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November 03, 2014

Celebrate American Education Week

“Great Public Schools: A Basic Right and Our Responsibility” – Theme of American Education Week

This year marks the 93rd annual celebration of American Education Week. The National Education Association
suggests daily activities or ways to spotlight education during the week November 17-22. But the focus on the importance of education leads to many programming opportunities for school and public libraries during this week
and all year long. The fact that Malala Yousafzai, a Pakistani girl who speaks out about the importance of education for girls in a country where girls aren’t honored, received the Nobel Peace Prize is reason enough to help students in the United States understand how lucky they are to live in a country that offers free public education to all. At the same time, students need to know that educational opportunities haven’t always been available to every school-age child. Our history points to the fact that slave owners didn’t think that slaves had the right to an education. Nightjohn and Sarny by Gary Paulsen tell the story of two people born in slavery who risked their lives to teach black children to read. The early immigrants, farm families, or those suffering economic challenges often kept their children home from school to help earn a living. Counting on Grace by Elizabeth Winthrop tells of one girl who desperately wants to continue her education but must drop out to help her family by working in the mill.

  • Read aloud Dear Malala We Stand with You by Rosemary McCarney (picture book). Ask readers to discuss why girls aren’t offered the same educational opportunities as boys in Pakistan. What makes Malala different from other girls in her country?
  • Explain what Malala means, “One child, one teacher, one book and one person can change the world.”
  • Have readers name one book they’ve read that has broadened their view of the world. Instruct them write a letter to their parents that state how the book changed their global view. Suggestions from Random House include:

Enrique’s Journey (middle grade) by Sonia Nazario
Laugh with the Moon (middle grade) by Shana Burg
Slumgirl Dreaming (middle grade) by Ribina Ali with Anne Berthod and Divya Dugar
A Time of Miracles (young adult) by Anne-Laura Bondoux and translated from French by Y. Maudet
The Book Thief (young adult) by Markus Zusak
An Ocean Apart, A World Away and Ties That Bind, Ties That Break (young adult) by Lensey Namioka
Shabanu, Haveli or The House of Djinn (young adult) by Suzanne Fisher Staples

  • Ask readers to read about The Nobel Peace Prize and write a front-page story for a national newspaper that pays tribute to Malala and her efforts on behalf of girls.
  • Have students research one of the milestones in public education in the following timeline of events documented by the NEA.
    The following books from Random House may help them understand these important events:

Sylvia & Aki (middle grade) by Winifred Conkling
Navigating Early (middle grade) by Clare Vanderpool
Wonder (middle grade) by R.J. Palacio

  • Recognizing and honoring teachers is one of the activities that NEA suggests for American Education Week. Ask students to read a book about a special teacher and think of a way to honor them. Suggestions from Random House include:

Miss Brooks Loves Books and Miss Brooks’ Story Nook (Where Tales are Told and Ogres are Welcome) (picture books) by Barbara Bottner and illus. by Michael Emberley
The Magical Ms. Plum (picture book) by Bonny Becker and illus. by Amy Portnoy
SCAT (middle grade) by Carl Hiaasen
Burning Up (young adult) by Caroline B. Cooney
Ringside, 1925 (young adult) by Jen Bryant

November 03, 2014

One Star for Unbroken (The Young Adult Adaptation) by Laura Hillenbrand

★ “Growing up in Torrance, California, Louis Zamperini was a wild boy, a rebel who found redemption in running, ultimately competing in the 1936 Olympics in Berlin. Then, in 1941, he enlisted in the Army Air Corps and became a bombardier, whose plane was shot down over the Pacific. Thus began a remarkable story of survival. For 47 days, he floated on a raft with scant food and water, surrounded by sharks. Finally he was picked up by Japanese forces and made a prisoner of war. He was routinely and savagely beaten and humiliated by a sadistic guard the other prisoners nicknamed the Bird. Not released until the end of the war, Zamperini returned to the States, where he suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder and began drinking heavily, until, while attending a Billy Graham crusade, he stopped drinking and began to find peace. This adaptation of Hillenbrand’s adult best-seller is highly dramatic and exciting, as well as painful to read as it lays bare man’s hellish inhumanity to man. It is inspirational, too, for despite violence, torture, and humiliation, Zamperini never lost his human dignity—a necessity, Hillenbrand graphically demonstrates, for survival. Heavily illustrated with black-and-white photographs, this is sure to attract a wide audience, not only of survival story fans but also of those looking for a story of one man’s heroic triumph over all odds. HIGH-DEMAND BACKSTORY: With a film adaptation scheduled for December 2014 and a crossover teen audience for the best-selling adult edition, this youth edition should have a wide audience.” — Michael Cart


Unbroken (The Young Adult Adaptation)
by Laura Hillenbrand
Hardcover: 9780385742511
Library Binding: 9780375990625

November 03, 2014

Music Teachers Make Noise with Uni the Unicorn

Hooves up, raise your horn, Uni the Unicorn.
If you believe in magic, make a silly sound.
Hooves up, trot the trail,
Giddy-up, gallop, shake your tail,
If you believe there’s magic all around.

