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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. National Cookie Day: Who Would Win

Christmas cookiesTake a Bite Out of National Cookie Day!

Kicking off the holidays on December 4th, it’s National Cookie Day! Last year, you guys posted awesome ideas for the dream cookie you would make if you had to Invent the Most Amazing Cookie Ever.

This year, we’re heating up the oven for a battle of the cookies. Who do you think would win if these cookies went head to head?

1. Chocolate chip vs. Oatmeal raisin
2. Sugar cookie with mint sauce and chocolate (posted by Hannah) vs. Fruitcake cookie?
3. Chocolate fudge vs. Peanut butter fudge?
4. Chocolate, peanut butter, oatmeal, mocha cookie (posted by Zakuro) vs. Peanut butter and jelly cookie?
5. Fortune cookie vs. M&M brownie bar
6. Icing sprinkle layer cookie (posted by Elizabeth) vs. S’mores cookie
7. Oreo vs. Chips Ahoy?
8. Iced Christmas cookies vs. Cookie ice cream sandwich?

Let us know your winners, and any other favorite cookies, in the Comments below!
Bon appetite!

-Ratha, STACKS Writer

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2. December Sweepstakes

sweepstakes_1Attention, all Klutz fans! The December STACKS Blast Giveaway is a good one! This month, you can enter for a chance to win a Klutz prize pack including 3 Klutz activity books.

But, here’s the thing. You can ONLY enter if you subscribe to the STACKS Blast Newsletter. So first, you sign up for the newsletter. Then you must wait until December 15 when Hooray! the STACKS Blast will arrive in your e-mail inbox. Hurry up and open it! Inside, you’ll see a special section for the STACKS Giveaway. That’s where you enter. OK? Don’t forget to sign up for the STACKS Blast Newsletter and enter the sweepstakes. Good luck!

— Sonja, STACKS Staffer

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3. Holiday Characters Who Would Win

writing_prompt_holidayHoliday Characters Who Would Win

IT’S THE MOST WONDERFUL TIME OF THE YEAR! The holidays are upon us! In case you didn’t notice, I’ve got a really, really bad case of Holiday Cheer. Gingerbread cookies for everyone! Non-stop holiday sing-a-longs! Ugly sweaters galore! Hot chocolate! Hot chocolate! HOT CHOCOLATE!

One of the best parts of the holiday season is the HOLIDAY CHARACTERS! I am so very thrilled to curl up on my sofa with some fuzzy socks (and hot chocolate) and watch my favorite movies: The Grinch, The Nightmare Before Christmas, Elf . . . It’s not the holidays without movie magic!

Some holiday characters have magical powers, while others just have magical hearts. I’d like to think that the holidays makes everyone a little more magical, am I right? So, if these characters had to duke it out (in the name of saving the holidays, obviously), who would win??

  1. The Grinch vs. Ebenezer Scrooge from The Night Before Christmas
  2. Buddy the Elf vs. Tiny Tim from The Night Before Christmas
  3. The Sugarplum Fairy from The Nutcracker vs. The Little Drummer Boy
  4. Frosty the Snowman vs. Rudolf the Red-Nosed Reindeer
  5. The Abominable Snowman vs. The Ghost of Christmas Past
  6. Jack Frost vs. Jack Skellington from The Nightmare Before Christmas
  7. The Nutcracker Prince vs. Cindy Lou Who from The Grinch
  8. Max from The Grinch vs. Kevin McCallister from Home Alone

Who do YOU think would win? Which holiday characters do you want to see included on the list? Share your thoughts in the Comments below!

Happy happy holidays,

En-Szu, STACKS Writer

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4. Scholastic Kids Council: Julie

Hi!Welcome Julie to the 2015-16 Scholastic Kids Council!

JulieI’d like to introduce you to Julie who will be one of the special contributors to the STACKS this year.

Look for more to come from Julie this year!

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5. Schoalstic Kids Council: Leah

Hi!Welcome Leah to the 2015-16 Scholastic Kids Council!

My name is Leah and I am a 7th grader in New Jersey.Leah I put my collage on a boogie board to represent how I love to go boogie boarding at the beach with my cousins. I have a basketball, a soccer ball, rollerblades, and a hockey stick on my collage because these are three of the sports I really love. I also have Stephen Curry, my favorite basketball player.

