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1. Video Sunday: “You fill me with inertia.”

Hallo, folks!

So today is the last day of National Library Week.  In celebration, enjoy this delightful video from Common Craft for your average non-library literate layman.  If you are a librarian, show this video to those members of your family who heard you had to get a Master’s degree and asked you, “What? So they teach you how to put your hair in a bun and go ‘Shh’ all day?”

More info here.

There is a saying in my family: A music video isn’t viral until soldiers perform a version of it.  Admittedly it’s a relatively new saying.  The same might also be said for librarian parody videos, though.  When they’re doing a song you haven’t heard of, you best be looking that puppy up.  Case in point . . .

The moment he’s reading Beloved sort of stands out.  Otherwise, perfectly fine.  The ending is pitch perfect.  Thanks to Melanie for the link.

One more.  This time with a Taylor Swift-centric vibe.  Author Patricia Hubbell ought to be well pleased:

In other news I was so pleased to see James Kennedy and his 90-Second Newbery shenanigans appear on this recent episode of Kidlit TV.  You should watch it if, for no other reason, the fact that you get to see Ame Dyckman briefly prance.  And prance she does!!

Next up, the Mazza Museum!  I love that place, but the smiling blonde is way way way perky.

Speaking of perky, Scholastic ups the ante with a professional announcer talking up their summer reading challenge.  Not a bad idea.  Offer kids the chance to be in a world record and watch your participation numbers skyrocket.

And for our off-topic video, this week this post alerted me to the existence of this movie scene from the film Bedazzled.  This constitutes my new favorite thing.


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2. Never Ask A Dinosaur to Dinner (2015)

Never Ask a Dinosaur to Dinner. Gareth Edwards. Illustrated by Guy Parker-Rees. 2015. [April] Scholastic. 32 pages. [Source: Review copy]

First sentence: Never ask a dinosaur to dinner. Really, never ask a dinosaur to dinner. Because a T. rex is ferocious and his manners are atrocious, and you'll find that if he's able…he will eat the kitchen table. He'll grow fatter while the rest of you grow thinner, so never ask a dinosaur to dinner.

Premise/plot: The narrator shares with readers why they should never ask a dinosaur to dinner, why they should never share a toothbrush with a shark, why they should never let a beaver in the basin, why they should never use a tiger as a towel, why they should never choose a bison for a blanket, and finally why they should never share a bed with an owl. All in rhyme of course. This is a book all about the bedtime routine. It's a silly book, as you can tell.

My thoughts: I liked it well enough, I suppose. I think the rhymes worked for the most part. I can be a bit picky when it comes to judging rhyming books. I can get annoyed quite easily when it doesn't sound right. That being said, I didn't love this one especially. It was nice, but, not an amazing read.

Text: 3 out of 5
Illustrations: 3 out of 5
Total: 6 out of 10

© 2015 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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3. Prince of A Frog (2015)

Prince of a Frog. Jackie Urbanovic. 2015. [May] Scholastic.  32 pages. [Source: Review copy]

First sentence:  Once, in a faraway pond, lived a frog named Hopper who loved to play. He crooned tunes, but the fish thought he was off scale. He kicked like a pro, but the ducks thought he was quackers. Even the herons thought he was too odd to eat. Hopper just didn't fit in.

Premise/Plot: Hopper the frog doesn't fit in at the pond. He decides to leave the pond after listening to a turtle's advice. The turtle had spoken of a certain frog who was really a prince in disguise. She had told of a magical kiss that could transform him into someone "charming, brave, and loved." The frog heads off to find the princess. But his journey to his princess, well, it won't be quick and easy. And the turtle never spoke a word about the dangers of life away from the pond. (This book has a fox!) The frog may not have found his princess, but he found something better--a true friend.

My thoughts: Adorable! I loved the dog, Princess. I loved seeing these two become friends. I especially loved the illustration of them singing together. Overall, this is a sweet book that is so easy to love.

Text: 4 out of 5
Illustrations: 4 out of 5
Total: 8 out of 10

© 2015 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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4. The Life of Trees and the Tree of Life: An Annotated List of Multicultural Non-Fiction Picture Books About Trees

The Life of Trees and the Tree of Life: An MWD Annotated List of Multicultural Non-Fiction Picture Books About Trees

Tree of Life: The Incredible Biodiversity of Life on Earth, written by Rochelle  … <a class=Continue reading ...

