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1. Disney Descendants Video Interview

Disney DescendantsMeet Cameron Boyce, Sofia Carson, and Booboo Stewart from Descendants

Attention villains and heroes alike! The new Disney Channel movie Descendants premieres Friday, July 31, at 8 p.m.! Are you excited to see what happens after “happily-ever-after?” Well, I got the chance to sit down with Cameron, Sofia, and Booboo and discuss their roles in the movie!

BOOBOO STEWART, DOVE CAMERON, CAMERON BOYCE, SOFIA CARSON, MITCHELL HOPE, SARAH JEFFERY

Image credit: Disney Channel/Jack Rowand

It was a blast getting to know Cameron, Sofia, and Booboo. I could see the camaraderie and friendship between them as they poked fun at each other and laughed together. They all reminded me in good, not evil, ways of their characters in Descendants. It was clear how much they loved creating this movie. Watch my exclusive videos with the stars below!

They started off with some words of wisdom about lessons fans can take away from Descendants. Apparently, this movie has a lot to teach you about growing up and becoming your own person.

Things became even more interesting when I asked what they wished they had known before filming the movie. Watch their funny responses here. Seems like Cameron Boyce did not like wearing that tight leather jacket!

Want to see more videos? Descendants stars reveal their favorite villains, other villain’s kids they would like to meet, glimpses into their own childhoods, second chances, and what it means to be the fairest of them all!

I could have hung out with these awesome stars all day, and I can’t wait to see Descendants! Leave a Comment about the interview and what about Descendants you’re most excited to see!

Megan, STACKS Intern

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2. New Magnus Chase Series from Rick Riordan

the sword of summerThe First Book in the New Magnus Chase Series Comes Out October 6, 2015!

If you are a Percy Jackson fan wondering what to read next, then Rick Riordan has just solved your problem! He is the author of the Percy Jackson series, and he is writing a NEW series about a NEW demi-god. Get ready to meet Magnus Chase!

Book #1: The Sword of Summer

Magnus Chase has seen his share of trouble. Ever since that terrible night two years ago when his mother told him to run, he has lived alone on the streets of Boston, surviving by his wits, staying one step ahead of the police and truant officers.

One day, someone else tracks him down—his uncle Randolph, a man his mother had always warned him about. Randolph starts rambling about Norse history and Magnus’s birthright: a weapon that has been lost for thousands years. And also, Magnus’ father was a Norse god.

But he doesn’t have time to consider it all before a fire giant attacks the city, forcing him to choose between his own safety and the lives of hundreds of innocents . . .

DUN DUN DUUUUNN! *dramatic sound effect*

Will you be reading this new series by the author of Percy Jackson, Heroes of Olympus, and Kane Chronicles? Leave a Comment!

Sonja, STACKS Staffer

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3. Harry Potter Would You Rather

Harry Potter StampHarry Potter Would You Rather

EnergeticGriffin20 posted this Harry Potter Would You Rather Quiz on the Harry Potter Message Board.

Would You Rather . . . 

  1. Be a Slytherin or Gryffindor?
  2. Be a Hufflepuff or Ravenclaw?
  3. Get stuck in the Chamber of Secrets for 10 minutes or get stuck in a closed room with Dementors for 10 minutes?
  4. Be Professor Dumbledore or Professor McGonagall?
  5. Be a Quidditch player or not?
  6. Study Charms or Potions?
  7. Have a detention with Professor Snape or Professor Umbridge?
  8. Live with Harry Potter your whole life or live with Hermione your whole life?
  9. Be a professor at Hogwarts or a student at Hogwarts?

Leave your answers in the Comments and go visit the Harry Potter Message Board to join the conversation.

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4. Roller Coaster Name Generator

roller coasterWhat’s Your Roller Coaster Name?

I’m a sucker for a great roller coaster ride. Did it leave me winded? Did I almost puke? Did my soul leave my body at least once? Did I scream, “WHY DID I AGREE TO GET ON THIS RIDE?!” If yes to all the above, that was the BEST RIDE EVER! I’m always the one saying, “That was terrifying! Can we do that again? Pretty please?”

The major bummer about roller coaster rides, though, is that there are always waiting lines for the good ones that go on forEVER. If you’re looking for a way to pass the time, we would like to unveil our extremely awesome Roller Coaster Name Generator!!! Extra extreme! Extra wild!

If you’re new to our name generators, have no fear. Here’s how this works: Find the first initial of your first name in the list below. That word is your roller coaster first name. Then look at the list of the months below and find the month of your birthday. That word is your roller coaster last name. For example, my name begins with an E and my birthday is in March, so my new roller coaster name would be Sky Fury!

  • A – Monster
  • B – Crazy
  • C – Battle
  • D – Air
  • E – Sky 
  • F – Haunted
  • G – Iron
  • H – Mystic
  • I – Parachute
  • J – Magic
  • K – Pirate
  • L – Power
  • M – Rocket
  • N – Storm
  • O – Whitewater
  • P – River
  • Q – Nitro
  • R – Lightning
  • S – Dragon
  • T – Cannonball
  • U – Extreme
  • V – Slingshot
  • W – Space
  • X – Wipeout
  • Y – Cosmic
  • Z – Avalanche
  • JANUARY – Adventure
  • FEBRUARY – Loops
  • MARCH – Fury
  • APRIL – Drop
  • MAY – Whip
  • JUNE – Escape
  • JULY – Flyer
  • AUGUST – Runner
  • SEPTEMBER – Express
  • OCTOBER – Boomerang
  • NOVEMBER – Racer
  • DECEMBER – Chariot

Don’t forget to share your new Roller Coaster name in the Comments section below!