Beyond sports, I love to draw, hang out with my friends, and play with my stuffed animals. I have a Minion because when I went to Universal Studios in Florida over the summer, I got to ride the Minion ride, which was my favorite. I have pictures of Sponge Bob and Stitch because they are two of my favorite characters. Lastly, I have Snowball, my hamster, because I love to play with her, and I also love animals.

Leah, Scholastic Kids Council

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6. Scholastic Kids Council: Cynthia

Hi!Welcome Cynthia to the 2015-16 Scholastic Kids Council!

I am Cynthia, a girl that has a wonderful family.Cynthia The first picture I’m going to tell you about is the one of my family and me at Cape Cod, a place we spend a lot of time. There is also another picture of my brother, Bobby and me when we were on a boat heading back from Nantucket Island. The last picture at the Cape is the picture of my cousin, Rose, me, and my brother when we climbed up the lifeguard chair after they left which we do all the time. Speaking of cousins, in the next picture I’m going to talk about, there are all of my cousins on my dad’s side of the family (Rose in on my mom’s side).

But my family doesn’t just consist of people. I have four animals including three cats named KC, Lady, and Snowflake. KC is my shy, little, gray kitty that goes into hiding every time someone comes over. Then there is Lady, my snuggle buddy. Every time I wake up in the morning, she is on my bed. But don’t be too quick to judge because Lady could rip you to shreds if she wanted to. After that comes my dear little Hurricane Sandy cat, Snowflake. She lived under our house for about a week before we got her to come inside. Every chance she gets, she runs outside again so she can eat grass. And last, but not least, Sadie, the friendliest dog you will ever meet. Since she is a middle-sized, crazy, black lab, most people think she’s going to kill them but all she wants to do is drown you in kisses.

I have a picture of a violin and a bass, and I also play the piano and drums, but I also like to read. The book I’m reading right now is Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher (for ages 12 and up). Although I like music and reading a lot, my absolute favorite thing to do is draw. As you can see, I drew a picture of two anime characters from a show I watched called Hakouki.

I hope you enjoyed learning a little bit about me.

Cynthia, Scholastic Kids Council

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7. Scholastic Kids Council: Alex

Hi!Welcome Alex!

Hi! My name is Alex, and I was one of the lucky ones chosen for the 2015-16 Scholastic Kids Council! I made a display about things that represent me and here is why I chose some of those items.Alex

I made everything around the boogie board because every summer, my family rents a beach house. I spend a lot of time in the ocean boogie boarding and surfing. I get to spend a lot of time with my family and I really enjoy it. I am a big baseball player and fan, so I put my baseball glove, bat, and trophy in the display. I also enjoy skateboarding, and I do that a lot in my free time with my friends and my older brother.

I absolutely LOVE Star Wars and LEGOs. I think Star Wars LEGOs are amazing! This is one of my favorite ships I have built so far. I included my saxophone and my headphones because I love music. I love to play saxophone, especially jazz and pop music. I also like listening to dubstep with my headphones while I play video games. I got the red bear for being on my school’s student council as Activity Director.  I named it Juan Pablo. I love to read and Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows is one of my favorite books! I am looking forward to writing for the 2015-16 Scholastic Kid Council. Thanks for reading this!

Alex, Scholastic Kids Council

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8. Scholastic Kids Council: Kayla

Hi!Welcome Kayla to the 2015-16 Scholastic Kids Council!

kaylaI’d like to introduce you to Kayla who will be one of the special contributors to the STACKS this year.

Look for more to come from Kayla this year!

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9. New Midnight Gulch Story

snickerofmagic130Hello, STACKS readers!

We have a special Thanksgiving treat for you! Natalie Lloyd, the author of A Snicker of Magic, has a brand-new story set in Midnight Gulch—a magical town full of mystery and enchanted ice cream.

If you liked A Snicker of Magic, then you’ll love this “spindiddly” story featuring Jonah Pickett (a.k.a. the Beedle). If you haven’t read A Snicker of Magic, then you’ll still love this sweet, heartwarming story.

Start reading “Becoming the Beedle.”

Happy Thanksgiving and happy reading!

