Friday, September 22, 2017

Giveaway: Miguel's Brave Knight

Banned Books Week is September 24th-30th, and we are so excited to celebrate our freedom to read with all of our book-loving community! This year, we get to share a special book during this celebration that tells the story of Miguel de Cervantes, author of Don Quixote and father of the modern novel.

Fortunately for you, we have a Goodreads giveaway for a few lucky people to win Miguel's Brave Knight, written by Margarita Engle and illustrated by Raúl Colón. Don't miss out on your chance to get a copy this week during Banned Books week!

Goodreads Book Giveaway

Miguel's Brave Knight by Margarita Engle

Miguel's Brave Knight

by Margarita Engle

Giveaway ends September 29, 2017.
See the giveaway details at Goodreads.
Enter Giveaway

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

New Book News: In the Snow

Snowmen, sleds, and sliding on frozen puddles—young booklovers can experience the most exciting parts of winter fun in Elizabeth Spurr’s In the Snow, the second in a board book series devoted to discovering weather.

In a similar style to In the Wind, the first book in the series, Spurr’s simple rhyme is coupled with Manelle Oliphant’s delightful illustrations that depict a young girl of color with her mom and pet dog having fun on a snowy day. The charming protagonist’s chilly adventures will introduce your earliest readers to the beauty and wonder of freshly fallen snow and the activities they can experience in the coldest parts of winter.

Perfect to use as a read aloud, this board book will help introduce the youngest readers to one of the most magical seasons of the year, whether or not they get to experience snow for themselves.

Read an Excerpt.

Look for In the Snow at your local libraryindie bookstore, or Barnes & Noble on October 1!

Check out the rest of our Fall 2017 list, both new titles and new paperbacks!

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Guest Post: Bethan Woollvin on Princesses, Fairy Tales, and Gender Stereotypes

Classic stories like "Little Red Riding Hood" and "Rapunzel" usually evoke a girl who finds herself in some sort of trouble and ends up getting rescued by a strong, capable man who conveniently appears just in time. But for author-illustrator Bethan Woollvin, there can be so much more to these stories than the typical fairy tale trope of a “damsel in distress.” With the success of her debut picture book Little Red and the buzz surrounding her upcoming book Rapunzel, Bethan agreed to provide some insight into her inspiration and decision for creating the self-empowered protagonists who challenge the traditional gender stereotypes found in fairy tales.

When I wrote Little Red and Rapunzel, I didn’t necessarily write them with a feminist agenda in mind. It all happened a lot more naturally than that. I simply wanted to create stories and characters that I would have enjoyed to read about when I was a child, instead of the damsels in distress we so often read about in classic tales.

As a feminist, my views and opinions will instinctively feed into my work—because it’s just a part of me—but there was never a conscious agenda in my stories. So to see something so close to my heart receive such a warm reception makes me so happy. It’s brilliant to see “girl power” connect with so many people. This being said, the amount of readers voicing their surprise or excitement to my books highlights just how much of a problem gender inequality remains.

The topic of gender and what it means has always interested me. I even went as far as writing my dissertation on gender equality in food advertisement. While researching for this project, I stumbled across an article which quoted Melvin Burgess saying:
“Girls will read books that have boy heroes, whereas boys won’t read books that have girl heroes.”
Similar to other industries such as clothing and toys, children’s books are still often targeted at gender-specific audiences, which I believe is incredibly outdated.

I wrote Little Red and Rapunzel, not just to satisfy me, but for my younger, head-strong sisters. I want them to have access to books with brave and daring female characters to look up to, without the well-worn narrative of being saved by a handsome prince or a burly wood-cutter. I created my female protagonists to be resourceful, smart, and brave, who are undeniably capable of saving themselves. In turn, I chose to leave out the male saviors from my re-tellings because they simply felt unnecessary.

As I developed my stories, I realized that adding in extra characters only diluted my protagonists’ power. I wanted them to dictate their own stores, and including other entities only hampered this. With this in mind, I leave out a lot of the peripheral characters from my stories that are present in the classic tales.

Since the publication of Little Red, I have often been asked whether I intended to illustrate my characters to look quite androgynous. Indeed I did, mainly to challenge the problem Melvin Burgess highlighted. I design my characters so that all young readers, regardless of how they identify their gender, will be able to relate to them and invest in the story.

Little Red is (arguably) human, but nothing about her shape or facial features looks typically female. The only way we really know that she is a female is by her pronoun usage throughout the book. Rapunzel, on the other hand, looks typically more feminine than Little Red does as Rapunzel’s a more human shape and clearly wears a frilly dress.

