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December 01, 2016

Pick Up a Middle-Grade Adventure Read for Winter Break!

Whether your readers are out traveling the world or relaxing at home, these middle-grade adventure reads will spice up any winter break! And make sure to check out our “If you loved” titles to see which books are the best fit.

The City of Ember
by Jeanne DuPrau
PB: 978-0-375-82274-2

Ages 8–12

The city of Ember was built as a last refuge for the human race. Two hundred years later, the great lamps that light the city are beginning to flicker. When Lina finds part of an ancient message, she’s sure it holds a secret that will save the city. She and her friend Doon must decipher the message before the lights go out on Ember forever!

♥ If you loved: Holes or First Light



Welcome to Wonderland
by Chris Grabenstein
HC: 978-0-553-53602-7

Ages 8–12
Activities Kit!

There’s always something crazy happening when you live at a motel, and eleven-year-old P. T. Wilkie (named after P. T. Barnum, of course!) has grown up at the world’s wackiest one: the Wonderland! Like his namesake, P.T. loves a good story. So when the motel is in trouble, he knows only his tall tales can save the day. P.T. joins forces with extended-stay guest and business whiz kid Gloria Ortega and together they launch one wild venture after another, hoping to make enough money to save the Wonderland—all while trying to get to the bottom of who the strange new guests are on the second floor.

♥ If you loved: Hoot or Escape from Mr. Lemoncello’s Library


Click Here to Start
by Denis Markell
HC: 978-1-101-93187-5

Ages 10 & Up

All twelve-year-old Ted is good at is video games—specifically escape-the-room puzzles. So when he inherits his great-uncle’s apartment and all the treasure to be found within, he can’t help but look at it as a real-life puzzle. Then he discovers it actually is a puzzle, and his uncle may have been hiding an enormous treasure from his days in the Nisai Brigade in World War II. The apartment is just the start, and the games take Ted all across his neighborhood. But someone else is dying to get his hands on the treasure, too. Can Ted and his friends solve the puzzles and beat their ruthless competitor to the prize to make sure the treasure gets into the right hands?

♥ If you loved: Red: The True Story of Red Riding Hood or The Goblin’s Puzzle


by D. J. MacHale
HC: 978-0-385-38658-6
Ages 8–12

Earth is in danger! Without a renewable source of clean energy, our planet will be toast in less than a year. There are six essential elements that create a new power source when properly combined. But the elements are scattered throughout the galaxy. And only a spaceship piloted by children can reach them and return to Earth safely. First the ideal team of four twelve-year-olds must be chosen, and then the first element must be retrieved. There is not a mistake to be made, or a moment to lose. The source is out there. Voyagers is blasting off in 3, 2, 1 . . .

♥ If you loved: Nightmares! or The Mark of the Dragonfly


Time Traveling with a Hamster
by Ross Welford
HC: 978-0-399-55149-9
Ages 8–12
Discussion Guide

My dad died twice. Once when he was thirty-nine and again four years later when he was twelve. On his twelfth birthday, Al Chaudhury receives a letter from his dead father. It directs him to the bunker of their old house, where Al finds a time machine. The letter also outlines a mission: travel back to 1984 and prevent the go-kart accident that would eventually end up taking his father’s life. But as Al soon discovers, whizzing back thirty years not only requires imagination and courage, but also lying to your mom, stealing a moped, and setting your school on fire—oh, and keeping your pet hamster safe.

♥ If you loved: The Fourteenth Goldfish or Saving Mr. Terupt

November 01, 2016

See Random House Children’s Books at NCTE!


 NCTE 2016 • BOOTH #412
Atlanta, GA • November 17–22, 2016


Books will be available immediately before each author’s signing.

Books are free. One book per person.



12:00–12:45 p.m.

Steve Jobs, Insanely Great

1:00–1:45 p.m.

The Family Romanov

 2:00–2:45 p.m.

The Opposite Zoo

 3:00–3:45 p.m.

