Wednesday, December 28, 2016

New Year's Resolutions

2017 is going to be your year, and we want to help! Even with your unwavering resolve, New Year's resolutions usually require a plan to turn out successfully. Start your planning with a few books that can guide you to accomplish all your fitness goals, spark a greater love of reading, or just help you to let go. Happy New Year!

Accomplish Your Fitness Goals

Growing older does not mean accepting diminished fitness. Two of the nations top physical therapists, Marilyn Moffat and Carole B. Lewis, explain how to overcome aches, stiffness, and unsteadiness in muscles and joints and pursue an easy everyday approach to achieving better health.

Unleash Your Love for Reading

Madeline Finn does NOT like to read. But she DOES want a gold star from her teacher. But, stars are for good readers. Stars are for understanding words, and for saying them out loud. Fortunately, Madeline meets Bonnie, a library dog. Bonnie teaches Madeline Finn that it’s okay to go slow. And to keep trying.

Start Afresh and Let Go

No one in the town of Bonnyripple ever kept a grudge. No one, that is, except old Cornelius, the Grudge Keeper. The townspeople of Bonnyripple count on Cornelius to file away their tiffs and huffs, squabbles and snits. But when a storm flings the people together and their grudges to the wind, will the Grudge Keeper be out of a job? This timely and entertaining story is beautifully conveyed through Rockliff’s witty wordplay and Wheeler’s elegant illustrations.
Look for these books and more at your local libraryindie bookstore, or Barnes & Noble!

Monday, November 7, 2016

Election Day is almost here!

There's only one more day until we elect the 45th president of the United States! And while this election season has been a tough one, we’ve got some star-spangled stories about POTUS responsibilities and presidents of the past that are perfect for introducing readers to all things presidential—no matter who you’re voting for.

Written by Rick Walton
Illustrated by Brad Sneed

Everyone has bad days. Even the president. So when he has a particularly horrible one, Mr. President sneaks out of the White House—in disguise—and enrolls himself in Mrs. Appletree’s class. After a day of finger-painting, raising his hand, and doing the hokey-pokey, Mr. President returns to the White House to find a panicked secretary of state and two angry world leaders on the brink of war. Using what he learned with Mrs. Appletree, Mr. President is able to successfully solve an international crisis.

Written by Leslie Kimmelman
Illustrated by Adam Gustavson

Our 26th president, Teddy Roosevelt, was a strong and clever man who could handle almost anything—except his eldest child, Alice. She flew in the face of convention at every turn, from riding a pig and keeping a pet snake to speeding through town in a new car. Despite her free-spirited antics, which drew the eyes of the nation, readers can clearly see Roosevelt’s deep love and affection for his daughter in this humorously historic tale.

Written by Elizabeth Van Steenwyk
Illustrated by Michael G. Montgomery

See the presidency through canine eyes in this heartwarming account of Fala, the Scottish terrier who won the heart of U.S. President Franklin D. Roosevelt and the hearts of the American people. As the nation was drawn into an international conflict, Fala goes from playing in the Oval Office grass to travelling around the world at his master’s side, waiting with him for the terrible war to end.

Look for these books and more at your local library, indie bookstore, or Barnes & Noble!

Thursday, November 3, 2016

Little Red is a New York Times Best Illustrated Children's Book!

Little Red by Bethan Woollvin
is now a New York Times
Best Illustrated Children’s Book!

We just spoke with first-time author/illustrator Bethan Woollvin across the pond in the U.K., and as you can imagine, she’s over the moon about her debut picture book being named a 2016 New York Times Best Illustrated Children’s Book. Read on for an exclusive interview with her, Peachtree editor Kathy Landwehr, and a little surprise news!

Congratulations! How does it feel to have your first-ever picture book honored as a New York Times Best Illustrated Children’s Book?

Bethan: Totally amazed! I haven’t been able to stop smiling since I found out! The New York Times is so influential, so I feel very honored for Little Red to have been chosen as a New York Times Best Illustrated Children’s Book!

How did you celebrate?