Both Little Red and Rapunzel have the fact that they are heroines in common, but both are expressing their gender identity in different ways.

I believe it’s really important for me as a children’s book illustrator to be responsible for representing different kinds of characters throughout my books. I give each character their own personality and their own clothes. I don’t focus on making any of my female characters “pretty” or visually ‘beautiful’ unless it’s part of the narrative. This is because my characters aren’t there to show children what females should look like; they are there to tell a story.

I’d like to think that the publishing world can become more forward-thinking in the future and will create more children’s books with strong female protagonists and inclusive characters.

Look for 
Little Red and Rapunzel at your local library, indie bookstore, or Barnes & Noble.

Monday, September 18, 2017

Damsels No More: Books with Strong Heroines

Who says a girl can't save herself? We've put together a list of books featuring strong, independent, and determined female protagonists who defy traditional gender expectations and don't let anything get in their way!

Picture Books

On her way to Grandma’s house, Little Red meets a wolf. Which might scare some little girls. But not this little girl! She knows just what the wolf is up to, and she’s not going to let him get away with it. A sly, subversive retelling of the classic story “Little Red Riding Hood,” this picture book is a tribute to the power of little girls.

Read an Excerpt.

With irreverent humor and striking illustrations, the same creator of Little Red puts an empowering and delightfully dark twist on a classic story of a helpless damsel. Rapunzel lives all alone in a tall, dark tower. Under the threat of a witch’s fearsome curse, the poor girl seems doomed to a life in captivity. But is Rapunzel frightened? Oh no, not she!

Read an Excerpt.

illustrated by Poly Bernatene

Fairy tales are just stories—or so Princess Martha believes. But when her sisters meet a talking frog, they’re convinced that giving him the royal treatment will turn him into Prince Charming. After all, that’s what happens in their story books. Martha isn’t so sure. The more she sees of Prince Ribbit, the more suspicious she becomes. Armed with the facts, Martha sets out to expose Prince Ribbit and prove to her sisters that “just because it’s in a book doesn’t mean it’s true.” This clever twist on the “The Frog Prince” pits a spunky, bespectacled princess against a sly amphibian to teach a charming lesson on the pitfalls of trusting everything you read.

Don't miss the Activity Sheets.

illustrated by Jenny Mattheson

We all have likes and dislikes, but some of us are just more vocal about it than others. This upbeat book features a likable little girl with an independent (and opinionated) spirit who spends her day letting the world know what she doesand does notwant to do and wear. Definitely not a dress and definitely no bows!

Don't miss the Teacher's Guide.

illustrated by Tatjana Mai-Wyss

“I declare, Emmy,” said Gramma. “That mimosa tree is a lot like you. Stubborn and strong and a little bit wild.” Emmy loves trees. She loves oak trees with acorns; she loves pine trees with cones, and willow trees with swishy branches. But best of all, Emmy loves the mimosa tree that grows in her grandmother’s pasture. So when Emmy decides she wants a mimosa tree of her own for her birthday, she is dismayed to find that many garden stores only sell ornamental trees like plum or pear or tulip trees. Emmy is crushed—until she discovers that the answer to her problem is growing right before her eyes!

Middle Readers
illustrated by Alice Ratterree

She is a girl three inches tall with eyes like drops of dew. Her clothes are cut from handkerchiefs and stitched with spider silk. For half her life, she has been trapped in a birdcage while her giant kidnapper sits beside her, writing in a leather-bound book the size of a house. Her name is Lily, and tonight she is escaping. She is going home. To Lilliput.

Read an Excerpt.

illustrated by Paul Bachem

Twelve-year-old Anna loves life on the Nebraska prairie where she lives with her parents and four-year-old brother in a simple sod house. But at school she feels hopelessly out of place. When an intense Nebraska blizzard traps Anna, her schoolmates, and young teacher in the one-room schoolhouse, Anna knows they must escape before it is too late.  Does she have the courage and strength to lead her school through the whiteout to safety? Based on the 1888 "School Children's Blizzard," author Alison Hart offers young readers a dramatic story of rescue and survival featuring a plucky, determined protagonist.

Read an Excerpt.

Independent-minded twelve-year-old Sam does not like the fact that she has to spend a month of her summer vacation at her crotchety retired grandfather's place while her parents are away. Soon Sam finds that her grandfather is acting even stranger than expected, disappearing into the woods and being secretive. When she finally discovers that he is building an airplane, will she and her grandfather find common ground to finish the plane together?

Read an Excerpt.

