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Friday, May 28, 2010


May 2010

The following reviews, interviews and features are running on for the month of May.

Reviews and Excerpts
THE RED PYRAMID: The Kane Chronicles, Book 1 by Rick Riordan
From the author who brought you the Percy Jackson and the Olympians books comes a new series that explores the ancient Egyptian gods and folklore. After their father is imprisoned by the evil god Set, siblings Carter and Sadie Kane must learn to develop their magical abilities to defeat the ancient foe and win back their father. Trouble, though, is not far behind. Reviewed by Benjamin Boche and excerpted.

TRACKERS #1 by Patrick Carman
Armed with high-tech video cameras and esoteric coding skills, the Trackers are four tech-savvy kids who can find almost anyone, anywhere. Told through a collage of videos, text and websites, TRACKERS #1 follows Adam, Finn, Lewis and Emily as they become entangled in a high-tech, high-stakes game of cat and mouse with the world’s most dangerous hacker. Reviewed by Chris Shanley-Dillman.

BOOM! by Mark Haddon

From the moment that Jim and his best friend, Charlie, bug the staff room and overhear two of their teachers speaking to each other in a secret language, they know there's an adventure on its way. Perhaps Kidd and Pearce are bank robbers talking in code. Maybe they're spies, or aliens. Whatever it is, Jimbo and Charlie are determined to find out. Reviewed by Sarah Rachel Egelman and excerpted.

WE THE CHILDREN: Benjamin Pratt & the Keepers of the School, Book 1 written by Andrew Clements and illustrated by Adam Stower
After his parents’ separation, and with summer vacation weeks away, Benjamin Pratt’s life is spinning out of control. His centuries-old school is about to be demolished, and shortly before his death, the school’s elderly janitor entrusts the sixth-grader with a sacred secret. Reviewed by Donna Volkenannt and excerpted.

ENCHANTED GLASS by Diana Wynne Jones

Aidan Cain is a boy in need of magical assistance. After the death of his grandmother, he finds himself stalked by sinister creatures. Traveling to the town of Melstone to seek the protection of a powerful sorcerer, Aidan finds the wizard’s bumbling grandson Andrew now in charge. Together with a cast of eccentric characters, the two must untangle the mysterious forces that threaten both Aidan and Melstone. Reviewed by Sarah A. Wood.

RIVALS: A Baseball Great Novel, by Tim Green

Josh’s middle-school team finds itself in the Baseball Hall of Fame Tournament, which many insiders consider to be even more prestigious than the Little League World Series. But all is not well in Cooperstown, New York: Josh and his friends soon suspect one team of bribing the head umpire, and there’s a star pitcher who threatens to steal more from Josh than just the trophy! Reviewed by Joy Held.

TAKE ME WITH YOU by Carolyn Marsden

Following World War II, many unwanted and orphaned babies were left at the Catholic orphanage in Naples, Italy. Two of the girls, Susanna and Pina, grow up the best of friends, and even though no family seems to want them, they always have each other. Then some surprising information surfaces about relatives they didn’t know they had. Will this mean a new family for them, or even more heartache? Reviewed by Chris Shanley-Dillman.

THE HIDDEN BOY by Jon Berkeley
The Flint family has won a once-in-a-lifetime trip to the mysterious and exotic Bell Hoot. On the voyage there, though, young Theo Flint disappears. Now it’s up to Bea to locate her missing brother and find out why everyone in Bell Hoot is interested in finding the Hidden Boy. Reviewed by Benjamin Boche.

DEWEY THE LIBRARY CAT: A True Story, by Vicki Myron with Bret Witter
One frigid night in January 1988, the book drop of the public library in Spencer, Iowa, was jammed open with books. Hidden underneath the pile was a tiny, filthy, half-frozen kitten. So begins the true story of Dewey Readmore Books, who charmed his way into the hearts of the library staff and patrons, and became very famous just by being himself. Reviewed by Carole Turner.

SMELLS LIKE DOG by Suzanne Selfors
Meet Homer Pudding, an ordinary farm boy who has big dreams --- to follow in the footsteps of his famous treasure-hunting uncle. But when Uncle Drake mysteriously disappears, Homer inherits two things: a lazy, droopy dog with no sense of smell, and a mystery. Reviewed by Christine M. Irvin

Graphic Novels and Manga
THE SECRET OF THE SPHINX written and illustrated by Geronimo Stilton
Geronimo Stilton and his pals take a trip back in time to ancient Egypt to foil the Pirate Cats’ evil plot to put a cat face on the Sphinx. The cat and mouse antics are so comical that kids may not realize they are learning history as they read. Reviewed by Brigid Alverson.