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5. Best Selling Kids Series | April 2015

This month's best selling kids series from The Children's Book Review's affiliate store is the wonderfully educational series The Adventures of Riley.

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6. Ten Pigs (2015)

Ten Pigs: An Epic Bath Adventure. Derek Anderson. 2015. [April] Scholastic. 40 pages. [Source: Review copy]

First sentence: One pig. One very happy pig. "This bathtub is perfect for just me and you." But along comes Pig Number Two. Two? Two? This tub is too small for a duck, two pigs, and a bouncy ball!

Premise/Plot: One pig's oh-so-perfect bath with his ducky is interrupted multiple times--this is a COUNTING BOOK AFTER ALL--by pigs who insist on joining him in the tub. Each pig has his/her own bath toy. DRAMA is to be had within the pages of Ten Pigs. What will Pig #1 do to get his tub back to himself. He may resort to trickery!

My thoughts: This one is quite cute. I liked it. I liked the text. I liked the illustrations. It's just a fun read.

Text: 4 out of 5
Illustrations: 4 out of 5
Total: 8 out of 10

© 2015 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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7. Rapunzel: The One With All the Hair

Twice Upon A Time: Rapunzel The One With All The Hair. Wendy Mass. 2006. Scholastic. 205 pages. [Source: Review copy]

I wanted to enjoy this adaptation of Rapunzel by Wendy Mass. I'd read Wendy Mass and really enjoyed her work in the past. So my expectations were high, perhaps TOO high.

Both Rapunzel and the Prince are on the young side--around the age of twelve. So this isn't a fairy tale romance that sweeps you away. (Not that the original story is oh-so-romantic. Far from it, as I see it. The Disney movie is another story almost!) Was I reading it FOR romance? Not really. That's not where I was disappointed.

I'll be honest. I didn't enjoy the writing style or narration. The story is narrated by Rapunzel and the Prince. His name is Prince Benjamin. Both narrators are on the childish or immature side. (For example, Rapunzel is EQUALLY concerned about a pimple as being locked away in a tower by a witch.)

I guess what disappointed me the most was how light it was. It wasn't a substantive story in terms of characterization or action. It was almost impossible to take it seriously. Perhaps that was the point. Perhaps I was in the wrong mood for this one. But the writing wasn't wonderful or witty enough for me to see it as a comedic retelling. And it wasn't dramatic enough or action-packed enough for me to take it seriously.
© 2015 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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8. How Do Dinosaurs Stay Safe (2015)

How Do Dinosaurs Stay Safe? Jane Yolen. Illustrated by Mark Teague. 2015. [February 2015] Scholastic. 40 pages. [Source: Review copy]

First sentence: How does a dinosaur stay safe all day? Whether at home or at school or at play? Does he climb up too high? Or jump on his bed? Does he race on his bike with no helmet on head? Is he rough with the cat? Does he stand up on chairs? When Mama says "No!" does he run down the stairs?

I can't say that I liked How Do Dinosaurs Stay Safe? Then again, I'm not sure that I have "liked" any of this dinosaur series by Jane Yolen. If you're looking for a book written in rhyme about safety for a dinosaur-obsessed child, then this is the book for you. Especially if you can embrace the idea of a dinosaur having a human mom and dad and living in the modern day world. Wearing helmets, being warned of stranger danger, and knowing to call 9-1-1 in an emergency are all good things technically speaking. But the book is far from entertaining. Should picture books tell a story or teach a lesson? Can they ever do both? Should they do both? Do they have to do both? For those looking more for a book about safety than an actual story this one may be of some use.

Text: 3 out of 5
Illustrations: 3 out of 5
Total: 6 out of 10

© 2015 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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9. Emily Clement: Seven Essentials You Need to Know about Writing Literary Fiction

Emily Clement is an associate editor at Arthur A. Levine Books, an imprint of Scholastic. She has worked on books by Shaun Tan, Jaclyn Moriarty, Alaya Dawn Johnson, and Erin Bow, among others.

She manages her imprint’s international literature program, and has edited books translated from German, Dutch, and Russian. Emily attended Stanford University, followed by the Columbia Publishing Course, and translates children’s books from Italian. She grew up in Tempe, Arizona, and now lives in Brooklyn.

She talked to us about what that tricky word "literary" means, and how we can achieve it in our writing. But first, she told us the backstory behind a Russian novel coming out on the Arthur A. Levine spring list.

