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Viewing: Blog Posts Tagged with: playtime at the office, Most Recent at Top [Help]
Results 1 - 25 of 43
1. DinoWriMo: Great Ladies

Who was dinosaurs’ favorite children’s book review journal editor? (sorry, Roger)

Zena Sutherland

Zena Sutherland

Xenotarsosaurus Sutherland.



For more terrible puns, click the tag DinoWriMo.

The post DinoWriMo: Great Ladies appeared first on The Horn Book.

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2. DinoWriMo: Imprints

You know some fossils are imprints. But did you know what a dinosaur’s favorite imprint is?


ROARing Brook Press.


For more terrible puns, click the tag DinoWriMo.

The post DinoWriMo: Imprints appeared first on The Horn Book.

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3. DinoWriMo: Theme parks

What’s a dinosaur-publisher’s favorite theme park?



Scholastic Park.


For more terrible puns, click the tag DinoWriMo.

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4. DinoWriMo: Literary classics

What classic novel do dinosaurs love?


Allosaurus in Wonderland

tenniel alice in wonderland

For more terrible puns, click the tag DinoWriMo.

The post DinoWriMo: Literary classics appeared first on The Horn Book.

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5. DinoWriMo: Awards

How did the dinosaur get to the award ceremony?


By following the footPrintz.

nelson_i'll give you the sun

For more terrible puns, click the tag DinoWriMo.

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6. DinoWriMo: Authors

Who’s a dinosaur’s favorite children’s book creator?

Mac Barnett, Roger Sutton, Adam Rex

Mac Barnett, Roger Sutton, Adam Rex

Tyrannosaurus Rex’s kid-brother, Adam.

Adam Rex

For more terrible puns, click the tag DinoWriMo.

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7. Reading rainbow? Not quite

Yo, Marsala, I’m happy for you, I’ma let you finish — but Eggplant is the real Color of the Year. At least according to this entire shelf of purple-jacketed books.

purple books


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8. The Carrot Patch comes to us

Today’s mail brought a box of (foam) carrots*,

box of carrots

buttons, stickers, bookmarks,

wolfie swag

and a very nice note from Wolfie the Bunny author Ame Dyckman. Thanks, Ame! In our March/April Magazine, Wolfie receives a starred review and Ame tells us a bit about Wolfie’s eating habits; look for the issue in your mailbox very soon.

*I have to confess we had hoped they were chocolate carrots — there are some Wolfie-sized appetites for sweets in our office!


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9. T for two

Reading through the fiction reviews section of the May/June Horn Book Magazine: Special Issue: Transformations, I’m struck by the sudden urge for tea. One lump or two, protagonists?


Lost in the Sun by Lisa Graff: “I didn’t do it on purpose, obviously,” says twelve-year-old Trent Zimmerman. “Kill Jared Richards, I mean.”

Cuckoo Song by Frances Hardinge: “Eleven-year-old Triss Crescent wakes up confused after a terrifying accident.”

Nightbird by Alice Hoffman: “Twig Fowler and her mother keep to themselves so that their neighbors in Sidwell, Massachusetts, won’t discover their secret.”

Dear Hank Williams by Kimberly Willis Holt: “On the first day of school, September 1, 1948, eleven-year-old Tate P. Ellerbee learns that her class will be writing to pen pals.”

Adventures with Waffles by Maria Parr: “Young narrator Trille’s best friend is his next-door neighbor, Lena, almost nine, perhaps best described as a more-realistic Pippi Longstocking.”

The Boy Who Lost Fairyland by Catherynne M. Valente: “He lives an unhappy, bewildered life as ‘Thomas’ until Tamburlaine, a fellow Changeling, reveals her magical abilities and encourages him to find his own.”

t logo


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10. “What do you think of my labyrinth?” part 2

I don’t know anything about this book, but it came across my desk the other day and I had to point it out.


moulton_keepers of the labyrinth

You, dear cover, are not a labyrinth. You are a puzzle. Or a maze. You look neat. Really neat. But you’re still not a labyrinth.

The title page, however, has totally got this labyrinth thing down:

moulton_keepers of the labyrinth title page

The messages are a bit mixed, but that’s okay with me. Because The Universe is obviously trying to make contact with me via labyrinths.

It’s probably telling me to slow down, meditate, enjoy the world.

Or to eat more greens.

Who knows?


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11. 2014-2015 yearbook superlatives

grad cupcakeSummer is winding down (say it ain’t so!) and the new school year is approaching. Get into the back-to-school mood with our senior superlatives for characters in the class of 2014-2015. What superlative would you award your favorite character?

