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June 23, 2015

June – Heroes

by Pat Scales

It’s likely that most public libraries are well into their summer reading programs.  Most of these programs are developed around a theme chosen locally or part of the Collaborative Summer Library Program (http://www.cslpreads.org).  Those participating in the collaborative program are using the theme of Every Hero has a Story.   Here are suggestions for Random House:

  • Ask children to name their favorite superhero:  Batman, Batgirl, Superman, Superwoman, Ironman, etc.  Ask them what makes a hero a superhero.  Talk about the different type of heroes.  Then ask them to read a book about various types of heroes. Suggestions from Random House include:

Real Life Heroes

A Boy Named FDR (picture book) by Kathleen Krull & illus. by Steve Johnson & Lou Fancher

As Good as Anybody (picture book) by Richard Michelson & illus. by Raul Colon  Guide Available

The Bravest Woman in America (picture book) by marissa Moss & illus. by Andrea U’Ren

The Daring Nellie Bly (picture book) by Bonnie Christensen

Dear Malala, We Stand with You (picture book) by Rosemary McCarney  Guide Available

Only Passing Through (picture book) by Anne Rockwell & illus. by Gregory Christie

They Called Her Molly Pitcher (picture book) by Anne Rockwell & illus. by Cynthia Von Buhler

FDR and the American Crisis (middle grade) by Albert Marrin

Flags of Our Fathers (middle grade) by James Bradley & Ron Powers & Adapted by Michael French

In My Hands: Memories of a Holocaust Rescuer (young adult) by Irene Gut Opdyke with Jennifer Armstrong  Guide Available

Unbroken (young adult) by Laura Hillenbrand  Guide Available

Fictional Heroes

Powerless (picture book) by Matthew Cody

Traction Man (picture book) by Mini Grey

Sammy Keyes & the Power of Justice Jack (middle grade) by Wendelin Draanen

Daughter of Xanadu (young adult) by Dori Jones Yang

Historical Fiction – Heroes

The Great Trouble (middle grade) by Deborah Hopkinson  Guide Available

 Jump into the Sky (middle grade) by Shelley Pearsall  Guide Available

Navigating Early (middle grade) by Clare Vanderpool  Guide Available

Daughter of Venice (young adult) Donna Jo Napoli

Eyes of the Emperor (young adult) by Graham Salisbury

  • Have students read a favorite book and write a letter that one character might write to their hero.  For example:Ginny to Armpit in Small Steps (middle grade) by Louis SacharKenny to Byron in The Watson Go to Birmingham 1963 (middle grade) by Christopher Paul CurtisJames to Twig in Nightbird (middle grade) by Alice Hoffman

       Guide Available

  • Finally, create a mural of favorite fictional heroes. Allow each reader time to share which character they added to the mural, and why the character is a hero.

June 11, 2015

June – National Family Month

by Pat Scales

Families are celebrated each June with the commemoration of National Family Month. This is a good time to help children and teens understand that there are all types of families. Many children and teens live with only one parent, or with two moms and two dads. Some live with grandparents or other relatives. There are stepfamilies, multigenerational families and foster families. There are wealthy families and those that struggle to put food on the table. Whatever the family unit, or socioeconomic level, it’s important that the young understand the characteristics of family. Here are suggestions to help them grasp the many meanings of family.

  • Read aloud Families, Families, Families! by Suzanne Lang & illus. by Max Lang to the youngest readers.  Describe the different families in the book. Use our family tree activity with your storytime.
  • After reading the book, ask readers to draw a picture of their family.  Then allow them the opportunity to share their pictures with the class.  Encourage them to share something they enjoy doing with their family.
  • Display poetry anthologies and allow readers to work in small group to browse the books and find poems about family. Ask for volunteers to read aloud one of the poems.
  • Have older readers write an acrostic poem using FAMILY as the spine word.
  • Suggest that older readers write and perform a rap about their family, or a fictional family.
  • Display books with various family units, and family challenges. Ask readers to select a title, and discuss the family in the book. Older readers may write an essay that compares the family in the novel to their own.  Suggestions from Random House include:

Picture Books

Just Plain Fancy by Patricia Polacco

Piggybook by Anthony Browne

Song and Dance Man by Karen Ackerman & illus. by Stephen Gammell

The Berenstain Bears by Stan and Jan Berenstain

Who’s in a Family? by Robert Skutch

Early Readers

Junie B. Jones and a Little Monkey Business by Barbara Park

Tooter Pepperday by Jerry Spinelli

Middle Grade

Brendan Buckley’s Universe and Everything in It by Sundee Frazier

Child of the Mountain by Marilyn Sue Shank

Chomp by Carl Hiaasen

Laugh with the Moon by Shana Burg

Liar & Spy by Rebecca Stead

The War with Grandpa by Robert K. Smith

The Mighty Miss Malone by Christopher Paul Curtis

Nest by Esther Ehrlich

Tia Lola books by Julia Alvarez

True Colors by Natalie Kensey

The Penderwicks Series by Jeanne Birdsall

Pictures of Hollis Woods by Patricia Reilly Giff

Young Adult

Cuba 15 by Nancy Osa

Enrique’s Journey by Sonia Nazario

Love Me Tender by Audrey Couloumbis

Mexican Whiteboy by Matt de la Peńa

Spoils by Tammar Stein

Tending to Grace by Kimberly Newton Fusco

The House of Djinn by Suzanne Fisher Staples

Four Stars for Goodbye Stranger by Rebecca Stead
June 11, 2015

Four Stars for Goodbye Stranger by Rebecca Stead

★ “Starting seventh grade means lots of changes for Bridge and her best friends Em and Tabitha. The most obvious is Em’s sudden curves, which grab the attention of pretty much everyone. Other changes are more subtle. Like the way Bridge starts looking forward to seeing her classmate Sherman Russo. Or Tabitha’s growing interest in feminism and social justice. With diverging interests and gently simmering jealousies among the threesome, it would be easy for Stead to tell an all-too-familiar tale of a crumbling tween-girl trio. But she doesn’t: rather, she offers a refreshing story of three girls whose loving friendship survives fights, accepts odd habits, and offers ample forgiveness. Unfolding over a series of vignettes that alternate among Bridge, an unnamed high-school girl worried about the consequences of her betrayal of a friend, and letters Sherm writes to his absent grandfather, Stead’s latest gradually teases out the nuanced feelings and motivations that guide her characters’ sometimes unwise—but never disastrous—actions. Bridge and her friends are all experiencing a quietly momentous shift toward adulthood, and Stead gracefully, frankly, and humorously captures that change. Though that change is often scary, Stead shows how strongly love of all kinds can smooth the juddering path toward adulthood. Winsome, bighearted, and altogether rewarding.”

HIGH-DEMAND BACKSTORY: The release of any new book by Newbery medalist Stead is a publishing event to circle in your calendar.

—Sarah Hunter, Booklist

★ “Three interwoven narrative strands explore the complicated possibilities of friendship in early adolescence. Bridge (formerly Bridget) finds increasing confidence as she navigates her seventh-grade year, while, in unsent letters to his absent grandfather, classmate Sherm expresses grief and anger over changes in his family. And an unnamed, slightly older child in a second-person narrative spends a single miserable day avoiding school for reasons that are revealed at the turning point. Stead explores communication and how messages—digital or verbal, intentional and inadvertent, delivered or kept private—suffuse the awkward, tentative world of young teens leaping (or sometimes falling) from the nest in search of their new selves. From Bridge’s cat-ears, worn daily from September through mid-February, to Sherm’s stolid refusal to respond to his grandfather’s texts, the protagonists try on their new and changing lives with a mixture of caution and recklessness. Stead adroitly conveys the way things get complicated so quickly and so completely for even fairly ordinary children at the edge of growing up with her cleareyed look at bullies and their appeal (one girl is “truly genius at being awful”), as well as her look at impulsiveness and the lure of easy sharing via text. She captures the stomach-churning moments of a misstep or an unplanned betrayal and reworks these events with grace, humor, and polish into possibilities for kindness and redemption. Superb. (Fiction. 11-14)” —Kirkus

★ “Bridget Barsamian accidentally skated into traffic at age eight, and this brush with death has made her an uncommonly introspective seventh-grader. A tight triumvirate, Bridge and her friends Tab and Em have sworn upon a Twinkie never to fight, but now Em’s curves are attracting boy interest (and a request for a risqué photo), while Tab’s attentions are turning toward feminism and social justice. Meanwhile, Bridge has a new friend, Sherm; his share of the story unspools in letters to his estranged grandfather, who left Sherm’s beloved Nonna after 50 years of marriage. Then there is an unnamed high school–age character, whose second-person chapters take place on Valentine’s Day, months in the future. Keeping readers off-balance is a Stead hallmark, but it doesn’t work quite as successfully here as it did in When You Reach Me and Liar and Spy, perhaps because the mystery narrator and the people she interacts with aren’t as fleshed out as everyone else. That said, this memorable story about female friendships, silly bets, different kinds of love, and bad decisions is authentic in detail and emotion—another Stead hallmark. Ages 10–up.” —Agent: Faye Bender, Faye Bender Literary Agency, Publishers Weekly