Called "Playing A Part," it was published just after Russie passed anti-gay propaganda laws. While it wasn't illegal for the book to be published, it could not be shelved with children's books.

After she read about it in The Atlantic, she looked into acquiring it, not knowing whether it was well written or appropriate for their list. She discovered a "gorgeous, beautiful, moving, and sensitive novel." And now it's the first young adult novel to be translated from Russian into English.

"It's crazy that hasn't happened before," she said.

The word "literary" is a tricky one for her. She doesn't love talking about books as literary or commercial because the two things aren't mutually exclusive. And some people are put off by the concept of literary, so she always tries to pair the word "accessible with it."

Here are four items from her list of seven essential literary qualities:
  1. It's about something. The book tackles a big idea and one of the larger themes of life, challenging the reader to think from a new angle.
  2. It has voice. Voice is informed by the character and his or her world, and makes your work engaging and feel authentic. 
  3. It has plot. You can tell if your plot is lacking if you can't explain your book's premise in a few sentences (and the usual cause is that your voice is getting in the way).
  4. It has resonant details. "Every piece of clothing, every meal, every book your characters read" is intentional. 
Some books Emily recommends for their literary qualities:

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10. It's the most wonderful MONTH of the year - Eve Ainsworth

Usually I hate February. It’s a dark, bleak little month. Rain dances through the days and frost greets every morning. You have no money and little motivation. Additional weight gained at Christmas still hangs from your waist like a guilty secret and the resolution to take regular jogs feels like a long forgotten joke.

Yep, it’s usually a month I enter with fear and loathing. It’s usually the month I put a big black cross through, before rushing back to bed and reading myself through it.
 Except this year! This year was different.
February 2015 would be significant for me in many ways.
      1.  I would leave my job
      2.   I would run my first Author visit
      3.  7 Days would finally be published.

Leaving my job was the first positive more. It was a tiring and stressful job that was no good for me in the long term. A job where I would go home and feel mentally and physically exhausted, barely able to think, let alone type. Resigning was like a strange release and I already know it’s the best thing I could’ve done. Yeah ok, we’re poorer. But I’m calmer and that has to be a good thing, right?
Next was a thing that filled me with fear. What doesn’t kill you, makes you stronger right? That’s exactly how I felt about stepping out of my comfort zone and entering a brand new school as an author.

I’d done events at my own schools, but this was new and alien. I walked into the building, clutching my bag and trying to ignore the gnawing feeling in the pit of my tummy. BUT it ended up being the best. The students I met were so lovely and engaged and so interested in both 7 Days and my work as an author. I left feeling both inspired and accepted. I realised the buzz I’d gained was a totally new and refreshing experience. This was good for me.

And finally, February was when 7 Days was let out into the big bad world.

And it was a lovely day. I had cake mid-morning (why not). I treated myself to a dress. I received lots of wonderful tweets from supportive followers everywhere. I chatted on-line to other fabulous authors who were being published on the same day. We were all doing different things, but we all felt the same mixture of excitement and anticipation.

Then in the afternoon, I received a wonderful bouquet of flowers from my publisher that so far I have managed not to kill (a new record I feel). 

Later, I went for a meal with my husband. I had a lovely cocktail and a delicious Caribbean curry and toasted the start of an amazing year.

Because it will be an amazing year. This will be the first year I can actually admit to myself that I have ‘done it’, I have accomplished a dream. And whatever life throws at me, whatever the new ups and downs – I need to remind myself of this one moment.

The moment when I became a published author.

The moment when I finally felt like me.

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11. Books of Love – For Kids

How will you be celebrating this Saturday February 14th?  Some see it as a chance to demonstrate the most romantic of gestures, showering their special ones with gifts of affection. Others only need to show an act of kindness to prove they care. Either way, whether it’s Valentine’s Day, International Book Giving Day or Library […]

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12. Monkey and Duck Quack Up! (2015)

Monkey and Duck Quack Up! Jennifer Hamburg. Illustrated by Edwin Fotheringham. 2015. [February 2015] Scholastic. 32 pages. [Source: Review copy]

First sentence: Monkey spied the bright blue sigh, hanging from a nearby vine. Rhyming contest, enter now! Register with Lou the Cow. Find a friend and rhyme in twos. (Winners win a three-day cruise!) Monkey screeched and turned to Duck. "Buddy, ol' pal, are we in luck! We can do this, we can rhyme! We're young, we're hip, we're in our prime. We'll find the perfect words to use, and then we'll win a three-day cruise!" "I'll say a rhyme, you say one back. Sound good to you?" And Duck said, "Quack."

