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December 01, 2016

Random House Children’s Books Is Seeing STARS!

Incredible books and starred reviews have been the hallmarks of 2016 at Random House Children’s Books! Here are a few of our picture book, middle grade, and young adult titles that received extraordinary reviews!

PICTURE BOOKS


  • Clara
    Booklist
    The Horn Book
    Publishers Weekly
    Shelf Awareness
    HC: 978-0-553-52246-4

  • Hank’s Big Day
    Booklist
    Kirkus Reviews
    Publishers Weekly
    HC: 978-0-553-51150-5

  • A Hat for Mrs. Goldman
    Booklist
    Kirkus Reviews
    Publishers Weekly
    School Library Journal
    HC: 978-0-553-49710-6

  • Henry Wants More
    Booklist
    School Library Journal
    HC: 978-0-385-38512-1

  • Little Penguins
    Booklist
    School Library Journal
    HC: 978-0-553-50770-6

  • My Favorite Pets
    Booklist
    School Library Journal
    HC: 978-0-385-75570-2

  • Owl Sees Owl
    Booklist
    The Horn Book
    Kirkus Reviews
    School Library Journal
    HC: 978-0-553-49782-3


  • Penguin Problems
    The Horn Book
    Kirkus Reviews
    HC: 978-0-553-51337-0

  • Rescue Squad No. 9
    The Horn Book
    Kirkus Reviews
    School Library Journal
    HC: 978-1-101-93662-7

  • The Secret Subway
    The Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books
    Kirkus Reviews
    Publishers Weekly
    HC: 978-0-375-87071-2

  • Six Dots
    The Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books
    Publishers Weekly
    School Library Journal
    HC: 978-0-449-81337-9

  • Sophie’s Squash Goes to School
    Booklist
    Publishers Weekly
    HC: 978-0-553-50944-1

  • This Is My Dollhouse
    Kirkus Reviews
    Publishers Weekly
    HC: 978-0-553-52153-5

  • Tree in the Courtyard
    Booklist
    School Library Journal
    HC: 978-0-385-75397-5

  • Who Wants a Tortoise
    Kirkus Reviews
    The Horn Book
    HC: 978-0-385-75417-0

  • You Never Heard of Casey Sengel
    Booklist
    School Library Journal
    Publishers Weekly
    HC: 978-0-375-87013-2

MIDDLE GRADE


  • A Bandit’s Tale
    Publishers Weekly
    School Library Journal
    HC:
    978-0-385-75499-6

  • Beautiful Blue World
    Kirkus Reviews
    Publishers Weekly
    School Library Journal
    HC:
    978-0-385-74300-6

  • Cat Who Came In off the Roof
    Kirkus Reviews
    Shelf Awareness
    HC:
    978-0-553-53500-6

  • Family Fletcher Takes Rock Island
    Kirkus Reviews
    School Library Journal
    HC:
    978-0-553-52130-6

  • Full of Beans
    Booklist
    The Horn Book
    Kirkus Reviews
    Publishers Weekly
    Shelf Awareness
    HC:
    978-0-553-51036-2

  • Goblin’s Puzzle
    Publishers Weekly
    School Library Journal
    HC:
    978-0-553-52070-5

  • Hilo: Saving the Whole Wide World
    The Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books
    Kirkus Reviews
    HC:
    978-0-385-38623-4

  • Lily and Dunkin
    Booklist
    VOYA
    HC: 978-0-553-53674-4

  • A Most Magical Girl
    The Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books
    Kirkus Reviews
    HC:
    978-0-553-51285-4

  • The Nine Lives of Jacob Tibbs
    Booklist
    School Library Journal
    HC:
    978-0-553-51123-9

  • Not As We Know It
    Publishers Weekly
    School Library Journal
    Shelf Awareness
    HC:
    978-0-553-53509-9

  • The Secret Horses of Briar Hill
    Booklist
    Kirkus Reviews
    Shelf Awareness
    HC:
    978-1-101-93975-8

  • Time Traveling with a Hamster
    Booklist
    Kirkus Reviews
    HC: 978-0-399-55149-9

  • The Turn of the Tide
    Booklist
    School Library Journal
    HC: 978-0-375-86972-3

