Magic Tree House
Junie B. Jones
It’s that time of year! Spring is almost here, and we’re all looking for books we can sink our teeth into over the break or just to keep us company during the final cold days. Spring has sprung us some great new young adult reads!
Carver Briggs never thought a simple text would cause a fatal crash, killing his three best friends, Mars, Eli, and Blake. But now Carver can’t stop blaming himself for the accident, and even worse, a powerful judge is pressuring the district attorney to open a criminal investigation.
Luckily, Carver has some unexpected allies: Eli’s girlfriend, the only person to stand by him at school; Dr. Mendez, his new therapist; and Blake’s grandmother, who asks Carver to spend a goodbye day with her to share their memories and say a proper farewell. Soon the other families are asking for their own goodbye day with Carver, but he’s unsure of their motives. Will they all be able to make peace with their losses? Or will these goodbye days bring Carver one step closer to a complete breakdown, or—even worse—prison?
Sixteen-year-old Anna Arden is barred from society by a defect of blood. Though her family is part of the Luminate, powerful users of magic, she is Barren, unable to perform the simplest spells. Anna would do anything to belong, but her fate takes another course when she inadvertently breaks her sister’s debutante spells. Anna is exiled to her family’s once powerful but now crumbling native Hungary. Her life might well be over.
In Hungary, Anna discovers that nothing is quite as it seems—not the people around her, from her aloof cousin Noémi to the fierce and handsome gypsy Gábor, not the society she’s known all her life, for discontent with the Luminate is sweeping the land. And not her lack of magic. Isolated from the only world she cares about, Anna still can’t seem to stop herself from breaking spells.
As rebellion sweeps across the region, Anna’s unique ability becomes the catalyst everyone is seeking. The Binding that holds all magic in place has long made magic available only to those at the highest levels of society, but Anna’s power to break spells might be able to break the Binding, making magic available to all—maybe even to her. In the company of nobles, revolutionaries, and gypsies, Anna must choose: deny her unique power and cling to the life she’s always wanted, or embrace her ability and change that world forever.
A teenage girl is haunted by dreams and compelled to self-harm until she discovers a family secret and a past full of magic that could both save her and put her in mortal danger in this dark, suspenseful novel that’s perfect for fans of Katie Alender, Mindy McGinnis, and Natasha Preston.
All sixteen-year-old Heather MacNair wants is to feel normal, to shed the intense paranoia she’s worn all year like a scratchy sweater. After her compulsion to self-harm came uncomfortably to light, Heather was kept under her doctor’s watchful eye. Her family thinks she’s better—and there’s nothing she wants more than for that to be true. She still can’t believe she’s allowed to spend her summer vacation as she always does, at her aunt’s home in Scotland, where she has lots of happy memories. Far away from all her problems save one: carving the Celtic knot that haunts her dreams into her skin. Good friends and boys with Scottish accents can cure almost anything . . . except her nightmares. Heather can’t stop dreaming about two sisters from centuries ago, twins Prudence and Primrose, who seem to be tied somehow to Heather’s own life. They’re a murky memory that lurks underneath the surface, ripping apart her summer. The twins might hold the key to putting her soul at rest . . . or they could slice her future deeper than any knife ever could.
When your favorite after-school activity is tagging walls with graffiti, friends are a liability. Julia learns this the hard way when she covers up a slur about her best friend with a beautiful (albeit illegal) mural sprayed right across the back of the Kingston School for the Deaf. Her best friend snitches, the principal expels her, and her mothers set Julia up with a one-way ticket to a mainstream school in the suburbs, where, as the only deaf student, she’s treated like a sideshow freak. The last thing she has left is her art, and not even Banksy himself could get her to give that up.
Out in the ’burbs, Julia paints anywhere she can, eager to claim some turf of her own. A tag on a sign, a piece on an overpass. But Julia soon learns that she might not be the only vandal in town. Someone has been adding to her tags, making them better, showing off. She expected her art might get painted over by cops, but she never imagined getting involved in a graffiti war.
Now Julia must go toe to toe with her rival . . . or face losing the only piece of her identity that still makes sense. Told with wit and grit by debut author Whitney Gardner, who also provides gorgeous interior illustrations of Julia’s graffiti tags, You’re Welcome, Universe introduces audiences to a one-of-a-kind protagonist who is unabashedly herself no matter what life throws in her way.