See ya later,

En-Szu (a.k.a. Sky Fury)

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5. Meet August Maturo from Girl Meets World

Girl Meets World stars August Maturo as Auggie AUGUST MATURO from Girl Meets World (Auggie)

Q: Is there an actor or an actress that you would love to guest star on Girl Meets World?
August: I would say President Obama and the First Lady to guest star because I really want to meet them.

Q: Describe Sabrina and Rowan in real life.
August: Rowan is always hugging and kissing me, and whenever I’m in the hallway she just runs and grabs me and calls me her love. And Sabrina is just like a little bird singing in the halls always.

AUGUST MATURO in Girl Meets World

Photo credit: DISNEY CHANNEL/Kelsey McNeal

Q: Your birthday’s in August, right?
August: Yeah. That’s not why I’m named August. My mom was reading in the magazine that she saw . . .
Mom: Mariska Hargitay was talking about her son, August, who was just born.
August: And she was going to name me Ocean. And she saw that and she said, “I’m going to name my kid August.”
Mom: My husband’s a surfer and I wanted to name him Ocean, but I just didn’t have the guts because it was so different and everyone was giving me a hard time. “You can’t name your kid Ocean.” So then I said, “Ok, I’ll name this one August,” when I saw the name. But then when I found out I was having another boy, I’m like, “I don’t care what anybody thinks. I’m naming him Ocean. I like the name.” I’ll set the trend. I don’t need to follow a trend. I let Auggie pick through the names.
August: It was Ocean or Silas, and I picked Ocean. And she didn’t care. She just named him Ocean. Don’t think what other people think of you.

Q: What is the thing that you’re most proud about doing?
August: Being a big brother to Ocean, and taking care of him, making sure that he’s always safe so he can learn more life lessons.

Q: What has made you laugh really hard?
August: Oh, every single day, every single night, any time, Ocean. He always makes me laugh – his Vines, his everything, really funny. I just have him do things and I videotape him with my iPad for the movie and we do it and it’s just . . . funny.

Q: Obviously you love acting but would you like to be anything else when you grow up?
A
ugust: Yeah. I would like to be lots of things when I grow up. Oh, top two? I’ll say . . . world traveler and . . . singer.

Q: What kind of music do you like?
August: Sabrina Carpenter’s new album. It’s called Eyes Wide Open. Her album is really good.
Mom:  It’s great. What’s your favorite song on that one?
August: “Right Now”.

Q: During the breaks on Girl Meets World, do you hang out together?
August: In my dressing room, if Ocean was there, I would play with him. If not, I would just play with my cast mates if they’re done with school and they’re not in rehearsal or filming.

Q: Have you ever been bullied?
August: Well, this boy bullied me. His mom died. He was bullying me because I had a mom and he didn’t have a mom.
Mom: We think that’s probably why he was bullying. So we explained to Auggie why maybe this boy was doing that because he was still hurting about losing his mom.

Q: If you could have only one toy, one game, one book, what would you like?
August: I would like an iPad that has lots of apps. It has all the apps in the world. I could get to it quickly. I wouldn’t have to swipe up to turn it on. Its battery would never die. It would still be at 100% and the memory would never get full.

Q: What is your favorite TV show?
August: How It’s Made – it’s on the Science Channel – because I just want to see how everything works and how it’s made. I want to be a scientist when I grow up, too.

Q: What do you do on your YouTube channel?
August: We do science videos. I have done “Rubber Egg and Chicken Bone”. It’s when you turn the egg – you don’t take the shell off, not hard boiled, just a regular egg – into rubber and a chicken bone, the leg, into rubber too. And you put them both in vinegar and the vinegar eats the calcium and it’s rubber.

We’ll do crazy science experiments, too. Ocean was saying, “Put this clay in a cup, mix it and put baking soda in it and it’s a weird experiment.”

Q: Do you have a favorite book now?
August: The Wayside School because it has lots of tales about the students and it’s really funny. It’s really funny.

Q: You actually read your scripts. When did you start doing that?
August: Yeah. I learned to read and write when I was two. I got a typewriter for Christmas and I can write notes and I’m going to write a script. I’m writing books too. I made my first book already. It’s called Uncle Cheese, and it’s about my uncle Steve. Because the three triplets that I have that are cousins can’t pronounce that so instead they call him “Uncle Cheese.”

Q: What grade are you in?
August: I’m turning eight this year. So I should be in third. But I’ve been in kindergarten for two years. I switched schools and they made me go back to kindergarten. Then I skipped second grade. When I’m going to turn eight I should’ve been in third grade, but in reality it’s fourth.
Mom: So he’ll be 16 when he graduates high school.

Q: Do you have advice for kids who might want to become an actor like you?
August: Get an agent and follow your dreams.

Interview by Marie Morreale

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6. Escape from Mr. Lemoncello’s Library

Escape from Mr. Lemoncello's LibraryNew Escape from Mr. Lemoncello’s Library Book Trailer!

Have you seen STACKS Writer En-Szu’s awesome video for Escape from Mr. Lemoncello’s Library by Chris Grabenstein? If you have ever thought about being trapped overnight in the coolest library in the world, watch this video!

Escape from Mr. Lemoncell's Library Video

Tell us what you think in the Comments! Are you already a fan of Mr. Lemoncello’s Library?

