Monday, November 20, 2017

2017 Holiday Gift Guide for the Animal Aficianado

The holiday season is moving quickly and the time for gift giving is just around the corner! Books make great presents for young readers, and this year we’ll be sharing several round-ups highlighting ideas for every kind of reader on your gift list. To avoid the ever-dreaded holiday rush, stock up on books that the children in your life will enjoy exploring again and again.

2017 Holiday Gift Guide

To: The Animal Aficionado

Is the little one in your life asking for a pet this holiday? Give your animal enthusiast the next best thing—a book featuring animals! These books will surely make it easier to check one more person off of your holiday gift list this year.

Captured in beautifully soft illustrations and well-crafted words, Jo Weaver’s Little One, invites you on a journey with a mother bear and her new cub, discovering the seasons side by side. Together they eat, swim, fish, and play, until winter arrives and it is time to head home to hibernate.

Perfect as a bedtime read aloud, the gentle text and stunning black and white illustrations reveal the wonder of nature, the first steps of independence, and the strength of parental love. Give this special book to the little one in your life this holiday and enjoy it together through every season.

Read an excerpt here.

Written and illustrated by dynamic duo Cathryn and John Sill, About Birds is a nonfiction beginner’s guide for any young readers who love nature and birds. The simple text, paired with the beautifully detailed illustrations, introduces young readers to the diverse and natural world of birds and their basic characteristics. 

Also available with bilingual text, give this book to the budding naturalist in your life, and you’ll find them inspired to look skyward. 

Read an excerpt here

Madeline Finn does not like reading. But to get a gold star from her teacher, Madeline Finn has to understand the words she reads and be able to read them out loud. That’s where Bonnie comes in! Bonnie is a library dog that helps Madeline Finn take her time shows her that reading can be fun. When she fumbles on words, Bonnie listens patiently.

Snuggle up this holiday season with your child and the family pet (or favorite stuffed animal), and relish in the magic of this sweet friendship.

Read an excerpt here

Cat-lovers rejoice: Carmen Agra Deedy and Randall Wright’s collaborative work brings to life a story of an unlikely friendship between an alley cat and an inn-keeping mouse. Skilley and Pip strike a deal that will have Skilley, the cat, off the streets and provide Pip, the mouse, with protection from bigger prey. What will happen to their friendship when a big challenge has been thrown their way?

This playful homage to Charles Dickens, with masterful illustrations by Barry Moser, will delight any animal-obsessed child with a fondness in historical settings. Give the gift of adventure in a book that will transport your children to a new time and place, while they explore the meaning of friendship and loyalty—all with animals!

Read an excerpt here.

Find these titles and more at your local libraryindie bookstore, or Barnes & Noble. Still looking for more great ideas? Our 2017 Holiday Gift Guide has even more gift recommendations for your little readers this holiday season!

Monday, November 13, 2017

2017 Holiday Gift Guide for the Budding Activist

The holiday season is moving quickly and the time for gift giving is upon us! Books make great presents for young readers, and this year we’ll be sharing several round-ups highlighting ideas for every kind of reader on your gift list. To avoid the ever-dreaded holiday rush, stock up on books that the children in your life will enjoy exploring again and again.

2017 Holiday Gift Guide

To: The Budding Activist

Books inspire so many different things in young readers: creativity, kindness, curiosity. Foster your child's passion for community, the environment, and making a difference in the world! Give a special gift to the “budding activist” in your life and alleviate the shopping stress by checking off one of these titles on that holiday list! From offering kindness and lending a helping hand to protecting wildlife, these stories are sure to encourage the incredible power of activism in young readers.

Drasko is happy to help his father with his flower stand in the Sarajevo marketplace. But war is encroaching, and Drasko must run the stand alone. One morning, a nearby bakery is bombed and twenty-two people are killed. The next day Drasko witnesses a cellist walk to the bombsite and play the most heartbreaking music anyone can imagine. The cellist returns for twenty-two days, one day for each victim of the bombing. Inspired by the cellist's actions, Drasko also seeks a way to help restore beauty in his city in the face of violence.

Based on true events of the Bosnian War, John McCutcheon delivers a powerful and uplifting tale of a young boy who acts to affect change. There is always a way to be a hero, no matter how big or small! In addition, enjoy the included CD in which cellist Vedran Smailovic accompanies McCutcheon and performs the song he played in 1992 to honor those who died in the Sarajevo mortar blast. This hopeful story will surely inspire the  social activist on your gift list this holiday season. 

Read an excerpt here and listen to a sample clip of John McCutcheon's original song "Streets of Sarajevo."

Jane's heart always ached for those who are less fortunate and knew she wanted to help somehow. “So Jane promised herselfwhen she grew up, she would buy a big house to share with people in need.” And she did! In Chicago, Jane established the Hull House, where people could come and receive schooling, childcare, work, friendship, and hope. But with the threat of World War I in Europe looming, what could Jane do to stop a war?

