Archive | August, 2010

Back to School!

31 Aug


Strange new teacher.
Strange new toys.
Lots of kids and lots of noise!

Llama Llama Misses Mama! Like many kids this fall, Llama Llama is heading to school for the first time. Anna Dewdney has provided teachers and parents alike with a great story to encourage social and emotional development. Brand new on Firefly this September, Llama Llama must learn how to get along with a new teacher and new friends and without Mama Llama. Check out our Firefly editor’s review of Llama Llama Misses Mama! Our friends at Penguin have also put together a collection of classroom activities go along with Llama Llama Misses Mama, grab them here!

In celebration of back to school stories, we Book Talkers thought we’d let you know about some other great September titles for all ages!

Ready for Kindergarten, Stinky Face?

On SeeSaw this September, Stinky Face has a million questions for his mother – What if the sink pours grape juice instead of water? Just how strange will Kindergarten be?

Amelia Bedelia’s First Day of School

Meet our favorite mixed-up lady as a young girl, in this Lucky September offer! Amelia Bedelia can’t WAIT for school!

Dexter the Tough

On Arrow this fall, Dexter starts his first day in the fourth grade at a new school by slipping and falling in front of everyone – could it get any worse? This is a wonderful chapter book chronicling a boy’s trouble fitting in – in school and life.


What are some books that have helped your kids get ready for school? Leave a comment and let us know!

Leviathan: Bringing Steampunk to Kids Everywhere!

30 Aug

For those of you who read the blog regularly, you are probably aware that I am currently obsessed with steampunk. Don’t worry if you don’t know what steampunk is—you’ve probably read steampunk or have seen a movie that is steampunk without even knowing it. The simplest explanation comes from G.D. Falksen’s description from his post, Steampunk 101 over at “In three short words, steampunk is Victorian science fiction.”

That being said, let’s get familiar with some steampunk on Book Clubs. One of the newest books in the genre can be found in September’s TAB and TeenRC: Scott Westerfeld’s Leviathan. I was a reader of steampunk prior to reading this, but afterwards I became enthralled. Leviathan is a riveting retelling of World War I that follows Alek, the son of the assassinated archduke, and Deryn, a girl dressed up as a boy in order to be in the army. Alex is part of the Clankers, which are also the Axis powers, and Deryn is part of the Darwinists, which are part of the Allied powers. The Clankers believe in and use steam-powered machines, while the Darwinists believe in and use evolved fabricated beasts. Alek and Deryn are both thrown together after the sides go to war. But, if they are to survive, they both have secrets that they must protect. Check out the awesomely amazing book trailer:

The main thing I took away after reading this book was: Wow! This book is so smart. It can teach kids about World War I in an engaging and fun way. The illustrations throughout the novel enhance Westerfeld’s terrific prose and provide vivid images of the great creatures and machines he has created in this world. The illustrations also provide a great point of reference for a novice in the steampunk genre.

Steampunk has always been somewhat of an underground niche genre and I personally believe that Leviathan is a book that can bring this genre to the forefront for young readers. Westerfeld does a masterful job—not only telling an exciting narrative, but also introducing steampunk to young readers in a fun and engaging way. The illustrations add that nice extra touch that makes Leviathan accessible to kids, teachers, and parents who might not be familiar with the genre.

If you haven’t read Leviathan, I highly recommend it. It is one of the best books I have read in the last two years and is perfect for boys and girls grades 5–up. Scott Westerefeld’s Uglies series is also available in September’s TAB and TeenRC clubs as well!

Here is a list of books and movies that have steampunk elements that you may already be familiar with:

The Time Machine by H.G. Wells
20,000 Leagues Under the Sea by Jules Verne
Mortal Engines by Philip Reeve
The City of Ember by Jeanne DuPrau

9 (animated movie, PG-13)
Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow (PG)
Wild Wild West (PG-13)

Do your kids/students read steampunk? Do you use any steampunk novels in the classroom? We’d love to hear about it.

The 39 Clues® Book 10 Is Here!

27 Aug

When The 39 Clues® series launched in September 2008, we just couldn’t wait to read the first one! But when we found out that the series was not just made up of ten adventure-filled novels written by seven of the best children’s authors today, but that it was also a multiplatform series that combined books, collectible cards, and an online game, we were absolutely floored! There was nothing like it on the market and we just knew that kids were going to go wild for this interactive way of reading–we were right!

Two years later, the groundbreaking series comes to an end with Book 10, which releases nationwide next Tuesday, August 31. In it, Margaret Peterson Haddix picks up the quest of Amy and Dan Cahill as they face their final challenge on a mysterious lost island. Margaret, who is also the author of the exciting Shadow Children series, agreed to speak to Book Talk about her experiences writing this final installment of The 39 Clues®. We can’t wait to get our hands on this one!

One-on-One with Margaret Peterson Haddix:

BT: What branch of the Cahill family do you belong to?

MPH: Ekaterina.