Sonja, STACKS Staffer

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7. Vegetarian Trivia Quiz

Trivia QuizKids Going Meatless: Interview and Trivia Quiz

We know a lot of you are curious about being vegetarian. I recently talked to a 7-year-old who gave up meat when she was 6, and here is her perspective:

Q: Why did you decide to become a vegetarian?
A: I don’t think it’s right to kill animals. It feels good because I love animals and don’t want to hurt them. It all started because I thought pigs were cute, when I was little.

Q: What foods do you choose to eat instead/ what are your favorite vegetarian alternatives?
A: Fake meat, rice tacos, and green beans. I also eat a lot of fruit, quinoa and cheese.

Q: What do your parents think?
A: They think I’m a picky eater and wish I would eat more vegetables. But they are proud of me.

Q: Do you miss eating meat?
A: No, because fake meat tastes like real meat. I just tried vegetarian breakfast sausage this weekend and loved it!

Pretty interesting, huh? Her parents are meat eaters, and always maintained a healthy diet through eating meat, so I thought it was pretty neat she reached this decision all on her own. Check out our quiz below for more vegetarian vision:

1. Name one thing a vegetarian would NOT eat.

2. What is a vegetarian called who ALSO doesn’t eat any animal products like eggs or dairy? Hint: it also starts with “veg.”

3. TRUE or FALSE. Ariana Grande, Debby Ryan, Demi Lovato, and Laura Marano are all vegetarians.

4. If you don’t eat meat, you might not be getting enough protein in your diet. Name a food you can eat that DOES contain protein.

Want to check your answers on the quiz? Look below…

1. Name something a vegetarian would NOT eat.
ANSWER: Any kind of meat like steak, hamburgers, hot dogs, chicken, fish, or basically any food that is an animal.

2. What is a vegetarian called who ALSO doesn’t eat any animal products like eggs or dairy?ANSWER: Vegan. A vegan doesn’t eat anything an animal produces. That means no cheese, milk, ice cream, or eggs. This is a much more strict vegetarian diet.

3. TRUE or FALSE. Ariana Grande, Debby Ryan, Demi Lovato, and Laura Marano are all vegetarians.
ANSWER: Absolutely true! Laura Marano even became the new face of the Humane Society’s Meatless Monday campaign, which encourages people to take a break from eating meat one day a week.

4. If you don’t eat meat, you might not be getting enough protein in your diet. Name a food you can eat that DOES contain protein.
ANSWER: Dairy, nuts, beans, soy, and tofu to name a few!

What about you guys? Is anyone out there vegetarian? Or do you prefer to maintain a healthy and good diet through eating meats? Let us know YOUR thoughts in the Comments below!

-Ratha, STACKS Writer

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8. Perfect Planet Writing Prompt

Writing promptDescribe Your Perfect Planet!

Even if you’re not an intergalactic space traveler yet, that doesn’t mean you can’t go exploring with your mind. So we want to know . . .

If you discovered the most perfect planet in the universe, what would be on it? What would it look like, smell like, taste like? What would you do if you could spend an entire day on your perfect planet?

I know what my perfect planet would be like. My perfect planet would look a lot like Earth, but way better. It would be super-duper green, just green fields for miles, and amazing forests, and breathtaking waterfalls and lakes. And it would be full of the friendliest, cutest animals (all vegan, of course, because it’d be stressful if they ate each other), and with trees that produce the most delicious fruit in the world . . . . regular fruit, but also fruit that tastes like pizza! And sushi! And hamburgers! And the bugs would all be very pretty, too, and not scary-looking or vicious. No mosquito bites on this planet! When the wind blows — only a gentle breeze — it would sound like an orchestra of tiny bells playing my favorite songs. There would be perfect sandy beaches where it never gets too hot, and even on the snowy mountain tops it would never get too cold. I would never need to wear more layers than a sweater over my t-shirt! It would always be perfectly sunny during the day and cool at night. The water running through the rivers and streams would taste pure and sweet, and nothing on the planet would be poisonous. The air would be ultra-fresh and randomly smell like cookies baking (the best smell in the universe)!

Let’s hear what your perfect planet would be like. Share your dream planet’s description in the Comments below!

En-Zsu, STACKS Writer

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9. Gamer’s Guide to Pretty Much Everything

Cameron Boyce and Sophie reynolds in Gamer's Guide to Pretty Much EverythingNew Disney XD Show Gamer’s Guide to Pretty Much Everything

Popular YouTube Personality Stampy Cat Guest Stars!

The dizzying global spectator sport of professional video gaming is captured in a new show Gamer’s Guide to Pretty Much Everything starring Cameron Boyce (from Jessie and Disney’s Descendants), premiering Wednesday, July 22 at 9:30 p.m. ET/PT on Disney XD.

GAMER'S GUIDE TO PRETTY MUCH EVERYTHING

Image credit Disney XD/Craig Sjodin

Cool and charismatic Conor gains notoriety as “KidFury,” a professional video game player, but he suffers a devastating thumb injury that forces him out of the glamorous pro gaming world. After years of being tutored on the international pro circuit, he begins high school for the first time and meets 3 fellow gamers, Franklin, Wendell, and Ashley. They team up to form the first ever gaming league at their school, and together they learn that building lasting friendships in the real world is more important than accumulating high scores in the digital one.

In the premiere episode, Conor desperately wants to get his pro card back, so he recruits Franklin, Wendell, and Ashley to play the game for him. However, a failed attempt to ditch school early to practice the game lands the foursome in detention with the toughest teacher in the school. The team must find a way to escape detention before the online gaming tournament begins if Conor has any hope of returning to the pro gaming circuit. Stampy Cat makes a cameo in this episode as the announcer for the pro gaming tournament.