GUNNERKRIGG COURT, Volume 1: ORIENTATION written and illustrated by Thomas Siddell
Fantastic magic and equally fantastic science clash headlong in Thomas Siddell's webcomic-turned-graphic novel GUNNERKRIGG COURT: ORIENTATION, a slowly building tale of a young girl's first year at a mysterious academy. Reviewed by Collin David.

GUNNERKRIGG COURT, Volume 2: RESEARCH written and illustrated by Thomas Siddell
Thomas Siddell continues to explore the deeper reaches of Gunnerkrigg Court and its inhabitants in this second volume of his series, which collects almost 300 more pages of magical and technological tales from the Court. Reviewed by Collin David.

A HOME FOR MR. EASTER written and illustrated by Brooke A. Allen

A high school student adopts a rabbit who turns out to be the Easter Bunny. Now everyone wants the rabbit, and she is determined to get him to the North Pole. Reviewed by John Hogan.

Author Interviews
Ann M. Martin
Of the 400+ titles on her backlist, Ann M. Martin is best known for penning The Baby-Sitters Club, a hugely popular series written from 1986-2000 that centered on the lives, friendships and adventures of a group of enterprising middle-school students who turn their occasional after-school baby-sitting jobs into a small business. In this interview with’s Norah Piehl, Martin explains why she chose to revisit these characters in a prequel called THE SUMMER BEFORE, and recounts how she kept details of the original books fresh in her mind during the writing process. She also reveals which of the characters she likes best, discusses the re-release of the series’ first four installments, and shares what she hopes a new generation of BSC readers will take away from these books.

Jarrett J. Krosoczka
Author and illustrator Jarrett J. Krosoczka recently published LUNCH LADY AND THE SUMMER CAMP SHAKEDOWN, the fourth installment of his bestselling graphic novel series featuring a mild-mannered school cafeteria worker who leads an unexpected double life outside the walls of the Thompson Brook School kitchen. In this interview with’s Donna Volkenannt, Krosoczka explains what prompted the creation of this unconventional superhero and discuses the books’ unexpected success among readers, teachers, parents, librarians, and lunch ladies alike. He also describes how his upbringing influenced his career choices, shares details about his involvement in the upcoming live-action movie adaptation starring Amy Poehler, and reveals what he hopes readers will take away from his work.

Win a Copy of COUNTDOWN by Deborah Wiles
Featuring a captivating story interspersed with footage from 1962 during the Cuban Missile Crisis, COUNTDOWN by award-winning author Deborah Wiles is a documentary novel that will put you right alongside 11-year-old Franny Chapman as she navigates a dangerous time in both her history and our history. It is an experience you will never forget, and is giving 10 readers the chance to win a copy of the book. The deadline for entries is Friday, July 23rd at noon ET.

COUNTDOWN by Deborah Wiles
It’s 1962, and it seems the whole country is living in fear. When President Kennedy goes on television to say that Russia is sending nuclear missiles to Cuba, it only gets worse. Eleven-year-old Franny Chapman doesn’t know how to deal with what’s going on in the world --- no more than she knows how to deal with what’s going on with her family and friends. But somehow she’s going to make it through.
- Click here here to read a review of COUNTDOWN.
- Click here here to read an excerpt from COUNTDOWN.
- Click here to read Deborah Wiles’s bio.

Win a Copy of DARK LIFE by Kat Falls

Set in an apocalyptic future where rising oceans have swallowed up entire regions and people live packed like sardines on the dry land that is left, DARK LIFE is the harrowing tale of underwater pioneers who have carved out a life for themselves in the harsh deep-sea environment. To celebrate the release of Kat Falls’s debut novel, is giving 20 readers the chance to win a copy of the book. The deadline for entries is Friday, July 23rd at noon ET.

DARK LIFE by Kat Falls

The oceans rose, swallowing up the lowlands. Earthquakes shattered the continents, toppling entire regions into the rising water. Now, humans live packed into stack cities. The only ones with any space of their own are those who live on the ocean floor, the Dark Life.

