troupe of vandals and crooks, want nothing to do with him, and that’s what makes Stanley’s journey truly special. Yes, he may hit rock bottom time and again, but he never gives up, and it’s this determination to fight the odds that makes his eventual rise all the more special. It makes us wish as readers that we could be him, despite his flaws.

There’s another Stanley who’s special to me, this time with the surname Lambchop—the one who first appeared in Jeff Brown’s classic Flat Stanley.

Now, the hero in this story may have been squashed flatter than a slice of salami by his brother’s notice board, but does it stop him from becoming a legend? Not a chance. Instead, he’s slid inside an envelope with a carton of juice and a sandwich and posted on holiday, is flown as a kite on a windy day, and even foils a flipping bank robbery!

Not bad for a boy who’s laughed out of town by other kids in his school.

Kids can be cruel, especially to those who are different. In my work as a career and drama therapist, I witnessed it over and over again.

Jack Gantos saw it too, on many school visits. In fact, he met so many children with bees buzzing in their brains that he felt compelled to create one of the finest underdog heroes in popular culture, Joey Pigza. It’s impossible not to love Joey. His home life is a train wreck, his medication regime a disaster; he courts controversy and carnage with every step, but his heart is huge, and it’s the integrity of his intentions that win us over within a handful of pages.

I can’t begin to tell you how much I owe to Louis Sachar, Stanley Yelnats, Jeff Brown, Stanley Lambchop, Jack Gantos, and Joey Pigza. I created The Bubble Wrap Boy’s Charlie Han and Sinus Sedgely in all their flawed glory because of them, and because it’s the flawed things in life that are always the most interesting, surprising and . . . heroic.


Phil Earle’s first job was as a care worker in a children’s home, an experience that influenced the ideas behind Being Billy. He then trained as a drama therapist and worked in south London, caring for traumatized and abused adolescents. After a couple of years in the care sector, Phil chose the more sedate lifestyle of a bookseller, and now works in children’s publishing.

November 10, 2015

Geography Awareness Month

I never enjoyed geography in school.   It wasn’t information that I ever thought I would use.  I’m not even sure my teacher saw the use for it or she would have made it a more interesting subject.  Her method of teaching included writing notes on the chalkboard (that dates me) and asking us to copy them in notebooks.  Then we simply memorized the facts and spit them back on weekly and end of term test. I do think if I had had someone point out to me that a geographical area helps define the culture of the people I might have seen the subject differently.  Even if we had made use of the globe that sat on a table in the front of the classroom, I might have made the all-important connections between the lands and their people.  That said, I admit that as I began traveling the nation and the world, whether physically or through books, I am surprised how much of the information has come back to me.

The National Geography Bee has become quite the event to watch, and I’m amazed at the kids that compete.  It’s clear that they aren’t just spitting out facts, but they truly understand lands of the world.  November is Geography Awareness Month, and I think it fitting to introduce all ages to fiction and nonfiction that help them see the importance of geography.  Only then can they fully understand all the lands that constitute the world in which we live.  Here are a few programming ideas with book suggestions from Random House:

  • Introduce young children to the following books:

Me On the Map by Joan Sweeney & illus. by Annette Cable

There’s a Map on My Lap! By Tish Rabe


Talk with them about what maps tell us.

  • Then have them color a map of their state.  Show them important areas in the state, like mountains, deserts, beaches, etc.
  • Talk about books where the geographical setting is important:

Picture Books

The Little Island by Margaret Wise Brown & illus. by Leonard Weisgard

Why Oh Why Are Deserts Dry? By Tish Rabe & illus. by Aristides Ruiz & Joe Mathleu

 Middle Grade

Child of the Mountains by Marilyn Sue Shank

Chomp by Carl Hiaasen

Faith, Hope and Ivy June by Phyllis Reynolds Naylor

Holes by Louis Sachar

Heart of a Shepherd by Rosanne Parry

River Thunder by Will Hobbs

Skink No Surrender by Carl Hiaasen

Where the Red Fern Grows by Wilson Rawls

Written in Stone by Roseanne Parry

 Young Adult

Blue Skin of the Sea by Graham Salisbury

Hattie Big Sky and Hattie Everafter by Kirby Larsen

Island Boyz by Graham Salisbury

  • Introduce world geography with the following:

Picture Book

How To Make An Apple Pie and See the World by Marjorie Priceman

Somewhere in the World Right Now by Stacey Schuett

Middle Grade

Laugh with the Moon by Shana Burg

Monsoon Summer by Mitali Perkins

  • Have them read a biography about an explorer or adventurer that made their living or hobby seeing and studying the world.