Disney’s The Never Girls

 4:00–4:45 p.m.

Puppy Pirates

5:00–5:45 p.m.

Piper Green and the Fairy Tree

A Shadow Bright and Burning



 9:00–9:45 a.m.

Lily and Dunkin

10:00–10:45 a.m.

88 Instruments

 11:00–11:45 a.m.

Mad Scientist Academy

12:00–12:45 p.m.

Six Dots: A Story of Young Louis Braille

1:00–1:45 p.m.

Flying Lessons & Other Stories

2:00–2:45 p.m.

Red: The True Story of Red Riding Hood

 3:00–3:45 p.m.

Full of Beans

 4:00–4:45 p.m.

Welcome to Wonderland: Home Sweet Motel


 9:00–9:45 a.m.

The Secret Life of Lincoln Jones

The Last Fifth Grade of Emerson Elementary

10:00–10:45 a.m.

Smash & Grab

The Magic Mirror

November 01, 2016

A Word from Lindsey Leavitt, Author of the Commander in Cheese Series

Commander in Cheese #1: The Big Move
By Lindsey Leavitt
Grades: 2-5

I fell in love with American History as a fifth grade teacher. Our elementary school taught a rather robust unit, and while teaching I memorized the Gettysburg address, the preamble to the U.S. Declaration of Independence, the state capitals, and other historical wonders that have since grown a little fuzzy in my crowded brain.

Fast forward years later, when I sold my first early chapter book series, COMMANDER IN CHEESE. Suddenly I had the luxury to read read read about American presidents, White House history, and D.C. monuments–all in the name of that lovely writing perk…research! I’ve watched documentaries, movies, news reports, TV shows (Although House of Cards was a bittttt of a stretch). I traveled to the Reagan Presidential Library and gallivanted around Washington D.C., because, again, RESEARCH! And I’ve actually memorized the presidents now, in order, although I do get Harrison and Garfield mixed up sometimes, but don’t we all?

What I didn’t foresee, what many of us didn’t foresee, was a wildcard 2016 election. Some teachers/librarians have confided that their enthusiasm has waned as this election season dragged on. How to combat such drudgery?

Two words. History and humor.

In my chapter book series, COMMANDER IN CHEESE, we meet siblings Ava and Dean Squeakerton. If you are a human, Ava and Dean could fit in the palm of your hand. If you are a mouse, you might have heard about Ava and Dean. They are kind of famous. For mice. That’s because Ava and Dean and the rest of the Squeakerton family live in the White House.

In each book in the series, Ava and Dean find themselves on another adventure. And as they face conflicts big and small, my goal was to bring history and humor into the story.  I also strive to do this in my school presentations, which includes loads of metaphorical and literal cheese, as seen below.

History is woven in quick doses throughout the series, usually by way of Gregory, the siblings’ secret service mouse. Gregory LOVES everything and everyone that has ever existed in the White House. And he’ll tell you about it. Over and over again. Gregory also appears in the back matter of the book, which is full of real life facts, photos, maps and trivia. The back matter often takes me just as long to write as the narrative. Because research is just that fun, and I relish reading a zillion odd facts before finding the perfect one.

And humor? It’s hard to hold back. There are so many fun, crazy, silly, zany stories about our nation’s leaders and their famous home. Like did you know Gerald Ford loved swimming laps so much, he once gave a press conference from the White House pool? And speaking of humor, did you know Ronald Reagan once performed as a stand up comic in Las Vegas? Maybe that’s why he’s known as being one of our funniest presidents. After an assassination attempt, he told his wife, Nancy, “Honey, I forgot to duck.”

Whew, I could go on forever. Maybe just read the books for more. Or check out this super-cool, common-core aligned educator guide and activity packet! Or find out more about school visits. Because, together, we can make America GRATE again. *

*This is in no way an endorsement for Donald Trump or any other nominee. I just REALLY LOVE CHEESE.


