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Results 1 - 25 of 68
1. Best Selling Middle Grade Books | December 2014

This month, Secrets of a Christmas Box, a fantasy novel where the Christmas Tree ornaments come to life once the family go to bed, is The Children's Book Review's best selling middle grade book.

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2. Best Selling Middle Grade Books | November 2014

This month we have some truly intelligent fiction for our middle grade readers that really are must-reads. The Children's Book Review's best selling middle grade book is a regular on the list: Star Wars: A Pop-Up Guide to the Galaxy, by Matthew Reinhart.

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3. Diversity – What does it mean for writers and young readers?

I’m thrilled to be back blogging after a stellar three-month summer hiatus. I completed the first draft to my contemporary YA, which is my MFA thesis. I attended a superb writer’s craft conference for the benefit of the non-profit Sierra … Continue reading

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4. My Writing and Reading Life: Anna Kang

Children notice and point out differences all the time, and it’s natural. But hopefully as we mature, we learn that all individuals are unique and that everyone is “different.”

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5. Linda Sue Park: The How of It: Making Every Word Count

Here's a fun fact about Linda Sue Park: She once was a contestant on jeopardy. Yes, she is that smart. Which is why this room is packed and ready to soak up her brilliance.

Linda Sue has written novels, picture books, and poetry for younger readers, including A Single Shard, winner of the 2002 Newbery Medal, and the New York Times bestseller A Long Walk to Water. Lin Oliver also introduces her as adorable, fun, and full of energy.

Stealing a note from Tim Gunn (from Project Runway), Linda Sue tells us, "Don't bore the editor."

We need to make every word count. But how do we do it? By using the tools of the writer's craft.

Linda Sue shows us photos of the many illustrators tools: brushes, paints, pencils, etc.

What do writers have?


As writers, we all use the exact same tool. That's all we've got so we have to use those words to the their maximum potential.

Linda Sue speaks to those in the room who believe they have a submission-ready manuscript. When you think your work is submission ready, Linda Sue suggests putting it away. Not for hours, but for a month. Or even two.

When you pull it back out you can make it better still, but how?

Linda Sue shares many practical way to examine the words you're choosing. Here are a few:

  • Choose a scene in your manuscript that has a lot of dialogue in it. Rewrite it entirely in dialogue alone. Then go back in and reinsert only the narrative that is completely necessary. 
  • Choose a small section of your manuscript and put it all caps. Doing this can make you examine the words differently. 
  • Read your manuscript out loud. Linda Sue reads each manuscript (even novels) at least two times before she submits. Have someone read it out loud for you, especially if it's a picture book.

Words are everywhere right now. They have become one of our cheapest currencies, which makes it even more important for the words in our stories to be special.

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6. Diversity Panel: Linda Sue Park

Linda Sue Park
Linda Sue Park is the Newbery Award-winning author of
A SINGLE SHARD. A recent title, A LONG WALK TO WATER, is a New York Times bestseller, and her picture book XANDA'S PANDA PARTY received three starred reviews. She's a master of both forms.

In 2003, Linda Sue was asked by School Library Journal to list three children's books that had meant a lot to her when she was a child. One of the books had an African hero, one had an African American boy as a hero, and the third was set in India. It had been 40 years since she'd read them, but the came back to her immediately.

"What these books showed me was that you didn't have to be white to be a hero." 

Linda Sue thinks anybody can and should be able to write about anybody or anything. But not all viewpoints are created equal. "If you are a member of the minority group, you are intimate with the dominant culture," she said. "You live in it. The reverse isn't necessarily true."

To write about something, you need a "passionate, personal stake" in it. Study a culture deeply. Learn a language (one writer she knows has learned 14 languages in the course of his research). There might be months or years of research into the culture, where you immerse yourself in it. Good intentions don't go deep enough. Not researching enough demonstrates a lack of respect. "That is what you are doing if you are not putting the time and the work and the passion into the story you want to tell."

When we write incorrectly about cultures, people feel disrespected, and readers get wrong information in their heads—and sometimes this wrong information never comes out. 

Also, when it comes to the sales potential of books with non-white characters, Linda Sue doesn't buy the notion that non-white people aren't a viable market. If they're not reading, then they are a huge, untapped market.

"Go hire whoever marketed 'Dora the Explorer,'" she said.

