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Spoilers, Sneak Peeks, and the Inside Scoop on Books, Reading, and What's Going On at Scholastic for KIDS in THE STACKS!
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1. Valentine’s Day Poetry Generator

heart1Write a Valentine’s Day Poem!

It’s almost Valentine’s Day! If you want a quick gift idea that is thoughtful and creative, then here’s a little activity you can try. Write a poem!

Here are three types of poems with instructions how to write them. You pick the type of poem you like best and write one for someone you care about. It could be for a family member, a friend, or even a secret crush . . . shhh! Don’t worry! I won’t tell.

Valentine's day poetry generatorLyric: a rhyming poem that expresses personal feelings. It can be as many lines as your heart desires. Here’s an example:

Your love is warm and holds me tight,
Making our moments together just right.
So thank you, Mom, for being you.
Being your daughter is a dream come true.

Haiku: a Japanese poem that has 17 syllables divided into three lines consisting of 5, 7, and 5 syllables on each line. Here’s an example:

The color purple
Reminds me of an orchid.
It’s pretty like you.

Acrostic: a poem where the first, last, or other letters of each line spells out a word or phrase. The word or phrase can be as long as you like. Here’s an example:

LOVE
Like the way the sun caresses my skin,
Our friendship is warm and comforting.
Vividly, I remember our happiest moments
Eating cupcakes and sharing jokes.

YOU
You’re my best friend for so many reasons.
Obviously, we make the best pair.
Uniquely, being you is perfect.

Now it’s your turn. Which type of poem will you write? Leave a Comment with your new poem below. When you’re finished, copy it in a card and send it to the person you wrote it for. Good luck, poets!

-Sandy

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2. Trump Tries in New Hampshire

Scholastic News Kids Press Corps Trump Tries in New Hampshire by Stone Shen

On February 2, more than 3,000 Donald Trump supporters crammed into an athletic club in Milford, New Hampshire to hear the Republican candidate speak. The place was buzzing with excitement. Before Trump came on, a group of people went onto the stage and delivered speeches. This included some of Trump’s campaign managers and former United States Senator Scott Brown.

This rally was important because it was right after the Iowa Caucus, in which Trump finished second. Trump said that he was pleased with the final standing in Iowa, although he has complained elsewhere that the process was unfair.

At the rally, Trump promised to make “big, big cuts in taxes to the middle class.” When asked about his position on gun control, he said, “We’re going to protect ourselves by protecting the Second Amendment.” The Second Amendment says that “the right of the people to keep and bear Arms shall not be infringed.”

ILLEGAL IMMIGRATION
One main topic was illegal immigration. Trump said that he did not oppose immigration. Rather, he just wants immigrants to settle in the U.S. legally.

One Trump supporter with whom I spoke said, “I like his immigration policy. He wants to secure the borders and make people come in the way they used to. You come in, get a job, you support yourself, and you contribute to this country.”

Trump stood by his decision to not participate in the final Republican debate before the Iowa Caucus. That decision was said to have contributed to his defeat to Ted Cruz. Trump said that he had been proud to hold a fundraising event for veterans at the same time as the debate, raising 6 million dollars.

“I like how he is trying to support the country,” said Pearse Wojczak, a young Trump fan from Connecticut, “and how he is trying to protect us.”

Trump ended the rally with a look toward the New Hampshire Primary, saying, “I expect to win.”

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3. Adventures in Babysitting

adventures in babysittingAdventures in Babysitting, inspired by the hugely popular 1980s film of the same name, is an upcoming Disney Channel Original Movie starring Sabrina Carpenter (from Girl Meets World) and Sofia Carson (from Descendants).  It is set to premiere in 2016 on Disney Channel.

In Adventures in Babysitting, a dull evening for two competing babysitters, Jenny (Sabrina Carpenter) and Lola (Sofia Carson), turns into an adventure in the big city as they hunt for one of the kids who somehow snuck away. Talk about a babysitter’s nightmare!

Are you excited for this new Disney Channel movie? Tell us in the Comments.