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10. Best Books of Fall

Recommend me!Best Books of Fall

It’s fall, and with chilly weather comes more time for reading indoors! Ah, to be snuggly and warm by an open fire with an excellent book—nothing compares. At the STACKS, we believe that sharing is caring, and we love to share our book recommendations. She here are the Best Books of Fall as voted by YOU!

fall books

The reigning book favorites Harry Potter and Percy Jackson definitely top the list this fall, but Warriors and Kingdom Keepers are gaining ground!

What books are you excited to dig into? What books do you think everyone needs to be reading RIGHT AT THIS MOMENT? Share your picks the Comments below!

Until next time,

En-Szu, STACKS Writer

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11. 10 Problems Only Harry Potter Fans Understand

harry potter irl 110 Problems Only Harry Potter Fans Understand

You know who you are. You fell in love at the first page of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone and you never looked back. But there are some things that people who have not read Harry Potter just don’t understand about you . . .

  1. You wish Hogwarts were real and you desperately want to get your Hogwarts letter.
  2. You try seriously hard to do magic and are frustrated when your “wand” (a.k.a. stick) does not work.
  3. Dobby, Fred Weasley, Professor Lupin, Snape, and Tonks.
  4. Trying to explain Quidditch to your non-Harry Potter friends so you can play it at recess.
  5. The movie did not include your favorite line or scene from the book.
  6. You scream while watching the movies, “That didn’t happen in the book!”
  7. When someone says, “JK” (for just kidding), you think, “Rowling.”
  8. You are desperately waiting for J.K. Rowling to write another children’s book.
  9. If it’s not Harry-related, you kind of don’t want to talk about it.
  10. Nothing else you read is ever as good as Harry Potter.

Can YOU relate to any of these? Leave a Comment to tell us your problems that only other Harry Potter fans understand!

Sonja, STACKS Staffer

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12. Thanksgiving Turkey Create a Caption

writing prompt ThanksgivingThanksgiving Turkey Create a Caption

Thanksgiving parade turkey

Flickr photo by Ben + Sam

Thanksgiving is this week, so I hope you are excited to eat lots of food and maybe watch the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. Here is last year’s turkey from the parade. What do you think it is saying? Leave your caption in the Comments.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Sonja, STACKS Staffer

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13. The Letter Writer

Scholastic News Kids Press Corps The Letter Writer by Adedayo Perkovich

Olivia B. is only 12 years old, but she has already gotten the attention of a presidential candidate. Last month, she wrote a letter to Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton about the importance of a good education for children with learning disabilities. Olivia’s letter went viral after Secretary Clinton posted it on Twitter. Olivia even got to go to Clinton’s birthday party and take a selfie with her.Olivia (left) and her dog, Shelby, with Adedayo in New York City

“I thought it would be important to me to actually write to her and reach out,” Olivia said. “I was happy that I did.”

Olivia lives in New York City with her two dads and her twin brother. She has dyslexia and ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder), and attends Mary McDowell Friends School in Brooklyn. There are 12 students and 2 teachers in each class.

“My school makes it so that the teachers are really connected [with the kids], and it’s so much easier to learn,” Olivia said in a recent interview.

Olivia told Secretary Clinton that her private school is “fairly expensive.” That’s one reason Olivia hopes to enter politics—after fulfilling her dream to be a professional soccer player. She already has some ideas for education policies.

“We need more money for public schools to be built and to hire extra teachers so that we have smaller classes for more students with learning disabilities,” she said. “Putting more kids in a class isn’t good for someone like me because it’s too distracting, and I can’t ask my questions.”


Olivia told Clinton that she’d like to help out in her campaign headquarters after school. “They haven’t offered me a job, but I have done some things to help,” Olivia said. “I did a video—a campaign video—so I guess that’s the closest to a ‘job.’”

Olivia is surprised by the amount of attention her letter has received. “You can kind of do whatever you want, if you try,” she observed.

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14. Follow Me to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter

wizarding-world-of-harry-potterI went on an epic adventure to Universal Studios where I spent two days exploring the Wizarding World of Harry Potter. If you have already been there, then you know how awesome it is. If not, I’m bringing the adventure to you!

On the first day, I went to Islands of Adventure to visit Hogsmeade and Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. As soon as I walked through the Hogsmeade entrance, I felt like I had walked onto a movie set or a real Harry Potter dream. The ground is made of cobblestone; the buildings are all whimsical and pointy, and store windows have displays that actually move! (If you buy a wand from Ollivanders, you can activate the displays by waving your wand at them.)