Irene loves soccer, and, back in Missouri, she was one of the top players on her school’s girls’ team. But things are different in Merano, Italy.When Irene decides to join the highly competitive boys’ team, she has little idea what she’s getting herself into. She must prove herself to the strict coach, and her teammates make it clear they don’t want her on the field. Especially Matteo, the team’s star player, who goes out of his way to make Irene unwelcome. But Irene does not give up easily.

Read an Excerpt.

Thirteen-year-old Joelle Cunningham is passionate about baseball. But when her family moves to the small town of Greendale, Iowa, she quickly discovers that there are strict rules preventing her from playing on the school baseball team. But Joelle is determined to play. Through some creative problem-solving and surprising alliances, she finds a solution to her dilemma that brings the disputing sides together…and baseball to the girls of Greendale.

Read an Excerpt.

For Beauty McElwrath, a shy but spunky girl from an unconventional family of strong-minded women, the first day of sixth grade proves to be exactly the catastrophe she expected, and she’s sure she’s doomed to be a social outcast for yet another school year. But then she meets Alane Shriver, a new student who suffers from progeria—a rare, rapid aging disorder. At first Beauty is frightened by her fellow outsider’s appearance, but fear gives way to curiosity, and Beauty discovers that, on the inside, Alane is just like any other twelve-year-old girl. When a life-threatening event puts the two of them in harm’s way, Beauty finds the confidence and inner strength to save Alane. 
Read an Excerpt.
Young Adult

Evie is different. Not just her upbringing—though that’s certainly been unusual—but also her mindset. She’s smart, independent, confident, opinionated, and ready to take on a new challenge: The Institution of School. It doesn’t take this home-schooled kid long to discover that high school is a social minefield, and Evie finds herself confronting new problems at every turn. Not one to sit idly by, Evie sets out to make changes. But when her plan begins spiraling out of control, Evie is forced to come to terms with a world she is only just beginning to comprehend.

Read an Excerpt.

Alba loves her life just as it is. She loves living behind the bakery and waking up in a cloud of sugar and cinnamon. She loves drawing comics and watching bad TV with her friends. The only problem is she’s overlooked a few teeny details. Like, the guy she thought long gone has unexpectedly reappeared. And the boy who has been her best friend since forever has suddenly gone off the rails. Even her latest comic book creation is misbehaving. On top of all that, the world might be ending—which is proving to be awkward. As doomsday enthusiasts flock to idyllic Eden Valley, Alba’s life is thrown into chaos. Whatever happens next, it’s the end of the world as she knows it. But when it comes to figuring out her heart, Armageddon might turn out to be the least of her problems.

Find these books and more at your local library, indie bookstore, or Barnes & Noble. For more books featuring self-empowered females, check out our Books to Celebrate Women in History and Books with Character posts.

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

New Book News: Claude on the Big Screen

The sweetest surrealist dog is back for a new adventure in Claude on the Big Screen! Claude and his sassy sidekick Sir Bobblysock are at it again as they learn the inner workings of making a movie, filled with fabulous wigs, famous actors, and frivolity!

When Claude discovers a movie is being filmed on Waggy Avenue, he and Sir Bobblysock race over to investigate. After stumbling onto the set, he decides to help the director and actors with their rehearsal of Gorilla Thriller! in typical Claude fashion—with clumsy curiosity and flair. But when Claude accidentally sends the main stars to the hospital, will he and Sir Bobblysock be able to fill in for them and save the film? Fans of this cheeky canine will get a kick out of watching the duo wiggle their way of imaginatively absurd situations and will love guessing what happens next.

Alex T. Smith’s illustrated early chapter book series, featuring his signature cheerful two-color illustrations, promises giggle-filled bedtime reading and a laugh-out-loud adventure for readers transitioning from picture books to chapter books.

Look out for Claude on the Big Screen at your local libraryindie bookstore, or Barnes & Noble October 1! 

Friday, September 8, 2017

Giveaway: Rapunzel

It's time for more free books! This week's giveaway is Rapunzel from Bethan Woollvin. If you loved her New York Times Best Illustrated Little Red, this new twist on the classic fairy tale is a must read.

Rapunzel is trapped in her tower by the wicked witch, but it doesn't take long for the fearless girl to take matters into her own hands.

Enter for your chance to win a copy in our Goodreads Giveaway! The giveaway will last one week, so make sure you enter soon!