Sonja, STACKS Staffer

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4. Book Wars: Out of My Mind vs. Wonder

Book warsBook Wars: Out of My Mind vs. Wonder

Today we will be comparing two amazing books: Out Of My Mind and Wonder. You may think that think that Out Of My Mind and Wonder are the same, but they are very different.

The two main characters Auggie and Melody both have physical disabilities. These disabilities don’t stop them from still being very bright children. They both want to be apart of the big group with so-called “normal” kids. After many attempts they were rejected.

In Out of My Mind, Melody continues to try different ways to work around her disabilities. Instead of giving up, Melody joins a trivia group with “normal” kids. Melody is then accepted. Melody accepts how she is and deals with what she can do.

In Wonder on the other hand, Auggie just gives up because he feels he is not wanted at school. He thinks about what he wants to be, not what he can do with his disabilities.

Read these books to figure out the true stories of these wonderful characters.

Michael, Scholastic Kids Council

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5. Super Bowl

SuperbowlGet ready for the biggest football game of the year!

As you know, the Super Bowl is almost here. The 50th Super Bowl football game will be played on Sunday, February 7. The Denver Broncos will battle the Carolina Panthers, so I thought we could round up some of the best football facts and fun from the STACKS. Here are a few things for you to do to get ready for the big game.

  • Take this Super Bowl trivia quiz.
  • Play the Game Changers football game.
  • Get the latest football books from Scholastic.
  • Leave a Comment telling us which team you are rooting for in Super Bowl 50!
  • Or if you prefer animal sports, will you be watching the Kitten Bowl on Hallmark Channel, or Puppy Bowl on Animal Planet?

kittenbowl

puppy-bowl

 

 

 

Photos courtesy of Hallmark Channel and Animal Planet

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6. Books to Read for Valentine’s Day

Recommend me!Valentine’s Day Book Picks for Ages 8-12

February has me thinking about Valentine’s Day, and while I’m not really a mushy, love-y kind of girl, sometimes I like a good story about everyday, typical kids in real, true to life situations. Here are three not-super-mushy books to get you in the mood for Valentine’s Day this year.

Sit Stay Love Sit, Stay, Love: A Wish Novel by J.J. Howard

Puppy love was never so complicated! A funny and heartwarming story about a meet-cute at a pet shelter.

The Boy Problem
The Boy Problem by Kami Kinard

From Kami Kinard comes an illustrated companion novel to The Boy Project that further explores what it’s like to be a 12-year-old girl looking for the perfect crush. The Boy Problem: Notes and Predictions of Tabitha Reddy is a laugh-out-loud peek in the life of a precocious and bubbly girl. Full of illustrations and doodles, hilarious formulas and equations, as well as lessons in life, love, friendship, and baking, this diary will have you laughing and crying at the same time.

Romeo Blue
Romeo Blue
by Phoebe Stone

Secrets, spies and sleuthing abound in this follow-up to Phoebe Stone’s The Romeo and Juliet Code. When Flissy Budwig’s parents first dropped her off in Bottlebay, Maine, she hated everything about it. Most of all, she hated knowing that she was safe in America while her parents faced the guns of WWII in Europe. Especially when she discovered her parents were spies. Especially when she learned her parents were missing.

But a year has passed now, and Flissy has grown to love life in Bottlebay and grown to love Derek, the boy the Bathburns have adopted. Then a man claiming to be Derek’s true father arrives, and soon he’s asking all sorts of strange questions. Flissy has a nose for trouble. Has Derek’s new father come to take him away from Flissy forever, or is there something even more sinister afoot in Bottlebay, Maine?

What books are YOU reading this month? Tell us in the Comments!

Sonja, STACKS Staffer

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7. Books to Read for Valentine's Day

heart4Valentine’s Day Book Picks for Ages 8-12

February has me thinking about Valentine’s Day, and while I’m not really a mushy, love-y kind of girl, sometimes I like a good story about everyday, typical kids in real, true to life situations. Here are three not-super-mushy books to get you in the mood for Valentine’s Day this year.

Sit Stay Love Sit, Stay, Love: A Wish Novel by J.J. Howard

Puppy love was never so complicated! A funny and heartwarming story about a meet-cute at a pet shelter.