Uni the Unicorn | Theme Song
Download the sheet music from Uni’s song and bring magic into your
music classroom.

Uni the Unicorn


by Amy Krouse Rosenthal; illustrated by Brigette Barrager
Random House BFYR | 9780385375559

In this clever twist on the age-old belief that there’s no such thing as unicorns,
Uni the unicorn is told there’s no such thing as little girls! No matter what the
grown-up unicorns say, Uni believes that little girls are real. Somewhere there
must be a smart, strong, wonderful, magical little girl waiting to be best friends.
In fact, far away (but not too far), a real little girl believes there is a unicorn
waiting for her.

November 03, 2014

Three Stars for Gabriel Finley and the Raven’s Riddle by George Hagen

★ “Gabriel Finley has lived in his Brooklyn brownstone with his aunt since his father disappeared several years earlier. His mother has been gone since he was a baby. The thing he enjoys most is solving riddles, unaware that this skill will be essential when it comes to finding his father. Adult novelist Hagen offers a first-rate fantasy for middle-grade readers that pulls elements from other great stories. Like Harry Potter, Gabriel must use all his wits to secure two magical objects from a dark lord, his evil uncle Corax, who is part human, part raven. Like Lyra in Philip Pullman’s His Dark Materials series, Gabriel has a daemon, the young raven Paladin, with whom his life is intertwined. And like Reynie in Trenton Lee Stewart’s Mysterious Benedict Society books, Gabriel surrounds himself with a group of offbeat friends who each have their own problems to solve. Yet this story, told from several points of view, is fresh: full of ravens, riddles, and the ongoing urge to make things right in a world where much has gone wrong. Though the narrative is a bit choppy in places, the characters carry the day, with their humor and strength. Humor is, in fact, one of the book’s selling points, often in the form of the characters’ witty repartee. Middle-graders looking for a soaring fantasy that’s not too hard, not too easy, will find this just right.” — Booklist

★ “Adult author Hagen (The Laments) makes his children’s debut with a fantasy adventure touched with whimsy, satire, and the quirky love of urban fauna that characterizes New Yorkers. Gabriel Finley’s parents are absent, having disappeared in separate mysterious incidents that his guardian, Aunt Jaz, refuses to discuss. But she does pass along his father’s diary, which outlines how Adam Finley became the amicus, or human interlocutor, of a raven named Baldasarre. There’s also the matter of Adam’s creepy brother, Gabriel’s uncle Corax, who likewise disappeared, leaving behind a portrait to loom over Gabriel as he seeks to solve the riddles, literal and figurative, set by ravens, uncle, and missing parents. With an unlikely crew of mismatched Brooklyn schoolmates, Gabriel takes up the mantle of the ancient, bittersweet relationship between humans and ravens in order to untangle the even more twisted relationships between human and human. Though familiar tropes abound, Hagen’s sensibility is unique—the desk-wrangling scene is not to be missed. There’s a hint of sequels to come, but this quest is more than satisfying on its own.” — Publishers Weekly

★ “Gabriel Finley loves riddles. His father taught him one every day; every day, that is, until he disappeared. For three years Gabriel’s father has been missing and his father’s somewhat dotty but loving sister is taking care of Gabriel. Ravens also love riddles. They use riddles to distinguish themselves from valravens—evil birds who never laugh, who eat human flesh, and who turned humankind away from friendship with ravens. On Gabriel’s twelfth birthday, his aunt gives him his father’s diary and he discovers that his father was an amicus, someone who could merge with a raven and fly through the sky. He also discovers that his father’s older brother, Corax, was also an amicus who turned evil and disappeared. Soon after, Gabriel rescues a baby raven and discovers that he, too, is an amicus. The raven, Paladin, tells Gabriel that they must find an object called a torc, which can grant any wish, before Gabriel’s uncle Corax does. The titular character, along with Paladin; Septimus, a former inmate who knows his father; and three school friends, sets out to rescue his father and, in essence, save the world. Hagen has crafted a tale that contains riddles, magic, courage, loyalty, and compassion in a way that is sure to engage readers. Gabriel inhabits a dark world where friendship is the guiding light and differences are respected and valued. This is a great read for fantasy lovers who have worn out their copies of Harry Potter. The ending suggests that more is to come, and more will be welcome.” — School Library Journal

Gabriel Finley and the Raven's Riddle

Gabriel Finley and the Raven’s Riddle
by George Hagen
Hardcover: 9780385371032
Library Binding: 9780385371049

November 03, 2014

Q&A with Autumn Falls author Bella Thorne

Autumn Falls

Autumn Falls
by Bella Thorne
Hardcover: 9780385744331
Delacorte | Nov. 2014

Autumn Falls is your debut novel. Why did you decide to write a book?