Will you be watching this new show? And also, how dumb are they to try to sneak out of school early?? They deserve to get in big trouble for that! Tell us what you think in the Comments! And take the personality quiz to find out what kind of gamer YOU are!

Sonja, STACKS Staffer

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10. Book Wars: The Giver vs. The List

Book warsBook Wars: The Giver vs. The List

My Book War is between two books that I truly enjoyed: The Giver by Lois Lowry, and The List (for ages 12 and up) by Siobhan Vivian. I would compare a book to the Harry Potter series, but I don’t think anything in this world could be as great as the Harry Potter books! So on to my Book War!

What is the main idea of each book?The List is about the prettiest and ugliest girls in each grade of high school, according to an anonymous list hanging up all around the school. The book explores what life is like for each of the girls on the list. My favorite part of the book was being able to put myself in the ugly girls’ shoes. I enjoyed looking at what life would be like if I were considered the ugliest girl in my grade. I liked it because it not only shows the girls’ struggles, but how they deal with all of it. A girl who is named the Ugly One in the grade decides to not shower, change clothes, or be nice the entire week leading up to homecoming. She thinks that if people already think she is ugly, she can just live up to her image. Another girl is physically attractive and popular, but is named the ugliest because she is a mean person and is ugly on the inside. A freshman is very nervous about what her boyfriend might think about her being labeled as ugly. Her nickname is “Dan the Man” because she is masculine and a great swimmer. She looks to her boyfriend for support, but in the end, they break up. I really like this book because it shows how people see themselves as opposed to how others see them. It also shows how some people are strong and others are weak. The ending was very shocking . . . but I do not want to spoil the book for anyone who wants to read it. It is a relatable book that I think girls especially will enjoy.

The Giver is about a strange community where there is no freedom, no love, no emotion, no color, and no choice of anything. The main character, Jonas, is assigned to be the Receiver of the town, and the Giver has to give him memories of happiness, hope, sadness, disgust, and feelings of the past. Jonas decides that everyone else should feel emotions too, and he comes up with a plan with the Giver to escape the community and leave everyone with the memories he has received. My favorite part of the story is learning about the memories Jonas is taking in. Sometimes he learns about taking sleds down hills and sunny beaches in the summertime. Other times, though, he learns about horrible sunburn, war, and even death. He is stuck with the memories of everyone in the community; the good and bad memories make their way to him. I like learning what is in these memories because it shows everything that the community has chosen to lose and leave behind.

Do I recommend these books?
I do! I recommend both books, but to different audiences. The List is more focused towards girls who like mysteries. The Giver would be equally enjoyable to boys and girls who like imaginative stories about different ways the world might be.

Which book did I like better?
I liked The List better. Both books are excellent, but I felt more in tune with The List because it seems like something that could really happen. The Giver is a little too far-fetched for me, and confusing at times. However, it is definitely worth reading. Make sure to read both of these amazing books! And if you love The Giver, you should try these readalikes!

Grace, Scholastic Kids Council

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11. SPONSORED POST Kart Kingdom

Kart KingdomThis blog post is sponsored by PBS Kids.

Come one, come all to KART KINGDOM!

There’s an exciting new world of adventure and fun waiting to be explored! In Kart Kingdom, the new game from PBS KIDS, you can create your own character and build your very own kart. Once you start playing, you can begin to unlock new worlds, gadgets, and prizes! Meet new friends and explore the world together. kart kingdomIf you’re lucky, you might run into some of your favorite PBS KIDS characters like Team Wild Kratts and Odd Squad!

Play for FREE on pbskids.org and start your quest today!

Here’s what our kart looks like. Tell us about yours!

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12. Quark Dog Create a Caption

Create a CaptionCreate a Caption for Quark the Dog!

Quark sure is one excited golden retriever! I think he is in his kitchen trying to beg for some crispy bacon!

Quark Golden Retriever Dog

Here is my caption: “Bacon, bacon, I smell bacon. There’s only one thing that smells like bacon, and that’s BACON!”

What do YOU think Quark would be saying if he could talk? Write your own caption in the Comments!

Amanda, STACKS Intern

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13. Underdog Kids Karate Movie

Underdog KidsIf you like karate movies, then check out this inspiring, action-packed comedy, Underdog Kids (rated PG)coming July 7 on DVD. The film stars Adam Irigoyen (from Shake It Up! and Wizards of Waverly Place), Ryan Potter (from Big Hero 6 and Supah Ninjas), and Cade Sutton (from Kirby Buckets).

When the struggling Mid-City Community Center’s karate team loses their instructor a week before the big tournament, former MMA champ Jimmy “The Lightning Bolt” returns to his old neighborhood and reluctantly agrees to train the misfit bunch. Despite the struggles they face, the washed-up fighter and group of urban underdogs bravely take on the undefeated Beverly Hills Junior National Karate Team in the ultimate karate showdown at Nationals, and learn confidence, courage and honor along the way.

Watch this video from the Underdog Kids DVD to see the difference between the Beverly Hills team and the misfit underdogs! Can you guess which team is which?

Do you practice karate? What do you think of this new movie Underdog Kids? Leave your thoughts in the Comments!

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14. July STACKS Star

Stacks starsMeet BookwormFairy31!

This month, our STACKS Star is BookwormFairy31.