The Boy Problem
The Boy Problem by Kami Kinard

From Kami Kinard comes an illustrated companion novel to The Boy Project that further explores what it’s like to be a 12-year-old girl looking for the perfect crush. The Boy Problem: Notes and Predictions of Tabitha Reddy is a laugh-out-loud peek in the life of a precocious and bubbly girl. Full of illustrations and doodles, hilarious formulas and equations, as well as lessons in life, love, friendship, and baking, this diary will have you laughing and crying at the same time.

Romeo Blue
Romeo Blue
by Phoebe Stone

Secrets, spies and sleuthing abound in this follow-up to Phoebe Stone’s The Romeo and Juliet Code. When Flissy Budwig’s parents first dropped her off in Bottlebay, Maine, she hated everything about it. Most of all, she hated knowing that she was safe in America while her parents faced the guns of WWII in Europe. Especially when she discovered her parents were spies. Especially when she learned her parents were missing.

But a year has passed now, and Flissy has grown to love life in Bottlebay and grown to love Derek, the boy the Bathburns have adopted. Then a man claiming to be Derek’s true father arrives, and soon he’s asking all sorts of strange questions. Flissy has a nose for trouble. Has Derek’s new father come to take him away from Flissy forever, or is there something even more sinister afoot in Bottlebay, Maine?

What books are YOU reading this month? Tell us in the Comments!

Sonja, STACKS Staffer

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8. Star Wars Personality Quiz

star wars the force awakensWhich Star Wars Character Are You?

The greatest gift I got this holiday season? Star Wars: The Force Awakens (rated PG-13)! While I’m not as hardcore about it as my good friend who went to see the movie every day for 30 days in a row (not kidding), I still consider myself a pretty big Star Wars fan. And with all the new characters, there’s never been a better time for a STAR WARS PERSONALITY QUIZ! Are you a passionate and whip-smart leader like Padme Amidala? Are you a brave but hesitant rebel like Finn? Take the Star Wars Personality Quiz to find out!Star Wars: The Force Awakens Red Carpet

1. This weekend, you can’t wait to: a) learn how to juggle, do a cool new skateboard trick, or recreate your favorite dish from scratch. b) hang out with your best friend, listening to cool new music together. c) volunteer at your local animal shelter. d) visit your grandparents. e) construct the world’s stinkiest stink bomb ever!

2. Your favorite snack is: a) a granola bar. b) something you can share, like goldfish crackers. c) anything healthy. d) an apple. e) gummy bears.

3. You’d love to go to this kind of music concert: a) hip-hop. b) singer-songwriter. c) pop. d) classical. e) anything loud, loud, loud!

4. People describe you as: a) talented. b) easy-going. c) generous. d) wise. e) wild.

5. Your favorite color is: a) red. b) blue. c) white. d) green. e) Is glitter a color?

6. If you could have any superpower, you would most like to have: a) the ability to learn anything by watching someone else do it. b) invisibility. c) the ability to read other people’s minds. d) the ability to fly. e) the ability to transform into other animals or objects.

7. The career you would most like to have: a) inventor. b) singer. c) political leader. d) writer. e) actor.

8. Your favorite book genre is: a) action and adventure! b) sci-fi/fantasy. c) historical fiction or biography. d) realistic fiction. e) funny fiction.

9. Your personal style is: a) sporty casual. b) comfy and cool. c) classic and polished. d) very practical. If it’s cold out, you zip your jacket right up! e) outrageous.

10. You are happiest when you are: a) out in the wild and surrounded by nature. b) in a small, friendly town that feels like one big family. c) in the heart of a busy city, right where all the action is. d) by the sea, where everyone is very calm and laid-back. e) anywhere you have room to practice extreme sports.

If you picked mostly A’s, you are REY!
You are resourceful and brave, and never let hard times get you down — in fact, you bounce back twenty times stronger! You have a natural ability to pick up almost any skill, and sometimes it can be frustrating because you want to master everything all at once. You’re always operating at 500 miles per hour, but have a great eye for detail. You should remember to take time to slow down and take care of yourself while you’re busy saving the universe!