★ “Ah, seventh grade! A year when your friends transform inexplicably, your own body and emotions perplex you, and the world seems fraught with questions, and the most confusing ones of all concern the nature of love. Stead focuses on Bridge Barsamian, her best girlfriends, and her newest friend Sherm—a boy who is definitely not her boyfriend (probably). They’re navigating the shoals of adolescence on Manhattan’s Upper West Side. Emily has suddenly developed a figure that attracts a lot of attention, Tabitha is an increasingly committed human rights activist, and Bridge has taken to wearing a headband with black cat’s ears for reasons that are unclear even to her. The seventh graders aren’t the only characters working out relationships. There are married parents and divorced parents and then there’s Sherm’s grandfather who has suddenly left his wife of 50 years and moved to New Jersey. There’s also a mysterious character whose Valentine’s Day is doled out in second-person snippets interspersed within the rest of the story. Love is serious, but Stead’s writing isn’t ponderous. It’s filled with humor, delightful coincidences, and the sorts of things (salacious cell phone photos, lunchroom politics, talent show auditions) that escalate in ways that can seem life-shattering to a 13-year-old. The author keeps all her balls in the air until she catches them safely with ineffable grace. VERDICT An immensely satisfying addition for Stead’s many fans.”Miriam Lang Budin, Chappaqua Library, NY, School Library Journal

Wee lads and lassies will go mad for Bruce Coville’s DIARY OF A MAD BROWNIE
June 11, 2015

Wee lads and lassies will go mad for Bruce Coville’s DIARY OF A MAD BROWNIE

This brownie is a treat for young listeners—but not the kind you eat! DIARY OF A MAD BROWNIE is the first book in Bruce Coville’s hilarious new series, The Enchanted Files, about ancient magical creatures who befriend modern-day kids with hysterical consequences.

Bruce Coville is the popular author of over 100 books for children, including the bestselling My Teacher is an Alien series, and his new series is sure to delight a whole new generation of listeners. The master of funny fantasies has delivered a tale packed with Scottish lore and laughs galore! Told through a series of diary entries and other documents, DIARY OF A MAD BROWNIE is the story of one very messy girl named Alex, and a tiny magical brownie named Angus, who must work together to break a curse.

Dan Zitt, VP of Content Production at Penguin Random House Audio talked about his experience working on the audiobook:    

“I’ve known Bruce Coville for over fifteen years, so when Diary of a Mad Brownie hit my desk, I couldn’t have been more excited to work with him again.  After reading it, I knew what I had suspected all along, Bruce is a mad genius with a pen. Only Bruce could write a book from the perspective of a young girl and a figure from Scottish folklore, and make it sound realistic. As always, he takes us on a fantastical journey with distinct characters and dialogue that just screams to be transformed into an audiobook.

The real challenge with casting this audiobook was trying to find someone who can sound authentic as the tiny Scottish troublemaker Angus.   Luckily we found Euan Morton who is not a big troublemaker, but an amazing stage and audiobook actor.  Euan can morph his voice to sound like a character that is a foot tall, or a hundred feet tall, and we took full advantage of that with Angus.”


Listen to the Diary of a Mad Brownie Great Oath now!


FUN FACT: If you listen closely, you’ll hear special cameos throughout the recording from members of the Penguin Random House Audio team including Dan Zitt, Senior Vice President and Publisher Amanda D’Acierno, Marketing Manager Jennifer Rubins, Producer Karen Dziekonski, and Senior Marketing Manager of Random House Publishing Group, Joe Scalora!

June 11, 2015

School’s out, but summer reading is in high gear!


Have your readers already begun strumming the shelves in search of
the next great summer read? They will stop short once they 
come upon these YA favorites!



All the Bright Places by Jennifer Niven

A New York Times bestseller
Pennsylvania Young Reader’s Choice Nominee

Theodore Finch is fascinated by death, and he constantly thinks of ways he might die. But each time, something good, no matter how small, stops him.

Violet Markey lives for the future, counting the days until graduation, when she can escape her Indiana town and her aching grief in the wake of her sister’s recent death.

Fall in love with both of them when they meet on the ledge of the bell tower at school and it’s unclear who saves whom.

All the Bright Places

We Were Liars by E. Lockhart

A New York Times bestseller
YALSA Quick Picks for Reluctant Young Adult Readers
YALSA Top Ten Best Fiction for Young Adults
ILA Young Adults’ Choices Reading List
Texas Library Association Tayshas Reading List
Nominated for 9 State Award Lists
Pennsylvania Young Reader’s Choice Nominee

We Were Liars is a modern, sophisticated suspense novel from National Book Award finalist and Printz Award honoree E. Lockhart.

We Were Liars

Every Day by David Levithan

A New York Times bestseller
YALSA Teens Top Ten
YALSA Best Fiction for Young Adults Winner
Nominated for 10 State Award Lists

In his New York Times bestselling novel, David Levithan introduces readers to what Entertainment Weekly calls a “wise, wildly unique” love story about A, a teen who wakes up every morning in a different body, living a different life.

Every day a different body. Every day a different life.
Every day in love with the same girl.

Every Day

Another Day by David Levithan

If you’ve already fallen in love with A, see the story from Rhiannon’s point of view with Another Day by David Levithan, available this August.