She had a plea for people who've read a diverse book they like: Even if you can't buy it, tell a librarian you loved it. That librarian will buy it and tell others, and that will really help a book succeed.

Learn more about Linda Sue Park
Follow her on Twitter

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7. The Diversity Panel Begins!

The Diversity Panel, from Right to Left: Moderator Suzanne Morgan Williams, Linda Sue Park,  Meg Medina, Lamar Giles, Sharon Flake and Adriana Dominguez

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8. A Preview of the #LA14SCBWI Diversity Panel

I connected with panel moderator Suzanne Morgan Williams to get the scoop:

Whether or not you're able to attend the sold-out SCBWI Summer Conference that starts this Friday, you can be part of the online river of information and inspiration by visiting The Official SCBWI Conference Blog and following our conference hashtag, #la14scbwi, on twitter. Oh, and by watching videos like the one above!

Illustrate and Write On,

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9. Linda Sue Park: The Pre-#LA14SCBWI Interview by Martha Brockenbrough

Check out Newbery Award-Winning and Best-Selling Author Linda Sue Park's interview with Team Blog's Martha Brockenbrough.

Linda Sue shares how research revs up her engine and tells us about the best piece of writing advice she's ever gotten - and how that's the secret to her process!

The SCBWI Summer Conference is almost sold-out, but you can still register and be there for all the inspiration, opportunity, business, craft and community it offers! You can find out all the details here.

Illustrate and Write On,

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10. What Does Bunny See? A Book of Colors Plus 6 Easy Color Activities for Kids

Teaching young children about colors can be fun if you get creative! Today I'm sharing a cute bunny-themed book of colors, plus 6 easy color activities for kids.

What Does Bunny See? by Linda Sue Park and pictures by Maggie Smith

Follow bunny along the garden path as she discovers a rainbow of flowers. Since the text is written in rhyme, you can even prompt your child to guess the next color before you turn the page. With its vibrant illustrations and adorable character, babies and toddlers will enjoy learning from this book. 

Be sure to follow up this story with one of these super simple color activities.


Repetition is one of the best ways for young children to learn new concepts, and presenting new concepts in different ways and in different contexts helps with the transfer of knowledge 
from one situation to another.


6 easy color activities for kids

1. Play "I Spy" with colors. "I spy something blue."

2. Sing a song about colors. "Spaghetti sauce is red, spaghetti sauce is red...I can think of lots of things that are the color red." Then try other objects and colors. 

3. Do the laundry. Sort the items by color {this is a great math skill builder too}.

4. Take a walk outside. Ask your child, "What do you see?" If he says "tree" - expand on that and respond, "Yes, a tree with green leaves and a brown trunk."

5. Create. Draw pictures with crayons, markers, or finger paints and name the colors as you go along.

6. Get moving. Play a game of tag by asking your child to run (or gallop, skip, or tip toe) to something of a particular color. Once they find and tag it, move on to another color.

If you are interested in trying a color mixing activity, check out this post.

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11. Video Sunday: Weirdly supple crystal balls

Oh good.

Now we have a rallying cry. Bonus.  Thanks to Maureen Johnson for the link.

Travis at 100 Scope Notes recently discovered the author video cache to beat all author video caches.  As he puts it”I challenge you to a good ol’ fashioned game of ‘I Bet I Can Find a Video Interview of An Author You Like’.”  Apparently Reading Rockets has done everything in its power to videotape many of the major power players out there.  Your Selznicks.  Your McKissacks.  Your Yolens.  There’s a Website and a YouTube channel so take your pick!  Talk about a useful resource.

Of course, if you want to save yourself some time and trouble you can just watch this trailer for The Chronicles of Harris Burdick.  But make sure you watch it until the end.

I could live a long and happy life in the belief that Chris Van Allsburg was some kind of a criminal mastermind.  Yup.

Do all the classic children’s authors also know how to draw?  I only ask because it keeps coming up.  Tolkien drew.  J.K. Rowling can draw.  Now apparently Philip Pullman does too.  Extraordinary.

A couple thoughts on this next one.

A: Check out those guns on Katie Davis!  Wowza!

B: Yes, folks, we all know that Tuck Everlasting didn’t win a Newbery. It’s okay.

C: When I start a band I am totally calling it Weirdly Supple Crystal Ball.

Book trailer time! This one comes to us courtesy of Jonathan Auxier.  He’s even gone so far as to write a post about the Five Things I Learned from Making My Own Book Trailer.  The piece is fascinating in and of itself.  The final product?  I’d say it’s worth it.