Tom Grendel lives a quiet life—writing in his notebooks, mowing lawns for his elderly neighbors, and pining for Willow, a girl next door who rejects the manic pixie dream girl label. But when Willow’s brother Rex (the bro-iest bro ever to don a jockstrap) starts throwing wild parties, the idyllic senior citizens community where they live is transformed into a war zone. Tom is rightfully pissed—his dad is an Iraq vet, and the noise from the parties triggers his PTSD—so he comes up with a plan to end the parties for good. But it’s not that simple.
One retaliation leads to another, and things quickly escalate out of control, driving Tom and Willow apart even as the parties continue unabated. Add to that an angsty existential crisis born of selectively reading his sister’s Philosophy 101 coursework, a botched break-in to an artisanal pig farm, and ten years of unresolved baggage stemming from his mother’s death . . . and the question isn’t so much whether Tom Grendel will win the day and get the girl, but whether he’ll survive intact.
Tessa and Caleb have always been close, but it was on the field where their friendship sparked into something more. Summertime flag football holds every bright memory for these two, but like many events tinged by summer’s glow, their pending school year and the social implications that come with it carry them into a situation they never saw coming. Football is said to be a boys sport, and before Tessa, not a single girl had tried to play. Until now. Tessa is on a mission. She loves football, and she’s good at it. Why can’t she try out?
When Tessa’s mission turns into something else and Caleb starts to withdraw from both her and his friends, the two of them must decide what really matters: the love of those around them or the love of the game.
Love, sadness, and years of good and bad decisions collide over the course of one bittersweet summer in a dysfunctional, privileged family filled with secrets in this beautifully written novel from #1 New York Times bestselling author Ann Brashares.
Teenagers Ray and Sasha have grown up sharing a bedroom in their summer house on a pond in Wainscott, yet they’ve never met. Over the course of one summer filled with misunderstandings and new insights, each of them, along with their shared half-siblings—Emma, Quinn, and Mattie—must learn to accept the hand they’ve been dealt, culminating in a devastating tragedy that will either break or heal their family forever.
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 younger 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 firstname.lastname@example.org. Enjoy, and keep reading!
Jane Yolen and John Schoenherr’s award-winning Owl Moon, published in 1987, is a beautifully quiet story about a little girl and her father exploring the woods one winter night, looking for owls. In this highly visual picture book, the readers experience the snowy, gentle night with the two characters, whispering “whoo-whoo-whoo” along with the father as he calls out for the owls, and understanding that “when you go owling you don’t need words or warm or anything but hope.”
Little Fox in the Forest (Schwartz & Wade) is a wonderful contemporary picture book to read along with Owl Moon. Completely wordless, it masterfully tells the story of two young children who follow a fox into the woods, only to discover an enchanting village. Like Owl Moon, this magical adventure promotes discussion for readers of all levels—from pre-readers to independent readers—as they are invited to create and articulate their own story, using the vivid art and characters as constants, and adding unique details and language. Graegin’s charming illustrations are irresistible, and readers will want to pore over the pages of this delightful story again and again.
Classroom Lesson: Read Owl Moon and Little Fox in the Forest to your students, and have them discuss the images and characters. Then split the students into small groups and instruct them to create their own storyline. (If your students are able to write, have them write down their ideas.) Share the stories to facilitate discussion about storytelling, structure, and dialogue.
Praise for Little Fox in the Forest
★ “Young children will pore over this wordless picture book again and again, finding something new to enjoy each time.” —Kirkus Reviews, Starred Review
★ “A charming, fantastical twist on the backyard adventure.” —Booklist, Starred Review
★ “This is a story not just to read but to inhabit.” —Publishers Weekly, Starred Review
★ “[V]iewers can pick up skills in decoding visual narrative while also getting a chance to breathlessly root around in some serious cuteness.” —The Bulletin, Starred Review
Just like us, these hot titles are shedding their jackets for spring. Pick up new paperbacks, and get reading! There is something for everyone.