Read all about Jane Addams's inspiring actions in Suzanne Slade's energetic and heartening picture book biography. While Jane's world efforts for peace won her the title "Most Dangerous Woman in America" by the FBI, she eventually became the first American woman to win the Nobel Peace Prize. This read will truly change the way the young reader in your life thinks about the impact of generosity and kindness!

Read an excerpt here and download a free poster!

When his father takes a new job in Massachusetts, Ben must leave behind his best friend Tony, a western banded gecko named Lenny, and worst of all, the Arizona desert home he has loved and explored. Having trouble finding his place in a new school, Ben enters into an unlikely friendship with his eccentric fifth grade teacher, Mrs. Tibbets, who owns land that is home to the rare and elusive Eastern spadefoot toads. When Ben learns developers have bought the property, he realizes he must do something to save the toads. Even the smallest efforts can make a difference. 

This environmentally minded middle grade novel, a recipient of the Green Earth Book Award, comes from renowned storyteller and two-time Grammy Award winner Bill Harley. Harley’s delightful story explores the powerful impact of our actions on the world around us. What a wonderful way to satisfy and motivate the aspiring environmentalist on your holiday list!

Read an excerpt here.

This thorough and thought-provoking book tells the little-known story of the 4,000 black elementary, middle, and high school students who voluntarily went to jail between May 2 and May 11, 1963 as part of the 1963 Birmingham Children's March. These children had succeeded—where adults had failedin desegregating one the most violent cities in America. Though it seemed all odds were against them, these children were able to cause major change!

Author Cynthia Levinson's extensive research and in-depth one-on-one interviews come together to offer a personal perspective of the Birmingham Children’s March. Levinson skillfully recreates the inspirational tale of four young people by shedding light on an lesser-known view of one of the most powerful moments during the civil rights movement. This book is perfect for budding activists looking for inspiration from actions of real children who made a difference in history.

Read an excerpt here and download a free poster!

Find these titles and more at your local library, indie bookstore, or Barnes & Noble. Still looking for more great ideas? Our 2017 Holiday Gift Guide has even more gift recommendations for your little readers this holiday season!

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

Educators and Students: Meet Fault Lines in the Constitution

Fault Lines in the Constitution has been a big hit this season! With 4 starred reviews, and inclusion in Publishers Weekly's Best Books of 2017 list, it's clear that readers are enjoying this "timely and thought-provoking" look at the Constitution. After her various presentations to educators and their students, author Cynthia Levinson agreed to provide more insight into how these readers were using this book in the classroom.

Since it was published in September 2017, Fault Lines in the Constitution: The Framers, Their Fights, and the Flaws that Affect Us Today has gotten quite a lot of attention from teachers, librarians, and even students. My favorite question-from-a-kid was lobbed at us (“us” consists of my co-author/husband Sandy Levinson and me) at a bookstore event. Even before we spoke, she asked, “How do you know enough about the Constitution to write a book?” In other words, “Why should I believe you?”

I love that she was questioning authority from the outset. Her teachers have probably taught her to check her sources and make sure they’re credible. Great! Fortunately, she was convinced we’re legit when I told her that Sandy teaches Constitutional Law at the University of Texas and Harvard Law Schools and has written multiple books on the subject.

Amy Shine Jones, a high school Civics and History teacher in Haverhill, Massachusetts, pointed out that many teens have a facility for spotting deception and that Chapter 5 of Fault Lines would especially appeal to them. Not because it’s fake! Rather, this chapter, titled “How to Cherry-pick Voters,” shows how politicians “gerrymander” the shapes, sizes, and constituents of Congressional districts so their party will win as many seats in the House of Representatives as possible.

“It’s good for discussing fairness,” Jones said, adding that teens love to debate. “The book has lots of areas that are hotly contested.”

We witnessed just such a disagreement among teachers while they talked about the book at a gathering for law students and community members. Dan Carpenter, a professor at Harvard, supported the idea of national-level referendums—the ability of citizens to adopt or veto laws without going through Congress—which is discussed in Chapter 7. If the State of Ohio allows it, he asked, why not the federal government?

Shep Melnick, on the other hand, a professor at Boston College, argued that the Constitution should not allow for referendums. Direct democracy “takes power away from elected politicians, who are supposed to balance” the views of their constituents, he said.

These two profs spontaneously demonstrated that Fault Lines promotes what Melnick called “civil political discourse,” which is not common these days. Carpenter said the book is filled with such “teachable moments.” 

Jones predicted that students would get into meaningful arguments about the Preamble—how well do we “establish justice,” for example?—if they were asked to grade the Constitution both before they read Fault Lines and then again afterward. We give the Constitution a grade at the end of the book, based on how well we think it meets the goals set out in the Preamble. Teachers often give pre-tests and post-tests. What do you think: Would the Constitution get a better or worse grade after it’s taught?

Leezia Dhalla
Jones also appreciated the stories that open each chapter. Pointing to the one about a Dreamer—an undocumented young woman named Leezia Dhalla who desperately wishes to become a legal resident—she said they “give teens someone to identify with.” The problems aren’t abstract; they affect real people, like the students themselves.