Best friends: Sam and Dave (Sam & Dave Dig a Hole); Pom and Pim (Where Is Pim?); Bear and Hare (Bear & Hare Go Fishing); Boom, Snot, and Twitty (Boom Snot Twitty: This Way That Way); Bridge, Tab, and Em (Goodbye Stranger); You and Me and Him (You and Me and Him)

Best unimaginary friends: Beekle (The Adventures of Beekle: The Unimaginary Friend); Crenshaw (Crenshaw)

Best frenemies: Adam and Koala (I Don’t Like Koala); Love and Death (The Game of Love and Death); Violet and Orianna (The Walls Around Us); Won Ton and Chopstick (Won Ton and Chopstick)

Best sibling-frenemies: Rodeo Red and Sideswiping Slim (Rodeo Red); Dot and Wolfie (Wolfie the Bunny); Raina and Amara (Sisters)

Cutest couple: Mr. Happy & Miss Grimm (Mr. Happy & Miss Grimm); Princess Decomposia and Count Spatula (Princess Decomposia and Count Spatula); Carolina and Trevor (Forever for a Year: “A touching, relatable, and highly appealing coming-of-age romance à la Eleanor & Park but with lots of sex”); Greta and Da-Xia (The Scorpion Rules); Richard Loving and Mildred Jeter (The Case for Loving: The Fight for Interracial Marriage)


Most likely to aim high: Carl Sagan (Star Stuff)

Most intelligent: Octopus (The Octopus Scientists: Exploring the Mind of a Mollusk)

Out-of-the-box thinker: Red (Red: A Crayon’s Story)


Most likely to finish third grade: Clementine (Completely Clementine)

Least likely to finish first grade: Mommy-boy (First Grade Dropout)

Least likely to finish high school: Denton (Denton Little’s Deathdate)


Class activists: Glory O’Brien (Glory O’Brien’s History of the Future); Knud Pedersen (The Boys Who Challenged Hitler)

Class clown (tie): The Clown, The Farmer (The Farmer and the Clown)

Most likely to win a Tony: Tiny Cooper (Hold Me Closer: The Tiny Cooper Story)


Best legs: Baba Yaga’s house (Egg & Spoon and Baba Yaga’s Assistant)

Best arm: Lizzie Murphy (Queen of the Diamond); Pedro Martinez (Growing Up Pedro)

Best wings: James (Nightbird)

Best eye: Gordon Parks (Gordon Parks: How the Photographer Captured Black and White America)

Best nose for news: Normandy (The Truth Commission)

Best bowtie: Roger (Roger Is Reading a Book)

Best shades: Audrey (Finding Audrey)

Best retro style: Momo (My Cousin Momo), Jessica (Friends for Life)


Best sweet-talker: Victor Lustig (Tricky Vic); Will Shea and Andrea Dufresne (Con Academy)

Biggest potty mouth: Little Bird (Little Bird’s Bad Word); Maria from Sesame Street (who knew?! Becoming Maria: Love and Chaos in the South Bronx)

Most likely to flip the bird: Nate (Read Between the Lines)

Most verbose: Noah Webster (Noah Webster: Man of Many Words)


World travelers: Gudrid (The Saga of Gudrid the Far-Traveler); Jane Goodall (Untamed: The Wild Life of Jane Goodall)

Home-bodies: Ollie and Moritz (Because You’ll Never Meet Me)

Worst sense of direction: Pablo (Lost in NYC: A Subway Adventure); A chicken (A Chicken Followed Me Home)

Best sense of direction: Osprey (The Call of the Osprey)


Varsity MVPs:

Football team: Arlo (Hit Count)

Swim team: goggles-wearing kids (Pool)

Baseball team: See “Best arm” above

Band: John, Paul, George, Ringo (Fab Four Friends: The Boys Who Became the Beatles)

Dance squad: Chicken Little and company (The Sky Is Falling!); Anna Pavlova (Swan: The Life and Dance of Anna Pavlova)

Bunny martial arts: Bunjitsu Bunny (Tales of Bunjitsu Bunny); Ninja Bunny (Ninja Bunny)


For more Horn Book silliness about books we love, see the 2015 Mind the Gap Awards and our yearbook superlatives for 2012-2013 and 2013-2014.


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12. #DinoWriMo

dinowrimo“It’s National Novel Writing Month!

“It’s Dinovember!

Stop! You’re both right! #DinoWriMo

More to come from The Horn Book @HornBook

(Spoiler alert: there will be puns. Terrible ones.)