Everything, Everything by Nicola Yoon
“[A] fresh, moving debut,” praises Entertainment Weekly in its A– review of this innovative, heartfelt novel. If you love Eleanor and Park, Hazel and Augustus, and Mia and Adam, you’ll love the story of Maddy, a girl who’s literally allergic to the outside world, and Olly, the boy who moves in next door and becomes the greatest risk she’s ever taken. Unfolding via vignettes, diary entries, illustrations, and more, this paperback edition features a Q&A with Nicola Yoon, an author playlist, a not-to-be-missed deleted scene, a new illustration, and an excerpt of Nicola’s new novel, The Sun Is Also a Star.
Fifth grader Tamaya Dhilwaddi and seventh grader Marshall Walsh have been walking to and from Woodridge Academy together since elementary school. But their routine is disrupted when bully Chad Hilligas challenges Marshall to a fight. To avoid the conflict, Marshall takes a shortcut home through the off-limits woods. Tamaya, unaware of the reason for the detour, reluctantly follows. They soon get lost. And then they find trouble. Bigger trouble than anyone could ever have imagined. In the days and weeks that follow, the authorities and the US Senate become involved, and what they uncover might affect the future of the world.
The police refer to it as an incident on the bridge. When it comes to jumpers, it’s better to be discreet.
So when Thisbe Locke is last seen standing on the edge of the Coronado Bridge, from the looks of it, there’s only one thing to call it. But her sister, Ted, is not convinced. Despite the witnesses and the police reports and the divers and the fact that she was heartbroken about the way things ended with Clay and how she humiliated herself at that party, Thisbe isn’t the type of person to end up just an incident.
While everyone in town mourns the loss (some more than others), Ted and Fen, the new kid in town, set out to put the pieces together and find her sister. But if Thisbe didn’t jump, what happened on the bridge?
In this captivating and lavishly illustrated young adult edition of her award-winning #1 New York Times bestseller, Laura Hillenbrand tells the story of a former Olympian’s courage, cunning, and fortitude following his plane crash in enemy territory. This adaptation of Unbroken introduces a new generation to one of history’s most thrilling survival epics.
Red is not afraid of the big bad wolf. She’s not afraid of anything . . . except magic.
But when Red’s granny falls ill, it seems that only magic can save her, and fearless Red is forced to confront her one weakness. With the help of a blond, porridge-sampling nuisance called Goldie, Red goes on a quest to cure Granny. Her journey takes her through dwarves’ caverns to a haunted well and a beast’s castle. All the while, Red and Goldie are followed by a wolf and a huntsman—two mortal enemies who seek the girls’ help to defeat each other. And one of them just might have the magical solution Red is looking for. . . . Liesl Shurtliff spins a spellbinding tale, shining the spotlight on one of the most beloved characters from her award-winning debut, Rump.
Kady thought breaking up with Ezra was the worst thing she’d ever been through. That was before her planet was invaded. Now, with enemy fire raining down on them, Kady and Ezra are forced to fight their way onto one of the evacuating craft, while an enemy warship is in hot pursuit.
But the warship could be the least of their problems. A deadly plague has broken out and is mutating, with terrifying results. The fleet’s AI, which should be protecting them, may actually be their biggest threat, and nobody in charge will say what’s really going on. As Kady plunges into a web of data hacking to get to the truth, it’s clear only one person can help her bring it all to light: Ezra.
Told through a fascinating dossier of hacked documents—including emails, schematics, military files, IMs, medical reports, interviews, and more—Illuminae is the first book in a heart-stopping, high-octane trilogy about lives interrupted, the price of truth, and the courage of everyday heroes.
Welcome, boys and girls, and readers of all ages, to the Library Olympics! Kyle and his teammates are back because the world-famous game maker, Luigi Lemoncello, is at it again! This time Mr. Lemoncello has invited teams from all across America to compete in the first-ever Library Olympics. Will it be fun? Like the commercials say . . . HELLO? It’s a Lemoncello! Of course it will be fun! But something suspicious is going on . . . books are missing from Mr. Lemoncello’s library. In between figuring out mind-boggling challenges, the kids will have to band together to get to the bottom of this mystery. Now it’s not just a game—can Mr. Lemoncello find the real defenders of books and champions of libraries? Packed with puzzles, clues, and thrilling surprises, this is a deliciously fun, action-packed sequel to the New York Times bestselling Escape from Mr. Lemoncello’s Library. Let the games begin! BONUS: Look for brand-new extras in the paperback!