Goodreads Book Giveaway

Rapunzel by Bethan Woollvin


by Bethan Woollvin

Giveaway ends September 15, 2017.
See the giveaway details at Goodreads.
Enter Giveaway

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

New Book News: Rapunzel

From the author of New York Times Best Illustrated Children’s Book Little Red, Beth Woollvin has done it again with Rapunzel—hitting shelves on October 1st. Grab some golden scissors and get ready for a feisty and clever spin on the classic fairy tale.

Tired of being stuck in a boring, lonely tower with only the company of the witch who keeps her prisoner, smart Rapunzel makes a plan. She decides to use her long, golden locks just like the witch does to climb out of the tower and have her own adventures. Her captor never suspects. But one afternoon, when the witch finally finds evidence of Rapunzel’s escapades, our cunning heroine saves herself in an empowering and entertaining surprise twist ending. You won’t find any damsels in distress here!

Woollvin’s dark, witty humor and striking three-color artwork will have readers looking for clues of Rapunzel’s plan every time they turn the page. The fierce female protagonist in Rapunzel will make young readers’ hair curl in excitement.

Be sure to tell Bethan what you think of Rapunzel on Twitter @bethanwoollvin and check out her website.

“It’s about time that Rapunzel saved herself, and in Woollvin’s sly follow-up to 2016’s Little Red, she does exactly that…. Thanks to Woollvin, readers may grow up thinking this just-wicked-enough retelling is the classic one; if they ever stumble across versions with the prince, they may wonder why he was thought necessary.” —Publishers Weekly

“The blocky gouache illustrations in gray and black, strategically accented with yellow…heighten the timbre, suggesting both deviousness and joy…. Empowerment in leaps and bounds.” —Kirkus Reviews

“Utilizing simple, bold strokes of yellow, black, and gray inks, Woollvin expressively fills each page with eye-catching details that will bring readers back for another look. Fans of her Little Red (2016) will enjoy this latest feisty and intelligent heroine.” —Booklist

“Woollvin (Little Red, rev. 3/16) offers another wryly comic rewrite of a Grimms favorite, updating it with a can-do, self-rescuing heroine… Bold, graphic illustrations…capture the fusion of modern and traditional elements and offer sly tidbits of humor.”  —The Horn Book Magazine

“Pockets of eye-popping aureolin rivaling the brightest of yellow hues add to the black and grayscale to bring warmth and humor to the dark woods with a distinctive, quirky signature style as Rapunzel fearlessly rallies to her own rescue.” —Foreword Reviews

You can find Rapunzel at your local libraryindie bookstore, or Barnes& Noble this October.

Monday, August 28, 2017

New Book News: Charlie Bumpers vs. His Big Blabby Mouth

Bill Harley returns with another hilarious installment in the Charlie Bumpers series! This time, it’s Charlie facing off against his own blabby mouth.

Career week is coming up for Mrs. Burke’s fourth grade class, and when his classmates brag about their own parents’ jobs, Charlie’s mouth gets ahead of him. Before he knows it, Charlie’s class thinks his dad will not only bring free calculators for everyone for Career Week, but that he is also president of the whole company! The downside? Charlie hasn’t even asked his father about coming in for Career Week. And to make matters worse, just before the big event Charlie’s dad loses his job. How will Charlie get out of this one?

Featuring endearing characters and relatable situations, this fun Parents’ Choice Recommended series illuminates the importance of learning to live together as a family as well as making the best of a bad situation.

For more Charlie Bumpers, you can watch the trailer, download the series poster, or check out the Teacher's Guide. You can also enter to win one of five copies of Charlie Bumpers vs. His Big Blabby Mouth, with the audiobook included, if you retweet the back-to-school Charlie Bumpers polls on our Twitter!*

Don’t miss out on this new story, released this September. You can find Charlie and his antics at your local libraryindie bookstore, or Barnes & Noble!

*No purchase necessary to enter or win. Open only to legal residents of the 50 United States and Washington, D.C. who are 18 years of age or older as of date of entry. Sweepstakes will begin August 28th, 2017 and end September 1st, 2017 at 11:59pm EST. Five winners will be selected randomly to receive the prize. Winners will be notified by September 6th, 2017. Void where prohibited.

Friday, August 25, 2017

Giveaway: King & Kayla and the Case of the Mysterious Mouse

We love giveaways! They're our favorite thing! We're channeling our inner King enthusiasm for this week's giveaway, King & Kayla and the Case of the Mysterious Mouse from Dori Hillestad Butler and Nancy Meyers.

King & Kayla and the Case of the Mysterious Mouse is the third book in the adorable new King & Kayla series! This easy-to-read mystery series is the perfect transitional book for children learning to apply analytical and critical thinking skills. Find out more about this title, and check out some additional resources, here.