Bethan: First thing was a glass of wine, followed by a few more… Since then, I have made a celebratory print of Little Red to commemorate the award! I’m also coming to New York for the occasion, so I’m very excited for that. I hope to eat my weight in waffles.

What drew you to the story of Little Red Riding Hood?

Bethan: "Little Red Riding Hood" was among many fairytales I read as a child, and one that always stood out to me because it was so dark. The only problem was I couldn’t relate to Little Red Riding Hood. She has so often been portrayed as a helpless naive child who confused her own grandmother with a wolf! Then, if this wasn’t bad enough, she then (unsatisfyingly) gets saved, along with her grandmother, by a heroic woodcutter (who just happened to be wandering around the forest, looking for a damsel in distress…).

It wasn’t until I was studying at university that I had the chance to revisit "Little Red Riding Hood." I entered the Macmillan Children’s Book Competition and started working on the story, but in the way I wanted it to be told.

What inspired your unique spin on the tale?

Bethan: I decided very early on in my character development for Little Red that she was going to be just as cunning as the wolf, which I think feeds into the "twist" of the book. Instead of being a victim, I decided that Little Red needed to be strong and brave enough for the woodcutter not to exist in this version.

Why do you think your version has resonated with so many readers?

Bethan: I’d like to think it’s because it appeals to both its target audiencechildrenas well as the adults who read it to them. 

I illustrated Little Red purposefully androgynous, meaning all of the younger readers would be able to associate with Little Red’s figure. Both girls and boys could easily invest in the character and the story.

As for the adults, retellings of stories they'd have heard in the own youth will inevitably feel familiar but also potentially predictable. So while tapping into their nostalgia, the dark and hopefully humorous twist has kept the book dynamic.

What's next for you?

Bethan: Well, I’m sure you’ll be pleased to know that there are more books on the way! Aside from that, I’m just working hard to be involved in as many exhibitions, projects, and galleries as possible!

Little Red caused quite a stir when the manuscript made its way to Peachtree’s top editorial decision-makers in Atlanta. Its unique, subversive voice and bold black, white, and red artwork made us all reconsider what we think of when we think of “the perfect Peachtree book.”

Kathy, what did you think when Little Red first landed on your desk?

Kathy: I was immediately drawn to the striking, stylish artwork. I loved the feminist message. And the more time I spent with the book, the more I enjoyed the way Bethan played with and built on the original story.

What about her artwork captured your attention?

Kathy: Her artwork is striking—I know, I said that already. It also has a lot of very humorous detail, not all of which is immediately obvious, at least to me. It is a book that benefits from repeated readings.

Peachtree is all about nurturing backlist. What do you see in Little Red's future at Peachtree?

Kathy: We have a strong backlist collection of folk and fairy tale retellings. We also have a strong backlist collection of picture books with feisty girls who take control of their lives. Little Red should fit in just great with both of those groups and have a long life ahead.

Before we let you go, we hear you have some exciting news on the Bethan Woollvin front.

Kathy: That’s right! We justliterally late last weeksigned Bethan Woollvin for her retelling of "Rapunzel." It’s scheduled for release in Fall 2017. In it, you’ll find a well-known fairy tale reimagined with Bethan’s now-signature artwork and girl-power twist. It’s a lot of fun, and we can’t wait for readers everywhere to see it.

Thanks all! And congratulations again!

Look for Little Red at your local libraryindie bookstore, or Barnes & Noble!

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Inspired by the World Series

In our small, Atlanta office, you might be surprised to learn that there is a fair amount of variety when it comes to baseball fandom. Of course, we are largely dominated by (heartbroken and wistful) Braves fans, but the Washington Nationals and San Francisco Giants, among a few others, are also represented. As we are all painfully aware, none of our teams will be playing in this year's World Series, but we have decided to rise above for the sake of highlighting some rather wonderful baseball books. So if you've caught baseball fever in celebration of the 112th World Series, read on!