This awesome star loves to bike, dance, and swim. Her favorite subject is writing and she is aspiring to become a famous author one day. (Did you know she is currently writing her own series as we read and type?) When she is not writing, you can also find her reading books or eating her favorite snacks which include chocolate, french fries, and peanut butter cookies.

Would YOU like a chance to become the next STACKS Star? All you have to do is answer the questions below and I will pick one random user to be featured in the August STACKS Blast newsletter. Don’t forget to update your profile and avatar to make it look your best!

  1. What is your STACKS screen name?
  2. What is your favorite book genre and why?
  3. If you could be any fruit in the world, what would you be and why?
  4. If there was one thing you absolutely could not live without, what would it be?
  5. If you could give one gift to every child in the world, what would it be?

To get you all inspired, here are my answers:

  1. CleverPiglet15
  2. My favorite book genre is sci-fi/fantasy because I love all unicorns, dragons, and fairy tales.
  3. If I could be any fruit in the world, I would be a durian! It’s an Asian fruit that is spiky and hard on the outside, but soft and pretty on the inside. Some people don’t like it because they say it smells but I love it anyway because I think it’s delicious and I don’t mind being different.
  4. I could absolutely not live without a pen because I always need to write things down whether it’s my thoughts, things I need to do, letters to people, and pretty much everything.
  5. I wish I could give every child in the world my/their favorite book. Growing up, I used to always read and reread my favorite childhood book. I remember flipping through the pages, reading the words, and then looking for the details in the illustration. It was my favorite thing to do and it never got old!

Leave your answers in the Comments. I can’t wait to see your answers so start typing away!

Sandy, STACKS Staffer

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15. The Giver Readalikes

The GiverThe Giver Readalikes

If you’ve just read The Giver by Lois Lowry (and had your mind totally blown), chances are you’re on the lookout for something equally awesome to read next. But where do you start?! Have no fear, fellow fans! If you’re craving more mystery and adventure in a world full of secrets, check out this super-rad list of The Giver readalikes for ages 10 and up!

Gathering Blue by Lois Lowry
The author of The Giver takes us on a journey to a future very different from the one created in The Giver. After The Ruin, the world is now a bleak place with no technology. Kira, a young weaver, is taken to live in the Council Edifice after her mother dies. There, she is responsible for restoring the Singer’s robe worn at the Ruin Song Gathering, an annual ceremony for retelling the world’s past. In the process, she uncovers more and more about the truth of the Ruin and what she can do to change the future. See also Messenger and Son by Lois Lowry.

Running Out of Time by Margaret Peterson Haddix
Jessie Keyser, age 13, lives with her family in the village of Clifton, Indiana in the year 1840. When the children of the village fall ill with a deadly disease, it’s up to Jessie to find a cure — and that means discovering that her whole life until now has been a lie. The year is actually 1996, and the world outside of her hometown is radically different from everything she’s known. But even if she’s never seen a car, or television, or telephone, she’s still on a mission to save the children . . . and find out why this enormous secret was kept from her in the first place.

Holes by Louis Sachar
Stanley Yelnats has been unfairly sent to Camp Green Lake, but it’s not the kind of camp you’re expecting — it’s a boys’ detention center. At Camp Green Lake, there’s no lake in sight, just a dried-up lake bed. The boys spend all day digging holes 5-feet wide and 5 -feet deep. It’s supposed to “build character,” but it seems suspiciously like there is something else going on. What are the boys really digging for? What’s the warden looking for? Stanley’s hunt for the truth lands him in a whole lot of trouble, but he’s about to unearth the secret of a lifetime!

The City of Ember by Jeanne DuPrau
Humankind has survived the end of the world in the city of Ember, protected by a dome overhead and surrounded by darkness. For 241 years, humans have lived in this city that is lit for 12 hours a day by lamps. There used to be a way to get out, but the instructions have been long lost . . . or have they? With blackouts happening more often and storerooms getting dangerously empty, it’s up to 12-year-olds Doon and Lina to find a way to save humanity.

The Finisher by David Baldacci
Vega Jane, age 14, has always believed there is no life outside of her village of Wormwood — just deadly and mysterious creatures that roam the surrounding forest, called the Quag. That all changes when she spots her mentor Quentin fleeing into the unknown and finds a note he’s left behind for her. What was Quentin running from, and what was he running towards? Vega is about to be tossed into a thrilling and terrifying adventure where each answer just brings more and more questions.

The Ear, the Eye, and the Arm by Nancy Farmer
Welcome to Harare, Zimbabwe in the year 2194. The 3 children of military leader General Amadeus Matsika have just been kidnapped and spirited away from their robotically protected and controlled home, and are about to learn a whole lot about the world outside their front door. Sent on a mission to rescue the kids are 3 mutant detectives from an agency called The Ear, the Eye and the Arm. The past, present, and future collide in this rollicking adventure that will take you deep into a fantastical world of mile-high skyscrapers, slums, plastic mines, witchcraft, strange traditions, street gangs, bizarre technology, and more!

The Last Book in the Universe by Rodman Philbrick
When the world more or less ended in the “Big Shake” a select group of people sealed themselves off in the land of Eden and rebuilt a more perfect civilization inside its walls. Spaz, an epileptic teenager, lives in the Urb — the land outside of Eden — and in constant fear of the gangs that freely roam there. When a gang sends him to rob an old man named Ryter, Spaz stumbles across something truly sacred: the pages of the last book in the universe, which Ryter has been writing. In this toxic wasteland, Ryter may hold the key to finding a way to save the rest of the “normals” left out of Eden.