Sort of reminds me of last year’s Adam Gidwitz 6 Comments on Video Sunday: Weirdly supple crystal balls, last added: 9/12/2011

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12. Who Should Be the Next National Ambassador of Young People’s Literature?

Had a conversation with someone the other day about the next potential National Ambassador of Young People’s Literature.  A position created in 2008 by its sponsors The Center for the Book in the Library of Congress, the Children’s Book Council (CBC) and Every Child a Reader, from 2008-2009 the job went to Jon Scieszka.  In 2010, lasting until 2011, Katherine Paterson has the honor.  And on the distant horizon you can see it now.  In 2012 we shall have a new ambassador.

So give it to me straight, folks.  Who’s it gonna be?  The criteria for the job (and the illustrious selection committee) are visible here, but I have my own personal set of standards for this most desirable of jobs.  See if you agree with me or not:

- The Ambassador must have grown children if they have any children at all.  Why?  Because when you’re the Ambassador you get to zip about the country willy-nilly.  And frequent flyer miles, while all well and good, are not so hot when you’ve small fry desirous of your love and attention.

- The Ambassador must be personable.  Kids should dig the Ambassador.  Now you can be diggable (diggable?) any number of ways.  Jon Scieszka actually sweats charisma.  That’s his thing.  And Katherine Paterson is a big bold name of celebrity-like status.  So whoever comes next should either be infinitely likable on a stage in front of loads of schoolchildren, or you should see stars when you hear their name.

- The Ambassador should have a cause that he/she promotes that is not him/her own self.  Causes are super.  They allow The Ambassador to use his or her power for good instead of evil.  Scieszka’s baby is getting boys to continue reading.  Paterson’s (according to the slightly out-of-date Ambassador page) ties into the fact that she is “vice president of the National Children’s Book and Literacy Alliance , a nonprofit organization that informs, promotes, educates and inspires the American public to pursue literacy for young people and support libraries.”  See?  Easy peasy.

Now a couple names leap immediately to mind, but I’ve my own personal selection requirement in addition to those listed about.  For 2012 the Ambassador shouldn’t be another white guy or gal.  It’s the Ambassador for all kids, after all.  Let’s shake things up a bit.  With that in mind here are my two potential contenders:

Linda Sue Park – I’ve been hoping Linda would get this job for years, if I’m gonna be honest with you.  Let’s see.  Grown kids?  I think so (if not then they’re pretty darn close).  Cause?  Well she did some spectacular work with the books Click and A Long Walk to Water.  So yeah, I’d say she has a variety of causes she can promote.  Dynamic speaker?  And how!  The only possible poin

13 Comments on Who Should Be the Next National Ambassador of Young People’s Literature?, last added: 9/15/2011
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THE THIRD GIFT, by Linda Sue Park, illustrated by Bagram Ibatoulline (Clarion 2011)(ages 6+).  This elegant picture book tells the story of a boy learning his father's trade, of gathering an aromatic oleoresin called myrrh.  On one outing, he harvests an particularly fine sample, which is then sold at market to three men from the east.  They are, it seems, gathering gifts for a baby and already have gold and frankincense...

THE THIRD GIFT combines exceptional text and art to present a story of an ordinary boy's association with the third gift to the Christ child.  An author's note provides additional context and background.  A perfect Christmas gift and story for the ages.

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14. 4. The Third Gift

Written by Linda Sue Park
Illustrated by Bagram Ibatoulline
Houghton Mifflin, 2011
$16.99, ages 7-10, 32 pages

A father and son walk a desert collecting tears of sap for market, not yet knowing that the largest of those pearls will become a gift for a baby named Jesus.

In this evocative, masterfully painted story, Newbery Medalist Linda Sue Park joins with renowned illustrator Bagram Ibatoulline to weave a captivating tale about myrrh, the third gift given by the wise men to the Christ child.

Imagining a father teaching his son how to gather the treasured resin, Park describes the two walking with a basket, water-gourd and an ax across a landscape almost entirely of sandy rock to a grove of stunted and spiny trees.

The boy's father kneels by one of the gnarled trees "to see inside."  Gently, he feels the bark with his hands, and plucks off a leaf and sniffs, to determine whether its myrrh is ready to be harvested.