In the middle of the crowd of witches, wizards, and Muggles, stood a large wooden cart with a wizard serving butterbeer. Since this is the beverage in the wizarding world, I had to give it a try. It has a surprisingly pleasant taste like butterscotch soda with a dollop of cream on top. Then I took a stroll through Honeydukes and bought my very own Bertie Bott’s Every Flavour Beans (and they do mean every flavor). I accidentally ate a vomit-flavored bean and it didn’t go so well.

After passing Three Broomsticks, I finally came to the massive Hogwarts castle. Although its size is impressive, it is nothing compared to the magical experience inside. The pictures move and talk; the ceiling snows, and you can watch Dumbledore, Harry, Ron, and Hermione talk in some of the corridors. I won’t spill the beans on what the ride is like, but let’s just say it is awesome, scary, and exhilarating. I went on it twice and loved it both times!


On the second day, I went back to Hogsmeade to catch the Hogwarts Express which travels to King’s Cross Station, a.k.a. Platform 9¾. The exterior of the train is just like the movie in all red and black. Inside, there are cabins capable of holding 8-10 people. The ride, although short, is probably the best ride ever! The windows display scenic views of Hogwarts and show real wizards flying by on their broomsticks. Even the doors are animated. You can actually see and hear shadows of Harry and his friends walking by.

As soon as we stepped off the train, it felt like I had crossed the world and landed in London, a.k.a. Platform 9¾. The first place I wanted to go was Diagon Alley, but it was kind of hard to find. I had to really look at the small details of the map to see that Diagon Alley is actually hidden behind walls! You could easily walk past the entrance and not even notice it was there. It is a hidden passage which leads to another secret wall with an unfinished brick passageway just like when Hagrid takes Harry to Diagon Alley for the first time.

Diagon Alley is everything I thought it would be, and more! There is a store for almost everything a wizard or witch needs, including books, robes, owls, Quidditch supplies, wands, and even Weasleys’ Wizard Wheezes. The most impressive structure is Gringotts Bank, complete with a dragon perched on top. Inside, there are life-sized goblins that move and even blink as they work behind their desks. To get to the 3-D ride, “Escape from Gringotts,” you travel on moving elevators just like the ones in the Ministry of Magic. I don’t want to reveal all of the details of the ride, but let’s just say water and fire are involved and it is absolutely incredible!

If you want to chat with me and other Harry Potter fans about the Wizarding World of Harry Potter, join the Harry Potter Message Board here. Ask me any questions you want and I’ll try my best to be as detailed as possible. TTYL!

-Sandy, STACKS Staffer

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15. Taylor Swift Donates Books

Taylor SwiftTaylor Swift Donates 25,000 Books to New York City Schools

Scholastic and Taylor Swift are excited to announce a donation of 25,000 new books from the Scholastic Possible Fund to 25 New York City schools that need more books for their students! These 25 schools will each receive 1,000 new children’s books.

As a long-time literacy advocate, Taylor hosted a webcast for classrooms during which she shared how books, reading, and writing have influenced her and opened her world. Since it first aired in October 2014, the webcast has been viewed by more than 4.5 million students from around the country! Watch it here.

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16. KidZania

Scholastic News Kids Press CorpsKidZania by Georgia Limcaoco

What do you want to be when you grow up? Children all over the world dream of the future, what they will do, and what jobs they will have. Now, these dreams can become a reality at KidZania (kid-ZAH-nee-ya). Opened last August in Manila, the interactive kid-sized city combines role-playing activities and real-life experiences to simulate the real world for children ages four to fourteen.

Pinky Laurena of KidZania Manila and Georgia gesture “hello,” or “kai,” the KidZania way.

KidZania is the first-of-its-kind indoor play city for kids. The city has paved streets, kid-sized vehicles, hospitals, shops, and dining outlets. I’d been hearing about KidZania from friends in Indonesia for the past two years. I was thrilled to see that a branch had finally opened in Manila!

The first KidZania opened in Mexico City in 1999 by Xavier López Ancona, an entrepreneur who said that he wanted to create  a “safe, creative play city where children can let their imaginations run free.”

Children from more than 100 schools have visited our local KidZania in Manila since its opening in August. “This is a city run by kids, for kids, ” said Maricel Pangilinan-Arenas, the State Governor of KidZania Philippines. Within the play city, kids are given the chance to work in one of many establishments. Some are sponsored by real-world brands such as Honda and McDonald’s. There is a bank, a bake shop, a news bureau, a bookstore, and even an airline.