Enter for your chance to win a copy in our Goodreads Giveaway! The giveaway will last one week, so make sure you enter soon!

Goodreads Book Giveaway

King & Kayla and the Case of the Mysterious Mouse by Dori Hillestad Butler

King & Kayla and the Case of the Mysterious Mouse

by Dori Hillestad Butler

Giveaway ends September 01, 2017.
See the giveaway details at Goodreads.
Enter Giveaway

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

New Book News: King & Kayla and the Case of the Mysterious Mouse

The best detective duo is back in the third installment of the King & Kayla series by Dori Hillestad Butler! In King & Kayla and the Case of the Mysterious Mouse, King and Kayla are playing fetch with their friends, Jillian and Thor. But when Jillian throws King’s favorite ball over the fence and brings it back, King can smell that it’s not his ball. It’s up to King and Kayla to find the missing ball, but can King help his human figure out where it went—and who has it?

Filled with deadpan humor perfect for dog-lovers, this fun mystery series is a great way for transitional readers to practice their sleuthing skills by gathering facts and thinking analytically. The simple, straightforward language and repetition within and between the books in the series helps boost confidence in readers who are beginning to transition into longer chapter books.

Looking for ways to continue the fun with Kayla and King? Check out our fun activity sheets!
To learn more about the creation of the King & Kayla series, read our Q&A with editor Kathy Landwehr here!

“Confusion, mischief, and silliness abound. Kids who don’t always have the vocabulary to express themselves will sympathize with this waggish pup and his earnest desire to be understood by his human.” —Kirkus Reviews

“Budding detectives will have the benefit of both King’s discoveries and Kayla’s reasoning as they piece together the clues…. A welcome addition to collections supporting the transition from picture books to chapter books, this title will appeal to both dog lovers and mystery buffs.” 
School Library Journal

Can King and Kayla solve the latest mystery this September? Find out at your local library, indie bookstore, or Barnes & Noble—we guarantee it’ll still be your favorite thing!

Friday, August 18, 2017

Author Interview: Cynthia & Sandy Levinson

In a conversation about their forthcoming book, authors Cynthia and Sanford Levinson describe their process for creating Fault Lines in the Constitution and explain why it's a much-needed addition to the canon of books about the Constitution for young readers.

Q: When you began working on Fault Lines in the Constitution, did you have any idea how timely and relevant it would be?

Cynthia: When we started working on the book in June 2012, we actually did know that it would be timely and relevant. We just didn’t anticipate in what ways it would be timely or how interested the public would become in the Constitution.

Sandy: I’ve long believed that our founding document is at the root of many problems in American politics but that people aren’t aware of it. My first book on this issue, Constitutional Stupidities, came out in 1998—nearly 20 years ago. Since then, I’ve written three more books on how the Constitution promotes injustice, gridlock, and undemocratic decision-making.

Donald Trump’s Electoral College win and his inauguration as president—despite his loss to Hillary Clinton by nearly three million votes in the popular election—woke up the public to this aspect of the Constitution. People seem even more incensed now than in 2000, when George W. Bush became president after losing the national popular vote to Al Gore. Since Trump took office, people have started paying attention to such obscure sections of the Constitution as the Emoluments Clause and the Twenty-fifth Amendment.

Q: President Donald Trump has said the Constitution is “archaic.” Do you agree?

Sandy: Yes, we agree with the president’s statement that the Constitution is archaic. As we write in the book, Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg made the same point during a visit to Cairo in 2012. Their reasons for saying so, though, are probably different from each other’s. The document has proved to be at least somewhat dysfunctional since 1787 and simply does not serve us—a 50-state nation spanning over 5,000 miles and encompassing 325 million people—very well while facing 21st-century threats.
Q: There are many books out there about the Constitution. Why is Fault Lines in the Constitution so important? And why now?

: Fault Lines in the Constitution is different from other books for young readers in two major ways. First, the book focuses on the structure of our government, rather than on the rights that we have as citizens, as many other books do. Second, it focuses on how the Constitution does not work, rather than on what a great job the Framers did in creating our form of government. So, we don’t proceed through the document in order, explaining each section.

Cynthia: To give examples, with the exception of issues surrounding habeas corpus, we don’t discuss the Bill of Rights much at all. Instead, we highlight the inequities caused by the fact that every state, no matter the size of its population, has two votes in the Senate. Furthermore, we bore in on such problems as states having control over voting procedures and restrictions on running for Congress. At the same time, we unabashedly leapfrog over entire articles!