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13. DinoWriMo: E-newsletter

What’s the dinosaurs’ favorite email newsletter?


Giganotesosaurus from the Horn Book.




For more terrible puns, click the tag DinoWriMo.

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14. DinoWriMo: Picture book heroines

What’s a dinosaur’s favorite literary grandma?


Stega Nona

Strega Nona by Tomie dePaola

For more terrible puns, click the tag DinoWriMo.

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15. Catchy titles

myers on a clear day Catchy titlesI was entering some new book titles into our database this morning and ran across the late, great Walter Dean Myers’s novel On a Clear Day (Crown, September 2014). Now for the last hour I’ve had Barbra Streisand in my head singing “On a Clear Day You Can See Forever” from the musical and film (starring Babs, of course) of the same name.

This got me thinking about other book titles I’ve run across over the years that also automatically make me think of a song title or lyric I know well — and then inevitably get stuck in my head all day:

Out of My Mind (Atheneum) by Sharon M. Draper / “Out of My Head” by Fastball

Across the Universe (Razorbill/Penguin) by Beth Revis / “Across the Universe” by The Beatles

I’ll Be There (Little, Brown) by Holly Goldberg Sloan / “I’ll Be There” by The Jackson 5 and by Mariah Carey (With this one, I end up with a mash-up of the two versions in my head!)

Stars (Beach Lane/Simon) by Mary Lyn Ray; illus. by Marla Frazee / “Stars” from Les Miserables

Stay with Me (Dial) by Paul Griffin / “Stay with Me” from Into the Woods

The Space Between (Razorbill/Penguin) by Brenna Yovanoff / “The Space Between” by Dave Matthews Band

How to Save a Life (Little, Brown) by Sara Zarr / “How to Save a Life” by The Fray

Just Call My Name (Little, Brown) by Holly Goldberg Sloan / “I’ll Be There” by The Jackson 5 and by Mariah Carey andAin’t No Mountain High Enough” by Marvin Gaye and Tammi Terrell

I inherited this habit from my musically-inclined mother who, any time she hears a line from a song she knows, will break out into song. But I’m sure we’re not the only ones who do this. What children’s book titles remind you of a song title or lyric?

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16. Kidlit crafts

Lately I’ve been drooling over the craft tutorials at EPBOT: Geekery, Girliness, and Goofing Off, another blog written by Jen Yates, mastermind behind the genius and hilarious Cake Wrecks. (If you’re not familiar with Cake Wrecks, start with “Grammar geeks, UNITE!” and gorgeous children’s lit cakes.) EPBOT is pretty much what it sounds like from the subtitle: tutorials for geeky, non-geeky, and home decor DIY projects; links to other geeky content (check out this Hobbit-themed birthday party); ooh, shiny! jewelry pictures; and cat pictures. In other words, awesome.

I’m geeky and crafty, but not frequently at the same time, so it’s nice to have some guidance in how to combine the two. I love how nerdy Jen’s tutorials are — both in aesthetic (with their geek culture content) and in approach (detail-oriented, thorough, efficient, authentic to the source material). They seem pretty idiot-proof, too, although I haven’t tried any myself yet… I can’t decide where to start! Here a few kidlit-related projects; click on the pictures for links to the tutorials:

epbot white rabbit mask and watch Kidlit crafts

White Rabbit steampunk mask and pocketwatch

epbot wands Kidlit crafts

LED light-up wizard wands…

epbot wand display Kidlit crafts

…and, of course, an Olivander wand display

epbot death eater mask Kidlit crafts

Deatheater masks (don’t you kinda want to be a Deatheater now?)

epbot frog and toad purse Kidlit crafts

book purse dos and don’ts

Now that I’m done fangirling over a fellow fangirl, I want to know: have you made any crafts inspired by favorite books?

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17. Snark week

In honor of Shark Week, here’s a list of recent YA books featuring sharp-tongued narrators with biting wit. (Thanks to WE television network, home of Will & Grace reruns, for giving us this idea for “Snark Week.”)

hattemer vigilantepoets 200x300 Snark weekHattemer, Kate The Vigilante Poets of Selwyn Academy
Middle School, High School    Knopf    327 pp.
4/14 978-0-385-75378-4 $16.99
Library ed. 978-0-385-75379-1 $19.99
e-book ed. 978-0-385-75380-7 $10.99
A reality show competition for the title of “America’s Best Teen Artist” comes to Ethan’s bohemian high school, and his best friend Luke proposes a “folk uprising.” Ethan gets fired up by Luke’s idealism, so he feels profoundly betrayed when their scathing long poem (à la Ezra Pound) lands Luke a spot on For Art’s Sake…Luke’s apparent objective all along. Ethan’s voice — self-deprecating, witty, and full of both literary and pop-culture references — makes him an appealing narrator for the madcap comedy, and readers will cheer as he takes a leading role in his own life.