Thank goodness it’s summertime, because these readalikes are going to make a great addition to my summer reading list! Have you read any of these readalikes? What book would YOU recommend for fans of The Giver? Share your thoughts and picks in the Comments section below!

Happy reading, and I’ll see ya around! And you outdoor readers: don’t forget your sunscreen!!!

En-Szu

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16. Random Item Personality Quiz

Soo random!What random item are you?

  1. It’s the weekend! You’re most looking forward to . . . a) playing kickball with your besties in the park. b) hanging out with your dog. c) putting together an art project like a scrapbook or mural. d) spending quality time on the sofa, reading books and catching up on your favorite movies. e) volunteering!
  2. Your favorite song is . . . a) a catchy pop tune. b) a chill electronic track. c) very rock n’ roll! d) a beautiful ballad. e) at least 20 years old.
  3. You dream of living . . . a) in a fun, funky town. b) by the beach. c) in a tree house. d) on a beautiful farm. e) in an exciting city.
  4. You prefer to drink . . . a) water. b) fruit juice. c) chocolate milk. d) soda. e) tea.
  5. Your favorite kind of cupcake is . . . a) red velvet. b) birthday cake with sprinkles. c) chocolate. d) carrot cake. e) cupcakes aren’t really your thing.
  6. Your favorite book to read at the beach is something . . . a) mysterious but fun. b) super-silly. c) fantastical! d) that you’ve read before and loved. e) non-fiction.
  7. Your dream job would involve . . . a) traveling the world and helping people in need. b) working with animals. c) designing awesome things. d) making music. e) holding an important government position.
  8. You consider yourself a person who likes to . . . a) be prepared for any possible situation. b) go with the flow. c) keep track of important people and dates at all times. d) consider other people’s feelings first. e) take control of situations as a leader.
  9. You prefer to . . . a) hang out in large groups of people, strangers and close friends included. b) hang out with your close friends, but sometimes make new ones. c) hang out with just your close friends. You’re picky about company! d) hang out with whoever’s around. e) constantly make new friends.
  10. For your birthday, you would like to . . . a) go bowling. b) go to a theme park! c) have a sleepover party. d) have an awesome birthday dinner. e) go on a trip to a foreign city.

If you picked mostly A’s, you are a rubber band ball.
Rubber band balls are so underrated! Who doesn’t need rubber bands? From tying hair up to opening tricky jar lids, rubber bands do it all. As do you, bouncy friend! You’re upbeat, a team player, and always willing to help out someone in need. You’ve got so much energy and you can’t wait to use it in fun, productive ways. Yay for rubber bands!

If you picked mostly B’s, you are a pocket dollar.
What’s a pocket dollar, you ask? Why, only the most AWESOME SURPRISE EVER! Finding an unexpected dollar in your pants pocket is the most amazing feeling ever. Like the pocket dollar, you brighten everyone’s day, and help people find joy in the little– and big — things in life. You’re like a billion golden rays of the warmest sunshine, pocket dollar! Keep on shining!

If you picked mostly C’s, you are an old movie ticket.
“Wait . . . a stubby, old ticket? How is that awesome at all?!” Don’t fret, my friend. Old movie tickets are great reminders of the day we went to the movies. Did you go with your best friend, or a new one? Was it a rainy day? What did you do before and after? Whether it was a special day or a regular one, movie tickets have a strange way of making us remember all sorts of little details. You, old movie ticket, have a stellar memory. You never forget a birthday, you always remember everyone’s favorite ice cream flavors. Oh, old movie ticket, you represent the awesome memories! What would your friends do without you?

If you picked mostly D’s, you are an empty shoe box.
The empty shoe box may seem kind of useless, but just wait until it’s time to find a spot to store your seashell collection/lip balm library/pen pal letters. The shoebox is the perfect storage solution! And so are you. Like the empty shoebox, you’re super-versatile, and you’re also super-low-key. You bring out the best in the people around you by being calm, collected, and pleasant always. Don’t underestimate your value, empty shoebox!

If you picked mostly E’s, you are a safety pin.
There is no emergency you cannot handle. You are everyone’s personal cheerleader and speedy problem solver. You take the lead in every situation because you know that you make the best leader. You are always lively and willing to help, and your heart is always in the right place, safety pin!

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17. Book-Inspired Ice Cream Flavors

Ice creamDid you know that July is National Ice Cream Month?? Sounds like it’s actually the BEST MONTH EVER! I know that I’m gonna spend this month shoveling as much ice cream in my face as possible. No flavor is safe! And my favorite thing to do while eating ice cream is, of course, reading a book! Wouldn’t it be cool if we could combine our favorite books with our favorite ice cream to create book-inspired ice cream flavors? Read on for a few ideas of what I mean. . . 

Churros of Olympus
Cinnamon-y sweet, this delicious flavor will take your taste buds on one smooth ride. If you’re battling mythical monsters, toss a tub their way–they’ll definitely be distracted long enough for you to make a speedy getaway!

Kingdom Keepers’ Kashew Kraziness
This ice cream is a real roller coaster adventure! Extra nutty–just like your favorite Overtakers–you’ll find every bite chock-full of almonds, peanuts, Macadamia nuts, walnuts, cashew nuts, and fudge chunks. Even Maleficent would approve (and we all know how difficult she is to please).