If you picked mostly B’s, you are FINN!
You are a truly brave soul, willing to put yourself at risk. Even in the darkest of times, you’re able to find something to smile about (and make other people smile, too). While you sometimes doubt your own abilities and would rather stay out of the spotlight, you should have more faith in yourself–you are an incredible team player. After all, it takes team work to make the dream work! You’re excellent at keeping your friends and companions motivated, and without you, they wouldn’t be able to achieve half of the things that they do.

If you picked mostly C’s, you are PADMÉ AMIDALA!
You are incredibly bright, a master negotiator, and feel very, very strongly about sticking up for people who can’t stick up for themselves. You are a natural leader, although sometimes you accidentally let your personal feelings cloud your judgment. You succeed by using your superior intellect, which is your greatest strength. You are never driven by selfishness, and your passion for creating a better world inspires others to do the same. People naturally gravitate towards you and look to you as an example of everything that an excellent leader should be!

If you picked mostly D’s, you are OBI WAN KENOBI!
You are the voice of reason among your friends, which can sometimes drive them a little nuts, but you are usually right! Your dedication to obeying the rules and considering everything logically is only surpassed by your steadfast loyalty and generous heart. And while you’d never break the rules yourself, you can understand why other people do. You are an excellent listener and always give the very best advice, and your friends are very, very lucky to have such a wonderful moral compass to guide them through tricky (and sticky) situations!

If you picked mostly E’s, you are R2-D2!
You are the life of the party! You are a prankster and love a good laugh, but always come through for your friends in their time of need. You’re incredibly bright, though sometimes people (especially parents and teachers!) get frustrated with you because you’d rather be making mischief than studying. However, you have a perfect balance of silly and sweet, which is why no one can stay mad at you for long!

Which Star Wars character matches your personality? Share in the Comments below!

May the force be with you!

En-Szu

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9. The Oodlethunks

OodlethunksIntroducing a hilarious new comedy of prehistoric proportions!

Welcome to West Woggle, home of woolly mammoths, fruitafossors, and the Oodlethunk family!

One day, Oona Oodlethunk finds a mysterious—and very special—egg. She doesn’t know what’s in it, but she does know one thing: she’ll do anything to protect her egg until it hatches. But it looks like everybody in West Wog wants a piece of her treasure, including her little brother Thunk and that smelly kid Bruce Brute. Oona will do whatever it takes to safeguard her egg—no one will get their grimy, Cro-Magnon hands on it! Oona can’t wait to find out what’s inside her egg—even though it might just gobble her up!

Want to learn more about the Oodlethunks? Watch the series trailer!

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10. I Survived True Stories: Nature Attacks

ISurvivedBlogI Survived True Stories: Nature Attacks

Picture this: You’re at the beach and you hop into the ocean for a little swim when all of a sudden you are attacked by a giant jellyfish! Ouch! This actually happened to 10-year-old Rachael in Australia. Read the true story here.

Are you a fan of the I Survived series by Lauren Tarshis? Which book is your favorite? Tell us in the Comments.

 

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11. 10 Problems Only People With Braces Understand

Rainbow Pen10 Problems Only People With Braces Understand

Yes, I know it’s hard to believe (and believe me, I’d much rather forget!), but I used to be a brace-face. Those were the longest years of my LIFE. Braces are uncomfortable, painful, awkward, and so annoying. I was so excited when I finally got mine off! To show sympathy and solidarity for those of you currently experiencing the struggle, I’m bringing you a list of Ten Problems Only People With Braces Understand:

  1. Apples are the enemy. Apple skins are the WORST.
  2. Flossing takes FOREVER! It’s practically the next day when you finally finish!
  3. You’re always nervous about smiling because you never know what food might be stuck in there.
  4. Getting them tightened HURTS A LOT!
  5. Switching out band colors is cool, but you’re stuck with that color for a whole month. Who wants to wear the same color ANYTHING for that long?
  6. After eating a sandwich, at least 45% of the sandwich is stuck in your braces.
  7. No gum, caramel, or hard candy! Like I said . . . those were the LONGEST years of my life!
  8. Getting scratched and cut by stray wires on the inside of your mouth—ouch!
  9. That awful feeling when the orthodontist tells you it’s going to take longer to be braces-free than you were initially told. (Absolutely devastating.)
  10. Finally getting your braces off, but then wearing a retainer for what feels like the rest of forever.

