Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Video of the Day: Kate DiCamillo Celebrates Charlotte's Web

"Where's Papa going with that ax?" said Fern to her mother as they were setting the table for breakfast.
Charlotte's Web turns 60 on October 5, 2012. My students will most likely convince me to throw a birthday party for Charlotte, Wilbur, and Fern. It won't take much convincing. Just imagine the possibilities! Will Charlotte create the invitation? What will I serve? What will we play? Good times!

Newbery Medalist Katie DiCamillo wrote the foreword to the 60th anniversary edition. I'm going to share the following video with my students.

(Thanks to Travis for the link.)

Take a peek inside the 60th anniversary edition.

Happy early birthday to Charlotte's Web!

Borrow Charlotte's Web from your school or public library. Whenever possible, please support independent bookshops.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

2012 Children's Choice Book Awards Finalists - Part 2 of 2

Yesterday I shared trailers and resources for half of the 2012 Children's Choice Book Awards finalists. Thank you for returning for part two.

The Children's Choice Book Awards is the only national book awards program where the winning titles are selected by children and teens of all ages.

Launched in 2008 by the
Children's Book Council andEvery Child A Reader (The CBC Foundation), The Children’s Choice Book Awards program was created to provide young readers with an opportunity to voice their opinions about the books being written for them and to help develop a reading list that will motivate children to read more and cultivate a love of reading.

Voting will open March 14, 2012. The winners will be announced live at the Children's Choice Book Awards gala in New York City.

Bad Island . Written and illustrated by Doug TenNapel. Scholastic, 2011.

Something on this island is up to no good?

When Reese is forced to go on a boating trip with his family, the last thing he expects is to be shipwrecked on an island-especially one teeming with weird plants and animals. But what starts out as simply a bad vacation turns into a terrible one, as the castaways must find a way to escape while dodging the island's dangerous inhabitants. With few resources and a mysterious entity on the hunt, each secret unlocked could save them...or spell their doom. One thing Reese knows for sure: This is one Bad Island.


How to Survive Anything. By Rachel Buchholz. National Geographic, 2011.

Let's face it. With school pressures, social pressures, parental pressures, the teenage years are tough. Your best friend is with you one day, dating your crush the next. But it could be worse! You could be face-to-face with an angry grizzly, or chest-deep in quicksand. Never fear, National Geographic has the solution! In this hilariously informative take on surviving the trials of middle school and the jungles of South America, we combine our expertise on nature and adventure with the fun-and-learning approach of our Nat Geo style—and voila,the perfect advice to conquer any obstacle, whether it threatens life or social status or both. Edgy, young, authoritative, and amusingly illustrated, this title will grab the attention of young teens.


Lost & Found. Written and illustrated by Shaun Tan. Arthur A. Levine, 2011.

A collection of three jaw-dropping stories: THE RED TREE, THE LOST THING, and THE RABBITS, by New York Times bestselling author and illustrator Shaun Tan

A girl finds a bright spot in a dark world. A boy leads a strange, lost creature home. And a group of peaceful creatures loses their home to cruel invaders. Three stories, written and illustrated by Shaun Tan, about how we lose and find what matters most to us.

Shaun Tan chats about The Lost Thing.


Okay for Now. By Gary D. Schmidt. Clarion Books, 2011.

About the book:

Travis Jonker and I named Okay for Now a best book of 2011.

No other 2011 release has been more dissected and discussed, disputed and adored than Gary D. Schmidt's return to the world of Doug Swieteck. This companion to TheWednesday Wars places a skinny-thug Doug in a new town with no friends to speak of. Throw the turmoil of his abusive home life into the mix and you get a book where things could explode at any moment. Doug's refuge comes if the form of two new loves: drawing to match the wildlife paintings of John James Audubon, and for a girl who sees the best in him. The highs are more moving, the lows are more jarring than anything else you'll read in 2011. -Travis Jonker

Download the Okay for Now discussion guide.

Vicky Smith chats with Gary Schmidt about Okay for Now.