YOUNG ADULT


  • And I Darken
    Booklist
    School Library Journal
    HC: 978-0-553-52231-0

  • Anna and the Swallow Man
    The Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books
    The Horn Book
    Publishers Weekly
    Shelf Awareness
    VOYA
    HC:
    978-0-553-51334-9

  • Beast
    Kirkus Reviews
    Publishers Weekly
    HC:
    978-1-101-93716-7

  • The Darkest Corners
    Booklist
    Kirkus Reviews
    Shelf Awareness
    HC:
    978-0-553-52145-0

  • Girl In Pieces
    Booklist
    VOYA
    HC:
    978-1-101-93471-5

  • Glitter
    The Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books
    Publishers Weekly
    HC: 978-1-101-93370-1


  • The Head of the Saint
    Booklist
    The Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books
    HC:
    978-0-553-53792-5

  • Holding Up the Universe
    Publishers Weekly
    School Library Journal
    HC: 978-0-385-75592-4

  • Julia Vanishes
    Booklist
    Publishers Weekly
    HC:
    978-0-553-52484-0

  • Lucy and Linh
    Booklist
    The Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books
    Kirkus Reviews
    School Library Journal
    VOYA
    HC:
    978-0-399-55048-5

  • Places No One Knows
    Booklist
    Kirkus Reviews
    Publishers Weekly
    HC: 978-0-553-52263-1

  • The Serpent King
    The Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books
    Kirkus Reviews
    Publishers Weekly
    Shelf Awareness
    HC:
    978-0-553-52402-4

  • The Smell of Other People‘s Houses
    Booklist
    Kirkus Reviews
    HC: 978-0-399-55149-9

  • The Sun Is Also a Star
    Booklist
    The Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books
    The Horn Book
    Kirkus Reviews
    Publishers Weekly
    Shelf Awareness
    HC:
    978-0-553-49668-0

  • This is the Part Where You Laugh
    Kirkus Reviews
    Publishers Weekly
    VOYA
    HC:
    978-0-553-53810-6

  • Up to this Pointe
    The Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books
    Shelf Awareness
    HC:
    978-0-553-53767-3

  • Uprooted
    Booklist
    Kirkus Reviews
    Publishers Weekly
    School Library Journal
    HC: 978-0-553-50936-6

December 01, 2016

December Teach-Alike: The Secret Horses of Briar Hill with The Secret Garden

Purpose: Classic literary authors (Shakespeare, Miller, Hurston, Morrison, Faulkner, Austen, Hemingway, Wright, and Brontë, just to name a few) are studied in classrooms every day across the country. Their texts have been used for years, and for good reason: the writing is exemplary, the characters are universal yet complex, and the themes touch on all aspects of humanity. We know, however, that in addition to these canonical texts, there are many contemporary books that address some of the same themes and conflicts and are written for young adult and middle-school audiences. We believe these text pairings—whether for small reading groups in the classroom or as independent reading—will enhance the reader’s experience by drawing parallels with the themes and archetypes of the classics.

To help spread the word about these text pairings, we have created a Teach-Alike blog that will be posted on our website every other month. If you have any creative suggestions, requests for specific texts, or reviews of the pairs read together, we would love to hear from you! You can email us at slmarket@penguinrandomhouse.com. Enjoy, and keep reading!

—–

Frances Hodgson Burnett’s The Secret Garden (1911) is a whimsical novel about friendship, overcoming trauma, and rejuvenation. The Secret Garden begins in India with a spoiled, unthankful family and transitions to Yorkshire, England. There, protagonist Mary Lennox—parentless and without a friend—finds herself awakened and eventually enlivened by her distant uncle’s locked garden and her newly discovered cousin. When a group of my students chose this text for their literary circle book, they found the subtle magical realism to be one of the most interesting aspects of the story as it helped shed light on the influence of hope and imagination.

Megan Shepherd’s The Secret Horses of Briar Hill is a wonderful companion text to Burnett’s classic. Shepherd writes an enchanting story set during World War II about Emmaline, a young girl who finds herself seeking adventure in the Briar Hill hospital alongside Foxfire, a magical white horse with a broken wing who has somehow entered her world and her heart. Like Mary Lennox and her garden, Emmaline sets out to transform the bland, gray world around her in hopes of saving her new friend and herself. With a touch of magic and a historical feel, The Secret Horses of Briar Hill is a beautiful story of friendship and courage.