Oh yes, the braces struggle is very, very real! Do you, or did you, wear braces? Are you going to need braces soon? Share your thoughts in the Comments below!

Yours in pain,

En-Szu

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12. Rocky Dog Create a Caption

Create a Caption for Rocky the Dog!

Hey there! This dog looks like he’s relaxing at home after a long day! What would you say he is thinking?Rocky the Dog

Here’s my caption: “Can we just stay in and snuggle now? I’m exhausted from chasing my tail all day, and I never even caught it!”

Write YOUR caption in the Comments below!

Megan, STACKS Intern

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13. High School Musical Reunion

HSMDid You Watch the High School Musical Reunion?

Before Austin & Ally, before Teen Beach Movie, before Liv & Maddie, there was High School Musical. This week, the stars reunited to celebrate the 10-year anniversary in a special telecast on Disney Channel. Did you watch?

High School Musical reuinion

(Disney Channel/Image Group LA)

Vanessa Hudgens, Ashley Tisdale, Lucas Grabeel, Corbin Bleu, and Monique Coleman taped the nostalgic segments at a high school gymnasium in suburban Los Angeles.

The STACKS was there for High School Musical 3. I think it is safe to say, we were HUGE fans of High School Musical back in the day!

What do YOU think? Tell us in the Comments.

Sonja

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14. Winter Weather Weekends

winterWinter Weather Weekends

Are you ready for the winter weather? Winter Storm Jonas is coming to the East Coast! I am ready with a nice, big pile of books to read, some hot cocoa mix, and all the ingredients needed to bake something yummy.The forecast calls for fun!

Here are some other ideas for things to do on a snowy weekend.

What do you have planned for this snowy weekend? Tell us in the Comments. Whatever you do, please stay safe and warm!

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15. A Helping 3-D Hand

Scholastic News Kids Press CorpsA Helping 3-D Hand By Lilian Jochmann

A little girl gets a life-changing gift.

It all started in 2013, when Shea Stollenwerk, then eight years old, asked for a new hand for Christmas. Shea was born with a partial right hand, which restricts her ability to do things that other kids take for granted.

Shea practices picking up objects with her new hand. Photo courtesy of Frankie Flood.

“My mom went online” to look for help, says Shea, who lives in Mukowango, Wisconsin. Shea’s mother, Ranee, soon learned about a community of artists, designers, and scientists who are making big breakthroughs with prosthetic (artificial) hands.

Frankie Flood, a professor at the University of Wisconsin in Milwaukee, was among the designers who saw Ranee’s online request. Flood enlisted help from fellow professor Adream Blair and their students, who were learning how to make designs using a 3-D printer, a device that can create layers of material, like plastic or metal, one on top of the other, to produce solid objects.

“We made a mold of Shea’s hand out of plaster,” Flood explains about the beginning of the process. “We made a cast, and then we 3-D scanned her hand.”

A LOW-COST SOLUTION

Flood emphasizes that Shea’s “robo-hand” is not like devices that medical professionals make for people who have lost limbs. Such devices can cost thousands of dollars, whereas a “robo-hand” can be printed for less than $50.

While being fitted in Flood’s laboratory, Shea got to choose the color of her new hand. She went with bright pink. She now has a pink hand, a purple hand, and a purple and pink one, and can do things that she couldn’t do before, like peel potatoes, pick up objects, and catch a ball.

Flood and his team have since built hands for six other local children. Indirectly, they have helped dozens more, by posting their designs online so that people around the world can print them out. Flood is also working on prosthetic legs for military veterans who were injured on the battlefield. “Without a covering, the [prosthetic] leg is kind of ugly and plain,” Flood says. “Soldiers want something that will restore the shape of their leg and make it cooler to look at when they’re playing sports.”

