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Children’s Books

Author-Illustrator Salina Yoon Shares Artwork From Her Latest Book "Stormy Night"

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Beloved author-illustrator Salina Yoon returns to the charming world of Found with her new book Stormy Night, a story about scary thunderstorms and finding comfort in family and friends. 


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It’s a stormy night, and Bear can’t fall asleep! Thunder and lightning might be frightening, but with the help of his parents, his bunny Floppy, and a special song, Bear learns not to be afraid.


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Stay up to date on the latest in children's books while discovering ways to advance kids' reading skills by signing up for our children's newsletter. These monthly newsletters for ages 3-5, 6-8, and 9-12 highlight new releases, learning resources, exclusive author content, deals, and more.

Author Susan Verde Shares Five of Her Favorite Books About Friendship

You and Me
“A friend is one that knows you as you are, understands where you have been, accepts what you have become, and still, gently allows you to grow.” – William Shakespeare

Thank goodness for friends! They are what make life full of connection and adventure. They are the inspiration for my new picture book, You and Me, which considers the journey, the what-ifs, and the serendipity that brings friends together.

Friendship is a common theme in children’s picture books because it is the place where kids learn to navigate the world at large. Friendships teach us how to share, listen, empathize, work things out, be selfless and vulnerable, and learn about the kind of person we want to be. Through the years I’ve read countless wonderful children’s books about friendship and all of its components. I would love to share a few of my favorites.

Amos and Boris by William Steig: This is a beautiful tale of a friendship forged between a mouse and a whale. Their friendship begins as Boris the Whale saves Amos the Mouse, who finds himself fighting for his little life in the middle of the great big ocean. As Boris carries Amos to safety they share their stories and dreams and become fast and deep friends. Amos wonders how he can ever repay Boris for saving his life and ultimately gets the chance to prove the depth of his friendship when Boris becomes beached on the shore. I love this book because it shows how true friends find a way to be there for each other no matter the obstacles. I can’t help shedding a tear or two when reading this story.

Can I Play Too? by Mo Willems: This is just one of the stories in the “Elephant and Piggie” series, all of which tackle the layers and challenges of friendship with simplicity and humor. This particular story makes me laugh out loud when a snake wants to join in Gerald (Elephant) and Piggie’s game of catch. The dilemma? Snake has no arms (albeit a great sense of humor)! But Gerald and Piggie are determined to include their new friend and keep his self-esteem intact. I must have read this one hundred times and with each read I laugh and feel proud of the way these friends find a solution.

Lost and Found by Oliver Jeffers: This is the story of a boy who finds “a penguin at his door.” Deciding the penguin must be lost, the boy does everything in his power to bring the penguin home to the South Pole only to realize that “home” is being with each other. The boy’s empathy and kindness and the connection between these two characters, expressed in so few perfectly chosen words, makes me ache in my heart. 

Frog and Toad are Friends by Arnold Lobel: I like this series of short and sweet stories because they tell of a friendship that is already well established. Frog and Toad’s personalities balance each other out and they know just how to care for each other and run interference when life gets them down. Each tale is sweet and tender with a little bit of an edge and an appreciation for the occasional curmudgeon in all of us.

My Friend Rabbit by Eric Rohmann: This story is the ultimate friendship tale of acceptance and appreciation. Through bold and beautiful illustrations, Mouse expresses his love for his friend Rabbit, in spite of the trouble that always seems to follow him. We all have friends like this (or maybe we are that friend)! Although the situation is fantastical, the message of the story is real and full of fun!

These stories have touched my heart and captured the true meaning of friendship.

Stay up to date on the latest in children's books while discovering ways to advance kids' reading skills by signing up for our children's newsletter. These monthly newsletters for ages 3-5, 6-8, and 9-12 highlight new releases, learning resources, exclusive author content, deals, and more.

Guest Post by Lee Bennett Hopkins, Author of "Lullaby and Kisses Sweet"

Lullaby_Kisses_SweetAuthor Lee Bennett Hopkins has compiled over one hundred books of poetry for children, but a book of lullabies was among the most joyous collections for him to put together.

Working with America’s most revered poets writing for children today, such as X. J. Kennedy, Marilyn Singer, and J. Patrick Lewis, as well as introducing a bevy of new voices, it was a delight to bring thirty newly commissioned works for children to life in Lullaby and Kisses Sweet. There are five sections: Family, Food, “Firsts,” Play, and Bedtime, and all are integral phases of child development.