Finding a tree that is aged just right, he carefully selects a spot to wound, to cut a shallow X, so that the tree will weep. Then, making the cut, he watches as the sap bubbles up into a big tear.

After waiting for the tear's surface to dry into a shell, the father twists the resin off with his fingers and places it in their basket.

On this day, as the two are finishing their harvest, they see the biggest tear yet. It's the size of a hen's egg and the boy's father gives his son the honor of teasing it off.

This tear and the others will bring good money at the spice market. Some people will buy them for medicine or to flavor wine, but most will purchase them for embalming loved ones.

Two weeks pass and soon it's time for the spice market. As they arrive to sell their tears, they're ushered into a tent where three wise

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15. PaperTigers Interview with Award-Winning Author Linda Sue Park

 Continuing our theme of Water in Multicultural Children’s Books, new on the PaperTigers website is an interview with author Linda Sue Park, in which she talks to us about her novel A Long Walk to Water, awarded the 2011 Jane Addams Children’s Book Award in the Books for Older Children category. Here are a couple of snippets to whet your appetite:

But of course, hope alone is never enough. In my experience, smart choices and hard work are essential as well, and my stories reflect that. It’s up to young readers to decide whether those values become important to them too. Hope, smart choices, hard work—that’s a pretty good formula in my opinion.

The most common reaction from young readers is that they want to meet Salva. I’m always sorry to have to disappoint them—Salva is now living in South Sudan, and working so hard that he doesn’t have much time to visit the U.S. At the same time, I find this response from readers truly moving. So often the people they dream of meeting are movie stars or professional athletes or rock musicians, and it’s terrific that Salva is right up there on that list!

When Water for South Sudan puts in a well, the knock-on effect is staggering. [...] Most important of all, nearly every village that has received a well has started a school for the local children, who no longer have to spend their days fetching water. Clean water directly linked to education—that was a real eye-opener for me!

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16. The Chronicles of Harris Burdick

The Toronto Librarians are on strike. There is no need to panic… Ahhhhhhhh! Failing to reach a labour agreement over the weekend 2,400 librarians went on strike. All 98 library branches across Toronto are close as of Monday. The library is asking borrowers to hold on to all checked out books and materials. No overdue [...]

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17. PaperTigers Themes ~ Water in Multicultural Children’s Books

Over the past few months the PaperTigers’ website has been focusing on  the theme of Water in Multicultural Children’s Books. If you haven’t visited the site lately do check it out and see what treasures we have compiled . Highlights include:

Interviews with:

Dutch photographer Taco Anema who tells us all about his project that took him around the world photographing children and water and resulted in his beautiful book Tales of Water.

Acclaimed author Linda Sue Park who talks with us about her award-winning book A Long Walk to Water.

The Illustrators’ Gallery which features the work of :

Acclaimed Indian artist Pulak Biswas.

Chinese artist Li Jian.

Water illustrations selected from previous PaperTigers Gallery features.

Personal Views:

A River of Stories: Water-Themed Stories for Multicultural Readers by Alice Curry (who we had a lovely chance meeting with at the 2012 Bologna Children’s Book Fair)

My Water Story by Deepa Balsavar

Book of the Month:

One Arm Point Remote Community School,
Our World: Bardi Jaawi, Life at Ardiyooloon

Magabala Books, 2010.

A stunning, encyclopaedic book put together by the children from the One Arm Point Remote Community School at Ardiyooloon in Western Australia, along with their School Culture Team, School Staff, and Community Elders, as well as others from the local community.

Be sure also to pay a visit to the PaperTigers Outreach site a

0 Comments on PaperTigers Themes ~ Water in Multicultural Children’s Books as of 4/30/2012 1:29:00 PM
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18. PaperTigers’ Global Voices feature with award winning author Holly Thompson (USA/Japan)~ Part 2

English-language Asia-set Children’s and YA Fiction ~ by Holly Thompson

Part 2 of 3 (read Part 1 here)

Some years back as we settled into our bicultural family life with young children here in Japan, although we were surrounded by books in Japanese and took full advantage of Japan’s healthy picture book and middle-grade market, we discovered that finding English-language reading material to support our bilingual children was no easy task. Because our children attended Japanese schools, English education happened in our home, and we needed a steady supply of English-language books. But libraries in Japan stock few English-language books, and bookstores here carry very few and at hefty mark-ups, so whenever friends or family visited from the U.S. they brought books to us. Returning from a trip back to the States, our luggage was always heavy with books. We book-swapped with families in Japan, we ordered from Scholastic with our English-after school group, and we pounced on book sale tables at international school fairs. At last, Amazon Japan with free and quick delivery of affordable overseas books came to the rescue.