As for Shea, the aspiring musician can now play her viola with help from an adaptive device that Flood’s team created. “Nothing is ever going to hold her back,” Shea’s father, Steve, told a local reporter. “She is going to do what she wants to do, and we are going to be there to help her.”

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16. Ranger in Time #3: Long Road to Freedom

Ranger in TimeRanger in Time #3: Long Road to Freedom

Everybody’s favorite time-traveling dog is back in the newest installment of Ranger in Time! Ranger has traversed the Oregon Trail and escaped the Roman Colosseum, and now he’s back to help two kids navigate the Underground Railroad!

In this adventure, Ranger travels to a Maryland plantation during the time of American slavery, where he meets a young girl named Sarah. When Sarah learns that the plantation owner has plans to sell her little brother, Jesse, to a plantation in the Deep South, it means they could be separated forever. Sarah takes their future into her own hands and decides there’s only one way to run—north.

Will Sarah and Jesse make it to freedom? Anything is possible with Ranger at their side! Start reading an excerpt from Ranger in Time #3: Long Road to Freedom!

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17. Problems Only Dog Lovers Understand

Writing promptProblems Only Dog Lovers Understand

Do you have a dog? Or just love dogs in general? Then you know there are some problems that non-dog people just don’t get. Can you relate to any of these problems that only dog lovers understand?dog cone of shame

  1. You toss food on the floor of restaurants because you forget your dog isn’t there to eat your leftovers.
  2. You have enough hair all over your bed to make an entire wig.
  3. When someone yells, “Fetch!” you look around for flying balls.
  4. Your windows are always smudgy from your dog’s nose prints.
  5. There’s a giant drool spot on the couch where you were about to sit.
  6. Those sad, sad puppy eyes break your heart every morning when you have to leave for school.
  7. It is sometimes embarrassing when friends come over and your dog acts INSANE!
  8. Your foot is asleep right now because your dog is sitting on it and won’t get up!
  9. You have to hide your favorite shoes because your dog thinks they are chew toys.
  10. It is minus 20 degrees out and you have to go walk your dog in the snow. Brrr!

Can you relate to any of these? Let us know YOUR problems that only other dog lovers would understand!

-Ratha

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18. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day

Rainbow PenIt is Martin Luther King, Jr. Day.

I have a dream What is YOUR dream for the world? Tell us in the Comments and then create your own “I Have  a Dream” poem to honor the legendary activist today.

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19. Best Friends Whenever

Best Friends WheneverBest Friends Whenever

Best friends Cyd Ripley and Shelby Marcus gain the power to leap forward and backward in time whenever they want – and sometimes when they don’t. Now they experience the twists and turns of friendship and high school and must decide between fixing mistakes in the past or catching a glimpse of the future, all while their friends, aspiring scientist Barry and his assistant, Renaldo (aka Naldo), scramble to figure out how Barry’s time travel invention went awry in the first place.

Friends since elementary school, the girls’ high school years begin as Cyd’s parents depart for an archaeological dig in Peru, and Shelby’s family agrees to let Cyd and her feisty dog, Diesel, live with them. While Shelby and Cyd are worlds apart in personalities, becoming roommates is a dream come true for the teens whose differences, quirks and all, ultimately benefit their friendship.

Shelby is an enthusiastic dreamer who’s hyper-organized and thrives on making nearly every moment a big, special occasion. Cyd is laid back and carefree and mostly driven by her immediate needs – sleep and food, especially extra guacamole whenever and wherever possible.

When the girls are not in school, they can be found in the family attic, which has been transformed into Shelby’s bohemian-chic haven and Cyd’s edgy, urban hangout space. There they can avoid Shelby’s pesky younger twin brothers, Bret and Chet. The twins, who both have a crush on Cyd, try to impress her with their assorted hobbies that usually leave the brothers at odds with each other, and near-miss disasters in their wake.