“The working experience is super-duper fun,” said 9-year old Ayia Formilleza, who was waiting for her turn to be a nurse at the hospital. “It’s like I’m in the real world, and not just in a fake one.”


Upon entering the play city, kids are given a check for 50 KidZos, KidZania’s national currency. They can open a bank account and cash the check, and then begin to earn more KidZos by getting jobs. During my visit, I worked as a journalist, a magazine columnist, a manicurist, and a radio host. Each job or activity involves 6 to 10 kids at a time and is completed in about 20 minutes. KidZos can be used to purchase items at stores within the city, or may be saved for a future trip to Kidzania.

“I like this theme park because the kids see the relationship between working and earning in a way that they can understand,” said Vincent Fabella, the father of f 10-year-old Roxanne. At the time, Roxanne was busy running around the city working as a journalist.

KidZania is strict about its 4-to-14 age restriction. I’m lucky that it opened the year I turned 14 since I still have a few months to enjoy it. KidZania currently has branches in 20 countries, including Japan, Mexico, the United Kingdom, and Brazil. Future locations include Singapore, Russia, and the United States.

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17. Lincoln’s Grave Robbers

lincoln's grave robbersLincoln’s Grave Robbers by Steve Sheinkin ( for ages 11 and up)

Hi, everyone! EvilGoblin here. I’m going to talk about the main plot of my book Lincoln’s Grave Robbers. If you like suspenseful, real-life spy stories, you will love Lincoln’s Grave Robbers.

A criminal named Big Jim hatches a plan to steal the remains of the dead President Lincoln. Secret service agent Patrick Tyrell finds out and hires a roper (an undercover spy who pretends to be a criminal) Lewis Swegles to figure out what is going on. He figures out that on election night of 1864, Jack Hughes and Terrence Mullen are planning to steal the remains of the dead president.

On election night, Tyrell takes a team of spies to hide in the labyrinth of the monument. When the thieves go to commit the crime, the roper gives the signal and Tyrell’s squad gets in position. Tyrell darts up the stairs and onto the terrace and about 70 feet in front of him, a figure darts back as Tyrell shoots. The thieves take cover and shoot at Tyrell. He dodges the bullets but the thieves escape. It is only a matter of time before they will be found but you have to read the book to find out the rest of the story.

Let me ask you a question: Would you rather be a criminal or a spy? Reply in the Comments and then come talk to me on the Buzz Board.

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18. Female Superhero Who Would Win

Trivia QuizFemale Superhero Who Would Win

While all female superheroes are awesome, I am wondering . . . if some of our favorite female superheroes had to duke it out (for the greater good, obviously), who would win?

  1. Princess Leia from Star Wars vs. Wonder Woman
  2. Matilda from Matilda by Roald Dahl vs. Lyra from The Golden Compass by Philip Pullman
  3. Piper McLean from the Heroes of Olympus series vs. Marcia Overstrand from the Septimus Heap series
  4. Elsa from Frozen vs. Luna Lovegood from the Harry Potter series
  5. Batgirl vs. Amy from The 39 Clues series
  6. Ginny Weasley from the Harry Potter series vs. Annabeth Chase from the Percy Jackson series
  7. Sadie Kane from the Kane Chronicles series vs. Storm from X-Men

Who do YOU think would win? Do you have any favorite female superheroes you’d like to add to the list? Share your thoughts in the comments below!

En-Szu, STACKS Writer

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19. Disney Princess Personality Quiz

disney-princess-personality-quizWhich Disney Princess Are You?

If you could be any Disney princess, which one would you be? Take this quiz and find out the answer to that question now. All you have to do is keep track of your answers and then find the reveal below. Good luck, princesses!