Dad, Jackie, and Me
by Myron Uhlberg
illustrated by Colin Bootman
It is the summer of 1947 and a highly charged baseball season is underway in New York. Jackie Robinson is the new first baseman for the Brooklyn Dodgers—and the first black player in Major League Baseball. A young boy shares the excitement of Robinson's rookie season with his deaf father. Finally one day the father delivers some big news: they are going to Ebbets Field to watch Jackie play in person!

Sliding Into Home
by Dori Hillestad Butler
It's not fair! Thirteen-year-old Joelle Cunningham is passionate about baseball. She loves to watch it, read about it, and, most of all, play it. But when her family moves from Minneapolis to the small town of Greendale, Iowa, she quickly discovers that there are strict rules preventing her from playing on the school baseball team. Author Dori Butler has created a high-spirited, indomitable character that young girls will admire and root for in this story of frustrated ambition and ultimate triumph.

Stumptown Kid
by Carol Gorman & Ron J. Findley
Twelve-year-old Charlie Nebraska wants two things he can't get: to make the local Wildcats Baseball team and to have life to return to the way it was before his father died two years earlier in the Korean War. Then Charlie meets Luther Peale, a former Negro Baseball League player, and the two strike up a friendship that is challenged by some of the small town's residents. This dramatic and moving story set int he days of the Negro Leagues illustrates the true meanings of friendship, prejudice, and heroism.

Dugout Rivals
by Fred Bowen
Jake Daley loves baseball. He loves playing for the Red Sox in the Woodside baseball league. He loves playing short stop. Most of all, he loves to win. When newcomer Adam joins the team and showcases his outstanding skills by winning game after game, Jake begins to wonder if he or the other players even matter. It's only when Jake learns of Babe Ruth and the 1927 Yankees that he realizes even the best players rely on the talent of their teammates.

The Golden Glove
by Fred Bowen
Without his lucky glove, Jamie doesn't believe in his ability to lead his baseball team to victory. After losing his special glove before the season's opening game, he is disappointed in his performance with the glove he had to borrow. But with the help of a sporting goods store owner and former minor league player, Jamie learns that faith in oneself is the most important equipment for any game.

The Kid Coach
by Fred Bowen
Baseball season is underway, and Coach Skelly has just quit. When Scott and his teammates can't find an adult to coach the team, it looks as if the Tigers' season might be over before it really begins. But then the players have an idea: what if one of them became coach? They learn about leadership and discover unique and unrecognized talents among their own friends.

Perfect Game
by Fred Bowen
Isaac is determined to pitch a perfect game: no hits, no runs, no walks, and no errors. If he does, he's sure to make the summer all-star team. But Isaac keeps losing his cool on the mound; he just can't get his head back in the game. Then he meets a very interesting Unified Sports basketball player who gets him thinking in a different way about the whole idea of "perfect."

Playoff Dreams
by Fred Bowen
Brendan is one of the best players in the league, but no matter how hard he tries, he can't make his team win. After an unexpected event and learning the story of Cubs player and Hall of Famer Ernie Banks, Brendan realizes that it's the love of the game that makes the experience a success.

T.J.'s Secret Pitch
by Fred Bowen
T.J. is smaller than his teammates and his pitches just don't have the power to get the batters out. When he learns about 1940s player Rip Sewell, he may have found a solution. But will his teammates give T. J. a chance to prove that he can be a pitcher? And will T. J.'s secret pitch help lead his team to victory?

Throwing Heat
by Fred Bowen
Last season, Jack’s pitches were the fastest around, and he could always rely on them to strike out his opponents. But now he’s playing in a new middle school league, where the distance between the pitching rubber and the catcher’s mitt is a lot greater. Jack keeps throwing heat but he can’t get seem to get balls into the strike zone. When a local college baseball coach offers to help him, Jack doesn't listen at first, but with the season on the line, he realizes the coach was right. Is it too late to change his game plan?

Winners Take All
by Fred Bowen
In order to win an important baseball game, twelve-year-old Kyle claims to have made a difficult catch, which he actually dropped. The attention he receives is not enough to silence his conscience. When Kyle learns of Hall of Famer Christy Mathewson, a pitcher whose reputation for honesty was so great that umpires would ask him to make calls during games, he realizes that being a hero is only worthwhile if you have earned it.