BT: Which member of the Cahill family would you team up with on the hunt?

MPH: Oh, definitely Amy and Dan!

BT: If you could change the identity of the man in black from Book 9, who would he be and why?

MPH: Interesting question! I think if the man in black weren’t…uh…who he really is, I would want him to be Amy and Dan’s grandfather. Partly this is because I feel so bad for Amy and Dan that all their closest relatives (except each other) are dead. I’m not sure how it could be explained why everyone thought the grandfather was dead—or where he’s been for most of Amy and Dan’s lives—but it might be fun to try. Or, possibly the man in black could have been their grandfather on their father’s side, so it would turn out that they have Cahill connections on both sides….

Photo Credit: The Backstage Studio

MPH: Still having exciting adventures.

BT: If you could join Amy and Dan on one of their adventures, which one would it be and why?

MPH: The one in Book 10. Because they know the most about what’s going on then.

BT: Did you work with the other authors of The 39 Clues® series in planning/writing Book 10?

MPH: Rick Riordan, who wrote the first book in the series, also wrote brief outlines for all the other books, including Book 10. But, given that he wrote it before the other books were finished, that outline was fairly sketchy, and I was happy that it left a lot of room for me to use my own imagination. I had a lot more contact with Linda Sue Park, who was writing Book 9 about the same time that I was writing Book 10. Linda Sue and I—and The 39 Clues® editor, Rachel Griffiths—had a long conversation early on to make sure that our character development and plotlines would work together. And then while Linda Sue and I were both in the writing process, we occasionally exchanged e-mails along the lines of, “Someone’s going to need to address this particular issue before the end of the series. Are you handling that in your book, or should I take care of it?”

BT: Did you have any input in the planning/writing of Books 1–9?

MPH: None at all with Books 1–8. But, as I mentioned in my last answer, Linda Sue and I did compare notes while we were writing Books 9 and 10.

BT: How was writing Book 10 different from writing other books you’ve written?

MPH: This was the first time I’ve ever written a book based on a situation and characters that someone else came up with. I was a little worried about being able to write from the perspective of certain characters who were very different from me—for example, the Holts or Jonah Wizard—but it turned out that their scenes were some of the ones that I had the most fun writing.

The other big difference was that this had to be a much more collaborative process than I’ve ever been involved in before. In one sense, this made me less decisive than I usually am as a writer, because certain things were outside of my control. But I also felt a huge sense of responsibility, because I absolutely did not want to mess up anything when so many other people were also working hard to make The 39 Clues® project great.

BT: How long did it take you to write Book 10?

MPH: It took two months to write the first draft of the book, then about another two months to revise. Then, for a couple months after that, I worked on the book for a few days at a time, here and there, to deal with line editing, copy editor questions, etc.

BT: Was it more difficult to write the last book of this EPIC series after so many other great authors (besides yourself, of course) had contributed to it?

MPH: Absolutely! After nine books of incredible, dramatic, heart-stopping action, it was really hard for me to think of something that hadn’t already been done!

We want to thank Margaret for so graciously agreeing to stop by our blog and Book Talk with us!

You’re invited to a LIVE GLOBAL WEBCAST EVENT for the release of The 39 Clues®, Book 10 on August 31, 2010!

The 39 Clues®, Book 10: Into the Gauntlet and the complete boxed set of Books 1–10 are being offered this September in the Arrow, TAB, and Teachers’ Picks catalogs! If you haven’t already, join the hunt!

Duck and Goose Have a New Friend! Meet Rocket!

26 Aug

There is a very special new character on Firefly this October and we have some very special friends who want to introduce you to him! Take a gander at the letter, and be sure to download the exclusive Book Clubs’ “I Can Read Like Rocket!” certificate for your classroom!

Click here to download our exclusive “I Can Read like Rocket” certificate! You can see a sample below:

Don’t forget you can find Duck and Goose themselves on Firefly September in a brand new adventure, Duck and Goose Find a Pumpkin!

SoHG: Final Winners!

25 Aug

We did it, you guys! Summer of Hunger Games was a huge success, and so much more fun than we could have imagined. Mockingjay may have come and been read, but the conversation never ends at Book Talk. There’s always books to talk about so definitely stay tuned for more reading projects!

Thank you to everyone who participated, we loved your comments and thoughts, and how friendly everyone was. Congratulations to our final giveaway winners:

Zoe, Phacelia, Shannon A., Rivah, Cassandra, Felicia, Kat L., Laura, FireFleye7, Eva L., Alice F., Toby P., and Em.

Have fun reading and rereading, and may be the odds be ever in your favor!

Don’t forget, if you did not win a pin, you can get one with your purchase of Mockingjay from Scholastic Book Clubs September’s Tab and TeenRC Clubs.

Book Talk’n: Miss Fortune

25 Aug

One of our editors is so excited about Miss Fortune–available in September’s Arrow–she had to write a review and asked the author do a video for us! Jill is the editor of the Tab Book Club and co-edits the TeenRC Book Club with yours truly (Trevor)!