  1. Two words to describe me are . . . a) cool and extraordinary. b) classy and loving. c) assertive and clever. d) determined and persistent. e) intellectual and quirky.
  2. What is your favorite season? a) Winter. b) Spring. c) Summer. d) Fall. e) It doesn’t matter. I love all the seasons!
  3. What do you fear the most? a) Global warming. b) Bullies. c) Weird noises at night. d) Getting bad grades in school. e) Not having enough books to read.
  4. If you could have any one of these animals as a pet, which would you choose? a) Penguin. b) Mouse. c) Cat. d) Lizard. e) Horse.
  5. In your free time, you like to . . . a) play fun games with your siblings. b) hang out with your pets. c) go exploring in the backyard. d) watch TV at home. e) relax and read a book.
  6. What qualities will your prince have? a) Ssph . . . Who cares? I don’t need a prince anyway. b) Charm. c) An adventurous spirit. d) Bravery. e) Intelligence.
  7. When you grow up, you want to be . . . a) an architect. b) a fashion designer. c) a pilot. d) a hair stylist. e) a librarian.
  8. Your go-to hairdo is . . . a) a cool braid. b) just tied back in a ponytail. c) pulled back with a headband. d) long and straight. e) a messy bun.
  9. Which awesome female celebrity do you relate to the most? a) Taylor Swift. b) Elle Fanning. c) Selena Gomez. d) Dove Cameron. e) Emma Watson.
  10. Which is your favorite quote? a) “Don’t let what you can’t do stop you from doing what you can do.” – John Wooden  b) “It’s not what happens to you, but how you react to it that matters.” – Epictetus  c) “Yesterday is history. Tomorrow is a mystery. Today is a gift. That’s why we call it The Present.” – Eleanor Roosevelt  d) “You’re braver than you believe, and stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think.” – A.A. Milne  e) “The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more you learn, the more places you’ll go!” – Dr. Seuss
  11. What is your favorite subject? a) Science. b) Music. c) Geography. d) Art. e) Reading.

Read on for your Princess personality Quiz results! If you picked . . .

Mostly A’s, you are Elsa!
You have a courageous spirit and you put the people you love first before yourself. All your friends admire you because you follow your heart.

Mostly B’s, you are Cinderella!
You are a classic princess who is kind. You have a deep love for all living things especially cute animals.

Mostly C’s, you are Jasmine!
You are adventurous and you love to travel. Your friends love you because you are down-to-earth and smart.

Mostly D’s, you are Rapunzel!
You are determined and independent. You don’t need friends around to be happy, but they come to you anyway because you’re so cool.

Mostly E’s you are Belle!
You are smart, witty, and you love to read books. Everyone loves you because you have amazing positive energy and you inspire them.

Which princess did you get? Let us know with a Comment below!

-Sandy, STACKS Staffer

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20. The BFG Readalikes

The BFG by Roald Dahl book coverThe BFG Readalikes

Excellent news, Roald Dahl fans! The beloved fictional giant, the BFG (Big Friendly Giant), will be coming to big screens in 2016. (There’s a joke on being larger than life in there somewhere . . . ) If you can’t get enough of the silly, sometimes surreal, and always heartwarming world of The BFG, here are some great books for ages 8-12 to read next!

Fantastic Mr. Fox by Roald Dahl
Mr. Fox is a smart and clever fox who feeds his family by stealing from a trio of cranky and cantankerous farmers named Boggis, Bunce, and Bean. Mr. Fox, his family, and his fellow animal neighbors are in a great deal of trouble after the mean old farmers decide to rid themselves of the sneaky and sly Mr. Fox once and for all. Their plan? To dig up Mr. Fox’s burrow and starve him out. But the three farmers are no match for the quick-witted Mr. Fox and his friends!

The Borrowers by Mary Norton
The Borrowers are definitely not giants—in fact, they’re so tiny they can live in the walls and floors of a house, completely undetected! The Clock family is one such family of Borrowers, and they live happily in a house in England . . . well, under the floorboards, anyway. Borrowers survive by staying undetected by the big “human beans”, but one day fourteen-year-old Arrietty Clock is seen by—and sees—a human boy!

Sideways Stories from Wayside School by Louis Sachar
When Wayside school was built, there was one major problem: it was built sideways! The building was supposed to be one floor with thirty classrooms, but instead it is thirty stories tall with one classroom on each floor. Each chapter of this book is about a teacher or student at Wayside School and the strange, wacky, and sometimes spooky things that happen in this strange, wacky, and sometimes spooky building.

Island of the Aunts by Eva Ibbotson
Three aging sisters, Aunt Cora, Aunt Etta, and Aunt Myrtle, live on an island where they care for a wide range of wild and magical creatures. As they get older, they realize they need help—so they kidnap three children to teach and train to take over. However, while the children are fascinated (and sometimes frightened!) by the mermaids, selkies, and other exotic island inhabitants, their families back home will stop at nothing to get the children back. When the island is “discovered” by the people back home, all the creatures are in danger. Will the children and the Aunts be able to save their precious island?