Above all, Jones said, kids want to make a difference. In Fault Lines, they can see, she said, that “average citizens have helped shape the Constitution and the government. It shows that teens can become agents of change.” That is our highest hope for this book.

Teachers can use these and other ideas by looking at Peachtree’s Discussion Guide.

Teachers, librarians, and students can join the conversation right now by registering for our blog at One of our posts focuses on three teenagers who are running for governor in Kansas and a thirteen-year-old who is running for the same office in Vermont.

They can also enter our Blog-a-Fault-Line Contest
Here’s how:

First, students should read Fault Lines in the Constitution (Peachtree Publishers/Listening Library) and the authors’ blog ( Then, they write a blog post relating a current event or issue to a topic in the book or to a flaw they see in the US Constitution.

Entries can take a stand, propose alternatives, or raise questions for discussion. They should not be politically partisan.

Two winning blog posts will be featured on, and each winner’s school will receive a free 20-minute Skype visit with co-authors Cynthia and Sanford Levinson!

How to enter

  • Contest is open to students ages 10-18.
  • Each blog post should be a maximum of 550 words.
  • Winning entries may be edited by Cynthia and Sanford Levinson and by Peachtree Publishers, with edits approved by the student, before publication.

  • Two sets of prizes will be awarded—one for students ages 10-13 and one for students ages 14-18.
  • Each winner’s school will receive a free 20-minute Skype visit with the book’s co-authors.
  • The winners’ blogs will be posted on
And, when they’re done, they can proudly wear a sticker that says, “I Am Constitutionally Literate.”

Get your copy of Fault Lines in the Constitution at your local library, indie bookstore, or Barnes & Noble! And check out our website for great resources, including an excerpt, a discussion guide, a Q&A with authors Cynthia and Sanford Levinson, and more!

Monday, November 6, 2017

2017 Holiday Gift Guide for the Fairytale Fanatic

The holiday season is moving quickly and the time for gift giving is upon us! Books make great presents for young readers, and this year we’ll be sharing several round-ups highlighting ideas for every kind of reader on your gift list. To avoid the ever-dreaded holiday rush, stock up on books that the children in your life will enjoy exploring again and again.

To: The Fairytale Fanatic
We’re kicking off our gift guide round-ups with some of our “fractured fairytale” titles that any young fairytale fanatic will love. Regardless if your reader knows the classics, these picture books are sure to delight even the biggest fairytale fan. Quirky characters, enchanted tales, and wickedly good fun await!

A fun new spin on the traditional tale of “The Boy Who Cried Wolf,” author-illustrator Alex Latimer brings us this fun and quirky twist. Tim is the only one who sees the strange things going on in the house. And no one believes him! To prove his parents wrong—and lighten his chore load—Tim plans to uncover the stealthy perpetrator.

This picture book will have your children giggling at the zany fun. There are even time-traveling monkeys involved! Share the gift of this outrageous tale and inspire your kids to concoct their own adventure this holiday season.

Read an excerpt here.

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. Smart and spunky Martha sets out to expose the talking amphibian for what he really is—a cunning, but ordinary, frog. As Martha tries to convince her sisters that “just because it’s in a book doesn’t mean it’s true,” she might end up learning that lesson for herself! Charming good fun, Johnathan Emmett’s story of uncovering the truth is beautifully crafted with bright, quirky illustrations by Poly Bernatene. 

Kids will love learning what it means to double check the facts and trust others in this fantastical spin on the classic “The Frog Prince!” 

Check out the activity sheets to continue the fun!

“Martina the beautiful cockroach doesn’t know coffee beans about love and marriage.”

When Martina the cockroach is ready to choose a husband, her grandmother gives her some shocking and unexpected advice. After watching potential suitors fail her abuela’s Coffee Test, Martina wonders if she will ever find true love. But what happens when she offers the last suitor some cafĂ© Cubano? Illustrator Michael Austin captures this fantastic Cuban folktale in gorgeous fashion, making the pictures as enjoyable as the words on the page. 

Get lost in the richness of Carmen Agra Deedy’s take on the classic Cuban tale during the holidays with a copy of this unique rendition, available in English, Spanish, and audio. You may look at cockroaches differently when you’re done!

Read an excerpt here.

Rapunzel isn’t like the others. She’s may be small but she’s curious, exceptionally clever, and definitely not easily frightened. Join daring Rapunzel on her quest to outsmart the witch and free herself (no males rescuers needed here)! Bethan Woollvin’s captivating twist on a classic fairytale, with eye-popping and fun illustrations, is perfect for any fearless reader. 

Make the holiday season memorable by fueling their love of strong, spunky, and independent characters. Treat your kids to this wickedly good story! Read an excerpt here.

If you love the empowering twist in Rapunzel, be sure to check out Woollvin’s equally feisty Little Red, a 2016 New York Times best-illustrated children's book! Read an excerpt here.

Find these titles and more at your local libraryindie bookstore, or Barnes & NobleStill looking for more great ideas? Our 2017 Holiday Gift Guide has even more gift recommendations for your little readers this holiday season!