Ty has spent his whole life living deep undersea, helping his family farm the ocean floor. But when outlaws attack his homestead, Ty finds himself in a fight to save the only home he has ever known. Joined by Gemma, a girl from the Topside who has come subsea to look for her brother, Ty ventures into the frontier’s rough underworld and discovers some dark secrets to Dark Life...secrets that threaten to destroy everything.
- Click here to read a review of DARK LIFE.
- Click here here to read an excerpt from DARK LIFE.
- Click here here to Kat Falls's bio.

Before there was the Baby-Sitters Club, there were four very different girls experiencing some major changes in their lives the summer before seventh grade in Stoneybrook, Connecticut. To celebrate the newly released prequel to Ann M. Martin’s beloved Baby-Sitters Club series, THE SUMMER BEFORE, is giving 20 readers the chance to win a copy of the book. The deadline for entries is Monday, June 28, 2010 at noon ET.

Before there was The Baby-sitters Club there were four girls named Kristy Thomas, Mary Anne Spier, Claudia Kishi and Stacey McGill. As they start the summer before seventh grade (also the summer before they start the BSC), each of them is on the cusp of a big change.
- Click here to read more about THE SUMMER BEFORE.
- Click here to read an excerpt from THE SUMMER BEFORE.
- Click here to read Ann M. Martin’s bio.

Win a Copy of THE DREAMER by Pam Muñoz Ryan and Peter Sís is giving away 10 copies of THE DREAMER by Pam Muñoz Ryan and Peter Sís, which takes readers on a rare journey of the heart and imagination. Combining elements of magical realism with biography, poetry, literary fiction and whimsical illustrations, this enchanting tale about a young Chilean boy named Neftalí, who later becomes the famous poet and politician Pablo Neruda, is a captivating story for readers of all ages. The deadline for entries is Monday, June 28, 2010 at noon ET.

THE DREAMER by Pam Muñoz Ryan and Peter Sís

From the time he is a young boy, Neftalí hears the call of a mysterious voice. Even when the neighborhood children taunt him, and when his harsh, authoritarian father ridicules him, and when he doubts himself, Neftalí knows he cannot ignore the call. Under the canopy of the lush rain forest, into the fearsome sea, and through the persistent Chilean rain, he listens and he follows…
- Click here to read more about THE DREAMER.
- Click here to read an excerpt from THE DREAMER.
- Click here to read Pam Muñoz Ryan’s bio.
- Click here to read Peter Sís’s bio.

Win a Paperback Copy of THE CALDER GAME by Blue Balliett
When Calder and a mysterious sculpture disappear, it's up to his father and friends Petra and Tommy to rescue the missing pair. To celebrate another installment in Blue Balliett's series of art concepts, mystery, philosophy and storytelling, is giving away 10 paperback copies of THE CALDER GAME.

THE CALDER GAME written by Blue Balliett and illustrated by Brett Helquist
Two Calders are missing. One is a sculpture. One is a boy. When Calder Pillay travels with his father to a remote village in England, he finds a mix of mazes and mystery --- including an unexpected Alexander Calder sculpture in the town square. Calder is strangely drawn to the sculpture, while others in the village have less-than-friendly feelings toward it.
- Click here to read more about THE CALDER GAME.

Special Features
Lunch Lady and the Breakfast Bunch kids are looking forward to a relaxing summer vacation with no funny business. What evils could befall them at summer camp?

Of course, there is the legendary swamp monster. Stories say he haunts the camp at night. But that's just a legend. Or is it?

Once again, Dee, Hector and Terrence must help Lunch Lady prevail against a secret enemy!

- Click here to read a review of LUNCH LADY AND THE SUMMER CAMP SHAKEDOWN.
- Click here to read Jarrett J. Krosoczka’s bio.
- Click here to visit the official website of the series,


Sophie Miller’s life is boring. Average. Blah. She's not the oldest or the youngest, the tallest or the shortest. She’s not even the only Sophie in her third-grade class!

Sophie knows she’s special. And she’s come up with the perfect name to show it: Sophie the Awesome! But living up to her new name won’t be easy --- especially if super-annoying Toby Myers has anything to say about it.

Can Sophie prove her awesomeness…and prove everyone wrong?
- Click here to read an excerpt from SOPHIE THE AWESOME.
- Click here to read our interview with Lara Bergen.
- Click here to read Lara Bergen’s bio.