Look for these books and more at your local library, indie bookstore, or Barnes & Noble.

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

5 Steps to Establishing a Successful Library Dog Program

We at Peachtree love to learn about different ways people promote and encourage literacy among children. Having recently published  Lisa Papp's picture book Madeline Finn and the Library Dog—the story of a reluctant reader who develops a love of reading with the help of a beautiful and patient library dog—we were inspired to learn more and help spread the word about these fantastic programs!

R.E.A.D. (Reading Education Assistance Dogs) is the foremost organization in the country that coordinates library dog programs. They started out in 1999 as the first comprehensive literacy program built around the idea of reading to dogs, and they now have more than 3,000 teams throughout the world working to help readers gain confidence in their reading with the help of a furry friend. This week, we spoke to R.E.A.D. executive director Kathy Klotz to ask her for some pointers on establishing these library dog programs in your library. 
She gave 5 steps that she believes are important in making sure your program is successful:

Photo from Gloria Laube,
1. Make sure to utilize only therapy animal team volunteers who have been screened, trained, licensed and insured.
Not just an employee’s dog, not a service dog, not a friendly neighborhood pet that someone knows of. You want dogs who have been carefully screened and trained for this kind of work, to assure the health and safety of your patrons.

(You can join an ITA affiliate group or another animal-assisted therapy group near you to ensure that you have qualified volunteers.)

2. Hold an initial meeting with the therapy dog volunteers to clarify the procedures and expectations for both sides of the equation—library personnel and volunteers.

This is crucial—you need to establish where in the library the animal interactions will best be located, the logistics (time, day, frequency, length of sessions), and how to handle the scheduling (sign-ups or drop-ins?). Will you be setting up a special theme and display for the days the dogs visit? It’s vitally important for everyone to know who will be responsible for what, to make sure you all understand one another.
Photo from Pete, 

3. Publicize your new program well in advance.

Give your patrons plenty of time to hear about the program, both to encourage kids to attend and to
forewarn those who may need to avoid coming during those times due to risk of allergy. Use fun posters, your library newsletter, PSAs, any resources you may have.

4. Make sure your personnel and your volunteers are clear on the way you want your program to work. Be ready to do some fine-tuning.

It can take awhile for everyone to find their groove. How will you handle crowd control and interruptions? Are the chosen spots—not private, but reasonably free of noise and traffic—working out? Are the chosen days and times appropriate for the traffic in your children’s library? There are endless things that may come up to surprise you all, and flexibility will help everyone keep improving your program.

Photo from Gloria Laub,

5. Keep up the ongoing communication with your therapy animal volunteers.

We all want the best for the children and families who visit your library. The volunteers want to be on your team, and they will want you on theirs, as well. The library can get very busy, as you know, but it’s important for someone on the staff to be keeping one eye on the dog interactions in case they need help (freedom from interruptions, overbearing parents, too many interested kids at once, etc.) Any small misunderstandings or difficulties can easily be smoothed away when library staff maintains clear and frequent communication with the therapy teams who work with you.

If you are interested in learning more about these programs and establishing one at your library, check out the R.E.A.D. website for more information! And go to for more adorable photos and great information about library dogs! 

Friday, September 23, 2016

Free Book Friday: Madeline Finn and the Library Dog

We are giving away early pre-publication proof copies of Madeline Finn and the Library Dog

Madeline Finn does NOT like to read. Not books. Not magazines. Not even the menu on the ice cream truck. Fortunately, Madeline Finn meets Bonnie, a library dog. Reading out loud to Bonnie isn't so bad. When Madeline Finn gets stuck, Bonnie doesn't mind. Madeline Finn can pet her until she figures the word out.

We can't wait to get this book into the hands of readers who are not so keen on being readers. Read more about Madeline Finn in our latest New Book Wednesday post, and enter to win your free galley today!

