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Stone Arch Books (part of Capstone Publishers) is a small publishing house in Minneapolis, Minnesota. We publish safe graphic novels and high-interest fiction. We like books. A lot.
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1. In coming months...

I know, I know. We've been a bit quiet here at Capstone Fiction. Rest assured: we are all hard at work, finishing up our latest offerings, available for purchase in the new year.

But the books aren't the only new things we are working on. The blog itself is undergoing some changes. So we are going to say farewell, but just for a while. We'll be back before you know it, giving you insight into some of our favorite projects.

In the meantime, visit Capstone Connect for updates, and Capstone and Capstone Young Readers for product. We'll be seeing you soon!

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2. Wednesday Comix!



Wednesdays are lame, right? Wrong. Although they're not Fridays, or Thursdays, or Tuesdays, for that matter, Wednesdays are still pretty darn cool. First, you lucky peeps out there get to read this here blog. And second, all the BRAND NEW comic books hit store shelves!! This week, I read AQUAMAN VOL 1.: THE TRENCH, a collection of AQUAMAN #1–6 (The New 52) by DC Comics. Yes, I know I'm a week (or two) behind, but this collection cannot be missed. A fresh, exciting, and funny new look at the King of the Seven Seas.

(FYI: Awesome transition about to happen. Wait for it…)

However, if you prefer an all-ages Aquaman adventure, wet your whistle with Capstone's  DEEPWATER DISASTER, part of our DC SUPER HEROES chapter book series.

Either way, you can't lose. Yay for Wednesday!!

Read on,

Donnie

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3. I See Fall

After a long, hot summer, today's weather in Minnesota is pretty sweet.


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4. Award News!

We were excited to hear award news earlier this week. Great work to everyone involved!


The Ocean Story by John Seven, illustrated by Jana Christy, has won the 2012 Frances and Wesley Bock Book Award for Children's Literature, sponsored by the Neumann University Library and the Neumann Institute for Franciscan Studies. The award recognizes only one children’s book each year which demonstrates ethical values and moral attitude and action, appeals to a child’s sense of wonder and curiosity, and instills a compassion for all creation. The Ocean Story joins noted past winners which includes Zen Ties by Jon Muth.


The 2013 Teachers Choice Awards for Children’s Books has named the My Little Planet series by Charles Ghigna, illustrated by Ag Jatkowska, among the best resources for the classroom. The award, sponsored by Learning magazine, is exclusively judged by teachers in the classroom. Entries are evaluated on quality, instructional value, ease of use, and innovation.

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5. Happiness at the Library

Before school started, my oldest daughter spent some time at my parents' house. When they took her to the local library (which is new and amazing), this is what she said:

"This is a dream come true! This place is bigger than the mall!"

My heart nearly burst with pride.






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6. Foodie Friday: Zeke's Ice Cream in a Jar


We did it! We made it through the first week of school. So how should we celebrate? The book Zeke Meek vs the Stinkin' Science Fair might hold the answer.

In the book Zeke and his best friend Hector make ice cream in a jar. Of course, it doesn't work out exactly as Zeke and Hector planned, but they do get a bit of delicious ice cream—a very little bit! (Read the book to find out why...) 



This ice cream would make a great treat for the end of a great week. You can find the recipe for Ice Cream in a Jar in this great Zeke Meeks activity kit, a free downloadable on Capstone Kids. The kit has an activity, games, and interviews with the author and illustrator, too. Check it out!

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7. First Day Jitters...


For many of the school-age Capstone kids — the children of all of the employees here at Capstone — the first day of school is either today or Thursday.  We've all been shopping for supplies, we've met the new teachers (or will in the next couple days), and we've helped our young fashionistas choose their first day outfits. Everything is in order, yet we might be a bit nervous. At least, I am.

You see, my daughter, a third-grader, is moving up to the intermediate school. The kids are much taller, the school is much bigger, and she's been told that there are a LOT of bullies there. I can't help but worry she'll get lost in the hall. But I know she is going to be alright. She knows quite a few older kids, including her sixth-grade brother. And she is a happy, confident kid...a bit like our Katie Woo. And we all know that Katie Woo Rules the School!

Yet if my nerves get the best of me, I have the perfect antidote. The great staff at North Intermediate put this video together. It got my kids excited for school, and best of all, it made me feel confident that these great educators are excited and ready for a great year of learning. Happy first day of school!


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8. Wednesday Comix!