City of Ember Elderberry Extravaganza
So what if you might be plunged into darkness for the rest of eternity? That’s going to be the last thing on your mind once you have a scoop of this delicious elderberry-flavored ice cream, sprinkled throughout with ember-colored toffee bits that provide a delightful crunch.

Dork Diaries Doughnut Delight
Doughnut chunks, caramel, and chocolate peanut butter cups swirled into the creamiest of vanilla ice creams . . . there’s nothing dorky about this flavor. Move aside, MacKenzie Hollister – this is the new queen bee (of the frozen food section, anyway)!

Mr. Lemoncello’s Amazing Lemonade Gelato
Of course Mr. Lemoncello wouldn’t have his own ice cream flavor . . . he’s much more of a gelato man! Each spoonful usually has a sour surprise, but you might just get a bite of synsepalum dulcificum, a berry that actually changes your taste buds and makes sour things taste sweet!

Holes
This isn’t actually an ice cream flavor, unless you consider air to be a flavor. Holes ice cream comes in a container that is 5-feet tall and 5-feet wide . . . and full of nothing. Surprise! But hey: eating Holes ice cream definitely builds character (or so we’ve been told).

Which of these wacky (but — admit it! — kind of wonderful) flavors would YOU like to try? What book-inspired ice cream flavor would YOU invent? Share your ideas in the Comments below!

Happy snacking!

En-Szu

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18. Minions Would You Rather

MinionsMinion Mayhem! Minions Would You Rather . . . 

We know you guys are big fans of the Despicable Me movies, and as you might know, the unofficial prequel Minions movie is hitting theaters July 10th! In the movie, we follow the minions in search of the perfect supervillain to work for before they met Gru. They try out Dracula, Napoleon, and the new character Scarlet Overkill.

Minions Operation GameAnd, this month only, if you subscribe to the STACKS Blast Newsletter you can enter for a chance to win a free Minions Prize Pack including the Minions Operation game and a Minions lunchbox! Subscribe here right now!

Now, get into the minion mindset, and let us know would you rather . . .

1. Be Stuart (one eyeball) OR Bob (small bald guy) OR Kevin (tall skinny guy)?

2. Be Dracula’s minion OR Gru’s minion?

3. Be able to understand “minion” OR speak 10 languages?

4. Be a supervillain OR superhero?

5. Battle The Incredible Hulk OR Darth Vader?

6. HAVE a sidekick OR BE a sidekick?

7. Eat bananas for a week OR watermelon for a week?

8. Have a dragon breathe fire on you OR a sumo wrestler sit on you?

Leave your answers in the Comments below, and let us know if you’re psyched for the movie!

-Ratha, Stacks Writer

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19. Very Deep 20-Question Quiz

Peep says Hi.Hi! Now that school is out, you have time to think about very deep, important topics that your brain just couldn’t focus on while you had so much homework to finish! Well, this quiz is your chance to go deep into your own heart and soul and tell us about the real you. We want to know . . .

  1. What is your favorite season and why?
  2. Do you prefer new beginnings or old traditions?
  3. What is your favorite place and why?
  4. What is your favorite food?
  5. In general, do you enjoy school?
  6. What is one thing that is very important to you?
  7. Do you think outside the box?
  8. What is your favorite subject in school?
  9. What genres of books do you like to read and why?
  10. Are you an optimist or a pessimist?
  11. Do you like happy endings, sad endings, or open (hopeful) endings?
  12. Do you prefer peace or excitement?
  13. Do you enjoy a lot of suspense in books?
  14. Name a few of your favorite books.
  15. Name someone you admire and why.
  16. What are you excited for in the upcoming year?
  17. What is something in your life that is bothering you at the moment?
  18. What is something about other people that is bothering you at the moment?
  19. Name a couple of books that have affected you in some way.
  20. When making an important decision, do you mostly consider the past, the present, or your hopes for the future?

Leave your answers in the Comments — to just 1 question or as many questions as you want to answer!

Sonja, STACKS Staffer

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20. Michael Northrop Tombquest Q & A

Michael NorthropTombquest author Michael Northrop talks about his books!

Q: Are any of your characters based on real people?
Michael Northrop: 
None of the characters are based entirely on real people—and I don’t know anyone who’s been brought back from the dead!—but they all have some bits and pieces and traits and tics from real people. As a writer, pieces of yourself make their way into all of your characters. I like to think that I have some of Alex’s determination, and some of Ren’s serious work ethic.Tombquest by Michael Northrop

I’ve also visited many of the places mentioned in the books, so I was able to bring real history and a real sense of place into the books. As a New Yorker, I’ve spent many hours at the Metropolitan Museum of Art (and in the subway system!) and I was also able to visit London and the British Museum, where Book 2 takes place. It did rain while I was there . . . just not blood rain.

Q: If you had to trade places with one of your characters for a day, who would it be?
Michael Northrop:
 That’s an easy one—I’d trade places with Alex and spend the day having a blast (of wind) with the scarab!

Q: In real life, would any of your characters be friends of yours? 
Michael Northrop: I like all of the main characters! Luke might be too cool for me, but if we found ourselves together we could definitely talk sports for an afternoon and probably catch a game. And Alex and Ren are a tight little BFF unit—they don’t necessarily need a third wheel following them around and trying to write down everything they say as research for the fourth book. So I’d probably end up hanging out with Todtman and practicing my horrible German.

Auf Wiedersehen!

Michael Northrop, Author

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21. Gregg Sulkin Answers YOUR Questions

Gregg SulkinGregg Sulkin from the new DVD movie Frog Kingdom (rated PG) is here to answer YOUR questions!