“A frisky adventure not at all weighed down by the timely doses of local history folded in.” —Kirkus Reviews

“Illustrations are simple yet not without some charm, adding to the appeal for new readers. The borrowing tendencies of these young mice and their ancestors bring to mind John Peterson’s “The Littles” series.” —School Library Journal

“This accessible chapter book features large print, a well-paced story, and appealing black-and-white drawings that strike a cheerful tone overall. While this down-to-earth adventure has a twenty-first-century setting, the information in the back matter stretches back to 1789 with portraits of the presidents, a few glimpses of presidential history, and descriptions of inauguration days as well as White House moving days. An easygoing combination of fiction, fact, and fun.” —Booklist




Lindsey Leavitt is fine with mice, but don’t even mention the R-A-T word around her. Her favorite president is Theodore Roosevelt, mostly because of the mustache. She lives in the mountains with her family. Visit her online at lindseyleavitt.com.

November 01, 2016

New YA Reads for Your Book Club

Book clubs help readers find exciting books to devour and discuss! To help make the next choice a little bit easier, we’ve rounded up some our new favorite YA reads, all with downloadable discussion guides. Happy reading!

Holding Up the Universe
by Jennifer Niven

Ages 14 & Up

From the author of the New York Times bestseller All the Bright Places comes a heart-wrenching story about what it means to see someone—and love someone—for who they truly are.

Everyone thinks they know Libby Strout, the girl once dubbed “America’s Fattest Teen.” But no one’s taken the time to look past her weight to get to know who she really is. Following her mom’s death, she’s been picking up the pieces in the privacy of her home, dealing with her heartbroken father and her own grief. Now Libby’s ready: for high school, for new friends, for love, and for every possibility life has to offer. Everyone thinks they know Jack Masselin, too. Yes, he’s got swagger, but he’s also mastered the impossible art of giving people what they want, of fitting in. What no one knows is that Jack has a secret: he can’t recognize faces. Even his own brothers are strangers to him. He’s the guy who can re-engineer and rebuild anything in new and bad-ass ways, but he can’t understand what’s going on with the inner workings of his brain. So he tells himself to play it cool.

Until he meets Libby. When the two get tangled up in a cruel high school game—which lands them in group counseling and community service—Libby and Jack are both pissed, and then surprised. Because the more time they spend together, the less alone they feel.

The Weight of Zero
by Karen Fortunati

Ages 14 & Up

A novel about one teen’s triumph over depression and suicide, this is a story of loss and grief and hope and how the many shapes of love—maternal, romantic, and platonic—impact a young woman’s struggle with mental illness.

Seventeen-year-old Catherine Pulaski knows Zero is coming for her. Zero, the devastating depression born of Catherine’s bipolar disorder, has almost triumphed once, propelling Catherine to her first suicide attempt. With Zero only temporarily restrained by the latest med du jour, she knows time is running out before the mania and depression come again. In an old shoe box, Catherine stockpiles medications, preparing to take her life before Zero can inflict its living death on her again. But Zero’s return is delayed due to unexpected and meaningful relationships that lessen Catherine’s sense of isolation. These relationships along with the care of a gifted psychiatrist alter Catherine’s perception of her diagnosis as a death sentence.

Being Jazz: My Life as a (Transgender) Teen
By Jazz Jennings
Ages 12 & Up

One young woman’s extraordinary and very public transgender journey will transform the way we think about gender, sense of self, and acceptance of the differences that shape who we are.

Jazz Jennings is one of the youngest and most prominent voices in the national discussion about gender identity. At age five, with the support of her parents, Jazz began living as a girl. Her journey has been remarkable for its openness and positivity. She has been in the public eye ever since her first Barbara Walters interview at age six, and has been interviewed by Oprah Winfrey, Katie Couric, Meredith Vieira, and more—becoming one of the most recognizable activists for transgender teens and adults. Being public about her experiences has led to bullying and mistreatment from those who don’t understand her, but Jazz remains committed to using her own story to inspire people to accept the differences in others as they embrace their own truths.