Can't get enough of this heat, you say? Then head on over to School Library Journal's Good Comics for Kids blog and check out their too-hot-to-handle review of our Rudyard Kipling "Just So" comics!

Here's the gist…
"CLEVER"
"WHIMSICAL"
"FUN"
HOT!

Okay, I made that last one up, but you get the idea. And who knows? Maybe a collected edition of these WILDLY awesome comics is on the horizon. (nudge nudge, wink wink.)

More soon,

:Donnie





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9. How about some wombat stew?


When I was a kid I was a voracious reader. I would read anything and everything I could get my hands on – my Dad's science books, my Mom's romance novels, whatever childrens' books and classic literature found it's way into our home – I would even read aloud to my parents any bill boards I saw and, much to my Mother's horror – any writing I saw on the insides of public bathroom stalls. My poor Mom was caught between a rock and a hard place of trying to encourage me to read a lot, but not to read EVERYTHING.

I had a LOT of favorite books. Some stand out in my memory more than others. One of my absolute favorite picture books was one that I saw once in a library and have never seen again. I later found out it was an import from Australia. It was called Wombat Stew by Marcia K. Vaughn and was filled with all sorts of fun, stylized illustrations as well as a song that I can still sing to this day!

"Wombat stew, Wombat stew, gooey, brewy, yummy, chewy, wombat stew!"

What were some of your favorite or most memorable books from childhood?


Kristi Carlson
Graphic Designer

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10. Foodie Friday: Hocus Pocus Bruschetta!

In honor of Michael Dahl's new book, Hocus Pocus Hotel, I'd like to share my recipe for magical Hocus Pocus Brushcetta. With gardens full of fresh tomatoes and basil, it is the perfect season for this treat. What makes it magical? It is always quick to disappear!

Hocus Pocus Brushcetta
5 medium tomatoes, chopped small
1/2 medium onion, diced
2-3 garlic cloves, minced
10 leaves of basil, chopped
1 teaspoon fresh rosemary chopped
2 tablespoons olive oil
salt and pepper to taste

Mix all of the ingredients and serve on crackers or toasted garlic rounds.

Be sure to visit www.hocuspocushotel.com to read a chapter from the book, watch a book trailer, and much more!

Hocus Pocus Bruschetta is kid-approved too!


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11. The 30th Olympiad and Onion Rings



There's been much controversy surrounding the logo for the 2012 London Olympics. Is it unreadable? Is it obscene? Are we stuck in 1987? No matter your opinion, this Olympics' logo is certainly a conversation starter.

Though each host city will design a logo for their respective games, one element of that logo will always remain the same: the Olympic rings. The rings, originated in 1912, were specifically designed to represent the different regions of the world that meet, or interlock, to participate in the games. The five colored rings, along with a white background, also incorporate almost every color seen on the flags of each participating nation. It's a truly international symbol.

So, what does this have to do with Foodie Friday? Aside from my wife and I being complete Olympics addicts and eating most of our dinners the past week-and-a-half in front of the television, the Olympic rings remind me of another ring I'm quite fond of: the onion ring. As a matter of fact, I'm going to have one for lunch today. My reliable area lunch spot, "The Chalet", is featuring one of my favorite menu items this week: The Crown Jewel Burger.
It's a third-pound, fresh, 100% natural ground angus chuck burger cooked medium and layered with pepperjack cheese, pecanwood smoked bacon, creamy horseradish sauce, and topped with—you guessed it—a gourmet onion ring crown. Absolutely delicious. I bet even the Queen of England could get on board with this royal sandwich.

The London 2012 Olympics end this Sunday and will soon be forgotten, along with its controversial logo. But the onion ring will live on, just as the Olympic rings have, for many more years to come.



Bob Lentz
Art Director

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12. From our readers . . .

Last week, Katie Woo author Fran Manushkin shared a heart-warming letter that was sent to her from a mother of a young reader. It served as a wonderful reminder that our books make a real difference to the children who read them, and it has inspired us as we plan for more Katie adventures. Here is what this thoughtful mother had to say:


I am sending you a heart-felt thank you for helping my soon to be first grade daughter find her love of reading and books again.  She had a horrific kindergarten experience and she lost that enthusiasm she has always had for school.  It was painful for me to watch as her mother and a Middle School Language Arts teacher.  I happened to be at the IRA annual conference in the spring where you signed a copy of Katie Woo and the Class Pet.  I brought her home the signed copy and it was truly amazing to watch her excitement and level of confidence grow instantly.  She gained back her confidence to read on her own and found that she can find success in reading at this early age, she just needs to believe in herself.  The story lines in your Katie Woo series directly relate to her own life and she anxiously anticipates Katie’s next adventure.  Thank you from the bottom of my heart for providing this experience for her at a time we needed it the most.  She is now devouring all the books in the series and I often find her with covers over her head and a flashlight reading a Katie Woo book.  She carries them with her everywhere we go and frequently re-reads each book.


