Friday, September 22, 2017

Giveaway: Miguel's Brave Knight

Banned Books Week is September 24th-30th, and we are so excited to celebrate our freedom to read with all of our book-loving community! This year, we get to share a special book during this celebration that tells the story of Miguel de Cervantes, author of Don Quixote and father of the modern novel.

Fortunately for you, we have a Goodreads giveaway for a few lucky people to win Miguel's Brave Knight, written by Margarita Engle and illustrated by Raúl Colón. Don't miss out on your chance to get a copy this week during Banned Books week!

Goodreads Book Giveaway

Miguel's Brave Knight by Margarita Engle

Miguel's Brave Knight

by Margarita Engle

Giveaway ends September 29, 2017.
See the giveaway details at Goodreads.
Enter Giveaway

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

New Book News: In the Snow

Snowmen, sleds, and sliding on frozen puddles—young booklovers can experience the most exciting parts of winter fun in Elizabeth Spurr’s In the Snow, the second in a board book series devoted to discovering weather.

In a similar style to In the Wind, the first book in the series, Spurr’s simple rhyme is coupled with Manelle Oliphant’s delightful illustrations that depict a young girl of color with her mom and pet dog having fun on a snowy day. The charming protagonist’s chilly adventures will introduce your earliest readers to the beauty and wonder of freshly fallen snow and the activities they can experience in the coldest parts of winter.

Perfect to use as a read aloud, this board book will help introduce the youngest readers to one of the most magical seasons of the year, whether or not they get to experience snow for themselves.

Read an Excerpt.

Look for In the Snow at your local libraryindie bookstore, or Barnes & Noble on October 1!

Check out the rest of our Fall 2017 list, both new titles and new paperbacks!

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Guest Post: Bethan Woollvin on Princesses, Fairy Tales, and Gender Stereotypes

Classic stories like "Little Red Riding Hood" and "Rapunzel" usually evoke a girl who finds herself in some sort of trouble and ends up getting rescued by a strong, capable man who conveniently appears just in time. But for author-illustrator Bethan Woollvin, there can be so much more to these stories than the typical fairy tale trope of a “damsel in distress.” With the success of her debut picture book Little Red and the buzz surrounding her upcoming book Rapunzel, Bethan agreed to provide some insight into her inspiration and decision for creating the self-empowered protagonists who challenge the traditional gender stereotypes found in fairy tales.

When I wrote Little Red and Rapunzel, I didn’t necessarily write them with a feminist agenda in mind. It all happened a lot more naturally than that. I simply wanted to create stories and characters that I would have enjoyed to read about when I was a child, instead of the damsels in distress we so often read about in classic tales.

As a feminist, my views and opinions will instinctively feed into my work—because it’s just a part of me—but there was never a conscious agenda in my stories. So to see something so close to my heart receive such a warm reception makes me so happy. It’s brilliant to see “girl power” connect with so many people. This being said, the amount of readers voicing their surprise or excitement to my books highlights just how much of a problem gender inequality remains.

The topic of gender and what it means has always interested me. I even went as far as writing my dissertation on gender equality in food advertisement. While researching for this project, I stumbled across an article which quoted Melvin Burgess saying:
“Girls will read books that have boy heroes, whereas boys won’t read books that have girl heroes.”
Similar to other industries such as clothing and toys, children’s books are still often targeted at gender-specific audiences, which I believe is incredibly outdated.

I wrote Little Red and Rapunzel, not just to satisfy me, but for my younger, head-strong sisters. I want them to have access to books with brave and daring female characters to look up to, without the well-worn narrative of being saved by a handsome prince or a burly wood-cutter. I created my female protagonists to be resourceful, smart, and brave, who are undeniably capable of saving themselves. In turn, I chose to leave out the male saviors from my re-tellings because they simply felt unnecessary.

As I developed my stories, I realized that adding in extra characters only diluted my protagonists’ power. I wanted them to dictate their own stores, and including other entities only hampered this. With this in mind, I leave out a lot of the peripheral characters from my stories that are present in the classic tales.