The Secret Horses of Briar Hill
Ages 10 & Up

There are winged horses that live in the mirrors of Briar Hill hospital—the mirrors that reflect the elegant rooms once home to a princess, now filled with sick children. Only Emmaline can see the creatures. It is her secret. One morning, Emmaline climbs over the wall of the hospital’s abandoned gardens and discovers something incredible: the white horse with a broken wing has left the mirror-world and entered her own.

The horse, named Foxfire, is hiding from a dark and sinister force—the Black Horse who hunts by colorless moonlight. If Emmaline is to keep him from finding her new friend, she must surround Foxfire with treasures of brilliant shades. But where can Emmaline find color in a world of gray?

 

Praise for The Secret Horses of Briar Hill

★ “[A] moving, magically tinged slice of historical fiction.” —Booklist, Starred Review
★ “Emmaline’s narration is unreliable, flawlessly childlike, and deeply honest. The right readers will love this to pieces.” —Kirkus Reviews, Starred Review
★ “This exquisite, beautifully illustrated middle-grade novel explodes with raw anguish, magic and hope, and readers will clutch it to their chests and not want to let go.” —Shelf Awareness, Starred Review

“Deeply moving.” —Publishers Weekly


December 01, 2016

Five Ways to Write Like an Author

Hear from award-winning author Caroline Starr Rose about her inspiration and writing process!

Over in the Wetlands
by Caroline Starr Rose; illustrated by Rob Dunlavey
HC: 978-0-449-81016-3

Ages 4–8

When my school teachers talked about writing, the focus was on product. But how to create a solid final draft was a bit of a mystery. So when my education professor first introduced me to the Writing Process, I was all in. Here was a system every author followed from idea to publication, one I could teach my future students that would lead them to their best writing and would mimic the work of true artists.

What I didn’t know at the time is that writing isn’t as clear cut as that.

If I could chat with my younger teaching self, I’d emphasize these five aspects of writing instead:

Creativity is not linear

The magic recipe I thought I’d discovered in the writing process? It doesn’t exist. Writing is not a simple, linear method. The stages of the writing process aren’t forward-moving set-in-stone steps to check off a list, but general guidelines meant to draw the author ever closer to the story she’s trying to tell. Every piece of writing calls for a different journey, requiring a different number of drafts, dead ends, and breakthroughs. The focus, then, shouldn’t be on the process but what each individual piece (and child) needs.

Listen to the world

It’s not easy to jump into a writing session without some preparation. We encourage children to brainstorm before drafting, but for many writers the true work begins before ideas are put to paper. Creatives listen to and observe the world around them, whether that be the slant of sunlight on a quiet afternoon, a conversation taking place in the backseat during carpool, or a paragraph from the newspaper. In listening, we catch details we might otherwise miss, bits and pieces that enrich our lives and work.

I have to confess that sometimes I’d be anxious about students who couldn’t get their ideas flowing in my carefully prescribed brainstorming sessions. But if we invite children to look and listen to the world as writers, they can come to their work with artistic pumps already primed. One simple way to do this is to regularly model the things that make us stop and wonder. Another is to ask kids to keep notebooks where they write, paste, color, and collect ideas or questions that might lead to future projects.

Tinker, explore, create, play!

I love writing, but it’s not easy. Even the word “write” can feel like a heavy burden. So I play games with myself to keep moving and focus only on the next scene or paragraph rather than the entire book. I tell myself I’m not writing, but simply exploring an idea or playing with language that might someday become a story.

Students can feel tremendous pressure when asked to write. Maybe it’s not their strong suit. Maybe they don’t know how to tackle what’s been asked of them. Or maybe they’re fresh out of ideas. If young writers can be taught to approach their work playfully, not only will the process become less weighty, it will free them to not be so concerned about getting it “right.”

Frustration is part of the process

We can’t talk about writing without bringing up frustration. All authors hit a rough patch now and then. If kids know ahead of time this a natural part of the process, the experience can be less intimidating, and those moments of frustration might be short lived. Instead of fearing them, tough moments can be seen for what they are: opportunities to go deeper and wider, obstacles that if faced will eventually lead to breakthroughs.