I enjoy storytelling, and this was a great way to put my energy into another art form. I also wanted to inspire people. I think that you can do almost anything you set your mind to do. I am dyslexic, but I have loved books. Writing this has been a big step for me.

Where did you come up with the story for the novel?

I have had this idea for years. I wanted something teens could relate to and that showed a part of my life without it actually being about my life or Hollywood. What some may not know about me is that although I’m an actress, the memories that are most special to me or that I hold close are the events outside my professional life in Hollywood.

As an accomplished actress, musician, and now author—how do you find the time to achieve all of your goals?

No denying that I am really busy. Luckily I enjoy what I do. Usually I will take a high school dance or game over any red carpet event.

When you’re not acting, singing, or writing, what are some of your favorite hobbies and activities?

I enjoy yoga, spin class, school games, watching movies, going to the beach. I like the time to hang out with my family and pets.

Are there any aspects of Autumn’s life and personality that are biographical?

The majority of the book is actually based on aspects of my life.

You have been very public about your struggle with dyslexia growing up. How did your struggle shape you into the person you are now, and what would you say to teens today dealing with learning disabilities, challenges, etc.?

I am grateful that I have been able to see things positively even though I have had my struggles with dyslexia and great losses in my life. It has helped me become a fighter. I am a survivor. I am ready for anything. I will always be okay.

What do you hope your fans take away with them after reading Autumn Falls?

I hope they understand that we are all going through struggles and all want acceptance. I hope they know that high school is really only a small part of your life. It’s what you do with those experiences that defines the rest of your life.

What is your most embarrassing moment?

I’ve had so many embarrassing moments. I’ve had public female issues. I’ve walked into walls in front of cast mates. You name it, I’ve probably done it.

If you could read any book again for the very first time, what book would you choose and why?
I really loved Ghost Girl, and since it deals with high school and death, two things I am very interested in, I’d read it again with a new perspective.

What’s your biggest guilty pleasure?

Sitting in bed binge-watching TV shows.

In a movie about Bella Thorne, who would play the leading role?

I really don’t know, but I’d expect her to be different, sassy and a fighter. I’d expect that even if the actress didn’t get a role, she’d call her reps and ask them to send her back in to audition again.

If you had to sum up the book in one word, what would it be?


At age sixteen, Bella Thorne is a role model for young people, serving as a global ambassador for Stomp Out Bullying and lead ambassador for iDECIDE, a campaign encouraging teens to focus on making smart and healthy decisions, such as saying no to underage drinking. Bella is no stranger to personal struggles, but her positive energy, stay-true-to-yourself message, and amazing family, plus the love of all the Bellarinas around the world, are the driving forces behind everything she does.

November 03, 2014

Random House Children’s Books invites you to meet our authors!

NCTE 2014 [National Harbor, MD | November 20-23, 2014 ]

Come visit us at booth number 613 at the NCTE Annual Convention. The following is our author signing schedule.

Friday, November 21

  • Noon–1:00 PM—Jenny Hubbard
  • 1:00–2:00 PM—Pat Mora
  • 1:00–2:00 PM—Liesl Shurtliff
  • 2:00–3:00 PM—Jen Bryant & Melissa Sweet
  • 3:00–4:00 PM—Matt de la Peña
  • 4:00–5:00 PM—Wendelin Van Draanen
  • 5:00–6:00 PM—Laurel Snyder
  • 5:00–6:00 PM—Erica S. Perl

Saturday, November 22

  • 9:00–10:00 AM—Eileen Spinelli & Jerry Spinelli
  • 10:00 –11:00 AM—Candace Fleming
  • 10:00 –11:00 AM—Brian Floca
  • 11:00 AM–Noon—James Dashner
  • Noon–1:00 PM—Rob Buyea
  • 1:00–2:00 PM—E. Lockhart
  • 1:00–2:00 PM—David Levithan
  • 2:00–3:00 PM—Jennifer L. Holm & Matthew Holm
  • 3:00–4:00 PM—Rich Wallace & Sandra Neil Wallace
  • 4:00–5:00 PM—Trudy Ludwig
  • 4:15–5:00 PM—Christopher Paul Curtis

Enrique's JourneySonia Nazario will be signing copies of Enrique’s Journey
following her opening session keynote!

Thursday, November 20, at 6:30 PM
Gaylord National Resort, Potomac Ballroom