Since the publication of Little Red, I have often been asked whether I intended to illustrate my characters to look quite androgynous. Indeed I did, mainly to challenge the problem Melvin Burgess highlighted. I design my characters so that all young readers, regardless of how they identify their gender, will be able to relate to them and invest in the story.

Little Red is (arguably) human, but nothing about her shape or facial features looks typically female. The only way we really know that she is a female is by her pronoun usage throughout the book. Rapunzel, on the other hand, looks typically more feminine than Little Red does as Rapunzel’s a more human shape and clearly wears a frilly dress.

Both Little Red and Rapunzel have the fact that they are heroines in common, but both are expressing their gender identity in different ways.

I believe it’s really important for me as a children’s book illustrator to be responsible for representing different kinds of characters throughout my books. I give each character their own personality and their own clothes. I don’t focus on making any of my female characters “pretty” or visually ‘beautiful’ unless it’s part of the narrative. This is because my characters aren’t there to show children what females should look like; they are there to tell a story.

I’d like to think that the publishing world can become more forward-thinking in the future and will create more children’s books with strong female protagonists and inclusive characters.

Look for 
Little Red and Rapunzel at your local library, indie bookstore, or Barnes & Noble.

Monday, September 18, 2017

Damsels No More: Books with Strong Heroines

Who says a girl can't save herself? We've put together a list of books featuring strong, independent, and determined female protagonists who defy traditional gender expectations and don't let anything get in their way!

Picture Books

On her way to Grandma’s house, Little Red meets a wolf. Which might scare some little girls. But not this little girl! She knows just what the wolf is up to, and she’s not going to let him get away with it. A sly, subversive retelling of the classic story “Little Red Riding Hood,” this picture book is a tribute to the power of little girls.

Read an Excerpt.

With irreverent humor and striking illustrations, the same creator of Little Red puts an empowering and delightfully dark twist on a classic story of a helpless damsel. Rapunzel lives all alone in a tall, dark tower. Under the threat of a witch’s fearsome curse, the poor girl seems doomed to a life in captivity. But is Rapunzel frightened? Oh no, not she!

Read an Excerpt.

illustrated by Poly Bernatene

Fairy tales are just stories—or so Princess Martha believes. But when her sisters meet a talking frog, they’re convinced that giving him the royal treatment will turn him into Prince Charming. After all, that’s what happens in their story books. Martha isn’t so sure. The more she sees of Prince Ribbit, the more suspicious she becomes. Armed with the facts, Martha sets out to expose Prince Ribbit and prove to her sisters that “just because it’s in a book doesn’t mean it’s true.” This clever twist on the “The Frog Prince” pits a spunky, bespectacled princess against a sly amphibian to teach a charming lesson on the pitfalls of trusting everything you read.

Don't miss the Activity Sheets.

illustrated by Jenny Mattheson

We all have likes and dislikes, but some of us are just more vocal about it than others. This upbeat book features a likable little girl with an independent (and opinionated) spirit who spends her day letting the world know what she doesand does notwant to do and wear. Definitely not a dress and definitely no bows!

Don't miss the Teacher's Guide.

illustrated by Tatjana Mai-Wyss

“I declare, Emmy,” said Gramma. “That mimosa tree is a lot like you. Stubborn and strong and a little bit wild.” Emmy loves trees. She loves oak trees with acorns; she loves pine trees with cones, and willow trees with swishy branches. But best of all, Emmy loves the mimosa tree that grows in her grandmother’s pasture. So when Emmy decides she wants a mimosa tree of her own for her birthday, she is dismayed to find that many garden stores only sell ornamental trees like plum or pear or tulip trees. Emmy is crushed—until she discovers that the answer to her problem is growing right before her eyes!

Middle Readers
illustrated by Alice Ratterree

She is a girl three inches tall with eyes like drops of dew. Her clothes are cut from handkerchiefs and stitched with spider silk. For half her life, she has been trapped in a birdcage while her giant kidnapper sits beside her, writing in a leather-bound book the size of a house. Her name is Lily, and tonight she is escaping. She is going home. To Lilliput.