Always on the lookout for books relating to our lives while raising our bilingual children, we soon became aware of a lack of English-language children’s books that reflect Japan. English-language picture books set in Japan were rare, and those that existed, we discovered, tended toward folktales and nonfiction. Where were the day-to-day stories that reflected the landscapes and people and value systems surrounding us? Where was Japan?

We treasured our Allen Say books, especially Kamishibai Man and Grandfather’s Journey.

We read and reread the bilingual Grandpa’s Town by Takaaki Nomura. We enjoyed folktale retellings like The Seven Gods of Luck by David Kudler and Yoshi’s Feast by Kimiko Kajikawa. and biographical works like Cool Melons—Turn to Frogs by Matthew Gollub. All excellent, but we were discouraged that such English-language titles set in Japan were few and far between.

Searching for other Asian cultures in English-language picture books yielded similar results—folktales, nonfiction and concept books, but few fictional stories set in Asia.

As the children grew older, we came to realize that even less common than English-language picture books set in Asia were English-language middle-grade and YA novels set in Japan and Asia. What we found was mostly historical fiction. Of course we read and loved Korea-set historical novels by Linda Sue Park, Japan-set novels by 0 Comments on PaperTigers’ Global Voices feature with award winning author Holly Thompson (USA/Japan)~ Part 2 as of 5/23/2012 10:49:00 AM

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19. PaperTigers 10th Anniversary: Top 10 Multicultural Children’s Books about Food – Double Helpings from Grace Lin and Jama Rattigan

We are extra lucky today as not one but two experts have concocted a gourmet feast of their Top 10 favourite multicultural stories about food.  It seems fitting that authors Grace Lin and Jama Rattigan should each select food as their theme, since they have both written stories revolving around tasty recipes – as you will discover by looking at each of their menus.  In fact, each has put a book by the other on her menu, while unaware that the other was cooking up their own recipe, so it seems fitting that we should bring you the whole spread for you to gorge on at a single sitting – and it’s also interesting to see which books come up as double portions…

Jama Rattigan is the author of Dumpling Soup illustrated by Lilian Hsu-Flanders (Little, Brown Books for Young Readers, 1998);  The Woman in the Moon: A Story from Hawai’i illustrated by Carla Golembe (Little, Brown Books for Young Readers, 1996); and Truman’s Aunt Farm illustrated by G. Brian Karas (Sandpiper, 1996).  As well as her website (check out the recipe for Dumpling Soup), Jama also hosts the truly delectable Jama’s Alphabet Soup, a must-visit blog for anyone interested in children’s books, food, or both at the same time.

Grace Lin‘s latest book is Starry River of the Sky (Little, Brown Books for Young Readers, 2012), the much-awaited companion novel to Newbery Honor Where the Mountain Meets the Moon (Little, Brown Books for Young Readers, 2009).  She has written and illustrated many books for a wide age-range of children, including The Ugly Vegetables (Charlesbridge Publishing, 1999) and Dim Sum for Everyone (Knopf Books for Young Readers, 2001); and picture books she has illustrated include Where on Earth is my Bagel? by Frances and Ginger Park (Lee & Low Books, 2001).  You can read our 2010 interview with Grace here, and view some of her beautiful artwork in our Gallery here and here.  And do check out Grace’s website and blog, where she has a fantastic giveaway on offer in celebration of the launch of Starry River of the Sky.

Top 10 Favorite Multicultural Picture Books about Food by Jama Rattigan

Whether it’s a big platter of noodles, warm-from-the-oven flatbread, fried dumplings, or a steamy bowl of Ugly Vegetable Soup, there’s nothing tastier than a picture book about food. You eat with your eyes first, then step into the kitchens or sit at the tables of friends and family from faraway places, all of whom seem to agree that love is the best seasoning for any dish, and food tastes best when it is happily shared. These tasty tales always make me say, “More, please!”