Howell Girl Defective Snark weekHowell, Simmone Girl Defective
High School    Atheneum    303 pp.
9/14 978-1-4424-9760-3 $17.99 g
e-book ed. 978-1-4424-9762-7 $10.99
From the roof of her father’s failing used record store, fifteen-year-old Sky and her glamorous older friend Nancy spy a poster of a beautiful but sad-looking girl whose image lingers in Sky’s dreams. When Sky learns that Mia, the girl in the picture, was found dead in nearby St. Kilda harbor — and that Mia’s brother now works in the record store — she wants to learn more. Part mystery, part romance, and part unconventional family story, the book introduces an intriguing cast of characters, each of whom has his or her own mystery or problem to solve. Sky’s first-person narrative is observant, questioning, and self-critical.

maguire egg and spoon Snark weekMaguire, Gregory Egg & Spoon
Middle School    Candlewick    479 pp.
9/14 978-0-7636-7220-1 $17.99
e-book ed. 978-0-7636-7582-0 $17.99
An imprisoned man tells his story, Scheherazade-like, in letters to the tsar. He begins with Elena, a young girl in the impoverished Russian countryside, who meets well-to-do Ekaterina. Their lives collide and intertwine, sending the story in two directions: to a ball in St. Petersburg and deep into the forest to an unforgettable Baba Yaga — who is exactly the type of hardboiled, witty, snarky, and timeless a character as one could wish for from Maguire.

portes anatomyofamisfit Snark weekPortes, Andrea Anatomy of a Misfit
High School    Harper/HarperCollins    330 pp.
9/14 978-0-06-231364-5 $17.99 g
e-book ed. 978-0-06-231366-9 $10.99
Anika Dragomir looks the part of the blond-haired, blue-eyed All-American girl-next-door, but “nobody knows that on the inside I am spider soup.” On the first day of school, “nerd-ball turned goth romance hero” Logan McDonough fixes his smoldering gaze on Anika, and they begin a secret courtship — that gets even more complicated when God’s-gift-to-Nebraska, Jared Kline, asks Anika’s mom for permission to take her daughter out on a date. Anika’s observations are razor-sharp, especially when she is describing other people (and especially when she’s ragging on her own family: “My dad is Romanian and looks like Count Chocula. Seriously. He looks like a vampire”).

smith 100 sideways miles Snark weekSmith, Andrew 100 Sideways Miles
High School    Simon    277 pp.
9/14 978-1-4424-4495-9 $17.99 g
e-book ed. 978-1-4424-4497-3 $10.99
Finn Easton has unusual scars on his back, products of the freak accident that also killed his mother when he was a kid. He has a pretty good life otherwise: his sci-fi novelist father loves him; his best friend Cade makes him laugh; and he has recently met Julia, the girl of his dreams. After Julia moves away, crestfallen Finn embarks on a college visit with Cade, a trip that turns the boys into heroes. Finn has a funny, fluid narrative voice, and his banter with Cade is excellent — and often hilariously vulgar.

willey beetle boy Snark weekWilley, Margaret Beetle Boy
High School    Carolrhoda Lab    200 pp.
9/14 978-1-4677-2639-9 $17.95
e-book ed. 978-1-4677-4626-7 $12.95
As Charlie Porter convalesces from a ruptured Achilles tendon, his past — years of being paraded around in a beetle costume by his opportunistic father as the child author of the Beetle Boy series — resurfaces in nightmares in which he’s tormented by a giant beetle. Charlie wrestles with anger regarding the exploitation and abandonment he suffered as a child, guilt for escaping that suffering while leaving his little brother behind, and gratitude toward the crotchety children’s book author who cared for him. In her relentlessly honest but hopeful novel, Willey crafts a delicate psychological landscape through carefully timed flashbacks.

For Shark Week reading, click here.

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18. 2013-2014 yearbook superlatives

mortarboard chocolates 2013 2014 yearbook superlativesAs summer winds down and the new school year looms, we look back on the year that was. Here are our senior superlatives for characters in the class of 2013-2014. What superlative would you award your favorite character?

