Friday, August 19, 2016

Free Book Friday: Charlie Bumpers vs. the Puny Pirates

We're giving away 10 copies of the new Charlie Bumpers vs. the Puny Pirates on Goodreads! Whether you're a fan of the Charlie Bumpers series, love soccer and chocolate, or are looking for a fun book you think the 7-10 year old in your life might enjoy, don't miss out on this chance to get a free copy!

Read more about this title on our last New Book Wednesday post.

Click HERE to enter the giveaway!

“Master storyteller Harley scores again with fourth-grader Charlie Bumpers” —Kirkus Reviews

“One of the best things about these books is Charlie's intact, supportive family positive role models, problems that actual students face, and sense of humor.” —YA and Kids Book Central

“This is my favorite new series. It's funny, smart, witty and has characters that 4th graders will like.” —Mrs. Knott's Book Nook

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

New Book Wednesday: Charlie Bumpers vs. the Puny Pirates

Bill Harley brings us another fun and humorous addition to his Charlie Bumpers series, a three-time selection for the Junior Library Guild. Coming out September 1st, don't miss out on Charlie's latest adventure.


Charlie and his friends Tommy and Hector are ready to rule the soccer season. Their team, the Pirates, will surely score a million goals (or at least fifty). But when they’re placed on a team of amateurs, Charlie and his friends realize this season is not going to go the way they expected.

For one thing, their new coach doesn’t believe in star players and expects everyone to learn all the positions, never giving the dynamic trio a chance to perform together. Even though supposedly no one keeps score in this league, the first few games are a big disappointment to Charlie. To make matters worse, his big brother Matt has joined a video club and is recording every one of the Pirates’ disastrous plays. 

If they can’t be on a winning team, Charlie thinks, then maybe he, Tommy, and Hector can at least win the prize for selling the most candy bars for the fundraiser by pulling their resources and selling together. What could possibly go wrong with that?

Fast-paced and family friendly, Charlie Bumpers vs. The Puny Pirates is a fantastic choice for young readers looking for an exciting book and a great series! (And check out the teacher's guide for more materials.)

Look for it at your local libraryindie bookstore, or Barnes & Noble. Interested in what other books we are publishing this season? Check out our list of new books here!

Sunday, August 14, 2016

Sunday Brunch with Janet Nolan and Thomas Gonzalez


Seven and a Half Tons of Steel follows a beam from the World Trade Center after the September 11th attacks. From the rubble of that devastating event, to a foundry where workers melt down the steel and reshape it to become the bow of the USS New York navy ship, and back to New York for the 10th anniversary of the attacks, this moving story shows how hope and strength can emerge out of pain and loss.


For our Sunday Brunch today, we talked with author Janet Nolan and illustrator Thomas Gonzalez to get a little more background on their inspiration and process for creating this meaningful picture book.

Janet, what was your inspiration for this book? 

JN: I was driving my car, listening to the radio, when I heard a brief story about the USS New York. I remember sitting in traffic being quietly amazed, surprised to learn steel from the World Trade Center towers had been used in the building of a navy ship. What struck me at the time, and has stayed with me ever since, was the feeling that something positive and powerful had emerged from a tragic event. I knew I’d discovered a story I had to write. And from the beginning, I believed this was a story about transformation and hope.

What was so special about this ship?

JN: The first page of the book reads: “There is a ship, a navy ship. It is called the USS New York. It is big like other navy ships, and it sails like other navy ships, but there is something different, something special about the USS New York.” I believe the USS New York is special, not only because of the seven and a half tons of steel in its bow but also because of the men and women who built and serve on the ship. The ship’s motto is “Strength forged through sacrifice. Never forget.” I believe the USS New York is more than a navy ship. It is a testament to hope, rebuilding, and redemption.



How much research did you do?

JN: I knew almost nothing about forging steel or shipbuilding when I began researching this book. Fortunately, other people did. I conducted phone interviews, read every news article I could get my hands on, watched countless news clips and videos, and was a frequent visitor to the ship’s website. I was touched by the generosity of librarians and retired military who were willing to guide me in the right direction and answer my many questions, big and small.

There are so many events in the life of this one beam. How did you winnow them down to the ones you explore in the book? How did you choose which ones to include and which ones to leave out? 

JN: What first drew me to this story was the idea of transformation. How tragedy could be recast as strength and hope. In choosing what to include and what to exclude, I stayed close to the beam and followed it on its transformative journey. The book begins with the events of September 11 and the outpouring of emotion at Ground Zero, but when the beam leaves New York, the story follows the beam. 


Thomas, what’s it like to illustrate a book when you haven’t met the author? 

TG: I believe I do meet the author through their words, in the words they share.