Real writing happens in revision

Writing is a mysterious experiment that often cycles back on itself, a journey of trial, error, and serendipity. When an author sells a book, it isn’t finished yet. It must go through multiple rounds of deep revision (big picture changes) with an editor. Up to the very end, the author/ editor team makes small and not so small tweaks to get the story as near perfect as they can get it.

It’s in revision that the real writing happens. Revision means exactly as it sounds — a chance to see the work again. As a young teacher, I didn’t understand how crucial revision was. Cosmetic changes — those small-scale edits that are easy to spot and correct — somehow felt more urgent. I wish I’d known to ask my students the questions I now ask myself after I finish a draft: What is it you’re trying to say? What was your original idea? How has it changed, for better or worse, along the way? What changes need to be made to bring this piece of writing in line with your vision for it?

Sometimes I wish there were a secret formula to follow that would guarantee artistic success. But I’m finding there isn’t just uncertainty in murky creative moments. New ideas and satisfaction can also be discovered there. Let’s not teach our students that writing can be summed up in six simple steps. Let’s instead be courageous enough to allow them to make wrong turns and face frustration as they unearth the heart of their writing, just as a true artist would.

Caroline Starr Rose is an award-winning middle grade and picture book author whose books have been ALA-ALSC Notable, Junior Library Guild, ABA New Voices, Kids’ Indie Next, Amazon’s Best Books of the Month for Kids, and Bank Street College of Education Best Books selections. In addition, her books have been nominated for almost two dozen state awards lists. In 2012 Caroline was named a Publishers Weekly Flying Start Author for her debut novel, May B. She spent her childhood in the deserts of Saudi Arabia and New Mexico and taught social studies and English in four different states. Caroline now lives with her husband and two sons in New Mexico.

 


December 01, 2016

Cozy Up During Winter with These Snowy Picture Books!

Winter fun can be enjoyed outside playing in the snow, or inside reading about it! Here are a few winter picture books with suggested crafts and activities to enjoy all season long.   

Little Babymouse and the Christmas Cupcakes
by Jennifer L. Holm; illustrated by Matthew Holm
HC: 978-1-101-93743-3
Ages 3–7 

Babymouse makes her picture book debut in a Christmas story . . . all about cupcakes! (Typical.)

Thank goodness Babymouse ate all of the Christmas cookies her mom made for Santa. Now she can make him something he really wants: CUPCAKES! But wait . . . what’s that rumbling in the other room? OH NO! A DRAGON! Can Sir Babymouse defeat her fiery foe and save Christmas? Or at least save a cupcake or two? Maybe not. . . .

Winter Craft: Who doesn’t love cupcakes? Get inspired to decorate your own holiday cupcakes with these tasty recipes.

 

The Lost Gift
by Kallie George; illustrated by Stephanie Graegin
HC: 978-0-553-52481-9
Ages 4–8

In this charming Christmas-themed picture book that feels like a classic, four animals deliver a package for Santa on Christmas Eve.

It’s Christmas Eve and Bird, Rabbit, Deer, and Squirrel are anxiously waiting for Santa to fly overhead. When he does, a gift tumbles out of the sleigh, landing in the woods. The friends find the gift and read the tag: “For the new baby at the farm. Love, Santa.” And so, in spite of Squirrel’s grumbling, they set off on a long journey to deliver it.

Winter Craft: ’Tis the season for gift giving! Get creative with your gift wrapping with these Pinterest inspirations!

 

Toys Meet Snow
by Emily Jenkins; illustrated by Paul O. Zelinsky
HC: 978-0-385-37330-2
Ages 3–7

Lumphy, StingRay, and Plastic—the toys from the beloved chapter books—are back in a glorious full-color picture book, perfect for the holiday season.

Fans will be thrilled to see Lumphy, StingRay, and Plastic venture outdoors to learn about snow. StingRay decides that snow is “a blanket of peace over the world,” and a snowflake is a “tiny ballerina,” until Plastic explains that it is frozen water. Together the toys build a snowman and make snow angels.

Winter Craft: Join in on the snowy fun with Lumphy, StingRay, and Plastic with these Pinterest snowflake crafts!

 

The Snowman
by Raymond Briggs
HC: 978-0-394-83973-8
For all ages

The Snowman, a classic wintertime tale, is the perfect winter adventure for the young and old.