Q: Why is it important for young people, specifically, to know our Constitution and to look at it critically?

Cynthia: Young people feel fervently about unfairness. They want to live in—and take action to create—a society that is just and equitable. Some aspects of our Constitution promote those qualities; other, fundamental ones undermine them. Helping middle graders and high schoolers understand the underside of our system can encourage them to change it. In the book, we discuss ways they can do so.

Sandy: In addition, they will vote. Fully informed and concerned citizens are essential to establish and maintain a democracy.

Q: What do you think about the state of civics education and constitutional literacy in our youth? And what role can Fault Lines in the Constitution play?

Cynthia: Alas, there is widespread agreement that civics education has been vanishing from our schools over the last several decades. This is especially unfortunate given the increasing numbers of immigrants, who are unfamiliar with our system of government and the role they can play. Even kids and too many adults who have grown up here are unfamiliar with the fundamentals of our democratic system.

Fault Lines can engage young people in civics class because it’s honest. And, it doesn’t all take place in the 18th century! Unlike most books, which laud the Constitution and the Framers, ours is candid about specific ways that the Framers’ compromises affect all of us, including kids, today. We also describe other—frankly, better—ways of doing things, such as registering voters and electing presidents. Our democracy may be the oldest but we’ve hardly worked out all the kinks. Students will find it enlightening to look at other models.

We hope teachers will take advantage of Fault Lines to re-introduce civics into daily debates and discussions. And, surely, everyone will want to give the Constitution a grade, the way we do!

Q: Does Fault Lines in the Constitution present a particular political perspective?

Sandy: We believe the book is fair and even-handed. We are particularly pleased that people with a range of political views support Fault Lines. Journalist Dan Rather and Ted McConnell, who is executive director of the Campaign for the Civic Mission of Schools, as well as Wallace Jefferson, a Republican former chief justice of the Texas Supreme Court, all endorsed the book.

Rather says it will be “controversial.” McConnell calls it “entertaining” and “thought provoking.” Jefferson finds it “compelling.” There is something for everyone.

Q: Has co-authoring the book been a challenging process?

Cynthia: Certainly! As we drafted the book, I posted periodically on social media about the process of our co-authoring it. There were even times when it was exasperating! Overall, though, we found it informative and rewarding.

Sandy: I had to agree to eliminate extraneous words I’m fond of, like “indeed.” Cynthia had to figure out how to translate my academic-ese to a kid-friendly narrative. There are still some topics we disagree on—ranging from how to pronounce “gerrymander” to our debate on the necessity (me) or foolhardiness (Cynthia) of another constitutional convention.

Cynthia: But the most challenging part has been keeping the book updated.

Q: Yes! You’ve had to go back and revise certain chapters in the book relating to topics such as gerrymandering, filibusters, the electoral college, and even the passage of an ERA amendment in Nevada. What did you do to address these changes quickly and accurately?

Sandy: Chapter 4, which focuses on requirements for supermajority votes in Congress, particularly for overcoming a filibuster, has been, from the beginning, one of the most uncertain and evolving chapters. Initially, we debated at length whether a chapter on Senate rules belongs in the book altogether. After all, although the Constitution does stipulate that agreement by more than half of Congress is needed for some decisions, such as treaties and overriding presidential vetoes, it doesn’t require senators to filibuster. It merely allows both houses to adopt their own operating procedures. Nevertheless, the filibuster—or the threat of one—is a very prominent way that the Senate operates—or fails to—these days.

Cynthia: Also, Sandy predicted early on that this house might change its rules after the 2016 presidential election. He was right! But we had to send the Advanced Readers Copy to print before they took this action. Three days later, when they did, we re-wrote the chapter and sent the new one to reviewers.

And that was just the beginning of the updates. Given decisions by federal courts on gerrymandering, recent state-level changes in voting requirements, and increased public interest in the Constitution, we’ve made other revisions in both the text and graphics. Our editor has been extremely patient and supportive!

Q: How do you plan to address future changes? 

: Fault Lines in the Constitution is an inherently news-responsive book. We joked that it should be published in three-ring binders, and we’d send loose-leaf updates. I then proposed a subscription website, which was also a joke. 

Cynthia: Thankfully, we have a blog on which we’ll post updates both regularly and on an as-needed basis. We look forward to getting readers’ responses, including suggestions from students that might entail revisions prompted by the news.

Q: Lastly, what do you hope readers get out of this book? 