After reading Janet's words, what part of this story did you respond to most?

TG: I responded to the resilience of our country and how we honored those on our soil who desire to live here and stand for our values. I also responded to what it was like the days, hours and minutes before September 11. It’s the reason I  did the illustration of the plane frozen against the building. The idea that going about your everyday life is like a mirage of reality.


Did you paint from actual photographs? How did you select the images you wanted to include?

TG: Yes and no. I typically spend a bit of time doing rough sketches based on how the elements flow on a page—shapes or "blobs" of imaginary elements. Then, I start looking at video clips and images and take pictures of skies or other elements as I drive around. It’s like collecting ingredients for each of the spreads and thinking of them as a cake or a dish. But they all relate in the final product.

I also take pictures of people I know and other random shots to stage or help me with the mood of illustrations. Then, when appropriate, I do most of the modeling (shadows, highlights, etc.) out of my head through sketches in black and white to get the feel for light direction in conjunction with the reference. Most references I use do not have the right light source, so I make them work as if they all belonged in the same time and space.

Some of the images were sourced out of government archives that are in public domain to use. I look at those, because you do want to make sure that there are no misrepresentations of facts. I also use them for technical accuracy, especially when it involves something like an actual naval ship, uniforms, and military craft. But I tend to embellish them with a bit of drama that is not in the actual picture.


Thomas, what do you hope readers take away from your art?

TG: I hope they recall or imagine how quickly the reality, the surroundings, of one's life can change and how events, whether we choose them or they choose us, can alter a future.

Janet, what do you hope readers take away from your book?

JN: If a beam can become a bow, then anything is possible. Anyone and anything can be transformed. Terrible tragedies have occurred and will probably occur again. My hope is that readers of Seven and a Half Tons of Steel will feel a sense of hopefulness. Because without hope, how do we as people and as a nation go forward?



Look for Seven and a Half Tons of Steel at your local library, indie bookstore, or Barnes & NobleTo find out more about the author and illustrator, visit Janet Nolan's and Thomas Gonzalez's websites. Check out the Seven and a Half Tons of Steel teacher's guide for more on how to use this book in your classroom and beyond. Want to know a little more about the real story? See our New Book Wednesday post!

Friday, August 12, 2016

Free Book Friday: Never Follow a Dinosaur

It's our second Free Book Friday of the season!

Starting today, enter our Goodreads giveaway for a chance to win one of twenty unbound copies of Never Follow a Dinosaur. Alex Latimer's quirkly and bold style combined with strong visual storytelling in this cumulative mystery will not only test readers' deductive reasoning, it will make kids want to read it again and again. They might even start looking for dinosaurs of their own to follow!

Sally and Joe are convinced that the mysterious footprints they have discovered must belong to a dinosaur! Could it be? Join them as they follow the clues to find out… But wait—what if Sally and
Joe are right? What if it really is a dinosaur?

Read more about this title on our last New Book Wednesday post!









Goodreads Book Giveaway








Never Follow a Dinosaur by Alex Latimer










Never Follow a Dinosaur





by Alex Latimer










Giveaway ends August 19, 2016.






See the giveaway details

at Goodreads.
















Enter Giveaway




Wednesday, August 10, 2016

New Book Wednesday: Never Follow a Dinosaur

Never Follow a Dinosaur
In Alex Latimer’s new picture book, Sally and Joe find strange footprints. Could they belong to a dinosaur? Mom always said to never follow a dinosaur, but Sally and Joe know the mysterious creature is out there somewhere, and they’re going to find it… But what if they really do find a dinosaur?!

From the author of Stay! A Top Dog Story and Lion vs. Rabbit, Never Follow a Dinosaur is a fun and imaginative mystery sure to entertain all ages. Great for helping children draw conclusions or introducing deductive reasoning, readers will want to find out what new idea the siblings have about this mysterious dinosaur as the story progresses. With Latimer's quirky illustrations and a surprise ending, little ones will be laughing out loud and wanting to read this picture book again!

“A goofy romp with a very lovable dinosaur at its center that never loses its (very small) footing.” ―Kirkus Reviews

Track down a copy of Never Follow a Dinosaur on September 1st! Looking for fun and creative ways to use this book with children? Check out some dinosaur-related pins on our "Storytime Snack & Crafts" Pinterest board.


Look for it at your local library, indie bookstore, or Barnes & Noble. Interested in what other books we are publishing this season? Check out our list of new books here!

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

New Book Wednesday: Stanley's Board Books

We have double the fun (and some exciting news) for you on this New Book Wednesday! Stanley's adventures continue in William Bee's new concept board book series for Stanley's youngest readers. Also, for all Stanley fans, the Komixx Media Groups has just acquired the animation rights for the Stanley series. Check out the official press release here, and start imagining with us how great Stanley could look on screen!