~ Apple Pie Fourth of July by Janet S. Wong and Margaret Chodos-Irvine (Harcourt, 2002)

~ Aunty Yang’s Great Soybean Picnic by Ginnie Lo and Beth Lo (Lee & Low, 2012)

~ Bee-Bim Bop! by Linda Sue Park and Ho Baek Lee (Clarion, 2005)

~ Cora Cooks Pancit by Dorina K. Lazo Gilmore and Kristi Valiant (Shen’s Books, 2009)

~ Duck for Turkey Day by Jacqueline Jules and Kathryn Mitter (Albert Whitman, 2009)

~ Hiromi’s Hands by Lynne Barasch (Lee & Low, 2007)

~ Hot, Hot Roti for Dada-ji by F. Zia and Ken Min (Lee & Low, 2011)

~ The Have a Good Day Café by Frances Park and Ginger Park, illustrated by Katherine Potter (Lee & Low, 2005)

~ The Ugly Vegetables by Grace Lin (Charlesbridge, 1999)

~ Too Many Tamales by Gary Soto and Ed Martinez (Putnam, 1993)



My Top Ten Food-Themed Multicultual Books by Grace Lin

In my family instead of saying hello, we say, “Have you eaten yet?” Eating and food has always been a successful way to connect us to culture, familiar as well as exotic–perhaps because it’s so enjoyable! So these books about food can be an appetizer to another country, a comfort food of nostalgia or a delicious dessert of both. Hen hao chi!

~ Hiromi’s Hands by Lynne Barasch (Lee & Low, 2007)

~ Ganesha’s Sweet Tooth by Sanjay Patel and Emily Haynes, illustrated by Sanjay Patel (Chronicle Books, 2012)

~ Bee-Bim Bop! by Linda Sue Park,illustrated Ho Baek Lee (Clarion, 2005)

~ How My Parents Learned to Eat by Ina R. Friedman, illustrated by Allan Say (Sandpiper, 1987)

~ Apple Pie Fourth of July by Janet Wong, illustrated by Margaret Chodos-Irvine (Harcourt, 2002)

~ Everybody Cooks Rice by Norah Dooley, illustrated by Peter Thornton (Carolrhoda Books, 1992)

~ Yoko by Rosemary Wells (Hyperion, 1998)

~ Auntie Yang’s Great Soybean Picnic by Ginnie and Beth Lo (Lee & Low, 2012)

~ Peiling and the Chicken-Fried Christmas by Pauline Chen (Bloomsbury, 2007)

~ Dumpling Soup by Jama K. Rattigan, illustrated by Lillian Hsu Flanders (Little, Brown, 1998)

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20. Best Kids Stories – December 2013

Best Selling Kids’ Books & New Releases

By Bianca Schulze, The Children’s Book Review
Published: December 1, 2012

Here’s the scoop on the most popular destinations on The Children’s Book Review and the most coveted new releases and bestsellers.


20 of the Best Kids Christmas Books

Oliver Jeffers on Writing, Illustrating, and Bookmaking

Christmas Board Books for Babies and Toddlers

How Picture Books Play a Role in a Child’s Development

20 Sites to Improve Your Child’s Literacy


The most coveted books that release this month:

Pandora the Curious (Goddess Girls)

By Joan Holub & Suzanne Williams

Ages 8-12

Huggy Kissy

By Leslie Patricelli

Ages 1-3

The Twilight Saga White Collection

By Stephenie Meyer

Ages 14 and up

The 39 Clues: Cahills vs. Vespers Book 5: Trust No One

By Linda Sue Park

Ages 9-12

Deadly Little Lessons

By Laurie Faria Stolarz

Ages 12-17


The best selling children’s books this month:


This Is Not My Hat

by Jon Klassen

Ages 4-8

Pete the Cat Saves Christmas

By Eric Litwin

Ages 4-8

Llama Llama Time to Share

By Anna Dewdney

Ages 3-5

Goodnight, Goodnight Construction Site

By Sherri Duskey Rinker (Author), Tom Lichtenheld (Illustrator)

Ages 4-8

Olivia and the Fairy Princesses

by Ian Falconer

(Ages 3-7)


“Who Could That Be at This Hour?”