Goodreads Book Giveaway

Madeline Finn and the Library Dog by Lisa Papp

Madeline Finn and the Library Dog

by Lisa Papp

Giveaway ends September 30, 2016.
See the giveaway details at Goodreads.
Enter Giveaway

“So adorable readers may attempt to hug the page.” ―Kirkus Reviews

“It's a warm, encouraging story that suggests that perfection isn't necessary in order to achieve one's goals, and that help can be found in unexpected corners.” ―Publishers Weekly

If you miss the signup, Madeline Finn is coming October 1st to a store near you! Look for it at your local libraryindie bookstore, or Barnes & Noble. Interested in what other books we are publishing this season? Check out our list of new books here!

Thursday, September 15, 2016

Spanish and Bilingual Round Up

In honor of the legacy of Hispanic and Latino Americans, and the fact that the beautiful Spanish language is so widespread in our country, we want to share some of our bilingual and Spanish titles. We love having these books for our Spanish-speaking readers, and we hope you enjoy them! ¡Esperamos que te gusta estos libros!

This fictionalized first-person biography in verse of Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra follows the early years of the child who grows up to pen Don Quixote, the first modern novel. The son of a gambling, vagabond barber-surgeon, Miguel looks to his own imagination for an escape from his family’s troubles and finds comfort in his colorful daydreams. At a time when access to books is limited and imaginative books are considered evil, Miguel is inspired by storytellers and wandering actors who perform during festivals. He longs to tell stories of his own. When Miguel is nineteen, four of his poems are published, launching the career of one of the greatest writers in the Spanish language.

illustrated by Michael Austin

Martina the beautiful cockroach wants to pick the right suitor to marry, but how?  Abuela, her Cuban grandmother, gives her un consejo increíble, some shocking advice: put those suitors to the test with a little café cubano.  One by one they fail until only the gardener Pérez, a tiny brown mouse, is left. Will he win her leg in marriage?

illustrated by Laura L. Seeley

Agatha owns a weaving shop in Manhattan and likes to answer the questions of children who want to know the source of her beautiful fabrics.

“Everything comes from something,” she says, “nothing comes from nothing.”

But she does not seem to think about where her brand new feather bed came from.  That is, until six cranky, cold, naked geese come knocking.  In a delightful O. Henry-inspired ending, Agatha arrives at a solution that benefits them all, teaching readers to understand how to use resources responsibly.

illustrated by Henry Cole

Mary McBlicken hears a rumble and is sure a stampede's a comin'! She sets off to warn Cowboy Stan and Red Dog Dan, gathering up her friends along the way. Before they can get there, though, the band of prairie critters gets tricked by a mean Coyote and trapped in his evil den. Will the friends escape in time? And where is that rumbling really coming from?

illustrated by Thomas Gonzalez

This New York Times Bestseller is a true story of hope and generosity, and the gift a small Kenyan village makes to the people of America after the September 11 attacks.  For a heartsick nation, the gift of fourteen cows emerges from the choking dust and darkness as a soft light of hope—and friendship.

Bilingual Titles

Bouncy, alliterative rhyme and gorgeous illustrations introduce readers to a wide range of striped animals. An afterword provides more information about each featured animal and where it lives, and explains the role its stripes play. Readers can test their knowledge of animal stripes with a fun matching game at the end!
You’ll be amazed to discover all the different reasons why animals have spots in this fun bilingual book! Susan Stockdale introduces young readers to the many ways in which animals benefit from their spots. Back matter tells a little bit more about each animal, and readers can test their knowledge of animal spots with a fun matching game at the end!

Several of books in our About… Series, written by educator and author Cathryn Sill and by naturalist John Sill, are now available in both English and Spanish for young explorers who are learning a new language.
by Cathryn Sill
illustrated by John Sill

Discover the basic characteristics of what fish are, how they swim, breathe, and reproduce, and the different ways they protect themselves from predators.

by Cathryn Sill
illustrated by John Sill

Learn about the life of birds, from egg to flight, in this thoughtful examination of the species.

by Cathryn Sill
illustrated by John Sill

So many animals are mammals! But are all animals mammals? Questions are answered and new facts discovered in the pages of this bilingual nature guide.

by Cathryn Sill
illustrated by John Sill

Creepy, crawly, spindly things are actually rather interesting when you get close enough to them.  Backyard naturalists will love having this as a reference during their outdoor adventures.

by Cathryn Sill
illustrated by John Sill

Take a colorful and informative first glimpse into the diverse world of reptiles with this thoughtful guide for young readers.