Monkey and Duck Quack Up is an amusing picture book starring two good friends. Monkey, our hero, loves to rhyme. And he really wants to win the contest. He can picture it all: winning the contest, and enjoying the cruise.
But to win, he needs help from his friend Duck. If only, if only, if only Duck could do more--would do more--than say QUACK, QUACK, QUACK. Can Monkey find a way to win this contest with his friend?!

I liked this one very much. It was very playful. It reminded me--in a good way--of Jan Thomas' Rhyming Dust Bunnies. I'd definitely recommend this one.

Text: 4 out of 5
Illustrations: 4 out of 5
Total: 8 out of 10

© 2015 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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13. Such A Little Mouse (2015)

Such A Little Mouse. Alice Schertle. Illustrated by Stephanie Yue. 2015. [March 2015] Scholastic. 32 pages. [Source: Review copy]

First sentence: Way out in the wide world there is a meadow. In the middle of the meadow, under a clump of dandelions, there is a hole. And way down deep in the hole lives a mouse. Such a little mouse, with his smart gray coat with his ears pink as petals, with three twitchety whiskers on each side of his nose.

Such a Little Mouse is a concept book about seasons. It stars a little gray mouse. Readers learn what the little mouse does each day in spring, each day in summer, each day in autumn to prepare for each day in the winter. It is a simple nature-focused book. It is very descriptive, which is a good thing. I liked some of the details and descriptions. It provides a certain perspective of the world. The mouse is aware of his surroundings, and enjoys exploring and working.

I thought the illustrations were very well done. Especially of the mouse. I definitely enjoyed this one.

Text: 4 out of 5
Illustrations: 4 out of 5
Total: 8 out of 10

© 2015 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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14. Step Into The Spotlight (2015)

The Amazing Stardust Friends #1: Step Into the Spotlight! Heather Alexander. Illustrated by Diane Le Feyer. 2015. Scholastic. 96 pages. [Source: Review copy]

Marlo's mom has just joined the circus: joined as a chef. Her and her mom will now be living on a circus train. There are several other children for Marlo to get to know: some are performers themselves, some are children of employees and/or performers. Marlo really wants to become friends with the three Stardust girls: Allie, the acrobat, Bella, the animal trainer, and Carly, the clown. She's been told she can join the Stardust Parade IF she can come up with an amazing act of her own. She has just TWO days until the next performance. She's very determined and quite ambitious. Perhaps she can learn to be an acrobat? or a clown? or work with animals? Or perhaps not. Can Allie, Carly, and Bella help Marlo find her own way of being amazing? And will Marlo become a Stardust girl too?

This is an illustrated chapter book. I liked it. I did. It's a fun book with a playful premise.

© 2015 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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15. Short Review: Blue Lily, Lily Blue

The Raven Cycle #3: Blue Lily, Lily Blue by Maggie StiefvaterScholastic, 2014. Review copy from publisher. Sequel to The Raven Boys (Book 1) and The Dream Thieves (Book 2).

This continues the story of the search in Virginia for a missing Welsh king. The searchers are prep school students Richard Gansey III (the driving force behind the search), his friends Adam Parrish, Ronan Lynch, and Noah Czerny, and local girl Blue Sargent.

By the events of Blue Lily, Lily Blue, I'm not going to lie: it's complicated. There are a mess of characters, plus the search, plus the issues that the characters are dealing with in the present. Gansey is driven by his search; Ronan discovered dangerous family secrets, including his own ability to pull things out of dreams into the real world; Adam is a scholarship student with the drive for more and a serious, well earned chip on his shoulder. Noah has his own issues.

And Blue: Blue is from a family of psychics, without any real power herself, and with a curse upon her: her kiss will kill her true love. And since she's falling hard for Gansey, and since one of her aunts foresaw Gansey's death, it's, well, messy. Like life. Now take life and add in magic and history, myth and legend.

Readers know that I like when teen books have interesting adult characters: well, this has them and then some. The enigmatic Mr. Gray -- I mean, how often is a hired killer so sympathetic and likable? (And yes, I keep picturing him as Norman Reedus). Blue's mother has disappeared, but this allows other adults to move center. And Mr. Gray's boss also enters into the picture. It's not just magic and myth that is a danger.