Gary Schmidt finds the process of kids turning toward adulthood fascinating and intriguing.

Gary Schmidt presented at the 2011 National Book Festival.


Racing in the Rain: My Life as a Dog. By Garth Stein. HarperCollins, 2011.

Have you ever wondered what your dog is thinking?

Meet one funny dog—-Enzo, the lovable mutt who tells this story. Enzo knows he is different from other dogs. Every dog loves to chase cars, but Enzo longs to race them. He learns by watching TV and by listening to his best friend, Denny, an up-and-coming race-car driver, and his daughter, Zoe, his constant companion. Enzo finds that life just like being on the racetrack. For he sees that life, like racing, isn’t simply about going fast. And, by learning the tricks of racing against all odds, he takes on his family’s challenges and emerges a hero. Enzo holds in his heart the dream that Denny will go on to be a racing champion with his daughter right by his side. For theirs is an extraordinary friendship—one that reminds us all to celebrate the triumph of the human (and canine) spirit.

Download the "Family Reading Guide."

Garth Stein discussed Racing in the Rain on Good Morning America.

Clockwork Prince: The Infernal Devices, Book Two by Cassandra Clare. Margaret K. McElderry Books, 2011.

About the book:

In the magical underworld of Victorian London, Tessa Gray has at last found safety with the Shadowhunters. But that safety proves fleeting when rogue forces in the Clave plot to see her protector, Charlotte, replaced as head of the Institute. If Charlotte loses her position, Tessa will be out on the street and easy prey for the mysterious Magister, who wants to use Tessa's powers for his own dark ends.

With the help of the handsome, self-destructive Will and the fiercely devoted Jem, Tessa discovers that the Magister's war on the Shadowhunters is deeply personal. He blames them for a long-ago tragedy that shattered his life. To unravel the secrets of the past, the trio journeys from mist-shrouded Yorkshire to a manor house that holds untold horrors, from the slums of London to an enchanted ballroom where Tessa discovers that the truth of her parentage is more sinister than she had imagined. When they encounter a clockwork demon bearing a warning for Will, they realize that the Magister himself knows their every move and that one of their own has betrayed them.

Tessa finds her heart drawn more and more to Jem, though her longing for Will, despite his dark moods, continues to unsettle her. But something is changing in Will; the wall he has built around himself is crumbling. Could finding the Magister free Will from his secrets and give Tessa the answers about who she is and what she was born
to do?

Cassandra Clare provides background information about Clockwork Prince.

How cool! Holly Black interviews Cassandra Clare.


Daughter of Smoke and Bone. By Laini Taylor. Little, Brown, 2011.

About the book:

Around the world, black handprints are appearing on doorways, scorched there by winged strangers who have crept through a slit in the sky.

In a dark and dusty shop, a devil's supply of human teeth grown dangerously low.

And in the tangled lanes of Prague, a young art student is about to be caught up in a brutal otherwordly war.

Meet Karou. She fills her sketchbooks with monsters that may or may not be real; she's prone to disappearing on mysterious "errands"; she speaks many languages--not all of them human; and her bright blue hair actually grows out of her head that color. Who is she? That is the question that haunts her, and she's about to find out.

When one of the strangers--beautiful, haunted Akiva--fixes his fire-colored eyes on her in an alley in Marrakesh, the result is blood and starlight, secrets unveiled, and a star-crossed love whose roots drink deep of a violent past. But will Karou live to regret learning the truth about herself?

Laini Taylor talks about the inspiration for Daughter of Smoke and Bone.

Divergent. By Veronica Roth. Katherine Tegen Books, 2011.

About the book:

One choice can transform you . . . or it can destroy you. But every choice has consequences, and as unrest surges in the factions all around her, Tris Prior must continue trying to save those she loves—and herself—while grappling with haunting questions of grief and forgiveness, identity and loyalty, politics and love.

"My favorite character is Tris, the protagonist." -Veronica Roth.

Passion: A Fallen Novel. By Lauren Kate. Random House, 2011.

About the book:

Luce would die for Daniel.