From grandparents to big brothers, snacks to spaghetti, a first tooth or haircut, playing in a sandbox or being on a swing, each poet’s voice resonates the fun of growing, the thrill of the unexpected, and the love that family brings. Alyssa Nassner’s charming artwork adds to the melodious tone of this book.

Self-concept and awareness is stressed throughout. It is the child –every child – shouting, “Look, world! It’s me!”

Poetry is life and only the poet’s pen can reveal it via a lullaby, kisses ever so sweet, and enduring love.

Poetry is meant to be read aloud, shared. Here are five books of poetry that will enhance any child’s library:

Brothers & Sisters: Family Poems by Eloise Greenfield: From “My Little Brother” to “Grandpa and Great-Uncle Paul,” the bond between family members is portrayed in this poignant collection.

Forest Has A Song by Amy Ludwig VanDerwater: Journey through nature in an award-winning collection highlighting new looks at fossils, spiders, lichen, and a baby owl making its “First Flight.”

On the Farm by David Elliott: Thirteen brief poems evoke beautiful imagery about animals and insects, such as “The Bees” who “Tell their story,/sweet and old…”.

When Riddles Come Rumbling: Poems to Ponder by Rebecca Kai Dotlich: Twenty-nine rhyming riddles about familiar objects, such as a kite, soup, and a clock, are here for young readers to think about and solve.

 Won Ton: A Cat Tale Told in Haiku by Lee Wardlaw: A shelter cat is adopted by a young boy in this book of haiku that will warm hearts.

Stay up to date on the latest in children's books while discovering ways to advance kids' reading skills by signing up for our children's newsletter. These monthly newsletters for ages 3-5, 6-8, and 9-12 highlight new releases, learning resources, exclusive author content, deals, and more. 

Four Middle Grade Adventures with Unforgettable Sidekicks

Dan Gemeinhart, author of the middle grade debut The Honest Truth– the exciting and heartfelt story of a runaway boy and his dog – picks four of his favorite middle grade books about kids on an adventure with a trusty companion.

I love a good sidekick. A stalwart companion. A faithful friend whose devotion is always steady no matter what the road brings. My debut middle grade novel, The Honest Truth, is about a sick boy and his loyal dog who run away together to climb a mountain. To celebrate its release, I thought I'd highlight a few other great kid-and-non-human-companion stories, some of my very favorites to recommend to kids looking for that next great adventure. This list is an eclectic mix: it’s got sled dogs, shipwrecks, talking badgers, and flying robots. But they all have two things in common: gripping adventure and super sidekicks.

 

Kensuke's Kingdom by Michael Morpurgo

While on a family sailing trip around the world, 11-year-old Michael and his dog, Stella, get swept overboard one night and wash up on what he thinks is a deserted island. His struggle to survive is complicated when he discovers that the island is inhabited by a Japanese soldier stranded there since World War II.  An unforgettable adventure.

 

Down the Mysterly River by Bill Willingham

A stunningly original story. Young Max finds himself wandering in a mysterious forest world with no memory of how he got there. With three unlikely sidekicks (a bear, a badger, and a barn cat) he sets off to learn the truth of his own identity and the world he finds himself lost in. Pursued by the sinister Blue Cutters, this ragtag team must stand together to survive a host of perils and complete their quest. The stunning, literary twist ending may change forever how you feel about stories, and heroes.

 

Ice Dogs by Terry Lynn Johnson

A gripping, white-knuckle sled-dog survival story with an awesomely tough girl protagonist. It's a story as rugged and hard-bitten as anything by Jack London or Gary Paulsen, and just as absorbing. I can't wait for my young daughters to grow up and read this adventure that I read in one breathless evening.

 

Boy at the End of the World by Greg van Eekhout

A super fun sci-fi page-turner. Fisher wakes up to discover that he's the last person on earth, survivor of a botched hibernation project to preserve humanity through a global crisis. With a robot and a mammoth as his companions, he sets off on a dangerous journey to find more human survivors in a ravaged and menacing world. Post-apocalypse Earth has never been so much fun.