Look for these titles and more at your local library, indie bookstore, or Barnes & Noble!

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

New Book Wednesday: Madeline Finn and the Library Dog

Madeline Finn and the Library Dog
by Lisa Papp

Madeline Finn does not like to read, especially out loud, but she does want a star sticker from her teacher instead of a heart sticker that says "keep trying." When her mother takes her to the library, Madeline discovers something (well, someone) special: Bonnie. Bonnie is a big white dog and a great listener. With Bonnie’s big, kind eyes and patience, maybe reading out loud won’t be so bad after all…

With heartwarming illustrations from author-illustrator Lisa Papp, Madeline Finn and the Library Dog is a must-have for children and dog lovers of all ages. Look for a copy as it snuggles its way into readers' hearts October 1!

“So adorable readers may attempt to hug the page.” ―Kirkus Reviews

“It's a warm, encouraging story that suggests that perfection isn't necessary in order to achieve one's goals, and that help can be found in unexpected corners.” ―Publishers Weekly

Look for it at your local library, indie bookstore, or Barnes & Noble. Interested in what other books we are publishing this season? Check out our list of new books here!

Friday, September 9, 2016

Finding Ways to Talk About 9/11

Every year, on the anniversary of the terrorist attacks of September 11th, we remember the wonderful privilege we have in sharing stories of hope and re-building. We also know that many other authors, illustrators, and publishers have worked hard to create resources that can aid parents, teachers, and librarians in talking to children about September 11th. So while we are thrilled to share books like Seven and a Half Tons of Steel and 14 Cows for America with everyone, we also want to point you in the right direction for whatever age group or type of book you might need. Check out our contributions to the great storytelling about the events of 9/11 and after, and the contributions of the many different artists who have made it easier for kids to learn about the history of this nation.

Seven and a Half Tons of Steel

The USS New York is big like other navy ships, and it sails like other navy ships, but there is something special about this navy ship.

Following the events of September 11, 2001, a beam from the World Trade Center Towers was given to the United States Navy. The beam was driven from New York to a foundry in Louisiana, where the seven and a half tons of steel, which had once been a beam in the World Trade Center, became a navy ship’s bow.

Powerful text from Janet Nolan is paired with stunning illustrations from New York Times best-selling illustrator Thomas Gonzalez in this inspiring story that reveals how something remarkable can emerge from a devastating event.

In June of 2002, a very unusual ceremony begins in a far-flung village in western Kenya. An American diplomat is surrounded by hundreds of Maasai people. A gift is about to be bestowed upon the American men, women, and children, and he is there to accept it. The gift is as unexpected as it is extraordinary.

A mere nine months have passed since the September 11 attacks, and hearts are raw as these legendary Maasai warriors offer their gift to a grieving people half a world away. Word of the gift will travel newswires around the globe, and for the heartsick American nation, the gift of fourteen cows emerges from the choking dust and darkness as a soft light of hope—and friendship.

This New York Times best seller recounts the true story from Wilson Kimeli Naiyomah of a touching gift bestowed on the United States by a tribe of Maasai Warriors in the wake of the September 11th attacks. With the stunning paintings of Thomas Gonzalez, master storyteller Carmen Agra Deedy hits all the right notes in this elegant story of generosity that crosses boundaries, nations, and cultures.

Books for Children About September 11 
by Carol Bainbridge

"September 11 is a date that will remain a significant and important date in American history forever. It's hard to imagine that it will ever fade away, so there will certainly always be a need to help children understand the events of that day. One good way to help them understand is to read some books with them about those events. Books are a wonderful way to help you talk to your child about 9/11 too."

by Michele Knott

"As we approach the 15th anniversary of 9.11, I want to share some books with you. These books are meant for our students, to help them understand a little bit more about our history."