Wild-and-craziest: Mr. Tiger (from Mr. Tiger Goes Wild by Peter Brown)

Slow-and-steadiest: Giantess George (from Galápagos George by Jean Craighead, illus. by Wendell Minor)

Bravest: Peggy (from Peggy: A Brave Chicken on a Big Adventure by Anna Walker), Chicken Little (from Brave Chicken Little by Robert Byrd)

Most chicken: Alvin Ho (Alvin Ho: Allergic to the Great Wall, the Forbidden Palace, 
and Other Tourist Attractions by Lenore Look, illus. by LeUyen Pham)

Most zen: Koo (from Hi, Koo! A Year of Seasons by Jon J Muth)

Most loyal: Santiago (from Santiago Stays by Angela Dominquez)

Class clowns: the Vole Brothers (from Splat! Starring the Vole Brothers by Roslyn Schwartz)

Miss Congeniality: Princess Ko (from The Cracks in the Kingdom by Jaclyn Moriarty)

Mr. Congeniality: Jackson Greene (from The Great Greene Heist by Varian Johnson)

Cutest couple: Emily and Sam (from Just Call My Name by Holly Goldberg Sloan), Amy and Matthew (from Say What You Will by Cammie McGovern), Devorah and Jaxon (from Like No Other by Una LaMarche), Mouse and Mole (from Mouse and Mole, Secret Valentine by Wong Herbert Yee)

Most complicated love triangle: Alix, Swanee, and Liana (from Lies My Girlfriend Told Me by Julie Anne Peters)

Most likely to elope in Vegas: Holly and Dax (The Chapel Wars by Lindsey Leavitt)

BFFs: Rose and Windy (from This One Summer by Mariko Tamaki, illus. by Jillian Tamaki), Sophie and Bernice (from Sophie’s Squash by Pat Zietlow Miller, illus. by Wilsdorf), Pom and Pim (from Pom and Pim by Lena Landström, illus. by Olof Landström)

Best frenemies: Dog and Cat (from Dog vs. Cat by Chris Gall)

Best dancer: Josephine (from Josephine: The Dazzling Life of Josephine Baker by Patricia Hruby Powell, illus. by Christian Robinson), Rupert (from Rupert Can Dance by Jules Feiffer)

Best artist: Emily (from Emily’s Blue Period by Cathleen Daly, illus. by Lisa Brown), girl with red crayon (from Journey by Aaron Becker), prehistoric child (from The First Drawing by Mordicai Gerstein)

Best knitter: Needles (from When I Was the Greatest by Jason Reynolds)

Best dresser: Rose (from The Midnight Dress by Karen Foxlee)

Best/worst babysitter: Octopus (from Thank You, Octopus by Darren Farrell), Baba Yaga (from Egg & Spoon by Gregory Maguire)

Best car: Mike and Tschick (from Why We Took the Car by Wolfgang Herrndorf)

Best facial hair: George E. Ohr (from The Mad Potter: George E. Ohr, Eccentric Genius by Jan Greenberg and Sandra Jordan)

Best teachers:

French: Mr. Hulot (from Hello, Mr. Hulot by David Merveille)

Chinese: Norman (from Norman, Speak! by Caroline Adderson, illus. by Qin Leng)

Sex ed: Sophie Blackall (author/illus. of The Baby Tree)

Best bus drivers: Joe (from My Bus by Byron Barton), Gus (Gus, the Dinosaur Bus by Julia Liu, illus. by Bei Lynn)

NBA-bound: Josh and Jordan (from The Crossover by Kwame Alexander)

Future mathlete: Annika (from Annika Riz, Math Whiz by Claudia Mills, illus. by Rob Shepperson)

Future gymnast: Jake (from Jake at Gymnastics by Rachel Isadora)

Most likely to be a vet: Lulu (from Lulu and the Rabbit Next Door by Hilary McKay, illus. by Priscilla Lamont)

Most likely to win an Oscar: Kate Walden (from Kate Walden Directs: Night of the Zombie Chickens by Julie Mata)

Most eco-concious: Kate Sessions (from The Tree Lady: The True Story of How One Tree-Loving Woman Changed a City Forever by H. Joseph Hopkins, illus. by Jill McElmurry)

Most traveled: cat (from City Cat by Kate Banks, illus. by Lauren Castillo), dad (from Fortunately, the Milk by Neil Gaiman, illus. by Skottie Young)

Most likely to get abducted by aliens: Robbie and Marilee (from The Summer Experiment by Cathie Pelletier), Aidan, Dru, and Louis (from Little Green Men at the Mercury Inn by Greg Leitich Smith, illus. by Andrew Arnold)