Guest Blog by Pam Muñoz Ryan, Author of "Echo"

           Sometimes the book I set out to write, ultimately becomes a tiny part of a much larger story that demands to be written. That's what happened with Echo.

          I thought I was going to write a novella about the nation's first successful desegregation case in 1931: Roberto Alvarez vs. the Lemon Grove School District. I was researching at a historical society in San Diego County, when I came across a peculiar photograph of a large group of children, including many Mexican-Americans, sitting on the steps of a country school. Each child held a harmonica. When I asked the docent about the photo, she told me it was the school's harmonica band and added, "during the big harmonica band movement in the United States."  Those intoxicating words were enough to send me on the long and winding  journey toward ECHO.

          Not only was there a harmonica band movement, at one time there were over two thousands school harmonica bands in the U.S. , including Alfred N. Hoxie's Philadelphia Harmonica Band of Wizards, a 60 member boy band. I began to wonder about the children in that country school band, who were later segregated, and the boys in Hoxie's band in Philadelphia, which was full of orphans. Two characters and their stories began to take shape: Mike, in Philadelphia; and Ivy Maria, a Mexican girl in California. I began to wonder if by some odd fate, my characters at different points in time might have played the same harmonica. And if they had, who had owned it before them?

          After more research and traveling to Germany to the largest and one of the oldest harmonica factories in the world, I learned about the young apprentices who had worked there before WWII. Another character's story, Friedrich's, began to unfold. I had the premises for three stories but I wanted more than just episodes in the life of one musical instrument. Given the years the novel spanned, 1933-1951,  I realized that my characters would live during some of the most dark and challenging times in history that included war, the Great Depression, and segregation. They would have to cope with circumstances far beyond their control. How would they have the courage to put one foot in front of the other? How would they find their way? What emotions and themes echoed from one story to the next?

          I wanted to give my characters beauty and light when they were afraid and their future seemed bleak. I wanted them to experience the universal language of music and the camaraderie of musicians. I wanted Friedrich, Mike and Ivy Maria to experience hope, and magic. That is why the harmonica is tied to a promise, tangled in a witch's curse, and is the vessel which carries the midwife's prophecy: Your fate is not yet sealed. Even in the darkest night, a star will shine, a bell will chime, a path will be revealed.

Teen & Young Adult, Mystery & Thriller Author Sara Larson

Guest Post by Sara Larson, author of Defy Series

Sara Larson shares insight on how the strength and courage of her favorite literary heroines inspired the development of the main character in her Defy series, Alexa Hollen.  

A lot of readers have written to tell me how much they love Alexa’s strength and courage in Defy and Ignite—and that spurred the idea to write about some of my favorite literary heroines. Bear in mind that there are definitely many more amazing heroines out there that I love, but here are some of my favorites.

One of my all-time favorite heroines of all time is Jane Eyre. She’s so quietly courageous. Her life was very hard, but she just made the best of it, no matter what got thrown at her. I also loved the dynamic between her and Mr. Rochester. I’ve had some readers tell me they thought the relationship between Alexa and Prince Damian in DEFY reminded them of theirs (but in a fantasy setting, of course)—which wasn’t on purpose, but I am highly flattered by the compliment!

Another favorite from the books I loved growing up is Beauty from BEAUTY by Robin McKinley. I always felt an affinity with Beauty, in all the retellings I’ve read and watched. I felt unattractive when I was growing up, and I was a voracious reader. I was so inspired by Beauty’s ability to see past the exterior and love someone for what was inside of them—for their heart and soul. And again, you might see unintentional echoes of that theme in the DEFY series, especially with what happens to Alexa at the end of DEFY and how that influences (or doesn’t) those around her for the rest of the series.

Another favorite is Hermione Granger from the Harry Potter series. Talk about a strong character! I love that Hermione is so smart and resourceful. Let’s be honest, without her, both Harry and Ron would have been toast many, many times. I adore a character that can use her brains and courage to be strong. Hermione made being a “nerd” cool—nerds can save the day, and often do in real life and fantasy.

Some more recent favorites include Karou from DAUGHTER OF SMOKE AND BONE. Her story is heartbreaking but powerful. She is witty, smart, strong, and achingly broken, but still manages to keep going and going and going. How do you keep living when you keep losing all the people you love—whether to death or for other reasons? Karou will teach you how. There is a lot of loss and heartbreak in the DEFY series as well, and I only hope readers will think my characters can prove to be as resilient as Karou and those who fight alongside her for peace and freedom and happiness.

