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!

Friday, August 12, 2016

Free Book Friday: Never Follow a Dinosaur

It's our second Free Book Friday of the season!

Starting today, enter our Goodreads giveaway for a chance to win one of twenty unbound copies of Never Follow a Dinosaur. Alex Latimer's quirkly and bold style combined with strong visual storytelling in this cumulative mystery will not only test readers' deductive reasoning, it will make kids want to read it again and again. They might even start looking for dinosaurs of their own to follow!

Sally and Joe are convinced that the mysterious footprints they have discovered must belong to a dinosaur! Could it be? Join them as they follow the clues to find out… But wait—what if Sally and
Joe are right? What if it really is a dinosaur?

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

Goodreads Book Giveaway

Never Follow a Dinosaur by Alex Latimer

Never Follow a Dinosaur

by Alex Latimer

Giveaway ends August 19, 2016.

See the giveaway details

at Goodreads.

Enter Giveaway

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

New Book Wednesday: Never Follow a Dinosaur

Never Follow a Dinosaur
In Alex Latimer’s new picture book, Sally and Joe find strange footprints. Could they belong to a dinosaur? Mom always said to never follow a dinosaur, but Sally and Joe know the mysterious creature is out there somewhere, and they’re going to find it… But what if they really do find a dinosaur?!

From the author of Stay! A Top Dog Story and Lion vs. Rabbit, Never Follow a Dinosaur is a fun and imaginative mystery sure to entertain all ages. Great for helping children draw conclusions or introducing deductive reasoning, readers will want to find out what new idea the siblings have about this mysterious dinosaur as the story progresses. With Latimer's quirky illustrations and a surprise ending, little ones will be laughing out loud and wanting to read this picture book again!

“A goofy romp with a very lovable dinosaur at its center that never loses its (very small) footing.” ―Kirkus Reviews

Track down a copy of Never Follow a Dinosaur on September 1st! Looking for fun and creative ways to use this book with children? Check out some dinosaur-related pins on our "Storytime Snack & Crafts" Pinterest board.

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!

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

New Book Wednesday: Stanley's Board Books

We have double the fun (and some exciting news) for you on this New Book Wednesday! Stanley's adventures continue in William Bee's new concept board book series for Stanley's youngest readers. Also, for all Stanley fans, the Komixx Media Groups has just acquired the animation rights for the Stanley series. Check out the official press release here, and start imagining with us how great Stanley could look on screen!

For now, get your Stanley fix with Stanley's Colors and Stanley's Shapes coming September 1st!

Watch Stanley fly his green plane and ride his yellow motorcycle! Stanley’s Colors introduces young readers to several different colors and vehicles as he travels around to do various activities.

Stanley and Little Woo are out on a camping trip, and they discover many different shapes. They set up their triangle tent and find a fish shaped like a star! How many shapes can you find?

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!