Cutest siblings: Gaston, Fi-Fi, Foo-Foo, and Ooh-La-La/Antoinette, Rocky, Ricky, and Bruno (from Gaston by Kelly DiPucchio, illus. by Christian Robinson)

Weirdest siblings: Merciful and Gospel Truth (from Engines of the Broken World by Jason Vanhee)

Most dysfunctional family: the Romanovs (from The Family Romanov: Murder, Rebellion, and the Fall of Imperial Russia by Candace Fleming)

Most well preserved (for her age): Lady Dai (from At Home in Her Tomb: Lady Dai and the Ancient Chinese Treasures of Mawangdui by Christine Liu-Perkins, illus. by Sarah S. Brannen)

Poshest: Lord and Lady Bunny (from Lord and Lady Bunny — Almost Royalty!: By Mr. & Mrs. Bunny by Polly Horvath, illus. by Sophie Blackall)

Bathing beauties: Queen Victoria (from Queen Victoria’s Bathing Machine by Gloria Whelan, illus. by Nancy Carpenter), Elizabeth (from Elizabeth, Queen of the Seas by Lynne Cox, illus. by Brian Floca)

Night owls: Hannah (from Hannah’s Night by Komako Sakai), Chengdu (from Chengdu Would Not, Could Not Fall Asleep by Barney Saltzberg), Tippy (from Tippy and the Night Parade by Lilli Carré)

For more Horn Book silliness about books we love, see the 2014 Mind the Gap Awards and our 2012-2013 yearbook superlatives.

share save 171 16 2013 2014 yearbook superlatives

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19. Pete the Cat in the Big Easy

I just spent a week in New Orleans, a place I’ve wanted to visit since first reading Interview with the Vampire as a teen. The week held plenty of sights and experiences I’d been highly anticipating (a ghost tour, the Garden District, blues and jazz clubs, and — of course — beignets) and some I hadn’t expected (Mardi Gras beads hanging in many trees; the informative but emotionally intense National WWII Museum, which Cindy also visited last year; lots and lots and lots of rain).

litwin pete the cat i love my white shoes Pete the Cat in the Big EasyOne pleasant surprise during my trip to NOLA was an encounter with Pete the Cat, star of the series of picture books and early readers written by Eric Litwin and illustrated by James Dean. During a leisurely stroll in the French Quarter, I spotted Pete’s familiar face in the window of Gallery Rinard. My parents are huge Pete fans (and I’m an unrepentant cat lady), so I dragged my boyfriend into the gallery to take a look at Dean’s original art.

While the gallery offered lots of original canvases, prints, and even puppets of the cartoony Pete his picture-book readers will know and love, many of Dean’s paintings are geared towards adults in content and humor (such as this “Most Interesting Man in the World” Dos Equis commercial parody). A series of re-creations of well-known photos and paintings — including The Mona Lisa, Klimt’s The Kiss, and Munch’s The Scream — features cameos by Pete.

And much of Dean’s work portrays his feline friend in a softer, more realistic manner, revealing the artist’s deep affection for the real-life Pete. After quite a bit of deliberation, I eventually chose one of these as a souvenir for my parents:

 Pete the Cat in the Big Easy

“Pete the Cat: Weather or Not” by James Dean

Like Cindy encountering a Dahl book at the WWII Museum, I didn’t expect for my kidlit life to come out to play while I was on vacation — but I’m glad it did!

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20. More matchy-matchy

Apparently Katie’s not the only one with a matchy-matchy problem. Thanks to Lolly for noticing the similarities between the color palette of my dress (and for taking the picture)

lin dress More matchy matchy

and of Grace Lin’s Where the Mountain Meets the Moon (reviewed by, well, me, in the September/October 2009 Horn Book Magazine).
where the mountain More matchy matchy

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21. Jason Segel, we love you, man

segel nightmares Jason Segel, we love you, manOn Friday Cindy and I went to see actor Jason Segel discuss his new middle-grade novel (cowritten with Kirsten Miller) Nightmares! The sold-out event was sponsored by the Harvard Book Store and the nonprofit writing organization 826 Boston (program coordinator Karen Sama led the conversation with Segel). Cindy loves How I Met Your Mother (even the ending!), I love Freaks & Geeks, and we both love The Muppets. Segel is also the guy you may have seen naked in the very funny Saving Sarah Marshall (which he also wrote), and he was one of the bromantic leads in I Love You, Man.