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13. Foodie Friday: What do faeries eat?

Two friends, torn apart. Soli and Lucy argue, and then Lucy disappears, taken by the faeries who live in the forest near their homes. Can Soli save her friend, even if it means facing the biggest dangers she's ever experienced and going up against the Willow Queen?
You might remember back in October when Art Director Kay Fraser wrote about Faerieground, a new series filled with gorgeous art, intriguing stories, and the mysterious world of faeries. The series is co-authored by two of our own, Kay and Beth Bracken, and it has been fun to watch it develop from a strong initial idea to an absolutely beautiful finished product.

Faerieground is the inspiration behind this week's Foodie Friday post. I took an informal poll and got all sorts of ideas about what faeries, or fairies, eat. According to experts ages two to teenage (plus one 22 year old), this is what they eat:

Belle: pumpkins from a garden
Kathryn: peas, cherries, and water
Amelia: strawberries
Nolan: leaves (actually lots of boys figured they eat leaves)
Taylor: cake!
Jacob: leaves
Sam: rabbits (Mom guesses that Sam believes in slightly vicious fairies!)
Izzy: glitter (she is definitely on to something here)
Kaleb: stars (isn't that magical?)
Quinn: Cherrios
Anna: flowers
Sophie: nectar from flowers
Luke: more leaves!
Kenedy: fruit
Jaimie, our 22-year-old: Pixie Stix (of course!)
Hannah: leaves
Eliot: pizza
Owen: breadsticks (I would like to be a fairy at Eliot and Owen's house)
Benny: grass (the perfect side to all those leaves
Emma: teeth and marshmallows (fairies must like both squishy and crunchy foods!)
Ashley: candy
Baylie: fruit

Kaleb and Quinn's mom had lots to say about what faeries like to eat. (She got some help from the Faery Hunters.) They love naturally sweetened foods, nothing artificial. Honey cakes, honey milk, sweet butter...yum! Legend has it that if you set out some of their favorite foods, they cannot resist. It might look like they haven't touched it, but faeries are magical: They can gain nourishment from the food's "essence."



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14. Story Time Rebel

When you work in publishing, like both my husband and I do, your children get significant exposure to books and reading. Bedtime stories are a part of the bedtime routine from the moment you start a bedtime routine. Your children enjoy cuddling in with you, and make sweet comments about the art. They understand from an early age, that reading is a quiet, intimate activity. You know that this doesn't necessarily mean they will love reading as much as you do, but it never occurs to you that your child will become a story time rebel.

The story time rebel. You know the type. The child who can't sit nicely on the rug, but must instead jump from spot to spot. The child who likes to make animal noises to go along with the picture. Or, when particularly engaged and excited, the child who is inclined to run up and comment on every spread of the book. Every single one.

As a parent of the rebel, you find yourself apologizing to others. You try to make deals with the rebel: sit nicely tonight and you'll get two Tic Tacs at home. You might try threats: If you can't listen nicely, we'll just go home. (This one doesn't work because you enjoy being at story time just as much as she does, and you don't want to leave before the project.) But finally, you just try to convince yourself that there are worse things than a three-year-old who is having a one-girl party over the thrill of the library and books and reading. And secretly, deep down inside, you love the chaos she creates.

The rebel shows off one of her story time projects. 



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15. A Favorite Returns for Foodie Friday

As you may have heard, people at our office are a little obsessed with food. I'm not embarrassed to admit that I plan many trips around what I will eat and where I will eat it. ("What can I eat today?" may or may not be my unofficial motto.) Our love of food is what led our enterprising art director Bob Lentz to  create the concept of Thursday lunch. Thursday lunch is more than just a lunch. It's more than just a weekday. It's a symbol. It's an idea. Any day of the week can carry the mantle of Thursday lunch. (It's sort of like Batman now that I think about it.) Which is why Thursday lunch is making a special guest appearance on Friday this week.  