Read an Excerpt.

illustrated by Paul Bachem

Twelve-year-old Anna loves life on the Nebraska prairie where she lives with her parents and four-year-old brother in a simple sod house. But at school she feels hopelessly out of place. When an intense Nebraska blizzard traps Anna, her schoolmates, and young teacher in the one-room schoolhouse, Anna knows they must escape before it is too late.  Does she have the courage and strength to lead her school through the whiteout to safety? Based on the 1888 "School Children's Blizzard," author Alison Hart offers young readers a dramatic story of rescue and survival featuring a plucky, determined protagonist.

Read an Excerpt.

Independent-minded twelve-year-old Sam does not like the fact that she has to spend a month of her summer vacation at her crotchety retired grandfather's place while her parents are away. Soon Sam finds that her grandfather is acting even stranger than expected, disappearing into the woods and being secretive. When she finally discovers that he is building an airplane, will she and her grandfather find common ground to finish the plane together?

Read an Excerpt.

Irene loves soccer, and, back in Missouri, she was one of the top players on her school’s girls’ team. But things are different in Merano, Italy.When Irene decides to join the highly competitive boys’ team, she has little idea what she’s getting herself into. She must prove herself to the strict coach, and her teammates make it clear they don’t want her on the field. Especially Matteo, the team’s star player, who goes out of his way to make Irene unwelcome. But Irene does not give up easily.

Read an Excerpt.

Thirteen-year-old Joelle Cunningham is passionate about baseball. But when her family moves to the small town of Greendale, Iowa, she quickly discovers that there are strict rules preventing her from playing on the school baseball team. But Joelle is determined to play. Through some creative problem-solving and surprising alliances, she finds a solution to her dilemma that brings the disputing sides together…and baseball to the girls of Greendale.

Read an Excerpt.

For Beauty McElwrath, a shy but spunky girl from an unconventional family of strong-minded women, the first day of sixth grade proves to be exactly the catastrophe she expected, and she’s sure she’s doomed to be a social outcast for yet another school year. But then she meets Alane Shriver, a new student who suffers from progeria—a rare, rapid aging disorder. At first Beauty is frightened by her fellow outsider’s appearance, but fear gives way to curiosity, and Beauty discovers that, on the inside, Alane is just like any other twelve-year-old girl. When a life-threatening event puts the two of them in harm’s way, Beauty finds the confidence and inner strength to save Alane. 
Read an Excerpt.
Young Adult

Evie is different. Not just her upbringing—though that’s certainly been unusual—but also her mindset. She’s smart, independent, confident, opinionated, and ready to take on a new challenge: The Institution of School. It doesn’t take this home-schooled kid long to discover that high school is a social minefield, and Evie finds herself confronting new problems at every turn. Not one to sit idly by, Evie sets out to make changes. But when her plan begins spiraling out of control, Evie is forced to come to terms with a world she is only just beginning to comprehend.

Read an Excerpt.

Alba loves her life just as it is. She loves living behind the bakery and waking up in a cloud of sugar and cinnamon. She loves drawing comics and watching bad TV with her friends. The only problem is she’s overlooked a few teeny details. Like, the guy she thought long gone has unexpectedly reappeared. And the boy who has been her best friend since forever has suddenly gone off the rails. Even her latest comic book creation is misbehaving. On top of all that, the world might be ending—which is proving to be awkward. As doomsday enthusiasts flock to idyllic Eden Valley, Alba’s life is thrown into chaos. Whatever happens next, it’s the end of the world as she knows it. But when it comes to figuring out her heart, Armageddon might turn out to be the least of her problems.

Find these books and more at your local library, indie bookstore, or Barnes & Noble. For more books featuring self-empowered females, check out our Books to Celebrate Women in History and Books with Character posts.

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

New Book News: Claude on the Big Screen

The sweetest surrealist dog is back for a new adventure in Claude on the Big Screen! Claude and his sassy sidekick Sir Bobblysock are at it again as they learn the inner workings of making a movie, filled with fabulous wigs, famous actors, and frivolity!