segel kids Jason Segel, we love you, man

Photo: Cynthia K. Ritter

Nightmares! is his first children’s book, and he kicked off the event by asking everyone in the audience under age fourteen to raise their hands (there were a few). Later on he asked for kid volunteers to come up and read aloud from the book, instead of reading himself, which could have backfired but was awesome. “I’m like the Pied Piper,” Segel quipped as a girl named Tessa, two boys named Sam, and a cutie little one named Lucas came up onstage to read. Afterward he told them, appreciatively, “You’re so much braver than I would have been at that age.”

segel Jason Segel, we love you, man

Photo: Cynthia K. Ritter

The audience participation didn’t stop there. He asked people to share their nightmares; his as a kid involved a witch nibbling his toes (“because I have delectable toes”) and being chased around Dracula’s castle (“it was more Rococo than I would have thought”) which happened so frequently that he discovered a secret room where he could hang out and play video games. (Side note, and there were a lot of those: as a kid, Segel wore a Superman cape under his clothes “just in case” and carried the MYST game book around with him. Also? He’s been 6’4” since age 12 and the other kids used to jump on his back and chant “Ride the oaf!”)

And then there was the singing. During the Q&A a woman nervously asked: “What’s your favorite show tune?” “It’s gotta be the confrontation from Les Miz. Do you know it?” “Um, yes (giggle giggle).” “Ok, do you want to do it? Which part are you going to sing?” She chose Javert, and Jason sang his heart out as Jean Valjean (here’s how he did it with Neil Patrick Harris). The evening ended on an amazing note for fans with Segel at the piano doing the Dracula song (“‘Die… die… die…’ ‘I cahhn’t'”).

segel critter Jason Segel, we love you, man

Cindy in the signing line

If this guy isn’t the nicest, most genuine-seeming Everydude in Hollywood, well, he must be a truly great actor (slash-master-manipulator), because he seemed really thrilled (“This is so much fun! Seeing those kids read up there, that’s the coolest thing ever”) and humbled to be there — even after a two-hour-plus signing line that Cindy waited on. Any “grown man” (he was in his late twenties at the time) who “burst into tears” upon seeing Kermit the Frog “in person” and who also cried while sitting in “kind of a rough pub in London” after finishing Winnie-the-Pooh is a-ok in my book. I’ll even forgive his publicist for ignoring my Five Questions request *cough cough.* Jason Segel, we love you, man.

Quotable dude

Nightmares! was originally a screenplay I wrote at age 21, after Freaks & Geeks ended and I was unemployed and thinking, “I’m going to have to live with my parents forever.”

When I was a kid, movies like Labyrinth and The Goonies and Roald Dahl’s books made me believe I might find buried treasure. There’s still magic out there. You can catch a kid at the right age to say: don’t forget there’s magic…Kids’ imaginations are so much better than what you can put onscreen.

My mentor Judd Apatow said to me, “You’re kind of a weird dude.” Also [after Segel played him the Dracula song] he said: “Don’t ever play that for anyone else ever again.”

I’m willing to sit through the fear of doing something badly to get to passable. I tell myself: “I’m bad at this… right now”…The only thing I’m afraid of is being unprepared.

Coraline really scared me, and I’m a grown man!

Audience question: Who was your favorite actor growing up? Answer: Kermit. When you’re a kid, Kermit is Tom Hanks, Jimmy Stewart.

I wrote The Muppets when I was in London. With all those double-decker buses and furry hats, it’s a very Muppet-y place…The Muppets are Monty Python to a kid.

I did a Muppets screening at the White House and got to meet Barack Obama. He shook my hand and said, “I love you, man,” and I said, “I love you too, Mr. President!” It gets worse. Then I said, “You should come to the screening. There will be free snacks,” and he said, “Yeah, that’s what I’m missing. Not being able to get free snacks.”

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22. Look! Up in the sky! It’s…Super Roger!

bow tie Look! Up in the sky! Its...Super Roger!This week Roger talked with living-comics-legend Stan Lee about his new book Zodiac. That made us think of Roger as a superhero: his bow tie doubles as a boomerang! to chase down bad-guys! and retrieve books off high library shelves! It also made us think of Roger in tights and Spandex, which just made us giggle. [Ed. note: You laugh NOW…]

We ask: do you know any superhero librarians? Either librarians who could be existing superheroes (So. Many. Catwoman. Jokes.) or those who could helm their very own, all-new Marvel franchises. Admittedly, Bow-Tie Man isn’t the most scintillating. What are some other ideas?

I’ve always thought K. T. Horning must be able to fly, for example. And Julie Roach is always smiling. But I’m not saying she’s The Joker (though, like Heath Ledger, may he rest in peace, she is cute as a button).

You can also share your thoughts here, by letting us know how you library.