Best Friends Whenever

Photo courtesy of Disney Channel

Cyd and Shelby spend their off-school hours hanging out with their good friends, the socially awkward Barry and his fun-loving buddy Naldo, in Barry’s home science lab, which is his family’s converted motor home. It’s there that Barry’s invention accidentally zaps Cyd and Shelby with the power to time travel. Now whenever Cyd and Shelby simultaneously think of a specific time frame in the past or in the future, and somehow make even the slightest physical contact with each other, they are immediately transported to that era or point of time. The budding scientists Barry and Naldo are the only people who know Cyd and Shelby can time travel.

As Shelby and Cyd travel back in forth time, each experience – past, present or future – leads the girls to new adventures. Through it all, they know they can count on each other, and they discover how friendship can make every moment in life special.

Are you a fan of Best Friends Whenever? Leave a Comment!

Sonja, STACKS Staffer

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20. Snowmaking Behind the Scenes

Scholastic News Kids Press CorpsSnowmaking Behind the Scenes by Kaitlin Clark

How can you ski if there’s no snow? When the temperature is unseasonably warm, and no snow falls from the sky, experts go out at night to make artificial snow. These people are called “Snowmakers.”

One such expert is Ken Mack, the Manager of Snowmaking at Loon Mountain Ski Resort in Lincoln, New Hampshire. Starting at the age of 10, Mack groomed the slopes of the local mountain every weekend with his Grandpa Roy. Using a specialized machine called a groomer, grandfather and grandson would move and flatten the snow to make it easier to ski.

“I always loved being on the mountain at night,” said Mack, who was hired at Loon Mountain as a groomer before learning how to make snow. Now in his 16th season at Loon, Mack has done such a great job directing his crew of about 40 that he was nationally recognized in 2014 with HKD’s “I AM a Snowmaker Award.” HKD sells snowmaking equipment and honors a top snowmaker each year.

Kate-Ken-Snow-Gun

Mack and Kaitlin stand under a tower gun, which is used to make artificial snow for ski slopes.

Mack is pleased with the snowmaking system of tower guns that Loon recently installed. You have to pump air and water into a hose, which travels up the “tower” part of the snow gun. Pressurized water then shoots out the top of the machine and hits the atmosphere, freezing into snow before it hits the ground. Although snow can be artificially made in temperatures of up to 28 degrees, the ideal conditions are around 10 degrees with no wind. “It’s hard to control a ‘snowstorm’ in the wind,” Mack said.

SEEING SMILES

Mack works with Ralph Lewis, Vice President of Skiing Operations at Loon. Instead of checking emails each day, Lewis checks the ski slopes. He takes a ride to the top of the mountain and then skis the trails, evaluating the conditions. He wants to ensure a great day of skiing for everyone. Later in the afternoon, he starts planning the snowmaking for the coming night.

Lewis said that artificial snowmaking can make or break a ski resort. Loon invested in snowmaking early on, when other ski resorts did not. Some of those resorts had to shut down. When asked where Loon would be without snowmaking, Lewis said, “There would be no ski area. Snowmaking gives us the flexibility to open the mountain.”

Snowmakers work through long, cold nights, but they truly believe it is worth it. “It’s fun to see the smiles [afterwards],” Lewis said. “That’s the rewarding part of the job.”

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21. Penguin Photobomb

Create a captionPenguin Photobomb Create a Caption

It’s a bird! It’s a plane! It’s photobombing penguin! This was a peaceful winter scene until this camera-hogging penguin flew into the photo out of nowhere!

Penguin photobomb
Create a caption to tell us what this penguin is saying as it flies through the winter air like that!

Photo submitted by Scholastic Kids Council member Grace.

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22. 2016 Would You Rather

Would you rather . . .2016 Would You Rather

2016 is here! A time for new opportunities and new beginnings. Of course, a fresh start doesn’t always mean everything is going to be hunky-dory . . . and because we love the opportunity for a WOULD YOU RATHER, we are giving you an ultra-tough one for the new year! In the upcoming year, would you rather . . .

1.     Make the sports team, but break your leg and spend the season on the bench OR make the sports team but lose every game of the season?