When Claude discovers a movie is being filmed on Waggy Avenue, he and Sir Bobblysock race over to investigate. After stumbling onto the set, he decides to help the director and actors with their rehearsal of Gorilla Thriller! in typical Claude fashion—with clumsy curiosity and flair. But when Claude accidentally sends the main stars to the hospital, will he and Sir Bobblysock be able to fill in for them and save the film? Fans of this cheeky canine will get a kick out of watching the duo wiggle their way of imaginatively absurd situations and will love guessing what happens next.

Alex T. Smith’s illustrated early chapter book series, featuring his signature cheerful two-color illustrations, promises giggle-filled bedtime reading and a laugh-out-loud adventure for readers transitioning from picture books to chapter books.

Look out for Claude on the Big Screen at your local libraryindie bookstore, or Barnes & Noble October 1! 

Friday, September 8, 2017

Giveaway: Rapunzel

It's time for more free books! This week's giveaway is Rapunzel from Bethan Woollvin. If you loved her New York Times Best Illustrated Little Red, this new twist on the classic fairy tale is a must read.

Rapunzel is trapped in her tower by the wicked witch, but it doesn't take long for the fearless girl to take matters into her own hands.

Enter for your chance to win a copy in our Goodreads Giveaway! The giveaway will last one week, so make sure you enter soon!

Goodreads Book Giveaway

Rapunzel by Bethan Woollvin


by Bethan Woollvin

Giveaway ends September 15, 2017.
See the giveaway details at Goodreads.
Enter Giveaway

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

New Book News: Rapunzel

From the author of New York Times Best Illustrated Children’s Book Little Red, Beth Woollvin has done it again with Rapunzel—hitting shelves on October 1st. Grab some golden scissors and get ready for a feisty and clever spin on the classic fairy tale.

Tired of being stuck in a boring, lonely tower with only the company of the witch who keeps her prisoner, smart Rapunzel makes a plan. She decides to use her long, golden locks just like the witch does to climb out of the tower and have her own adventures. Her captor never suspects. But one afternoon, when the witch finally finds evidence of Rapunzel’s escapades, our cunning heroine saves herself in an empowering and entertaining surprise twist ending. You won’t find any damsels in distress here!

Woollvin’s dark, witty humor and striking three-color artwork will have readers looking for clues of Rapunzel’s plan every time they turn the page. The fierce female protagonist in Rapunzel will make young readers’ hair curl in excitement.

Be sure to tell Bethan what you think of Rapunzel on Twitter @bethanwoollvin and check out her website.

“It’s about time that Rapunzel saved herself, and in Woollvin’s sly follow-up to 2016’s Little Red, she does exactly that…. Thanks to Woollvin, readers may grow up thinking this just-wicked-enough retelling is the classic one; if they ever stumble across versions with the prince, they may wonder why he was thought necessary.” —Publishers Weekly

“The blocky gouache illustrations in gray and black, strategically accented with yellow…heighten the timbre, suggesting both deviousness and joy…. Empowerment in leaps and bounds.” —Kirkus Reviews

“Utilizing simple, bold strokes of yellow, black, and gray inks, Woollvin expressively fills each page with eye-catching details that will bring readers back for another look. Fans of her Little Red (2016) will enjoy this latest feisty and intelligent heroine.” —Booklist

“Woollvin (Little Red, rev. 3/16) offers another wryly comic rewrite of a Grimms favorite, updating it with a can-do, self-rescuing heroine… Bold, graphic illustrations…capture the fusion of modern and traditional elements and offer sly tidbits of humor.”  —The Horn Book Magazine

“Pockets of eye-popping aureolin rivaling the brightest of yellow hues add to the black and grayscale to bring warmth and humor to the dark woods with a distinctive, quirky signature style as Rapunzel fearlessly rallies to her own rescue.” —Foreword Reviews

You can find Rapunzel at your local libraryindie bookstore, or Barnes& Noble this October.