Also, is Stephen Savage’s Supertruck the cutest superhero around or what?

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23. Which All-of-a-Kind Family sibling are YOU?

AllofaKindAre you the type to gobble up your penny candy or savor it in tiny bites?

Can you imagine a world where candy costs a penny?

These and other important questions have been on our minds lately at The Horn Book, the Association of Jewish Libraries, and Lizzie Skurnick Books.

It all started when Elissa asked Lizzie Skurnick, who recently released new editions of the out-of-print books in Sydney Taylor’s All-of-a-Kind Family series, which sister from the series was most like her. The question— “which All-of-a-Kind Family sibling are you?” — drew excitement from Elissa’s fellow Sydney Taylor Book Award committee members, who are pumped to announce their choices for the best kids’ and YA books portraying the Jewish experience later in January. Before we knew it, a half-joking idea had turned into a full-fledged quiz.

allofakindfamilyFor those wondering, All-of-a-Who Family?, the books were originally published between 1951 and 1978 and chronicled the author’s childhood in a Jewish family with five sisters and eventually a brother. (By the time the last book ends, a second brother is on the way.) Middle child Sarah, who changed her name to Sydney in high school, wrote five episodic novels recalling her family’s adventures. Some of the incidents truly are adventures: Henny gets lost at Coney Island, Henny stands up for a boy accused of stealing. (Henny, as you can probably tell, is the adventurous and often mischievous one.) But many of the stories rest on the family’s ability to create fun with the very little they have. Mama turns dusting into a game by hiding buttons. Charlotte and Gertie put so much thought into how they’ll stretch their pennies that the planning is more fun than the spending. Oh, and the family observes the Sabbath and cleans for Passover (in the midst of scarlet fever!). When you’re in elementary school, it’s a heady feeling to read explanations of traditions you already know about. You mean, I thought, people who aren’t Jewish might be interested in what we do?

There’s one other reason I felt in-the-know: in a prime example of the small-world phenomenon known as “Jewish geography,” my New York-based family knew some of the real-life siblings. My cousin Rena Mills remembers “Aunt Syd” as a drama and Israeli dance instructor at Cejwin Camps. Rena says, “We eagerly and excitedly got ready for bed, so that she would come in our bunks to tell us stories. You can imagine how thrilled we were!” How All-of-a-Kind Family is that?

Well, Aunt Syd and her sibs probably couldn’t have imagined a Buzzfeed quiz, but creating one was more fun than market day! Are you an Ella, a Henny, a Sarah, a Charlotte, a Gertie, or a Charlie? Take the quiz and find out!


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24. Sam & Dean Dig a Hole

Mac Barnett and Jon Klassen’s latest, Sam & Dave Dig a Hole (Candlewick, October 2014), has been getting quite a bit of buzz (including Caldecott buzz) and has appeared on several best-of-year lists (including Horn Book’s own Fanfare).


With all that talk, I can’t be the only person to accidentally call it “Sam & Dean Dig a Hole.” Right?

sam and dean winchester dig a hole

The Winchesters at work

Especially given that “Sam & Dean Dig a Hole” is a major plot point in a significant number of Supernatural episodes.

Any illustrators out there want to draw me a mash-up? ;)


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25. New swag!

“Katie! There’s a pretty package for you!” Martha said this morning when the mail arrived. For me?

Sure enough, the holographic, hot pink package was addressed to me, and inside was…

ballet cat book

ballet cat tote

a galley of Bob Shea’s early reader Ballet Cat: The Totally Secret Secret (Disney-Hyperion, May 2015), a super-cute tote bag, and a letter addressed “Dear Friend of Ballet.” Being both a friend of ballet and a friend of cats, I claimed the tote bag before anyone else even got to see it. (MY Ballet Cat tote bag! MINE!)

Another recent delivery — also from Disney-Hyperion — was more conducive to sharing. A crate of apple-shaped stress balls emblazoned “Wickedly Good!,” “Bad Apple,” “Rotten to the Core,” etc., arrived to promote Melissa de la Cruz’s novel Isle of the Lost (May 2015).

isle of the lost crate

isle of the lost apples

Isle of the Lost is a prequel to the Disney Channel’s upcoming Descendants movie, which will follow the banished children of Disney villains such as Maleficent, Jafar, and Cruella De Vil. Tucked in with the “apples” was a note (which shrieks when you open it!) reading “We cordially dare you to share these wickedly good apples, produced on the Isle of the Lost.” All five stress balls went to happy homes on Horn Book desks.

Thanks, Disney-Hyperion!


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