A wordless tale with illustrations in full color. The pictures have “the hazy softness of air in snow. A little boy rushes out into the wintry day to build a snowman, which comes alive in his dreams that night. The experience is one that neither he nor young ‘readers’ will ever regret or forget.” —Booklist, starred review 

Winter Craft: You don’t always need snow to make a snowman! Check out these Pinterest boards for some (indoor and warm) snowman activities!

Little Penguins
by Cynthia Rylant; illustrated by Christian Robinson
978-0-553-50770-6
Ages 3–7

A highly acclaimed author and illustrator pair up to tell this wintry story about a penguin family enjoying a snowy day.

“Snowflakes? Many snowflakes. Winter is coming.” So begins the delightfully simple story about five little penguins and a snowy day. As the snow starts to fall, the excited penguins pull out scarves, mittens, heavy socks, and boots. Mama helps them bundle up. But when it’s time to go out, one timid penguin decides to stay home.

Winter Craft: With this wintry tale, we want activities that are everything penguin! Check out this fun-filled educators’ guide for some classroom crafts!

Cold Snap
by Eileen Spinelli; illustrated by Marjorie Priceman
HC: 978-0-375-85700-3
Ages 5–8

Warm up with this charming neighborly tale about a small town determined to beat the deep freeze!

It’s snowy and cold in the town of Toby Mills. The thermometer is sinking toward zero, and the icicle hanging from the nose of General Toby’s statue is growing closer to the ground. The newspaper headline reads, “COLD SNAP!” The people of the town are losing hope—and the feeling in their toes—until the mayor’s wife saves the day with a toasty treat.

Winter Craft: Snap out of the cold with Miss Dove’s Sugar-on-Snow Candy!

 


December 01, 2016

Light Up the Night with These Holiday Favorites!

One of the best parts of the holiday season is sharing traditions with family and friends. We’ve rounded up a few books about the history and customs of Hanukkah to help you and your students learn about and celebrate the Festival of Lights!  

The Longest Night
by Laurel Snyder; illustrated by Catia Chien
HC: 978-0-375-86942-6
Ages 4–8

This dramatic adventure, set over 3,500 years ago, tells the story of a family that endures hardships and ultimately finds freedom. It is the perfect tool to help young children make sense of the origins of the Passover traditions.

Unlike other Passover books that focus on the contemporary celebration of the holiday, this gorgeous story, told in verse, follows the actual story of the Exodus. Told through the eyes of a young slave girl, The Longest Night skillfully and gently depicts the story of Pharaoh, Moses, the ten plagues, and the parting of the Red Sea in a remarkably accessible way.

 

Honeyky Hanukah
by Woody Guthrie; illustrated by Dave Horowitz
HC: 978-0-385-37926-7
Ages 3–7

Latkes and goody things all over town
It’s Honeyky Hanukah time.

In Woody Guthrie’s rowdy, funny celebration of a Hanukah night, a young boy and his dog move merrily from house to house, gathering up family and friends for a big feast at Bubbe’s. Sing along with the accompanying CD, which features Guthrie’s song recorded by The Klezmatics.

 

Dear Santa, Love, Rachel Rosenstein
by Amanda Peet and Andrea Troyer; illustrated by Christine Davenier
HC: 978-0-553-51061-4
Ages 3–7

Rachel Rosenstein wonders why Santa Claus never visits her house. But this year is going to be different—even though her family is Jewish and doesn’t observe Christmas.

With hilarious and heartwarming mishaps, Rachel visits Santa at the mall with her special request, writes a letter to Santa explaining her cause, and clandestinely decorates the house on Christmas Eve. And while Rachel may wrestle with her culture, customs, and love of sparkly Christmas ornaments, she also comes away with a brighter understanding of her own identity and the gift of friends and family.

 

Daddy Christmas and Hanukkah Mama
by Selina Alko
HC: 978-0-375-86093-5
Ages 5–8

I am a mix of two traditions.
From Daddy Christmas and Hanukkah Mama.
How lucky am I?

Holiday time at Sadie’s house means golden gelt sparkling under the Christmas tree, candy canes hanging on eight menorah branches, voices uniting to sing carols about Maccabees and the manger, and latkes on the mantel awaiting Santa’s arrival. Selina Alko’s joyous celebration of blended families will make the perfect holiday gift for the many Americans who celebrate both Christmas and Hanukkah.


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

 

Voyagers
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