The only frustration with Blue Lily, Lily Blue is there is still one more book in the series. So while the adventure moves forward, and questions are answered, there's still so much more to find out

Amazon Affiliate. If you click from here to Amazon and buy something, I receive a percentage of the purchase price.

© Elizabeth Burns of A Chair, A Fireplace & A Tea Cozy

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16. The Octopuppy (2015)

The Octopuppy. Martin McKenna. 2015. [March] Scholastic. 32 pages. [Source: Review copy]

First sentence: Edgar wanted a dog. But Edgar didn't get a dog. He got Jarvis. Jarvis couldn't do anything a dog could do. But Edgar couldn't deny that Jarvis was clever.

Premise/Plot: Edgar, the hero, isn't pleased to receive an octopus instead of a puppy. He wants Jarvis to act just like a dog would. Jarvis is smart, and, now and then, Jarvis tries to act like a puppy. But he can't keep it up, Jarvis always goes back to being Jarvis. Edgar doesn't really appreciate that until it's too late. Jarvis does NOT want to stay where he's not wanted. Now that he's gone, Edgar regrets his behavior. Will these two be reunited.

My thoughts: What a strange, strange book. The good news? Well, readers can see for themselves and judge this book by its cover. The strangeness is not at all subtle. Did I like it? Not really. In fact, I really didn't like it at all. I found the scene where Jarvis flushes himself down the toilet to be disturbing!!! Will other readers like this plot twist? Perhaps! Who knows? But this book is not a good match for me.

Text: 2.5 out of 5
Illustrations: 2.5 out of 5
Total: 5 out of 10

© 2015 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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17. Five Family Favorites with Todd Tarpley, Author of My Grandma’s a Ninja!

My sweet little boys somehow grew into teenagers, so we have to take a trip back in time to talk about the five books that are special to my family ... Read the rest of this post

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18. The Princess and the Pony (2015)

The Princess and the Pony. Kate Beaton. 2015. [June] Scholastic. 40 pages. [Source: Review copy]

First sentence: In a kingdom of warriors, the smallest warrior was Princess Pinecone. And she was very excited for her birthday. Most warriors get fantastic birthday presents. Shields, amulets, helmets with horns on them. Things to win battles with. Things that make them feel like champions. Princess Pinecone got a lot of cozy sweaters. Warriors do not need cozy sweaters.

Premise/plot: Princess Pinecone wants a pony for her birthday. The pony she wants is different than the pony she gets. The pony she gets is short and round and--depending on your point of view, either cute and adorable or ugly. She certainly can't imagine riding the pony, especially not into battle. The pony isn't very warrior-ish. But the pony has a way of charming the other warriors and even Princess Pinecone herself.

My thoughts: If pony farting books are your thing, then The Princess and the Pony may be just right for you. (I believe it got a starred review from Kirkus). Unfortunately,  I am not the right reader for the book. I found it odd and not charming enough.

Text: 2.5 out of 5
Illustrations: 2.5 out of 5
Total: 5 out of 10

© 2015 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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19. Audrey's Tree House (2015)

Audrey's Tree House. Jenny Hughes. Illustrated by Jonathan Bentley. 2015. [April] Scholastic. 32 pages. [Source: Review copy]

First sentence: "Your house is getting too small for me," said Audrey one morning.
"You do look much bigger than you did yesterday," said Dad. "But where will you go?"
"I haven't decided yet," said Audrey.

Premise/plot: Audrey has "outgrown" her house, or, so she thinks at the opening of this delightful picture book by Jenny Hughes. Audrey and her Dad go outside looking for a house--a new house--that is just right for the bigger-than-yesterday Audrey. They decide to build a treehouse. Side by side, they spend the day. But when evening approaches, well, Audrey realizes just where she belongs, where she'll always belong.

My thoughts: Loved, loved, loved it!!! Cute premise, cute illustrations, lovely text. This one just works really well for me!!! My favorite illustration is of Audrey in her Dad's sweater with the cat following along behind her.

Text: 5 out of 5
Illustrations: 5 out of 5
Total: 10 out of 10

© 2015 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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20. Scholastic Acquires Minority Stake in Make Believe Ideas

Scholastic has acquired a minority stake in Make Believe Ideas (MBI), a UK-based children’s book publisher. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

Make Believe is known for its educational books for babies and young children. The two publishers will reveal their first co-branded books for Early Learners ages 0–5 at the Bologna Children’s Book Fair next week. The series is slated for a global English language release in Fall 2015.