And she has. Over and over again. Throughout time, Luce and Daniel have found each other, only to be painfully torn apart: Luce dead, Daniel left broken and alone. But perhaps it doesn’t need to be that way. . . .

Luce is certain that something—or someone—in a past life can help her in her present one. So she begins the most important journey of this lifetime . . . going back eternities to witness firsthand her romances with Daniel . . . and finally unlock the key to making their love last.

Cam and the legions of angels and Outcasts are desperate to catch Luce, but none are as frantic as Daniel. He chases Luce through their shared pasts, terrified of what might happen if she rewrites history.

Perfect. By Ellen Hopkins. Margaret K. McElderry Books, 2011.

Everyone has something, someone, somewhere else that they’d rather be. For four high-school seniors, their goals of perfection are just as different as the paths they take to get there.

Cara’s parents’ unrealistic expectations have already sent her twin brother Conner spiraling toward suicide. For her, perfect means rejecting their ideals to take a chance on a new kind of love. Kendra covets the perfect face and body—no matter what surgeries and drugs she needs to get there. To score his perfect home run—on the field and off—Sean will sacrifice more than he can ever win back. And Andre realizes that to follow his heart and achieve his perfect performance, he’ll be living a life his ancestors would never have understood.

I hope your students will vote for their favorite books and authors. I'm working on a Children's Choice Book Awards display and will promote the titles geared toward my audience. Happy reading and voting!

Monday, February 27, 2012

2012 Finalists for the Children's Choice Book Awards - Part 1 of 2

The nominees for the 2012 Children's Choice Book Awards were released last week. Past winners include Lunch Lady and the Cyborg Substitute, The Pigeon Wants a Puppy!, and Catching Fire.

The Children's Choice Book Awards is the only national book awards program where the winning titles are selected by children and teens of all ages.

Launched in 2008 by the
Children's Book Council and Every Child A Reader (The CBC Foundation), The Children’s Choice Book Awards program was created to provide young readers with an opportunity to voice their opinions about the books being written for them and to help develop a reading list that will motivate children to read more and cultivate a love of reading.

Voting will open March 14, 2012. The winners will be announced live at the Children's Choice Book Awards gala in New York City.

Bailey. Written and illustrated by Harry Bliss. Scholastic, 2011.

Meet Bailey, a dog who surprises and charms his fellow human classmates with his irrepressible antics.

Follow Bailey the dog as he gets ready and goes to school. Should he wear the red or blue collar? Both are so fashionable! Will he be late? That squirrel is a distraction! And what about Bailey's homework? Would you believe he ate it? That is what dogs do, after all.

Harry Bliss visited my school library three years ago. His illustrations make kids laugh time and time again. I could spend hours looking at his illustrations for A Fine, Fine School.

Dot. Written and illustrated by Patricia Intriago. Farrar, Straus, and Giroux, 2011.

Dots here, dots there, you can see dots everywhere! Some are loud, and some are quiet. Some are happy, and some are sad. Some dots even taste yummy, while others taste bad. Graphic designer Patricia Intriago sets bold, circular shapes against a stark white background to emphasize opposite dot relationships.
Pirates Don't Take Baths. Written and illustrated by John Segal. Philomel, 2011.

About the book

For any young child (or pig), there are few things more excruciating, more traumatic, more torturous than bathtime. And this little pig is putting his hoof down. No. More. BATHS. But how can he possibly accomplish this? Well, by being someone else, of course. After all, everyone knows that pirates, astronauts, and knights in shining armor - just to name a few - never, EVER take baths. Now if only he can convince his mother . . .


Three Hens and a Peacock. By Lester L. Laminack, illustrated by Henry Cole. Peachtree, 2011.

About the book:

Nothing unusual ever happened on the Tuckers farm. Until the day that peacock showed up...

When a glamorous visitor lands unexpectedly in their midst and begins attracting customers, three hardworking hens protest:

How come we do all the hard work and he gets all the attention?

To keep the peace, the wise old hound dog suggests a swap. The hens and the peacock soon find out that others jobs aren t always as easy as they seem.