TLA 2017 • San Antonio, TX • April 19–22
Stop by the Random House Children’s Books Booth, #2507, to meet authors and illustrators, pick up promotional materials and advance reader’s copies of this year’s most exciting titles, and meet our staff!
Advance Reader’s Copies to Get Excited About!
Look for this coupon in your School Library Journal Aisle-by-Aisle Guide, and bring it to our booth to receive your ARC!
Random House Children’s Books Invites You to Meet Our Authors at TLA!
Your favorite authors will be signing in the Author Area.
THURSDAY, APRIL 20:
Signing: 11:00 a.m.–12:00 p.m., Aisle 6
Jennifer will also be at the Young Adult Round Table discussing Learning to Let Go: Working Through Grief in YA Literature on Wednesday, April 19, at 2:45 p.m.
Signing: 2:00–3:00 p.m., Aisle 3
Don’t miss Christian at the Ultimate Children’s Picture Book Illustrators Sketch-Off on Thursday, April 20, at 4:15 p.m.
Signing: 3:00–4:00 p.m., Aisle 4
You can also catch Kiersten’s YART panel, Stories That Make You Say Hmm?: Alternative Historical Fiction in YA, on Thursday, April 20, at 1:45 p.m.
FRIDAY, APRIL 21:
Signing: 9:00–10:00 a.m., Aisle 5
Signing: 10:00–11:00 a.m., Aisle 3
Don’t miss Susin on the Lone Star Reading List Author Panel on Friday, April 21, at 8:30 a.m.
Signing: 10:00–11:00 a.m., Aisle 4
You can also see Jeff on the TAYSHAS Reading List Author Panel on Saturday, April 22, at 9:15 a.m.
Signing: 11:00 a.m.–12:00 p.m., Aisle 4
Don’t miss Kara on the YART panel Chilling Tales to Keep You Up at Night: YA Horror and Dark Fantasy on Thursday, April 20, at 3:00 p.m.
Signing: 11:00 a.m.–12:00 p.m., Aisle 3
Nicola will also be on the TAYSHAS Reading List Author Panel on Saturday, April 22, at 9:15 a.m.
Signing: 12:00–1:00 p.m., Aisle 9
D. J. MacHale
Signing: 1:00–2:00 p.m., Aisle 6
Don’t miss D.J. on the Middle Grade Greats Panel on Friday, April 21, at 11:00 a.m.
Signing: 2:00–3:00 p.m., Aisle 6
Don’t miss Andrew on the Middle Grade Greats Panel on Friday, April 21, at 11:00 a.m.
This is not a Seamus Heaney fangirl post.
Okay, maybe it is a little. But mostly, this will be a post about voice; that strange, amorphous part of a story that seems to be so hard to define. Voice is, of course, short for “the voice of the storyteller,” and I would argue that it is at least as important as plot. A good writer—one who can tell a good story, one whose prose seems to be a living thing—can make any story interesting. I would rather read a good writer’s description of a trip to the pharmacy than a bad writer’s tale of muscly space hunks who save the Earth from a giant asteroid.[i]
I’ve been thinking about this a lot recently, because I relied so heavily on Heaney’s translation while I was writing Grendel’s Guide to Love and War.
When I first began tinkering with the idea of this book, I had to confront the fact that my understanding of Beowulf was embarrassingly shallow. I had read the original, but I only understood it as a story about feuds, monsters, and good folks ripping the arms off bad folks because they deserved it. The greater subtext… Beowulf’s value system, the reality of the world he lived in, what it was that he really wanted—that was all lost on me.
Heaney’s work—the epic infused with his own voice—changed my understanding of what was most important about Beowulf, which, more than a story about a good arm-ripping, is a story about the immortality of legacies and the desperate need people have to be known and remembered. It took my reading a different translation for me to see what I needed to see in the text. Without it, I never would have been able to finish writing Grendel at all.
When I first read Beowulf, Heaney’s translation did not yet exist.[ii] Our high school textbook contained excerpts from an older translation, and while it was serviceable, it was hardly inspiring. I liked the story; there were monsters, and monsters are always good, and the good guy bites it in dramatic fashion, which is even better. But at the same time, it was just… okay. None of us reading that text ever stood up in class and said “Holy crap, did you just read that?”
So when I came across Seamus Heaney’s translation many years later, imagine my surprise when I stood up and said, “Holy crap!”