“Make Believe Ideas’ focus on early learning and creativity and its engaging product line extends our publishing program and fits seamlessly into our distribution channels at Scholastic,” stated Ellie Berger, EVP, Scholastic, and President, Trade Publishing.

“With a renewed focus on the importance of reading with babies beginning at birth, we are thrilled to expand our offerings in the global English language market with co-branded, gorgeous, colorful books that make reading and learning fun for babies and young children,” continued Berger.

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21. YouTube Sensation Jenn McAllister Inks Deal With Scholastic

JennxpennYouTube sensation Jenn McAllister (also known as JennXPenn) has landed a deal with Scholastic for a book called Really Professional Internet Person.

According to the press release, the 18-year-old internet star’s title will be “a personal and funny guide to creating successful online content and handling the pressures of internet fame.” It will contain pictures, screenshots, social media posts, and biographical stories.

Vice president and publisher Debra Dorfman negotiated the terms of the agreement. A release date has been set for September 2015. Click here to watch McAllister’s video announcement about this project.

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22. Graphix is 10 and reveals covers to new Craig Thompson and Jenni and Matthew Holm

When Scholastic launched its Graphix imprint 10 years ago, graphic novels were a novelty, if you can pardon the expression, in the mainstream publishing world. And kids comics were an unknown quantity—comics shops didn’t want them and bookstores didn’t know what to do with them. In the first wave, there were many miscues and misunderstandings at many houses along the way. But Graphix wasn’t the one making them. Granted, starting out a line with Jeff Smith’s Bone is about as much a sure thing as possible—6.9 million copies in print and counting. But picking Raina Telgemeier to do a Babysitter’s Club relaunch and eventually Smile, and Kazu Kibuishi to publish his Amulet series weren’t as sure—but they sure paid off. Along the way Graphix has picked up multiple Eisner Award wins and nominations, a Stonewall Book Award, a Boston Globe-Horn Book Award Honor, an Edgar Allan Poe nomination, and 14 New York Times bestsellers. They’ve published many more top cartoonists such as Doug TenNapel, Greg Ruth, Mike Maihack and Jimmy Gownley. And there’s more to come.

To celebrate their tenth anniversary—Bone: Out From Boneville was published in 20o5—Scholastic has some cool stuff on tap. To kick things off they’re revealing two covers for the first time:

SpaceDumplins Graphix is 10 and reveals covers to new Craig Thompson and Jenni and Matthew Holm

Craig Thompson’s Space Dumplins comes out in August. It’s the first kids book by the acclaimed author of Blankets and Habibi, and his first one in full-color, with Dave Stewart adding hues.

SunnySideUp Graphix is 10 and reveals covers to new Craig Thompson and Jenni and Matthew Holm

And the sister/brother duo of  Jennifer L. Holm and Matthew Holm, best selling authors of Babymouse and Squish have a new one as well: Sunny Side Up (August 25, 2015; ages 8-12), which is a semi-autobiographical story, their first.

In addition, 12 Graphix artists have created new art that will be offered as prints throughout the year at events and online. The line-up: James Burks, Nathan Fox, Jimmy Gownley, Matthew Holm, Kazu Kibuishi, Mike Maihack, Dave Roman, Greg Ruth, Jeff Smith, Raina Telgemeier, Doug TenNapel, and Craig Thompson. Events include ALA Midwinter (Chicago, IL), Emerald City Comic Con (Seattle, WA), Texas Library Association (Austin, TX), BookExpo (New York City, NY), ALA Annual (San Francisco, CA), Comic-Con International (San Diego, California), Long Beach Comic Expo (Long Beach, CA), Salt Lake Comic Con (Salt Lake City, UT), and New York Comic Con (New York City, NY).

Finally, on February  24, Graphic will publish BONE #1: Out from Boneville, Tribute Edition, with a new illustrated poem from  Jeff Smith and new tribute art from sixteen top artists.

Along with the cover reveal, Graphic has announced some future projects:

  • Two more installments in the Amulet series
  • A new graphic novel, as yet untitled, by Kazu Kibuishi
  • Books 3 and 4 in Mike Maihack’s Cleopatra in Space series
  • And from Raina Telgemeier, a nonfiction family story in the vein of  Smile and Sisters), a collection of short stories, and a fictional graphic novel.