2.     Find out your favorite celebrity couple is breaking up OR that your favorite musical group is breaking up? (I SEE YOU, ZAYN!)(I can forgive but never forget!)

3.     Find out your crush likes you back, but is moving to another country OR find out that YOU are moving to another country?

4.     Go on an epic summer vacation only to find out your worst enemy is also there OR show up at a school dance wearing the same outfit as your worst enemy?

5.     Find out your favorite TV show is ending OR that the movie you’ve been looking forward to won’t be released for another year?

6.     Have more rainy days than sunny days OR have snow half the year?

7.     Outgrow all your favorite clothes OR have your computer crash?

8.     Find out your favorite book is being turned into a movie, but the lead actor is not someone you would have picked OR find out a book you really disliked is being turned into a movie instead?

Whew! Those were tough ones. Share your answers in the Comments below, and let’s all hope that none of these horrible things happen to any of us in 2016!

Happy New Year!

En-Szu, STACKS Writer

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23. Exclusive Hotel Transylvania 2 Featurette

Hotel Transylvania 2 dvdHotel Transylvania 2 DVD and Blu-ray

Hotel Transylvania 2 fans will want to check this out! The Blu-ray and DVD version of the movie hits stores today and we have an exclusive video featurette about the making of the movie.

Hotel Transylvania 2 character effects video

Video courtesy Sony Pictures Animation

In the featurette, director Genndy Tartakovsky and his animation team walk us through amazing visuals which show how they created the lighting, animation, character effects, simulation techniques, and more.

Future animators, pay close attention! This might be your job someday! Watch the video!

So cool, right? Leave a Comment to tell us what you think!

 

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24. Race the Wild

Rain Forest RelayRace the Wild: Rain Forest Relay by Kristin Earhart (for ages 7-10)

On a once-in-a-lifetime race through the animal kingdom, it takes smarts, strength, and skill to win!

When Russell entered the race, he knew it was going to be a wild ride. Especially the first race course! He’d been studying up on the Amazon’s animals and culture forever. But nothing could prepare him or his teammates for what they’d find in the rain forest: raging rapids, poisonous venom, and sneaky competitors who’d do anything to win.

Can the red team work together to make it to the finish line in one piece? Each chapter in this action-packed adventure series is bursting with totally true facts about wild and wonderful creatures, dangerous habitats, maps, and more!

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25. Spreading Smiles

Scholastic News Kids Press CorpsSpreading Smiles by Esther Appelstein

In 2006, sculptor Mark Borella felt helpless when his friends’ son was diagnosed with terminal cancer. Borella wanted to give the friends something to honor their son, but he couldn’t think of anything suitable. Finally, he turned to a jar of leftover clay and molded the clay into smiles.

On the last day of the young man’s life, Borella brought a handful of smiles to his friends’ house. “I know there is nothing I can say or do to make you feel better,” he said. “So I thought I would bring you some smiles to help you get your smile back. I call them ‘Seeds of Happiness.’”

When word spread about the little sculptures, and people kept asking to buy them, Borella decided to start a business. Soon, his staff grew too large for his house, and Seeds of Happiness settled into a small building in St. Louis, Missouri, where about a dozen people work.

“We’re very laid back,” says employee Sophie Williamson. “We have a lot of fun. We always say that all this fun we have, we put it right back into our work.”

Each month, Seeds of Happiness ships more than 40,000 “seeds” to customers in the United States, Canada, Germany, England, Australia, and elsewhere. The company also sells T-shirts, caps, and other clothing.

Leprechaun Seeds of Happiness” in the making

“Leprechaun Seeds of Happiness” in the making

MAKING SMILES

To make a seed, clay is shaped into a ball, and then the eyes and mouth are drawn in. “We poke the eyes with chopsticks,” says Borella. Next, an employee adds other features, like a hat or a beard. The seed is then put into a kiln to bake. About 15,000 seeds are baked at a time.

When the seeds come out of the kiln, an employee presses the bottom of each one so that the figure can stand up. The seeds are then baked a second time. Finally, they are painted and ready to be shipped.

“Everything in here,” says Borella, “is based on smiles, happiness, and being funny.”

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