Zombie in Love. By Kelly DiPucchio, illustrated by Scott Campbell. Simon and Schuster, 2011.

Mortimer is looking for love. And he’s looking everywhere! He’s worked out at the gym (if only his arm wouldn’t keep falling off). He’s tried ballroom dancing lessons (but the ladies found him to be a bit stiff). He’s even been on How’s a guy supposed to find a ghoul? When it seems all hope has died, could the girl of Mortimer’s dreams be just one horrifying shriek away?

I know this video does not focus on the nominated title, but it is worth watching. Kelly DiPucchio co-wrote The Sandwich Swap with Queen Rania Al Abdullah of Jordan. It is a beautiful story of friendship and acceptance.

Bad Kitty Meets the Baby. Written and illustrated by Nick Bruel. Roaring Brook, 2011.

About the book:

Bad Kitty survived her time with Unkie M - barely. Now she's back, and there's a big surprise waiting for her...

What is it? Kitty thinks it could be a dog - the neighbor cats think its a cat. But we all know that it's really a BABY!

You don't often see a character interview her creator. Awesome!

Head over to Bad Kitty's website to play "The Stack Up Game."


A Funeral in the Bathroom: And Other School Bathroom Poems. By Kalli Dakos, illustrated by Mark Beech. Albert Whitman, 2011.

My teacher's pretty slick, Has a hundred teaching tricks. Even in the bathroom stalls, She hangs poetry on the walls, And while I'm there all alone I can't help but read a poem. From "Gross" and "Flushophobic" to "There's a Sock in the Toilet," these poems will have kids laughing all the way to "The Bathroom Dance!"

The Monstrous Book of Monsters. By Libby Hamilton, illustrated by Jonny Duddle and Aleksei Bitskoff. Candlewick, 2011.

About the book:

Do you dare to delve into the freakishly funny Monstrous Book of Monsters, where nothing is as it seems?

Written by Dr. Thomas Jelly and packed with nauseating novelties and foul facts, this book will teach you how to avoid monsters, show you how to spot them in the news or on the street, and give you a peek inside their dangerous (and smelly) world. At the end, we learn that Dr. Jelly has fallen foul of the infamous book monster, and the readers themselves will be lucky to escape the same fate!


Sidekicks. Written and illustrated by Dan Santat. Arthur A. Levine, 2011.

Travis Jonker and I named Sidekicks a best book of 2011.

Stand in front of a group of third graders and hold up Dan Santat's graphic novel Sidekicks. Just stand there. This is what you will hear:

"Oh, that cover is amazing."

"May I be the first one to check it out? Please?"(Such a polite child)

"love graphic novels. I've read every graphic novel this library owns. I want that book."

I don't think Travis has ever done a Cover Curiosity post on "Books You Hold Up and Kids Take Them Without Any Commentary." But if he ever does, I will argue Sidekicks deserves a spot on the list. It has total shelf appeal. The interior art and storyline are mighty fine, too.

How many sidekicks can you name? Batman has Robin. Snoopy has Woodstock. Sherlock Holmes has Dr. Watson. Frankie Pickle has Argyle. Captain Amazing has ???.

Captain Amazing, the aging superhero of Metro City, decides after getting injured that he needs a new sidekick. He holds open auditions. Â Captain Amazing’s dog, cat, hamster, and chameleon all vie for the position. Will it be too much for the animals to take? Will sibling rivalry destroy their relationships? Will Dr. Havoc take them down? The answers are found inside this action-packed graphic novel that will leave readers hoping for more volumes. Are you listening, Dan Santat?

Wow! Dan Santat posted a free 276 page PDF that documents the seven years he worked on Sidekicks. Thanks, Dan!


Squish #1: Super Amoeba. By Jennifer L. Holm and Matthew Holm. Random House, 2011.

Yes, there's a Babymouse and Squish store. So many goodies!

Jennifer and Matthew Holm discuss Babymouse and Squish.

I think there is a spot in your library or classroom that needs this poster.