It’s definitely worth giving Graphix and its founder, David Saylor, a tip of the cap. 10 years ago it was a gamble. Today it’s an institution.


4 Comments on Graphix is 10 and reveals covers to new Craig Thompson and Jenni and Matthew Holm, last added: 1/30/2015
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23. Little Red's Riding 'Hood (2015)

Little Red's Riding 'Hood. Peter Stein. Illustrated by Chris Gall. 2015. [February 2015] Scholastic. 40 pages. [Source: Review copy]

First sentence: Here and there, up and down, in and out, Little Red loved riding around his 'hood. One day, Big Blue Mama gave Little Red an important job. "Poor Granny Putt Putt is feeling run-down," she said. "Her oil is muddy, her exhaust pipe's exhausted, and her wiper fluid is wiped out. Please take her this basket of goodies right away."

Well. I almost don't know what to say about it. It's unusual and original all in one, I suppose. I'd never have thought about retelling the tale of Little Red Riding Hood in this way. The book is set in Vroomville, and all the characters are machines. Little Red is a scooter; Granny Put-Put is a golf cart; and the Big Bad Wolf, well, he's a very mean monster truck. The story is familiar enough, I suppose, in the end, yet it has an original feel to it. That doesn't mean that I personally love it.

Text: 3 out of 5
Illustrations: 3 out of 5
Total: 6 out of 10

© 2014 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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24. The Cats in Krasinski Square

The Cats in Krasinski Square. Karen Hesse. Illustrated by Wendy Watson. 2004. Scholastic. 32 pages. [Source: Library]

The cats come from the cracks in the Wall, the dark corners, the openings in the rubble.

The Cats in Krasinski Square is an incredible read: a picture book written in verse about the Warsaw ghetto in World War II. Readers meet a young girl, a Jewish girl, who escaped the ghetto and is trying to survive by passing as Polish.
I look like any child
playing with cats
in the daylight
in Warsaw,
my Jewish armband
burned with the rags I wore
when I escaped the Ghetto.
I wear my Polish look,
I walk my Polish walk.
Polish words float from my lips
and I am almost safe,
almost invisible,
moving through Krasinski Square
past the dizzy girls riding the merry-go-round.
But she can't forget--won't forget the Jews still "living" in the ghetto. She wants to do her part to help them. She hears through an older sister, I believe, about a project to smuggle food into the ghetto. But the Nazi's have also heard something. It might take a miracle for the food to reach the Jews now...or it might take hundreds of CATS.

I loved the story, loved the storytelling. The illustrations are great.

© 2015 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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25. Best Kept Secret (2014)

Best Kept Secret. (Family Tree #3) Ann M. Martin. 2014. Scholastic. 224 pages. [Source: Review copy]

Better To Wish, the first in the series, introduced readers to Abby. The Long Way Home, the second in the series, introduced readers to Dana, Abby's daughter. Best Kept Secret, the third in the series, introduces readers to Francie, Abby's granddaughter, Dana's daughter.

This is Francie's novel. The book spans a little over a decade. Francie's first grade year through her arrival at college her freshman year. (1977-1988) Each chapter captures something significant about her growing up. A chapter could be good and happy (getting a puppy, finding a friend, going on vacation). Or a chapter could be sad and depressing (finding out a loved one has cancer, a funeral, learning your parents are getting divorced). One chapter was even traumatic.

The book as a whole has a heavy feel to it. Yes, I know there are a few good things in Francie's life, and Francie herself seems to be at peace--mostly--with everything that has happened. But. It felt like it was weighed down with dozens of issues. Perhaps because the chapters tended to focus more on the dramatic, and not enough on the day-to-day, ordinary moments where you just are.

The last chapter or two had a different feel to them. The chapter where she goes to college seems over-the-top rosy and optimistic. (Perhaps how a ten year old might fantasize about college?)

Because of how this one unfolds, it seems almost impossible for any character to be truly developed except for the main character. The characterization lacks something, in my opinion. It's not that I didn't like Francie. I did. But I wanted more depth and substance in general to all the people in her life.

For readers who love, love, love drama and more drama, this series may be a must. Each book tackles an issue or two or three. The good news is that if you hated The Long Way Home, there is a chance that you might still enjoy Best Kept Secret more.

The book is set primarily in New Jersey. 

© 2015 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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