By Lemony Snicket

Ages 9-12

LEGO Ninjago: Character Encyclopedia

by DK Publishing

Ages 6-12

Lincoln’s Last Days: The Shocking Assassination that Changed America Forever

by Bill O’Reilly

Ages 10-15


by R.J. Palacio

Ages 8-12

Insurgent (Divergent)

by Veronica Roth

Ages 14 and up




by Veronica Roth

Ages 14 and up

The Perks of Being a Wallflower

by Stephen Chbosky

Ages 14 and up

The Book Thief The Book Thief

by Markus Zusak

Ages 14 and up

Thirteen Reasons Why

by Jay Asher

Ages 12 and up

The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian

by Sherman Alexie

Ages 12 and up



Hunger Games Trilogy Boxset Hunger Games Trilogy

By Suzanne Collins

Ages 12 and up

Dork Diaries

By Rachel Renee Russell

Ages 9-12

Diary of a Wimpy Kid Box of BooksDiary of a Wimpy Kid

By Jeff Kinney

Ages 9 to 12

The Heroes of Olympus: The Demigod Diaries

by Rick Riordan

(Ages 10-14)

Matched Trilogy

By Ally Condie

Ages 14-17

This information was gathered from the New York Times Best Sellers list, which reflects the sales of books from books sold nationwide, including independent and chain stores. It is correct at the time of publication and presented in random order. Visit: www.nytimes.com.

Original article: Best Kids Stories – December 2013

©2012 The Childrens Book Review. All Rights Reserved.

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21. Weaving Currents

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22. Best Selling Middle Grade Books | September 2013

The best selling middle grade books in this list were gathered from the New York Times Best Sellers list, which reflects the sales of books from books sold nationwide, including independent and chain stores.

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23. X Marks the Spot (Part 3)

 Okay, y'all, we've talked about the catalyst of a

story: Part 1 HERE and Part 2 HERE.

So now I pick up where we left off.

The catalyst might also be situational; that is, a situation is presented

that grounds the reader in the story and reveals what the story is about. 

Sometimes the author chooses to ground the reader in character and setting before getting into the action. 

In A Single Shard, by Linda Sue Park, the catalyst doesn’t come until the second chapter. 

The main character is Tree-ear, a poor orphan boy who lives under a bridge with Crane-man. Park uses the first chapter to set up the story: the main characters, the setting, the time-period, the backstory. 

But the reader doesn’t yet know what the story is about. 

By Chapter Two, we have learned about Tree-ear’s fascination with potters, and, in particular, with Min, the most brilliant potter in the village. 

When Tree-ear accidentally damages one of Min’s belongings on page 18, Tree-ear asks the potter, “Could I not work for you as payment?” 
Now the reader is beginning to figure out what the story is about. 

On the next page, Min answers, “Yes, all right.” 

We are finished with backstory; we are finished with the setup. 

The action of the story is set in motion. 

Whether your catalyst is a specific action (an inciting incident), a piece of information revealed, or a situation, it should come as early in the story as possible.

Repeat after me: The catalyst should come as early in the story as possible.

1 Comments on X Marks the Spot (Part 3), last added: 9/10/2013
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24. Xander's Panda Party: Linda Sue Park & Matt Phelan

Book: Xander's Panda Party
Author: Linda Sue Park (@LindaSuePark)
Illustrator: Matt Phelan (@MattPhelanDraws)
Pages: 40
Age Range: 4-8

Xander's Panda Party, by Linda Sue Park, is, as you might expect, a picture book about a panda named Xander who wants to throw a party. It's also about inclusiveness and about battling loneliness. 

Xander wants to have a rip-roaring panda party. But this turns out to be a bit tricky, as he is the only panda in the zoo. So he expands his idea to invite all of the bears. But it turns out that Koala is actually a marsupial. He doesn't want to leave her out, so Xander has to expand the party to encompass all mammals. But then Rhinoceros wants to bring his bird, and so on, and so on, until everyone at the zoo is invited to the bash. Xander's generosity of spirit is rewarded at the end, when a very special new friend arrives at the zoo. 

Park's text is poetic, using lots of rhyme without being sing-songy. Like this:

"But Xander was the only panda. Just one panda at the zoo.
Xander sat and chewed bamboo. He changed his plans and point of view."

Doesn't that just beg to be read aloud?  And this:

"Xander's party preparations took great pains and perspiration.
"The menu needs some taste sensations, plus the proper vegetation!""

Delightful! This is a book that parents will be able to read over and over again, because the cadence is so enjoyable. There are also plenty of strong vocabulary words, like "congregating" and "fidgeted." 

The message of inclusiveness, while certainly present, is surrounded by the gentle humor of the story, such that it doesn't feel overwhelming. I like that it's not always obvious to Xander that he should keep expanding his party. He really struggles with the decision each time. This having to work to decide to do the right thing will certainly make the book resonate more with young readers. 