I’ll give you an example. My favorite part of the epic is the end, after Beowulf has died. Everybody is thinking this is probably not good, and since we’ve seen Beowulf’s milquetoast thanes (who famously stand around eating popcorn while Beowulf fights the dragon until he keels over dead), we know they are probably correct to be worried. Here’s the 1910 translation by Francis Barton Gummere:
Wailing her woe, the widow1 old,
her hair upbound, for Beowulf’s death
sung in her sorrow, and said full oft
she dreaded the doleful days to come,
deaths enow, and doom of battle,
Okay. So, we know things are not that great? But, you know. Whatever. It’s cool. I would argue that “doleful” is a poor word choice if he’s trying to convey something really catastrophic.
Now here’s Heaney’s translation of the same part of the text:[iii]
A Geat woman too sang out in grief;
With hair bound up, she unburdened herself
of her worst fears, a wild litany
of nightmare and lament: her nation invaded,
enemies on the rampage, bodies in piles,
slavery and abasement.
Heaney manages to convey an almost unutterable existential dread. It’s chilling. And we understand, now, that Beowulf was not just a slayer of mythical monsters. He was all that stood between his people and an oncoming tide of horrors, slavery, and death.
Heaney does all that with the power of his voice. The entire translation is fabulous, and it punches you in the gut again and again. It wasn’t until I found the right translation that I was able to connect with the story on a deeper level. And this is how Beowulf, run through the filter of my own brain, became Grendel’s Guide, which is of course not a translation but a retelling (retelling being translation’s freer, less literal cousin). My hero is Grendel, not Beowulf, although he struggles with the same basic desires, though Tom’s craving is less to be remembered than to remember others, and to connect to a father whose own broken memory has caused him to drift away from his son. Tom fights not actual monsters but those villains one is more likely to run into in 2017: the self-absorbed, the cruel, and the willfully ignorant.
These different levels of interpretation—from translations to retellings—serve as a set of gateways to the original work, with Beowulf (in the original Old English) in the center, the translations inhabiting the next rung, and the retellings the next.
Some might argue that the further out you go from the original, the more you obscure the original intent, but I would argue that these gateways also serve to shine new light on the original, by giving new ways of understanding a story. John Gardner’s Grendel asked (long before I did) what the story might have been like from the Grendel’s point of view.[iv] Neil Gaiman and Roger Avary—who wrote the script for the 2007 Angelina Jolie-fronted film Beowulf—imagined that Hrothgar and Grendel were actually related.[v]
So what is the point? Translations, are important not just because they disclose the literal contents of the text, but because they convey the heart and voice of the story. It’s an enormous challenge, working within the framework of someone else’s existing words, rendering those words into a different language, and then breathing life back into them again.[vi] Unfortunately, many non-English works only have one translation available, and you just have to hope that what you have is a good one. But for older and more famous works, there are frequently multiple possibilities, and these are often the texts assigned to young people, who may be seeing these stories for the first time. And finding the right translation—not just an accurate one, but one with a voice that is witty, vivid, and accessible—may mean the difference between an engaged, passionate reader and one who leaves the story behind, baffled and bored.
Of course, this is what those of us who write retelling are doing as well… imbuing existing stories with our own voices, and hoping we’re up to the task of taking something old and grand and giving it a new life. And perhaps those new stories will inspire the next generation to add their own layers of interpretation to the gateways around Beowulf.
[ii] Between the time I first read Beowulf and wrote Grendel’s Guide, Heaney won the Nobel prize, translated Beowulf and a host of other works, and published half a dozen of his own poetry anthologies. He was a busy guy.
[iii] For further comparison, here is Tolkien’s 1926 (published in 2014) translation of the same passage:
There too a lamentable lay many a Geatish maiden with braided tresses for Beowulf made, singing in sorrow, oft repeating that days of evil she sorely feared, many a slaying cruel and terror armed, ruin and thraldom’s bond.
(Heaney’s is still the best version.)
[iv] There is no prank war in Gardner’s version, nor are there any pigs, pot-eating or otherwise.
[v] NB: if a hot woman appears randomly out of a bog, probably sleeping with her is a bad idea.
[vi] I sometimes think that translating a book works a bit like the transporters on Star Trek… you take someone apart at the molecular level, send then someplace else, and then put them back together, but if you are not very careful, the person does not come back to life at the other end.