Michele Knott shares perhaps the most comprehensive list of books that address 9/11. With picture books, middle grade books, and young adult level books, you are sure to find something for your child or student in this thoughtful compilation. 

by Eliot Schrefer, New York Times

"In children’s literature, current events become past events at a ruthless pace. Today’s preteens weren’t even alive in 2001; for them the 9/11 attacks live in the same mental hinterland as, say, D-Day...With the 15th anniversary coming up, the latest crop of children’s books on the topic are less about processing a tragedy than about finding new ways to introduce one."

If you are looking for middle grade level novels, Eliot Schrefer comprehensively reviews two books that should be on your list.

Stacey Shubitz covers a wide variety possibilities for 9/11 tributes and remembrances with kids in school, at the library, or at home. She includes many important titles for read-alouds, but if you are looking for additional ideas to commemorate over the weekend, this is a great place to start.

15 Years After September 11: A Roundup of New Children's and YA Titles
by Natasha Gilmore, Publisher's Weekly

Publisher's Weekly put out this round-up of relevant titles that have come out in this year, the fifteenth anniversary of 9/11. So if you are looking for something more recent, this list includes a range of age groups but all published within the year.

Friday, August 19, 2016

Free Book Friday: Charlie Bumpers vs. the Puny Pirates

We're giving away 10 copies of the new Charlie Bumpers vs. the Puny Pirates on Goodreads! Whether you're a fan of the Charlie Bumpers series, love soccer and chocolate, or are looking for a fun book you think the 7-10 year old in your life might enjoy, don't miss out on this chance to get a free copy!

Read more about this title on our last New Book Wednesday post.

Click HERE to enter the giveaway!

“Master storyteller Harley scores again with fourth-grader Charlie Bumpers” —Kirkus Reviews

“One of the best things about these books is Charlie's intact, supportive family positive role models, problems that actual students face, and sense of humor.” —YA and Kids Book Central

“This is my favorite new series. It's funny, smart, witty and has characters that 4th graders will like.” —Mrs. Knott's Book Nook

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

New Book Wednesday: Charlie Bumpers vs. the Puny Pirates

Bill Harley brings us another fun and humorous addition to his Charlie Bumpers series, a three-time selection for the Junior Library Guild. Coming out September 1st, don't miss out on Charlie's latest adventure.

Charlie and his friends Tommy and Hector are ready to rule the soccer season. Their team, the Pirates, will surely score a million goals (or at least fifty). But when they’re placed on a team of amateurs, Charlie and his friends realize this season is not going to go the way they expected.

For one thing, their new coach doesn’t believe in star players and expects everyone to learn all the positions, never giving the dynamic trio a chance to perform together. Even though supposedly no one keeps score in this league, the first few games are a big disappointment to Charlie. To make matters worse, his big brother Matt has joined a video club and is recording every one of the Pirates’ disastrous plays. 

If they can’t be on a winning team, Charlie thinks, then maybe he, Tommy, and Hector can at least win the prize for selling the most candy bars for the fundraiser by pulling their resources and selling together. What could possibly go wrong with that?

Fast-paced and family friendly, Charlie Bumpers vs. The Puny Pirates is a fantastic choice for young readers looking for an exciting book and a great series! (And check out the teacher's guide for more materials.)

Look for it at your local libraryindie bookstore, or Barnes & Noble. Interested in what other books we are publishing this season? Check out our list of new books here!

Sunday, August 14, 2016

Sunday Brunch with Janet Nolan and Thomas Gonzalez

Seven and a Half Tons of Steel follows a beam from the World Trade Center after the September 11th attacks. From the rubble of that devastating event, to a foundry where workers melt down the steel and reshape it to become the bow of the USS New York navy ship, and back to New York for the 10th anniversary of the attacks, this moving story shows how hope and strength can emerge out of pain and loss.

For our Sunday Brunch today, we talked with author Janet Nolan and illustrator Thomas Gonzalez to get a little more background on their inspiration and process for creating this meaningful picture book.