For now, get your Stanley fix with Stanley's Colors and Stanley's Shapes coming September 1st!

Watch Stanley fly his green plane and ride his yellow motorcycle! Stanley’s Colors introduces young readers to several different colors and vehicles as he travels around to do various activities.


Stanley and Little Woo are out on a camping trip, and they discover many different shapes. They set up their triangle tent and find a fish shaped like a star! How many shapes can you find?

Look for it at your local library, indie bookstore, or Barnes & Noble. Interested in what other books we are publishing this season? Check out our list of new books here!

Thursday, July 28, 2016

Back to School Must-Reads

Newly sharpened pencils, fresh notebooks and notepads, bright red apples—are you thinking what we're thinking? We're almost back to school! Whether you're looking for books to get your kids back into the school mood, or need some great stories to welcome students back into the classroom, check out our back to school must-reads.

I Want to Help
by Diane Adams
illustrated by Nancy Hayashi
The irrepressible heroine Emily Pearl is back and she's ready for school! She wants to be the perfect helper for her new teacher, Ms. Glenn in this fun and relatable picture book. (If you love Emily, be sure to check out her adventures in I Can Do It Myself as well!)


The Boy Who Was Raised by Librarians
by Carla Morris
illustrated by Brad Sneed
Every day after school Melvin goes to the library. His favorite people—Marge, Betty, and Leola—are always there behind the reference desk. As the years pass, Melvin can always find the answers to his questions—and a lot of fun—in the library. Then one day he goes off to college to learn new things and read new books. Will he leave the library and his friends behind forever? Enjoy this wonderful and humorous picture book about the joy of learning and all the help to be found at the library.



The Library Dragon
by Carmen Agra Deedy
illustrated by Michael P. White
Sunrise Elementary School has a BIG problem. Their new librarian, Miss Lotta Scales, is a real dragon. Can an open book temper the flames of the school's hotheaded librarian? (Also be sure to check out Return of the Library Dragon for more dragon and library fun!)

Madeline Finn and the Library Dog
by Lisa Papp
Madeline Finn does NOT like to read. But she DOES want a gold star from her teacher. But, stars are for good readers. Stars are for understanding words, and for saying them out loud. Fortunately, Madeline Finn meets Bonnie, a library dog. As it turns out, it’s fun to read when you’re not afraid of making mistakes. Bonnie teaches Madeline Finn that it’s okay to go slow. And to keep trying.

Little Rabbit Goes to School
by Harry Horse
The indomitable Little Rabbit is starting school and discovering the challenges of independence in this heartwarming story. All young readers will identify with the young character's conflicting desires for independence and reassurance.



First Grade Stinks!
by Mary Ann Rodman
illustrated by Beth Spiegel
It is the first day of school and Hayley is excited. Things are different now. She isn't a kindergartener anymore; she is a big kid. She is a first grader. Hayley quickly finds out that first grade is different from kindergarten, but in all the wrong ways! No share time! Only one recess! Writing is hard! The stories don't end right! Young readers will immediately empathize with Hayley as she tries to negotiate new expectations and challenges on the first day of a new school year.


Jake's 100th Day of School
by Lester L. Laminack
illustrated by Judy Love
What will Jake do when he forgets to bring the special collection he's going to share at the celebration of the 100th day of school? Lester Laminack's well-crafted story shows schools in their best light and Judy Love's charming illustrations brightly capture the excitement of a busy school day.


Late for School
by Mike Reiss
illustrated by Michael Austin
Smitty is never late for school. Not when his shoes get stuck in a sea of thick, black tar. Not when the sky rains snowmen down on the city streets. Not when he uses his coat for a sail to catch a gale and is swallowed up by a whale. Or when he encounters a robot from Mars eating up cars…or a very, very hungry T. Rex! The surprise ending will delight young readers as they cheer on Smitty and his heroic efforts to beat the school bell.

The Monster Who Did My Math
by Danny Schnitzlein
illustrated by Bill Mayer
A math-phobic boy faces another dreaded evening of multiplication when a monster suddenly appears in his room and offers him a deal he cannot refuse. After a quick signature on a contract, the boy’s problems are solved, and his homework is ready to turn in the next day. When the bill comes due, will our hero have the money—and the math skill—to subtract that wicked monster from his life once and for all?


Mr. President Goes to School
by Rick Walton
illustrated by Brad Sneed
When the president of the United States has a frustrating day, he decides to go back to the place where he learned the most important lessons of all. Children will delight in Rick Walton’s laugh-out-loud story and its over-the-top take on conflict resolution.