: My previous books all dealt with social justice in various ways—through civil rights in We’ve Got a Job and The Youngest Marcher, through racial, national, economic, and religious diversity in Watch Out for Flying Kids, and through doing good in Hillary Rodham Clinton. Fault Lines in the Constitution also follows this pattern. I hope it helps further very important discussions taking place today among young people.

Sandy: We state at the outset that the Preamble sets worthy goals for the Constitution. One of these is to “establish justice.” In the end, we grade the document on how well it meets the goals, and we give it a low score on this one. We hope the book will encourage young people to revise or work around the Constitution so that our system is more just.

Find more information about the book hereFault Lines in the Constitution will be at your local library, indie bookstore, or Barnes & Noble on September 1st!

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

New Book News: Fault Lines in the Constitution

Many of the political issues we struggle with today have their roots in the US Constitution, and when you connect a long-established, little-changed document like the Constitution to the repercussions it’s caused, the document can remain static while the repercussions continue to reverberate. Enter: Fault Lines in the Constitution: The Framers, Their Fights, and the Flaws that Affect Us Today.

Focusing on the political fallout in our times from the decisions made in 1787, husband-and-wife team Cynthia and Sanford Levinson take readers back to the creation of this historic document and discuss how contemporary problems were first introduced—then they offer possible solutions. Think Electoral College, gerrymandering, even the Senate.

Many of us take these features in our system for granted. But they came about through haggling in an overheated room in 1787, and we’re still experiencing the ramifications.

While most books for young readers about the Constitution focus on our rights as citizens and praise the Framers for creating our form of government, Fault Lines in the Constitution looks at the document with a critical eye, focusing on the structure of our government and how the Constitution does not always work. Even with a diminishing presence of civic literacy and government history in education, Cynthia and Sanford Levinson encourage exploration and discussion from young and old readers alike by making a 230-year-old document relevant to today’s society.

Join co-authors Cynthia and Sanford Levinson in a conversation surrounding the continual and consistent repercussions we are experiencing from the Constitution today at!

“Insightful… Much food for thought on the application and relevance of many of the Constitution’s stipulations. Essential for class discussions, debate teams, and reports.” —School Library Journal, STARRED REVIEW

“A fascinating, thoughtful, and provocative look at what in the Constitution keeps the United States from being ‘a more perfect union.’” —Kirkus Reviews, STARRED REVIEW

“Lately there’s been dismay that civics, government, and history have taken a backseat in classrooms. This smartly conceived book goes a long way toward reintroducing students to those subjects….the Levinsons link both history and current events as they offer an illustrative group of examples that show where the Constitution got it right—and wrong…. Although the font, charts, and well-written text make this appealing, it’s not always an easy read. It is, however, an important one.”

You can find Fault Lines in the Constitution at your local library, indie bookstore, or Barnes& Noble this September.

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Guest Post: How to #BeDangerous by Diane Capriola

Jane Addams was an advocate for peace and was persistent in her efforts to help her community and support those in need. As part of our #BeDangerous campaign, we are encouraging everyone to be like Jane and tell us what they are doing to get involved and become agents of change. Decatur bookstore Little Shop of Stories is doing great things here in the Atlanta area, and co-owner Diane Capriola graciously provided us with details about what they as a bookstore are doing to engage the community and how they are encouraging others to "be dangerous."

At Little Shop of Stories, we like to say that children's books will save the world. Not only do we see ourselves in the books we read but we are also able to see beyond our own experiences and to understand what it is like for someone else. Books are great and vitally important conversation starters about different lives, different problems, and different solutions.

Using these ideas, we have created new programming in 2017 to engage our community in conversations through children's literature.

The Kindness Project came out of discussions we had here at the shop during and after the November election season. There was so much negativity, intolerance, and divisiveness during that time that we really were concerned about the impact of it all on the children we serve. We decided we wanted to encourage a discussion on kindness, compassion, and empathy within our community of readers as a way to help families consider ways to think and act differently despite this negativity. Each month we focus on a different topic and provide book lists, workshops, and other activities that will help parents and teachers navigate conversations around these topics with children and teens.

Some examples of Kindness Project activities have included:

  • Our January story time about the Refugee Experience brought over 40 families to the shop. We worked with publishers to deliver hundreds of books to our very active refugee community. 
  • We conduct regular, robust story times highlighting picture books filled with diverse peoples and cultures. 
  • Our Gender Fluidity Workshop helped to create new support systems for parents and their children and teens. 
  • We held an April Poetry Workshop for kids to understand themselves and others through poetry. 
  • We've raised $130 in donations for shipping books to military families all over the US. That's like 16 or 17 boxes of books!
This summer's Camp Be The Change endeavored to take the Kindness Project one step furtherto encourage children to move from idea to action and to celebrate the amazing ways that they too can make a difference in the world around them. Campers learned about influential figures in history who have fought to make the world a better place, from Susan B. Anthony to Representative John Lewis. They also learned about kids like them who have chosen to take a stand to change their communities. Topics ranged from random acts of kindness to civil liberties, and campers explored ways to improve and support their own communities.