The Chronicles of Narnia: The Magician’s Nephew by C. S. Lewis
When two children, Digory and Polly, discover that Digory’s Uncle Andrew has magic rings that can transport them to different worlds, they find themselves on a wild adventure that lands them in an abandoned city in an ancient world. There they find the lone survivor of the destroyed world, a queen named Jadis. When Jadis follows the children back to their home world in England, ultimate mayhem ensues. This is the first book in The Chronicles of Narnia series, so if you’re left thirsting for more (and you totally will, believe me!), you’ve got six more books of awesome!

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone by J. K. Rowling
Harry Potter is an orphan living with his horrible remaining family, the Dursleys. Bullied and abused and forced to live under the stairs, Harry learns on his eleventh birthday that he is actually a wizard…and that there is more to his parents’ death than he initially thought. He is whisked away to the Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, where he discovers the wondrous wizarding world, the dark cloud of mystery surrounding his parents’ murder, and the curious and frightening role he is to play in saving the world from the purest form of evil there ever was! Read all 7 books in the Harry Potter series!

Have you read any of these books? Which one is your favorite? Which one do you want to read the most? What books do YOU recommend for fans of The BFG? Share your thoughts and recommendations in the Comments below!

En-Szu, STACKS Writer

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21. 11/11

Hey, I just noticed . . .

It's 11-11 o'clock on 11-11!

“Der Kitten office assistant” Flickr photo by snaxor

Hope you’re having a great day!

Sonja, STACKS Staffer

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22. 5 Books To Make You Feel Thankful

Recommend me!5 Books To Make You Feel Thankful

Thanksgiving is the fourth Thursday in November, and it’s my favorite holiday! I tend to get sentimental and weepy thinking about how lucky I am to have my family and friends. These books might make you cry, but they will also make you feel really thankful for the good things in your life . . . which is what Thanksgiving is all about!

see you at harrysSee You at Harry’s by Jo Knowles (5-tissue rating)
Twelve-year-old Fern feels invisible. It seems as though everyone in her family has better things to do than pay attention to her: Mom helps Dad run the family restaurant; Sarah is busy being a teenager; and Holden fends off bullies at school. Fern is usually the one left to take care of three-year-old Charlie, who always gets his way. But then tragedy strikes and Fern feels not only more alone than ever, but also responsible for the accident that has wrenched her family apart. This book is DEFINITELY a tear-jerker!

walk two moonsWalk Two Moons by Sharon Creech (4-tissue rating)
This is the story of a thirteen-year-old girl whose only wish is to be reunited with her mother, who left the family. So she embarks on a cross-country road trip to see her again. The ending of this book made me cry!

becomingnaomileonSmallBecoming Naomi Leon by Pam Munoz Ryan (3-tissue rating)
When Naomi’s absent mother resurfaces to claim her, Naomi doesn’t quite trust her or her mother’s new boyfriend. So, with her great grandmother and younger brother, Naomi runs away to Oaxaca, Mexico to find her missing father. The situation Naomi has to go through with her mother is truly sad, but Naomi is a strong person and love helps her come through in the end.

three times luckyThree Times Lucky by Sheila Turnage (2-tissue rating)
Mo LoBeau lives in the small town of Tupelo Landing, NC, where she washed ashore as a tiny baby in a hurricane eleven years ago. Although Mo hopes someday to find her biological mother, she’s found a home with the Colonel and Miss Lana, who take care of her and love her. When a lawman comes to town asking about a murder, Mo and her best friend set out to uncover the truth in hopes of saving the only family Mo has ever known. This book is an exciting mystery, but it’s also a story about sticking up for your friends and family when they are in trouble.

MatildaSmallMatilda by Roald Dahl (1-tissue rating)
At age five-and-a-half Matilda can do double-digit multiplication problems and read adult books. But her parents are horrible and don’t realize how special she is. Also, her school principal is a bully who makes the students’ lives miserable. The best part of Matilda’s life is her teacher Miss Honey, who understands her and loves her for who she is. This book is too funny to really be a tear-jerker, but it made me cry a little because someone once told me I remind him of Miss Honey (which is, like, the best compliment ever!) If you have a “Miss Honey” in your life, you should tell her how thankful you are because it will make her feel so happy!