Charlie Bumpers vs. the Teacher of the Year
by Bill Harley
illustrated by Adam Gustavson
Charlie Bumper's worst fear is confirmed: he has Mrs. Burke for fourth grade. How will he survive a year under a teacher who is just waiting for him to make another stupid mistake?



The Trouble with the Rules
by Leslie Bulion
Sometimes, breaking the rules is the best thing you can do, especially when the rules don't allow you to be yourself. Author Leslie Bulion’s sensitive, realistic look at adolescence and her humorous slant on its unique struggles will resonate with young readers who will recognize themselves and their own dilemmas in her well-drawn characters and their responses to a complicated world.


Look for these titles and more at your local library, indie bookstore, or Barnes & Noble!


Wednesday, July 20, 2016

New Book Wednesday: About Marine Mammals

About Marine Mammals

Delve into the world of marine mammals on August 1 with Cathryn Sill’s About Marine Mammals!

An addition to the award-winning About... series written by Cathryn Sill and illustrated by John SillAbout Marine Mammals introduces readers to the commonalities and characteristics of different aquatic mammalsfrom sea otters and Spinner Dolphins to West Indian Manatees, and much more. 

Complete with an afterward and glossary for curious readers, About Marine Mammals includes gorgeous illustrations and simple but interesting details about eighteen diverse species across the world, perfect for children between the ages of three and seven. (And check out the teacher's guide for the About... series here!)

“A lovely study of more than a dozen aquatic mammals, all captured in wildlife illustrator John Sill's handsome watercolors.” ―Publishers Weekly

“A solid nonfiction treat for budding naturalists.” ―Booklist

Look for it at your local library, indie bookstore, or Barnes & Noble. Interested in what other books we are publishing this season? Check out our list of new books here!

Friday, July 15, 2016

Free Book Friday: Seven and a Half Tons of Steel

Free Book Friday is back!

With our new season of titles coming out this fall (check out the full list), we have some great new books to give away! Starting today, enter our Goodreads giveaway for a chance to win one of 20 unbound copies of Seven and a Half Tons of Steel.

Powerful text from Janet Nolan is paired with stunning illustrations from New York Times best-selling illustrator Thomas Gonzalez (14 Cows for America) in this inspiring story about how something remarkable can emerge from a devastating event.

Following the events of September 11, 2001, a beam from the World Trade Center Towers was given to the United States Navy. The beam was driven from New York to a foundry in Louisiana, where the seven and a half tons of steel, which had once been a beam in the World Trade Center, became a navy ship’s bow.



Goodreads Book Giveaway

Seven and a Half Tons of Steel by Janet Nolan

Seven and a Half Tons of Steel

by Janet Nolan

Giveaway ends July 22, 2016.
See the giveaway details at Goodreads.
Enter Giveaway

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

New Book Wednesday: Seven and Half Tons of Steel

Seven and a Half Tons of Steel

Powerful text from Janet Nolan is paired with stunning illustrations from New York Times best-selling illustrator Thomas Gonzalez (14 Cows for America) in this inspiring story about how something remarkable can emerge from a devastating event.

Following the events of September 11, 2001, a beam from the World Trade Center Towers was given to the United States Navy. The beam was driven from New York to a foundry in Louisiana, where the seven and a half tons of steel, which had once been a beam in the World Trade Center, became the bow of the USS New York.

Seven and a Half Tons of Steel presents fascinating insight into the shipbuilding process, as well as introduces a story from history that will be new to most young readers. Back matter provides additional facts and information on the Navy and its ship, with even more materials and tools available in the teacher's guide.

While Janet Nolan provides the true story about the transformation of the beam into the ship's bow in this picture book, the story of the USS New York continues in the real world as it sails around the world transporting U.S. Marines to dozens of countries and bases. If you are interested in learning more about what this historic and symbolic ship has been doing since its creation, check out these resources: 

- This New York Times article describes the beginning of last leg of the new warship's journey from the foundry in Louisiana back to New York City. Learn a little bit about the crew that manned the ship for the very first time.

- Read in this article about the ceremony and excitement that accompanied the USS New York's arrival in New York City. Hear from crew members about their experience of that homecoming. 

U.S.S. New York Arrives in Namesake City
- The official website for the USS New York is also a great resource to see more pictures of the real ship and find out what the ship is doing around the world. 

- The USS New York was just one piece of the many projects that grew out of a desire to rebuild from the ashes of the events of 9/11. Read about the last 15 years of reconstruction that has been happening in New York City and throughout the country in the New York Times 9/11 Reconstruction archives.


Seven and a Half Tons of Steel comes out August 1! Look for it at your local library, indie bookstore, or Barnes & Noble. Interested in what other books we are publishing this season? Check out our list of new books here!