Q: Can you describe your character in Frog Kingdom? Do you have anything in common with him?Frog Kingdom
Gregg: I play Inspector Noggin but the movie is about a self-contained world, which is actually just a pond where all the frogs live. It’s a monarchical society with a king and queen and a princess. Every year, they hold the frog Olympic Games and this year, the king has decided to give away his daughter in marriage to the winner of the games. So Princess Froglegs runs away. She disguises herself to compete in the games and win to prove “she don’t need no man.” LOL. Inspector Noggin is one of the king’s advisors and a bit of a know-it-all Sherlock Holmes type. The King sends him off to find the princess and bring her back.
I couldn’t really relate because I like to listen and learn from people who are more knowledgeable than myself, whereas my character definitely doesn’t.

Q: What is your favorite scene in the cartoon Frog Kingdom?
Gregg: Probably Princess Frogleg’s scene at the games.

Q: How did you decide that you wanted to be in the Frog Kingdom?
Gregg: Mychal Simka and I had worked together before and I liked the idea of the film. Mychal wanted me on board, so I was happy to join.

Q: What’s your favorite book and why?
Gregg: Wow. Tough question – I read so many scripts I don’t have time to read books as much as I would like!

Q: Is it fun acting in shows and movies?
Gregg: It’s the best. I’m very lucky and I am very aware of that.

Q: What was it like to be a werewolf in Wizards of Waverly Place?
Gregg: It was awesome. The channel treated me very well and gave me a great platform to build from. I’ve developed as an actor and thankfully my fan base has grown massively too.

Q: What is your favorite food?
Gregg: Chocolate or cookies. I have a sweet tooth.

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22. Teen Beach 2 New Stars

Teen Beach 2Meet 3 of the new cast members from Teen Beach 2!

Teen Beach 2 is airing this Friday, people, at 8 p.m. on Disney Channel! Are you ready? The Wet Side Story gang will be traveling forward in time to Brady and Mack’s world. That means we will get to meet all their modern-day friends and schoolmates including 3 new characters: Alyssa (played by Piper Curda), Devon (played by Raymond Cham, Jr), and Spencer (played by Ross Butler).

TEEN BEACH 2 stars Piper Curda, raymond Cham Jr, and Ross Butler

Photo credit: Disney Channel/Bob D’Amico

Piper, Raymond, and Ross were visiting New York with the cast of Teen Beach 2, and they stopped over for a visit at Scholastic! Here is the whole cast celebrating in New York’s Central Park. Read on for more about my super-fun visit with Piper, Raymond, and Ross.

Teen Beach 2 Cast in New York

Photo credit: DISNEY CHANNEL/ Lorenzo Bevilaqua

They started off on a serious note recommending their favorite books in this video.

Then, things got very contentious when I asked them the Teen Beach 2 Would You Rather questions. Watch this video to see them argue it out!

So fun, right? It was really great to meet them, and I can’t wait to see Teen Beach 2 on Friday! Leave a Comment and tell us what you think!

Sonja, STACKS Staffer

 

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23. Random Acts of Kindness Writing Prompt

Hi!Random Acts of Kindness

So far this has happened to my friend TWO times . . . She was in line at the drive-thru Starbucks, and the person in the car in front of her paid for her order! Isn’t that crazy? So by the time she got to the window to pay, it was already paid for!

Sometimes I wonder about these random acts of kindness. If we all did something at least once . . .  one time a day . . . could we change the world one small step at a time? Or at least make it a little happier?

I love this quote by the Chinese poet Lao Tzu: “The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step.”

What do you guys think? There are at least a million ways to be kind! Let’s get a list going of acts of kindness that you can do anywhere to brighten someone’s day. Like . . .

  • including someone new into your conversation
  • giving away a few of your old toys you’ve outgrown to your neighbor’s baby
  • holding the door instead of barging ahead
  • saying “Hello” to someone in school you’ve never spoken to before

What else can you guys think of? We can’t wait to see your small acts of kindness. We’ll tally the count in the Comments below!

-Ratha, STACKS Writer

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24. More Vacation Questions

Would you rather . . .Vacation Would You Rather

Today’s Would You Rather questions come from from IpodClub36.

You and your family are planning a trip, so would you rather . . .

  1. Go meet your favorite famous movie star OR go to China?
  2. Go to Paris OR go to Texas?
  3. Go to Greece OR go to Italy?
  4. Go hike up a mountain OR swim with dolphins?
  5. Go play at your friend’s house OR just play in your back yard?
  6. Go to an art place OR go to a music place?
  7. Go to Oz :lol: OR go to Hogwarts? :lol:

Hoped you liked them! Leave your answers in the Comments!

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25. Least Favorite Good Character

Writing Prompt: Shout-outDebate: Your Least Favorite Good Character

There is a debate happening on the Harry Potter Message Board re: Who is your least favorite good guy? And TechnologyAthlete12 has some harsh words about Ron:

Ron. Yep I know a lot of you will be surprised but I just dislike Ron, as he is quite useless throughout the series other than the one time when he destroyed a horcrux. Other than that, all he does is take the female main character (Hermione Granger) as a wife and yeah. He really just slows things down, makes too much noise, and is too sensitive. I guess his family is okay as they help Harry quite a bit throughout the series, but Ron himself really does nothing. I guess he can be funny at times but that is the only positive thing that he does consistently throughout the series.

What do YOU think? Do you agree that Ron is useless? Who is YOUR least favorite good character? Tell us in the Comments!

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