We're a bookstore, and we believe in the power of stories, and sharing those stories. We're not looking to do what non-profits do, or what other, better equipped or already established forms of outreach are doing. Instead, we are looking to initiate thoughtful action in ourselves and others through sharing one another's stories.

To learn more about Little Shop of Stories and their 2017 programming, visit their website.
Have a great example of how you make a difference in your community? Let us know on Facebook and Twitter to enter our #BeDangerous sweepstakes!

Monday, August 14, 2017

Dangerous Jane Sweepstakes

"Nothing could be worse than the fear that one had given up too soon, and had left one effort unexpended which might have saved the world." Jane Addams 

Jane Addams and all of us at Peachtree invite you to #BeDangerous and enter our Dangerous Jane Sweepstakes*! Jane’s passion for promoting peace and helping those in need, and her persistence and determination despite criticism, resonates in our communities now more than ever, and we want to hear the stories of all those who are carrying on Jane's activism work in their own communities. Learn more about Jane Addams here.

How to enter:

1. Make sure that you've followed us on Twitter, or liked our page on Facebook.

2. Reply and re-tweet our tweets, or reply with a comment on Facebook to the questions we will be posting daily from August 14th to August 25th (including weekends). We’ll be asking different questions each day about civic engagement, literacy, and social justice.

3. Every reply & re-tweet or comment counts as an entry. Feel free to respond to any and all questions we ask, but you don’t have to respond to all of them to win. The more questions you tweet or comment about, the more entries you have in our sweepstakes!

What you’ll win:

A brand new copy of Dangerous Jane and several #BeDangerous buttons!

Ask yourself: How will you change the world today? 
Let us know on Twitter and Facebook starting August 14th!

Read about how bookstore Little Shop of Stories is engaging the community in a guest post written by co-owner Diane Capriola here!

*No purchase necessary to enter or win. Open only to legal residents of the 50 United States and Washington, D.C. who are 18 years of age or older as of date of entry. Sweepstakes will begin August 14th, 2017 and end August 25th, 2017 at 11:59pm EST. One winner will be selected randomly to receive the prize. Winners will be notified by August 30th, 2017. Void where prohibited.

Monday, August 7, 2017

New Book News: Dangerous Jane

Dangerous Jane, written by Suzanne Slade and illustrated by Alice Ratterree, is the energetic picture book biography of the Nobel Prize-winning woman the FBI once named “Most Dangerous Woman in America.” With a timely focus on activism, community, immigration, poverty, and peace, Dangerous Jane inspires readers young and old to live out her enduring message of hope.

From the time she was a child, Jane’s heart ached for others. At first, she focused her efforts on poverty, which lead to the creation of Hull House, the settlement house she built in Chicago. For the next 25 years she helped immigrants live at Hull House in peace. But when World War I broke out, Jane decided to take on the world, becoming a “dangerous” woman for the sake of peace.

“An attractive volume introducing an important American to young readers.” Kirkus Reviews

“In Slade’s and Ratterree’s hands, Addams’s legacy shines brightly for the next generation of advocates.” School Library Journal

“A straightforward introduction to the dedication and purpose of an American heroine.” Booklist

“An inspiring testament to the power of activism.” Publishers Weekly


Jane Addams is an American icon and hero who has many accomplishments attached to her name, but not everyone saw her that way during her efforts to bring peace to the world. To learn more about Jane Addams, her life, and her legacy, check out these great resources!

Read an Excerpt, explore the Dangerous Jane Teacher's Guide, and download the poster.

Jane Addams among advocates for peace during World War I.
See the original FBI files on Jane Addams when a treason investigation opened in 1924 involving the Women's International League for Peace and Freedom, an organization that Addams helped found, here.

"Illinois Issues: Local icon shifts from lauded reformer to 'the most dangerous woman in America'" by Tara McClellan McAndrew, NPR Illinois

Jane Addams, Rockford University

The Jane Addams Papers Project, Ramapo College of New Jersey

Ask yourself: How will you change the world today?

You can pick up your copy of Dangerous Jane at your local library, indie bookstore, or Barnes & Noble.