Finally, another recent favorite is Lilac LaRoux from THESE BROKEN STARS. You might think she’s just a spoiled, rich princess as the daughter of the richest man in the galaxy, but you’d be wrong. There’s much more to her than that, right from the start, but when the Icarus crashes and she is stranded on a deserted planet with the only other survivor, Tarver Merendsen, you find out just how deep her strength runs. She never gives up, no matter how bad things get (and trust me, in this book, they get pretty bad). I love this book and just how brave Lilac proves to be.

So those are some of my favorite heroines from books I’ve loved throughout my life. Perhaps someday, Alexa will make someone else’s list. Wouldn’t that be something?

Dogs, Pianos, and Names that Make You Smile

Authors Augusta Scattergood and Sarah Weeks discuss their new books and how they come up with names for their characters.

Sarah: Hey, Augusta Scattergood. You don’t mind if I call you by your full name, do you? It’s such a wonderful name! It makes me smile just to say it. Speaking of names, how did you choose the names for the characters in your new book The Way to Stay in Destiny?

Augusta: Names are so important, aren’t they? But I don't always get them right the first time. Occasionally I give a character a place-holder name until he tells me what to call him. Theo was Shelton for a while! But Theo’s name is such a part of him—the mystery of why he was named for Thelonious Monk and that now he’s “just plain Theo.” Miss Sister was actually named for a dance teacher in my hometown. Speaking of names that make you smile, I can just hear Honey being read aloud to kids. Teeny and Melody jump off the pages. And Bee-Bee Churchill. Great names, great characters.

Sarah: Thanks! Melody’s mother was a musician, so I chose a musical name for her. Even the dog in Honey is named after a famous composer. I was a singer-songwriter for many years before I became an author, so I have a deep love of music. I really enjoyed reading about Theo’s musical talent. I could hear that piano playing inside my head. Our new books have a number of things in common—pianos, bratty neighbors, dogs, and dance lessons—did I leave anything out?

Augusta: Let’s see, both of our books are set in small towns where kids have the freedom to get themselves in and out of escapades. Although I’ve lived in a lot of places, my heart is in the kind of place I grew up, a small southern town.

Sarah: I didn’t grow up in a small town, but I spend my summers in a little town in the Catskill Mountains. My dog loves to swim in our pond there. I wonder if Mo and Ginger would get along.

Augusta: My childhood was filled with animals. Rabbits, fish, parakeets, dogs, and cats. And those were the ones we had for pets. But I’m really a dog person. My book’s dog, Ginger Rogers, didn’t get quite the billing as your dog Mo. I love Mo’s voice and his sweet personality, but Ginger is the old and crotchety type. She did take a shine to Uncle Raymond, who’s a bit crotchety himself actually.

Sarah: You know what makes me crotchety? Doing research! I prefer to make things up. The things I am most interested in writing about are kids and animals, and of course things that make me laugh or cry—or better yet, laugh and then cry. 

Augusta: Since I write historical fiction, I’d better love the research part. Hey, I’m a librarian, what can I say? For my first novel, Glory Be, I did a ton of research about Freedom Summer. While writing The Way to Stay in Destiny, I spent a lot of time fact-checking dates, prices, and baseball records. 

Sarah: I love baseball—especially Little League games! Before we sign off I just want to mention that in addition to Honey, I have a new picture book out called Glamourpuss. It’s about a narcissistic cat who thinks so highly of herself that instead of saying meow, she shortens it to just “Me!” David Small illustrated—lucky me! Nice chatting with you, Augusta Scattergood.

Augusta: You too, Sarah Weeks!

Authors Dav Pilkey and Dan Santat Talk About "Ricky Ricotta"

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Exclusive Excerpt from Shannon Hale's "The Forgotten Sisters"

919mtyl1NkLMiri, heroine of Shannon Hale’s Newbery Honor winner Princess Academy and the newly released The Forgotten Sisters returns for a charming third story—and this time, she’s creating a princess academy of her very own.

The sunlight on the water flashed and glared. Miri squinted, her head pounding. The straps of her pack cut into her shoulders. The ground was slippery, her boot soles thick with mud. She could not spare a hand to wipe the sweat dripping onto her cheeks.