What books make YOU feel thankful? Tell us in the Comments!

Sonja, STACKS Staffer

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23. Star Wars: The Force Awakens Characters

Meet the Characters in the New Star Wars Movie!

Set 30 years after Return of the Jedi (rated PG), episode VII The Force Awakens will also feature Luke Skywalker, Han Solo, and Princess Leia, but of course they are much older now.

star wars Luke, Leia, and Han

Photo courtesy of LucasFilm


There are also 3 important new characters. Here is what little I know about them so far. . .

Finn is a runaway stormtrooper whose TIE Fighter crashes on Jakku, a remote desert planet in the Outer Rim Territories. He also has a lightsaber in this picture. Where did that come from? Has he been trained as a Sith or a Jedi?Finn

Rey is a scavenger living on Jakku. She was abandoned there by her parents when she was 5 years old, so she’s, you know, pretty tough and independent. It looks like she and Finn become friends somehow.Rey

And Kylo Ren is the dark knight who wants to continue the evil reign of terror that Darth Vader left. He looks really mean, guys, and his lightsaber is homemade. How evil do you have to be to make your own lightsaber? He doesn’t look as scary as freaky red-eyed Darth Maul, but he does look like a pretty evil villain.


Strangely, we don’t have a picture of how Luke Skywalker will look in the new movie. Why? What are they hiding from us? Did he become a hermit like Ben Kenobi? Or has he gone to the dark side?? We won’t know for sure until December 18 when the movie comes out.

Are you a Star wars fan? What do you think of the new movie posters? Let us know in the Comments!

Sonja, STACKS Staffer

Photos courtesy of LucasFilm

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24. A Hunger Games Tour

Scholastic News Kids Press CorpsA Hunger Games Tour by Jordan Mundy

Have you ever wondered what it would be like to be on the set where your favorite book-turned-movie was filmed? I recently got the chance to visit the forest whereThe Hunger Games movie (rated PG-13) was filmed. I got to see the very place where Jennifer Lawrence acted as Katniss Everdeen and ran from the fireballs in the Arena. I acted out the scene where Josh Hutcherson portrayed Peeta Mellark, who was using camouflage to hide from the other tributes. It wasn’t on a set in Hollywood or New York City, but instead, in DuPont State Recreational Forest in North Carolina.

Jordan recreates the scene where Katniss finds Peeta’s blood in the Arena (DuPont State Recreational Forest, North Carolina).

The scenic area in Transylvania County is about 40 miles from my home in Asheville. I got to see where pivotal scenes from the movie were filmed on a special tour led by Hunger Games Unofficial Fan Tours.

Leigh Trapp owns the tour company. In an interview, she explained why she started the tours: “It’s kind of like when you go to Disney, and it’s almost like you’re in a magical world. I want people to have that same feeling. I want you to be able to walk into places where the people you love, the characters you love, actually do those things.”


The tour is a book lover’s paradise. After a long hike, visiting some “sets” along the way, we stopped at Bridal Veil Falls for lunch. Inside of our packs, we had a box full of “Survival Snacks.” These were foods that Katniss would have lived off of during the Games. Foods included beef jerky, bread, and even goat cheese made locally. The nightshade berries are “eat at your own risk.”

Emily Harper, 12, from Clemmons, North Carolina, was on the tour. She acted out some of the scenes with her cousin, Ava Campbell, 13, also from Clemmons.

“We got to recreate a lot of the scenes,” Emily said. “It was like, whoa! The actors were actually here, where we are right now.”

Some of the other activities included archery and camouflage. Tourists could practice archery and work some “movie magic,” disguising themselves as Peeta.

Hunger Games Unofficial Fan Tours offers the DuPont tours from March through October. I strongly recommend these tours if you’re a fan of the books or movies. As Trapp said, “I think people who love the books and then love the movies are some of the most interesting people there are. They’re always super fun. They’re bright, they’re smart, they read, and so it makes for great days.”

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25. Chipmunk Create a Caption


Flickr photo by Nina

Create a captionWinter is coming and it looks like this chipmunk only just got the memo. It seems pretty surprised about something!

What do you think this little guy is saying? Leave your caption in the Comments.

Sonja, STACKS Staffer

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