The call of Thursday lunch is so strong that it can even bring back old friends. Case in point, today's Thursday lunch called all the way downtown and brought back Emily Harris, one of our former designers and the woman behind Katie Woo's distinctive style. Emily was nice enough to drive out to meet us at our favorite Thursday lunch haunt, The Chalet, for their much-talked-about (but rarely seen) fish tacos. Tacos that are so good they require multiple trips to enjoy. (Personally, I've been twice this week, and that's the low end of the spectrum.) As one of my last Thursday lunch's before relocating to Chicago next week, this was definitely a way to go out on top.








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16. Wednesday—er, Thursday Comix!


We’re a day late on this one—and it’s all my fault. I was up late last night watching The Dark Knight Rises at the IMAX!

…Okay, I lied—I actually saw it Tuesday night. And it was awesome. What a great end to a terrific series of movies. Jen Glidden did a great write-up about our Dark Knight chapter books over on the Capstone Connect blog last week—make sure to check it out!

Actually… the real reason this post is late is because I just got back from Comic Con this past Monday!

…Okay, I lied—it was two Mondays ago. It was my first time there and I’m still a little sick from the stress of it all. It was sort of like being back in high school, except everyone’s dressed up like their favorite superheroes. And you’re inside a huge refrigerator. And parents make their 4-year-olds pose with scantily clad booth models. And the PA announcer constantly reminds you that running in the halls is bad. (Did I mention it was really cold?)

…But you know what? I had a really great time there. I’ve been a comics reader for decades now (two, in fact!), so being immersed in that kind of atmosphere—despite all the… quirks—was an amazing experience. I can’t wait to go back next year!

…And that’s no lie!

Sean Tulien
Editor

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17. Foodie Friday: Comic Con Edition

This week we caught up with Art Director Bob Lentz, recently returned from San Diego Comic Con. If there are two things Bob loves, its comics and food. So why not combine them in a special Foodie Friday interview? 

--

Q. What was the best meal you had at Comic-Con?
A. Sushi. It doesn't get much fresher than on the coast. However, the Korean BBQ street tacos I ate were equally as good. Loaded with spicy beef and kimchi, they were delicious. The cuisine in San Diego is varied, but you can never go wrong with tacos of any kind. Actually, you can never go wrong with tacos anywhere. In the world. Ever.

Q. According to your expertise, what do superheros like to eat?
A. Hostess Snack Cakes. Back in the 70s and 80s, comic books would always run these little comic strip advertisements of Spider-Man or Batman saving a group of kids and then they'd all enjoy a Twinkie or a Ho-Ho together. The strangest one I ever saw was I believe the Hulk or Spidey enjoying a Hostess Fruit Pie with Meatloaf (yes, THAT Meatloaf) after his concert. For real. You can't make it up.

Q. If Comic-Con 2012 was food, what food would it be and why?
A. Hmm. The easy answer would be goulash, because Comic-Con is a little bit of everything that popular culture has to offer, all blended into a very large 9x13 casserole dish. But if you want the hard facts, I would say that Nacho Cheese Doritos + Mountain Dew + Slim Jims + donuts + Skittles + frozen pizza + Taco Bell + coffee = Comic-Con.

Q. What snack will you feast on while watching The Dark Knight Rises this weekend?
Whatever my wife smuggles into the theater. My money is on Junior Mints.

Q. All food aside, could you sum up your experience in San Diego in 150 words or less?
A. How about 10 PHOTOS or less?

Kids are mesmerized by Capstone's books…




…but, of course, choosy big sisters, parents, and librarians already know that!



And all of them were smitten by our EXCLUSIVE 24-book box set of DC Super-Pets hardcovers,

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18. Foodie Friday: Baking with Kids

As any parent knows, kids LOVE to help in the kitchen. While their "help" usually makes everything take a lot longer and creates a huge mess, it also creates lasting memories. To add to the fun, be sure to read Henry Helps Make Cookies. There really isn't anything better than milk, cookies, and a good book.

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19. Wednesday Comix! SDCC Exclusives!


21 days... Can you believe it?! Exactly three weeks from today, the doors of the San Diego Convention Center will open to 130,000+ GEEKS for the all-things-comics, all-things-movies, all-things-television, all-things-toys, all-things-gaming, all-things-cosplay festival that is COMIC-CON INTERNATIONAL! Meanwhile, however, the SDCC sneak peeks are hittin’ the blogosphere in full force. Just this morning, I spotted my first MUST-HAVE exclusive of the show... 