Monday, August 28, 2017

New Book News: Charlie Bumpers vs. His Big Blabby Mouth

Bill Harley returns with another hilarious installment in the Charlie Bumpers series! This time, it’s Charlie facing off against his own blabby mouth.

Career week is coming up for Mrs. Burke’s fourth grade class, and when his classmates brag about their own parents’ jobs, Charlie’s mouth gets ahead of him. Before he knows it, Charlie’s class thinks his dad will not only bring free calculators for everyone for Career Week, but that he is also president of the whole company! The downside? Charlie hasn’t even asked his father about coming in for Career Week. And to make matters worse, just before the big event Charlie’s dad loses his job. How will Charlie get out of this one?

Featuring endearing characters and relatable situations, this fun Parents’ Choice Recommended series illuminates the importance of learning to live together as a family as well as making the best of a bad situation.

For more Charlie Bumpers, you can watch the trailer, download the series poster, or check out the Teacher's Guide. You can also enter to win one of five copies of Charlie Bumpers vs. His Big Blabby Mouth, with the audiobook included, if you retweet the back-to-school Charlie Bumpers polls on our Twitter!*

Don’t miss out on this new story, released this September. You can find Charlie and his antics at your local libraryindie bookstore, or Barnes & Noble!

*No purchase necessary to enter or win. Open only to legal residents of the 50 United States and Washington, D.C. who are 18 years of age or older as of date of entry. Sweepstakes will begin August 28th, 2017 and end September 1st, 2017 at 11:59pm EST. Five winners will be selected randomly to receive the prize. Winners will be notified by September 6th, 2017. Void where prohibited.

Friday, August 25, 2017

Giveaway: King & Kayla and the Case of the Mysterious Mouse

We love giveaways! They're our favorite thing! We're channeling our inner King enthusiasm for this week's giveaway, King & Kayla and the Case of the Mysterious Mouse from Dori Hillestad Butler and Nancy Meyers.

King & Kayla and the Case of the Mysterious Mouse is the third book in the adorable new King & Kayla series! This easy-to-read mystery series is the perfect transitional book for children learning to apply analytical and critical thinking skills. Find out more about this title, and check out some additional resources, here.

Enter for your chance to win a copy in our Goodreads Giveaway! The giveaway will last one week, so make sure you enter soon!

Goodreads Book Giveaway

King & Kayla and the Case of the Mysterious Mouse by Dori Hillestad Butler

King & Kayla and the Case of the Mysterious Mouse

by Dori Hillestad Butler

Giveaway ends September 01, 2017.
See the giveaway details at Goodreads.
Enter Giveaway

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

New Book News: King & Kayla and the Case of the Mysterious Mouse

The best detective duo is back in the third installment of the King & Kayla series by Dori Hillestad Butler! In King & Kayla and the Case of the Mysterious Mouse, King and Kayla are playing fetch with their friends, Jillian and Thor. But when Jillian throws King’s favorite ball over the fence and brings it back, King can smell that it’s not his ball. It’s up to King and Kayla to find the missing ball, but can King help his human figure out where it went—and who has it?

Filled with deadpan humor perfect for dog-lovers, this fun mystery series is a great way for transitional readers to practice their sleuthing skills by gathering facts and thinking analytically. The simple, straightforward language and repetition within and between the books in the series helps boost confidence in readers who are beginning to transition into longer chapter books.

Looking for ways to continue the fun with Kayla and King? Check out our fun activity sheets!
To learn more about the creation of the King & Kayla series, read our Q&A with editor Kathy Landwehr here!

“Confusion, mischief, and silliness abound. Kids who don’t always have the vocabulary to express themselves will sympathize with this waggish pup and his earnest desire to be understood by his human.” —Kirkus Reviews

“Budding detectives will have the benefit of both King’s discoveries and Kayla’s reasoning as they piece together the clues…. A welcome addition to collections supporting the transition from picture books to chapter books, this title will appeal to both dog lovers and mystery buffs.” 
School Library Journal

Can King and Kayla solve the latest mystery this September? Find out at your local library, indie bookstore, or Barnes & Noble—we guarantee it’ll still be your favorite thing!