Picture Books

The Fantastic Undersea Life of Jacques Cousteau by Dan Yaccarino


Climbing Everest (Totally True Adventures) by Gail Herman & illus. by Michele Amatrula

The Race Around the World by Nancy Castaido & illus. by Wesley Lowe

Young Adult

The Beet Fields by Gary Paulsen

  • Have readers take facts from books (both fiction and nonfiction) they have read, and make questions for a group geography bee.
  • Ask older readers to make cutouts of countries of the world.  Then scramble the cutouts and sponsor a competition to see how quickly small groups can create a continent with the countries in the right places.  Younger readers may be encouraged to do the same thing with the 50 states.
  • Suggest that readers use reference sources to find out information about the geography of a particular region of the world.  Then have them write and illustrate an adventure they may take to that area.  They should include specific geographic facts as a way of educating their readers.
  • Divide readers into groups and assign them each a continent.  Then have them gather geographical facts about that continent and write and perform a rap that teaches the facts the larger group.


October 12, 2015

Here’s A Look At The Illustrations Inside Jason Segel’s Children’s Books

There are countless reasons to fall in love with Jason Segel and Kirsten Miller’s children’s book series, Nightmares!. The New York Times best-selling books are funny, smart, wise — and beautifully illustrated. The artist, Karl Kwasny, is a 31-year-old who lives in Australia.

BuzzFeed had the chance to catch up with the artist over email and talk about his creative process behind the most recent illustrations for Nightmares! The Sleepwalker Tonic, the second book in the trilogy. Here’s what he had to say:

When did you start illustrating?

Karl Kwasny: I’ve been drawing on and off since I was a kid. I drew a lot when I was really young and throughout primary school, but I was more into Photoshop and graphic design when I was a teenager. When I got to university, I studied graphic design because I thought it was a safe career choice, but deep down it wasn’t what I ultimately wanted to be doing with my life. So, towards the end of my time in college I put a lot more effort into the illustration side of things and gradually started trying to get work as a freelance illustrator.

What made you want to get involved with illustrating the Nightmares! series? What do you like most about it?

KK: An art director from Random House got in touch with me and showed me a brief they had put together for Nightmares! It had a short summary of the story along with a bunch of example images to give an idea of the aesthetic they were after. They described it as “Tim Burton meets Goonies.”

When I saw that it was Jason Segel’s first book, I was both excited and a bit nervous. I mean, it would be foolish to turn it down, but a project like this can be pretty daunting. I think the thing I like most about Nightmares! is the idea behind it, that it’s okay to be afraid, and that if you overcome your fears you can defeat your nightmares. Hopefully that’s an idea that resonates with kids. I also like that it has a lot of Jason’s personality in it. It’s very kind-hearted.

What’s your inspiration behind the illustrations you create for the book? How do you decide which scenes or characters you want to include?

KK: In my experience, most of the scenes I illustrate are chosen by the editor and author. Basically I’m just provided with a big list of illustration descriptions. Sometimes these come with a manuscript, and sometimes not. With the first book, we were working with a very tight deadline and had to shuffle some illustrations around and cut some out. Time is always a factor when you’ve got a lot of illustrations to do. As far as style and inspiration goes, I’m drawing in my usual style, but I’m trying my best to capture what Jason has in mind.

Can you talk about your artistic process? How did you come up with the idea for the cover?

KK: The artistic process for the cover and the interior illustrations is pretty similar. First the art director sends me a brief. Then, I do scribbly rough sketches with my initial ideas and send it to the art director. Once they give me feedback, I move on to a tighter sketch. Then, I print it out, tape it to the back of a piece of watercolor paper, and paint it with ink and watercolor. Once that’s done, I scan it and finish it up in Photoshop.

Random House had already come up with a basic composition they wanted for this cover — the serpentine line of kids heading into the Tranquility Tonight store — but they hadn’t included a background, so I needed to figure something out. I wanted it to seem like the store was situated in a town, so I added some buildings and a curving cobblestone street in the foreground to give the image some dimension. I sent the sketch to them, and they liked it and gave me the go-ahead. I finished it up over the course of a week or two.

The cover image is actually a composite of a few different images. It’s a handy way to work because it allows for things to be shifted around at the later stages. I worked on the characters, background, and type separately.

What do you think the illustrated images add to the Nightmares! series?

KK: I remember how much I loved illustrated books when I was little. I just hope kids enjoy looking at them!

Post originally appeared on Buzzfeed.com by Krystie Lee Yandoli