This Is the Part Where You Laugh
By Peter Brown Hoffmeister
Ages 14 & Up

One summer in the life of a teenage boy as he navigates first love, addiction, basketball, gang violence, and a reptilian infestation in a trailer park in Eugene, Oregon.

High school sophomore Travis plans to spend the summer as follows:

—Practicing basketball with his best friend, Creature
—Reading excerpts of Creature’s novel-in-progress: The Pervert’s Guide to Russian Princesses
—Paddling around the lake, trying to catch a glimpse of the beautiful girl who just moved in
—Trying to catch a glimpse of the monster that has been gobbling up the neighbors’ pets
Not shoplifting, not getting into trouble
—Searching the homeless encampments for his mother, with a jar full of cash to help her get back on her feet

The summer takes a dark turn when Creature is attacked by a gangbanger in a pick-up game. He survives, but the attack sets in motion a chain of events that threatens both boys’ futures. . . .

November 01, 2016

Get Ready for Thanksgiving with These Turkey-Themed Chapter Books!

The leaves are changing and the temperature is dropping, so Thanksgiving must be right around the corner! To help your students learn more about the holiday, we’ve rounded up a few of our favorite chapter books!

Nate the Great Talks Turkey
By Marjorie Weinman Sharmat

A giant turkey is on the loose! And everyone is on the case—Nate, his indomitable cousin Olivia, his dog, Sludge, and even his friend Claude. But from talking turkey to stalking turkey, will every detective come out a winner?

Junie B. Jones #28: Turkeys We Have Loved and eaten (and Other Thankful Stuff)
By Barbara Park; illustrated by Denise Brunkus

It’s Thanksgiving time and Room One is getting ready for their very own Thanksgiving feast! There’s even a contest to see which room can write the best thankful list, and the winners will get a pumpkin pie! Only it turns out being thankful is harder than it looks. Because Junie B. is not actually thankful for Tattletale May. Or squash. Or scratchy pilgrim costumes. And pumpkin pie makes her vomit, anyway. Can May and Junie B. find common ground? Or will this Thanksgiving feast turn into a Turkey Day Disaster?

Pee Wee Scouts: Peanut Butter Pilgrims
By Judy Delton; illustrated by Alan Tiegreen

All the Pee Wee Scouts love to celebrate the holidays, but Thanksgiving is not Molly Duff’s favorite one. In fact, Thanksgiving is big trouble for Molly. It’s not so bad when they visit a turkey farm and Sonny Betz takes a turkey home with him. But when Mrs. Peters, their troop leader, tells them about the Pee Wee Thanksgiving play at the town hall, Molly shivers. She’s not an actress! She’ll forget all her lines. Everyone will laugh. Pilgrims and Indians. Turkeys going gobble, gobble. When you’re a Pee Wee Scout, the show must go on!

The Candy Corn Contest
By Patricia Reilly Giff; illustrated by Blanche Sims

It’s almost Thanksgiving, and Richard Best can’t stop thinking about Ms. Rooney’s Candy Corn Contest. Whoever can guess the exact number of yellow-and-orange candies in the jar on Ms. Rooney’s desk gets to keep them all. The only problem is Richard has to read a page in a library book for each guess. Smelly Matthew knows they’ll never win. But Richard won’t give up. He can already taste those Candy Corns. And before he knows it, he has. Three fat juicy ones. What will Ms. Rooney do when she finds out?

By Mary Pope Osborne and Natalie Pope Boyce; illustrated by Sal Murdocca

When Jack and Annie got back from their adventure in Magic Tree House #27: Thanksgiving on Thursday, they had lots of questions. What was it like to sail on the Mayflower? Why did the Pilgrims choose Plymouth? How did they survive in their new home? What did they really eat at the first Thanksgiving? Find out the answers to these questions and more as Jack and Annie track the facts.