You are a tutor, she told herself. You have to be imposing!

The wooden door in its frame looked swollen and misshapen, though perhaps years ago it had fit properly in the cut stone. It swung inward at her first knock, squeaking on its hinges.

“Hello?” Miri called out. She stepped inside.

The building was only one room, and it was nearly empty. The polished stone floor tilted to one side, some stones jutting higher than others, as if over the years the ground had settled.

“Who’s there?”

A girl was climbing in through one of the open windows, followed by two others. They wore loose brown shirts and leggings, stained even browner up to the knees, and held sticks and poles.

“Who are you? What are you doing in our house?” asked the tallest one.

In their house? These wild girls were the royal cousins? Miri guessed the tall one was Astrid, the eldest girl.

“Call the village,” the middle one whispered—probably Felissa.

“She doesn’t look like a bandit,” said the shortest. Susanna.

Miri worked her tongue in her mouth, but it was so dry. They would notice how young she was, and her short stature made her seem even younger. They would see she was a fraud and not a real tutor at all. She had to be strong, speak firmly, demand respect. Be imposing.

“I am your tutor. You may call me Tutor Miri.”

“Who?” asked Astrid.

“You should raise your hand if you . . . when you want to talk . . . or ask something. Though I may not answer. Immediately.”

The girls looked at one another, baffled. Miri’s head felt funny, her legs kind of tingly, but if she sat, she would seem weak.

Astrid raised her hand and said, “You’re in our house.”

Miri looked around. “There aren’t any books. I don’t see a single book.”

“I don’t see a single snake in here either,” said Astrid. “I don’t see a single lot of things. Who are you?”

“I only brought three books because I thought . . .” Her head felt as tilty as the floor. “There’s no furniture either. Why do you live here? You’re the king’s cousins. You’re royalty.”

“So we’ve heard,” Astrid said and stepped in front of her younger sisters, still gripping her long, sharpened stick.

“I’m feeling a little . . . muddled. There was a long walk and so hot and the ground’s still leaning as if it wants to be water—” Miri giggled. “I sound crazy, don’t I? I don’t mean to. I’m just . . . thirsty . . .”

Miri watched the floor swell like a white ocean, leisurely, pleasantly. Her limbs felt wonderfully light, and she sighed right before the floor rose up to meet her.

 

Guest Post: Marc Brown on the Adventures of Arthur

ArthurThe beloved Arthur Adventure books are now available on Kindle for the first time. See what creator Marc Brown has to say about Arthur's changes over the years.

Arthur has changed over the years—have you noticed? When I first drew him for my son in 1976, he looked more like an aardvark. He had a very long nose and that's where the idea for the very first Arthur story started. Arthur was worried about his nose and wanted to change it because it was giving him all kinds of trouble. Arthur has many problems in his life as we all do but it's always fun to see how he deals with his problems and solves them. 

I've been drawing Arthur now for almost 40 years and the more I was drawing him, the rounder his head became. His nose got shorter and he began to look more human. Over the years I got to know Arthur better and better. He, and all the characters I write about in Arthur's world, came from real people I grew up with and knew as a child. I think that's one reason so many kids can identify with my characters.

I can't imagine a day when I don't draw or doodle. In first grade, I got in trouble for drawing in school. My friend Alan liked to see me draw race cars and rocket ships but my teacher thought I should be doing my school work. In fourth grade I got into trouble for daydreaming too much and today my job is daydreaming and drawing. I wonder if my teachers would be surprised to know that I turned out just fine even though I'm drawing and daydreaming. 

Although I write many books and am considered an author, my favorite part of telling the story is with pictures. So, I guess I consider myself more of an illustrator than an author. It just so happens that I have to write the story so I can illustrate it. And I want you to know how lucky I feel each morning when I go to my studio. I get to do what I love: writing and illustrating stories that many kids enjoy reading. 

It amazes me that Arthur continues to have new adventures and one of his newest is on Kindle. I think it's great that you can now read my books on your cell phone, computer, or tablet anywhere and anytime you want to read them. In books or on screens, as long as kids are reading, I'm very happy. Arthur's last name isn't Read by accident. 

Want to learn how to draw Arthur? Click here to watch an instructional video.