Janet, what was your inspiration for this book? 

JN: I was driving my car, listening to the radio, when I heard a brief story about the USS New York. I remember sitting in traffic being quietly amazed, surprised to learn steel from the World Trade Center towers had been used in the building of a navy ship. What struck me at the time, and has stayed with me ever since, was the feeling that something positive and powerful had emerged from a tragic event. I knew I’d discovered a story I had to write. And from the beginning, I believed this was a story about transformation and hope.

What was so special about this ship?

JN: The first page of the book reads: “There is a ship, a navy ship. It is called the USS New York. It is big like other navy ships, and it sails like other navy ships, but there is something different, something special about the USS New York.” I believe the USS New York is special, not only because of the seven and a half tons of steel in its bow but also because of the men and women who built and serve on the ship. The ship’s motto is “Strength forged through sacrifice. Never forget.” I believe the USS New York is more than a navy ship. It is a testament to hope, rebuilding, and redemption.

How much research did you do?

JN: I knew almost nothing about forging steel or shipbuilding when I began researching this book. Fortunately, other people did. I conducted phone interviews, read every news article I could get my hands on, watched countless news clips and videos, and was a frequent visitor to the ship’s website. I was touched by the generosity of librarians and retired military who were willing to guide me in the right direction and answer my many questions, big and small.

There are so many events in the life of this one beam. How did you winnow them down to the ones you explore in the book? How did you choose which ones to include and which ones to leave out? 

JN: What first drew me to this story was the idea of transformation. How tragedy could be recast as strength and hope. In choosing what to include and what to exclude, I stayed close to the beam and followed it on its transformative journey. The book begins with the events of September 11 and the outpouring of emotion at Ground Zero, but when the beam leaves New York, the story follows the beam. 

Thomas, what’s it like to illustrate a book when you haven’t met the author? 

TG: I believe I do meet the author through their words, in the words they share.

After reading Janet's words, what part of this story did you respond to most?

TG: I responded to the resilience of our country and how we honored those on our soil who desire to live here and stand for our values. I also responded to what it was like the days, hours and minutes before September 11. It’s the reason I  did the illustration of the plane frozen against the building. The idea that going about your everyday life is like a mirage of reality.

Did you paint from actual photographs? How did you select the images you wanted to include?

TG: Yes and no. I typically spend a bit of time doing rough sketches based on how the elements flow on a page—shapes or "blobs" of imaginary elements. Then, I start looking at video clips and images and take pictures of skies or other elements as I drive around. It’s like collecting ingredients for each of the spreads and thinking of them as a cake or a dish. But they all relate in the final product.

I also take pictures of people I know and other random shots to stage or help me with the mood of illustrations. Then, when appropriate, I do most of the modeling (shadows, highlights, etc.) out of my head through sketches in black and white to get the feel for light direction in conjunction with the reference. Most references I use do not have the right light source, so I make them work as if they all belonged in the same time and space.

Some of the images were sourced out of government archives that are in public domain to use. I look at those, because you do want to make sure that there are no misrepresentations of facts. I also use them for technical accuracy, especially when it involves something like an actual naval ship, uniforms, and military craft. But I tend to embellish them with a bit of drama that is not in the actual picture.

Thomas, what do you hope readers take away from your art?

TG: I hope they recall or imagine how quickly the reality, the surroundings, of one's life can change and how events, whether we choose them or they choose us, can alter a future.

Janet, what do you hope readers take away from your book?

JN: If a beam can become a bow, then anything is possible. Anyone and anything can be transformed. Terrible tragedies have occurred and will probably occur again. My hope is that readers of Seven and a Half Tons of Steel will feel a sense of hopefulness. Because without hope, how do we as people and as a nation go forward?

Look for Seven and a Half Tons of Steel at your local library, indie bookstore, or Barnes & NobleTo find out more about the author and illustrator, visit Janet Nolan's and Thomas Gonzalez's websites. Check out the Seven and a Half Tons of Steel teacher's guide for more on how to use this book in your classroom and beyond. Want to know a little more about the real story? See our New Book Wednesday post!