For the first time ever, the kid-friendly heroes from Art Baltazar & Franco’s Eisner Award-winning comic come to near-life. Not only are these five figurines AMAZINGLY cute, but their bus-shaped box features a few of our favorite furry friends...the DC SUPER-PETS!

And speaking of the SUPER-PETS, visit the Capstone Booth at SDCC (#1316) and pick from our litter of DC SUPER-PETS books. $5 each! Then fetch a limited-edition DC SUPER-PETS poster (below) and enter to win the SDCC exclusive set of all 24 titles! And don’t forget our kid-friendly comics either, featuring the FCBD breakout characters ROCKHEAD & ZINC ALLOY! Download these 128-page graphic novels for 99 cents each (!) during the show.

EXCLUSIVES! EXCLUSIVES! EXCLUSIVES!

More SDCC updates to come...


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20. Ask a Capstoner

Head over to Capstone Connect today and ask us anything!

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21. Wednesday Comix!

It’s a steamy summer day here in the Twin Cities, and I’m daydreamin’ of being at any one of our 10,000 lakes. And then I’m dreamin’ about being underwater. And then...of being AQUAMAN. Well, the closest this landlubber will probably get to the KING OF THE SEAS is the Aquashrine. Never been? Then heed this steamy day SHOUT-OUT and surf on over to this all-things-Aqua site. There you’ll find book reviews, interviews, and discussions about everything AQUAMAN.

Including reviews of Capstone’s AQUAMAN titles...!




(Black Manta and the Octopus Army, Heroes of the High Seas, Deep-Sea Duel, and Deep Water Disaster)

And excellent interviews with two of my favorite authors, J.E. Bright and Laurie S. Sutton!!

It’s “OUTRAGEOUS!”
(Don’t get this reference...? Then you NEED to visit the Aquashrine!)

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22. Foodie Friday: Confession—I'm a selfish foodie.

When someone takes my food, I get crabby!
I've had the pleasure of writing a number of picture books for Little Boost, a series that addresses typical preschool challenges in sweet and humorous ways. If you read the ones I wrote, you might notice something. My characters tend to get mad over food, even though food has nothing to do with the theme of the books!

So why does food anger keep showing up in my books? Well, the answer is somewhat personal: I hate to share delicious things. Those preschool emotions come from my real life experiences of being a selfish foodie. Consider the following:

  • If someone takes the last brownie, it puts me in a funk. I just can't shake my sadness. So it's no wonder that Roger from Crabby Pants gets mad when his brother eats the last frozen waffle, leaving him with cereal. 


  • I once returned a cookie at Starbucks because it did not have an adequate number of peanut butter candy chunks. So is it any wonder that You Get What You Get's Melvin gets annoyed if his sister's cookie has more chocolate chips than his cookie?


  • Like the bear in Eleanore Won't Share, I'm good at sharing things I don't really like. Eleanore shares the black jelly beans. I share the green ones. And when my kids want a piece of fruit, I push the apples so the nectarines will be there for me later. 


Looking at these facts, I can see that this is not a flattering situation. Deep down, I know that food tastes better when it is shared with those you love. And lets be honest, like most women my age, I need to consider portion control — sharing would help with that. But until I'm ready to change my selfish ways, I think I will bake more brownies and buy more nectarines. As Roger and Melvin and Eleanore know, doing the right thing is hard sometimes. It takes time. But I suppose it's worth it in the end.

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23. Wednesday Comix!


Happy Fourth of July, comic book lovers! Hope it's SUPER! (Badum-CHING)

Wednesday Comix will return next week with LIVE updates from booth #1316 at San Diego Comic Con!!

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24. A Pinterest Connection

Unlike everyone else, I have not invested any time in Pinterest yet. However, I recently got this email from my cousin (a kindergarten teacher) and think I might need to make some time for it:


I was just making my list of new books to buy for next year and  the one on the top of my list is Lacey Walker, Nonstop Talker. It is pinned ALL OVER Pinterest on all the teacher boards. 


It's always nice to know that a book you wrote or edited is relevant in the classroom. In fact, it's just nice to know that someone else has read it! So I  might just embrace this Pinterest thing. Clearly people know what they are talking about!:)  

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25. It's Comic-Con 2012!

Capstone's booth is ready and our crew of comic-lovers can't wait to talk comics. If you're lucky enough to be part of the Comic-Con craziness, be sure to drop by!

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