Series Features
The World of Beverly Cleary
Visit the new World of Beverly Cleary website,, and get to know Ramona Quimby and friends in their exciting adventures on Klickitat Street. Read RAMONA AND BEEZUS for free online before you see the movie, in theaters July 23rd, and enter the Read It Before You See It! Sweepstakes for a chance to win prizes from HarperCollins Children’s Books, including an iPod touch and a library of Ramona books by bestselling author Beverly Cleary!
- Click here to read an interview with Beverly Cleary.

Awesome Adventure Books -- Get in on the Action!
Play free online games, win weekly prizes, and read new adventures from HarperCollins Children's Books, including A CONSPIRACY OF KINGS by Megan Whalen Turner, COSMIC by Frank Cottrell Boyce, THE SHADOW PROJECT by Herbie Brennan, THE INCORRIGIBLE CHILDREN OF ASHTON PLACE by Maryrose Wood, and more!

Series Books
LORD SUNDAY: The Keys to the Kingdom, Book Seven by Garth Nix
In this thrilling conclusion to Garth Nix's Keys to the Kingdom series, Arthur Penhaligon must complete his quest: to confront Lord Sunday, to save the Kingdom he is heir to, and to save his own world. Reviewed by Sarah Sawtelle.
- Click here to play the LORD SUNDAY trivia game.
- Click here to complete the LORD SUNDAY word scramble.
- Click here to read our Keys to the Kingdom series feature.


Jessica Bowen and Ryan Chang bring home a two-headed "joke" coin from the HorrorLand souvenir shop. A simple coin toss transports them to a world of terror. They find themselves back in time, being chased by guards who accuse them of beheading the prince. Unless they can avenge him and reunite him with his head, their own heads will be on the chopping block! Reviewed by Jana Siciliano.
- Click here to read our Goosebumps HorrorLand series feature --- with updated trivia and characters.

Special Feature
2010 Children's Choice Book Awards
The Children's Book Council announced the winners of the third annual Children's Choice Book Awards during a gala held in New York on May 11, 2010, as part of Children's Book Week (May 10-16th). Recipients of the award were selected by over 115,000 online votes by kids across the country through the website

Now in its third year, the Children's Choice Book Awards Program was founded as a way to provide young readers the opportunity to voice their opinions about the books being written for them, as well as to help create a reading list that will help motivate children to read more, and to cultivate a love of reading.

Cool New Books
May’s roundup of Cool New Books includes THE RED PYRAMID, the first installment in Rick Riordan’s The Kane Chronicles, in which a magical accident unleashes the Egyptian gods into the modern world; TRACKERS, the latest novel from Patrick Carman, who introduces readers to four tech-savvy kids who become entangled in a high-tech, high-stakes game of cat and mouse with the world’s most dangerous hacker (or so they think); THE KINGS OF CLONMEL, the eighth book in John Flanagan’s Ranger’s Apprentice fantasy/adventure series; STORM WARNING, the next-to-last installment of The 39 Clues, in which Amy and Dan discover a dangerous, long-hidden secret of the Cahills; THE CASE OF THE GYPSY GOOD-BYE, the conclusion to Nancy Springer’s Enola Holmes mystery series; and THREE books from prolific author Kathryn Lasky: CHASING ORION; HAWKSMAID: The Untold Story of Robin Hood and Maid Marian; and FELIX TAKES THE STAGE, which launches her new series, The Deadlies.

New in Paperback

May’s roundup of New in Paperback titles includes LUCKY BREAKS, the sequel to Susan Patron’s Newbery Award-winning THE HIGHER POWER OF LUCKY, which returns readers to the desert community of Hard Pan; THE SIEGE OF MACINDAW, the sixth installment in John Flanagan’s Ranger’s Apprentice fantasy/adventure series; THE CASE OF THE PECULIAR PINK FAN by Nancy Springer, the third mystery featuring Sherlock Holmes’s little sister, Enola Holmes; LOST AND FOUND, an entertaining and thought-provoking chapter book from Andrew Clements about twin brothers who hatch an elaborate plan to fool everyone at their new school; CHANGE-UP, a John Feinstein sports mystery in which teen reporters Stevie Thomas and Susan Carol Anderson uncover a secret that could affect the outcome of the World Series; and DORMIA, Jake Halpern and Peter Kujawinski’s debut novel about a 12-year-old boy who learns he is a Great Sleeper destined to save Dormia, an ancient kingdom deep in the Ural Mountains, from extinction.

Click here to read the full newsletter.

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