As rendered in ink and watercolor by Matt Phelan, Xander is adorable. His loneliness at the start of the book is palpable. His joy at the end will bring a smile to any reader's face. The other animals are sketched in, interesting though not quite realistic, but the focus remains on Xander. My favorite page is one filled with small vignettes, as Xander races about the zoo, inviting other creatures to his party, leaving a trail of colored envelopes behind. 

It sounds a bit trite to say that a picture book is heart-warming. But what can I say? Xander's Panda Party is heart-warming, entertaining, and eminently read-aloudable. It is not to be missed. 

Publisher: Clarion Books (@HMHKids
Publication Date: September 3, 2013
Source of Book: Review copy from the publisher

FTC Required Disclosure:

This site is an Amazon affiliate, and purchases made through Amazon links (including linked book covers) may result in my receiving a small commission (at no additional cost to you).

© 2013 by Jennifer Robinson of Jen Robinson's Book Page. All rights reserved. You can also follow me @JensBookPage or at my Growing Bookworms page on Facebook

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25. COMINGS & GOINGS: The Rochester Children’s Book Festival, November 16th

I’ve always heard great things about the Rochester Children’s Book Festival, but never got invited. I tried to weasel an invitation a few years back (clever Cynthia DeFelice reference), but that went nowhere. Finally, at last, I wore ‘em down. Good thing, too, because I’m hoping to promote my SCARY TALES series as well as, you know, meet some kindred, book-loving spirits. So if you are near the area — a teacher, a librarian, or merely a stalker — please stop by and say hello.

Some of the many authors & illustrators who’ll be there: MJ & Herm Auch, Julie Berry, Michael Buckley, Peter Catalanotto, Bruce Coville, Cynthia DeFelice, Jeff Mack, Daniel Mahoney, Matt McElligott, Linda Sue Park, Matt Phelan, Robin Pulver, Jane Yolen, Paul O. Zelinsky, and more.

Holy crap! What a list of luminaries! My knees are sweating already. I better pack a clean shirt.

I’m looking forward to it, with thanks to my publisher, the kind folks at Macmillan, for putting me up with a family of Armenian immigrants at a nearby trailer park for the weekend. I just hope they remember to roll out the red carpet. Remember, I’ll only eat the blue M & M’s.

Happily, the event places me in close proximity to my oldest son, Nick, who attends Geneseo College. And by “attends” I mean, I certainly hope so!

Over Halloween, he and some friends decided to go as “Dads.” I functioned in an advisory capacity, the content of which he politely ignored. My big idea was to get a Darth Vader helmet and cape, then pull on one of those t-shirts that reads: “WORLD’S GREATEST DAD!”

Because, you know, irony!

Anyway, check it out. Nick is the one in shorts, pulled up white socks, bad mustache, and “Lucky Dad” hat. Hysterical, right?

Lastly, hey, if you happen to be in Elmira, NY, on November 6th, or Richmond, VA, on November 13, you can catch a lively, fast-paced musical based on my book, Jigsaw Jones #12: The Case of the Class Clown.

I did get to see it a few years ago, with a knot of dread in my stomach, and came away relieved and impressed. Everyone involved did a great job and, to be honest, the story is sweet, too.

Here’s the info on Richmond, VA (where, coincidentally, I’ll be visiting middle schools in early December, mostly giving my patented “Bystander/Anti-Bullying/Author ” presentation. Anyway, the info I promised:

Families, elementary schools and preschools are encouraged to make reservations soon for performances of a children’s show.

A 55-minute performance of “Jigsaw Jones and the Case of the Class Clown” will be performed at 9 a.m. and 12:30 p.m. Nov. 13 at Civic Hall Performing Arts Center in Richmond.

The show is based on a children’s mystery series written by James Preller. Theodore “Jigsaw” Jones and his friend, Mila, are investigating who’s playing practical jokes. It includes music and humor.

“Jigsaw Jones” is presented by Arts Power, a professional theater company touring the nation.

Admission is $2 per student because a grant from the Stamm Koechlein Family Foundation is helping offset the cost for Civic Hall’s Proudly Presenting Series educational programming.

Teachers and chaperones are admitted free.

For Elmira, click here or call: 607-733-5639 x248 (and tell ‘em Jimmy sent ya!)

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