Full disclosure, Brandi is a good friend of mine. We got to know each other when Brandi worked at Scholastic for eight years choosing the books for the Arrow book club (grades 4-6). So I was thrilled to be asked to talk to her about her new middle grade novel Miss Fortune, which is part of The Poison Apple series. I really enjoyed reading this spooky novel set in Portland. The novel centers around best friends, Zoe and Mia. On one fateful night Zoe and Mia decide to get their fortunes read at a carnival. While Mia hears only good news from the fortune teller, Zoe’s fortune is decidedly less positive. That’s OK–Zoe’s never been particularly superstitious…that is until some pretty scary stuff starts happening to her. As Zoe’s luck gets worse and worse, Zoe and Mia race to find out what’s going on and how to stop it. This is a perfect middle grade novel with an accessible and engaging storyline.


24 Aug

Let the party commence! Just like you, we literally just picked up our copies (12:01!) and are on our way to spend the night reading. We will be very sleepy Book Talkers tomorrow, that is for sure.

First things first: If you haven’t read or don’t intend to read Mockingjay yet, DO NOT GO ANY FURTHER. There will be spoilers in the comments section of this post. Tread very carefully! For everyone who is here to talk about the book, don’t forget that on the right hand side of this post you’ll see Book Talk’s own WORDS WE LIVE BY—so please, keep it friendly and fun. The lovely Suzanne Collins herself has requested that we all be mindful of fellow readers and fans.

NOW, it’s time for the biggest giveaway yet! In honor of finally getting our hands on Mockingjay, we want to give away THIRTEEN Mockingjay Pins! (Get it?) As with the first round, be sure to comment on this post with the phrase “I want a Book Clubs Mockingjay Pin!” in the body of your comment to enter. You must be over the age of 18 and a valid U.S. resident; click here for complete rules. You will have until 11:59 p.m. on August 24, 2010, to enter. We will draw thirteen (13) names at random and announce the winners on Wednesday, August 25. Please only submit the phrase one time, and leave the rest of your comments for good old-fashioned book talk.

Anyway, now it’s time for you to tell us what you think! We’ll be around to add in our own thoughts while we read as well. Continue reading

Meet the New Kids in Class!

23 Aug

This fall, Scholastic Book Clubs wants to introduce you to the new kids in school—Frankly, Frannie and George Brown, Class Clown!  We are just so excited about these two new series, and can’t wait for you to read them, too!  We asked our Lucky Editor, Caitlin (of Ook and Gluck video fame) to tell us a little bit about these two new characters.  Check them out in your Lucky September flyers!

Frannie Miller is not your average kid. She desperately wants a job, loves offices, and hopes to get her very own assistant for Christmas. Frannie is a true original, which is why she changes her name so often. “Frankly” is her newest name—she would tell you it’s also a scientific fact! Frankly wants to be a grown-up, and she is learning to act like one every day so she can become one super fast. Actually, she has a briefcase, a résumé, and business cards already! Some of Frankly’s jobs have been a table clearer (her best one), a temperature taker, and a mustard sniffer. She wants to help out all the time; however, she sometimes gets “Frances-ed” by her mom. (That means Frankly, Frannie thought she helped, but she actually made a big mess of things.) You’ll love reading about Frannie’s crazy antics, especially if you’re already a fan of Clementine and Junie B.!

George Brown has to move around a lot because his dad is in the army. His brand-new town is Beaver Brook and his new school is Edith B. Sugarman Elementary. Since George has left Cherrydale, he has also left all his friends (including Katie Kazoo!), his old house, and even the old George behind. He wants a new start at being a new George, and that means no more class clown. In Cherrydale, everyone knew George as the funniest kid around—he was full of jokes and silly pranks! George starts out not being a total goof, but when he makes a wish on a star to make the kids in his class laugh, everything changes. Now whenever George gets this rumbly, grumbly, bubbly feeling in his stomach, a HUGE burp happens and turns him into a complete clown! Perfect for fans of Stink and Fudge!

Meet these new kids this September in Lucky to find out if Frannie will become a radio star, and whether George will get rid of his bad case of the burps, or be a class clown for life!

SoHG: Even more winners!

23 Aug

Wow!!! We’ve had so much great conversation and discussion over the past few weeks, it almost makes me sad that the Summer of Hunger Games is almost over. Just a few quick reminders before announcing the two winners for the most recent giveaway:

  1. Be sure to check back tonight at midnight for the Summer of Hunger Games final installment where we discuss MOCKINGJAY!! To avoid spoilers, this will be on a separate page, so fear not if you have not read the book yet and are coming to read the other great content on Book Talk.
  2. We are giving away…wait for it…wait for it…13 of the exclusive Scholastic Book Clubs Mockingjay Pins! These pins are only available through Scholastic Book Clubs when you order Mockingjay on either September’s TAB or TeenRC clubs.
  3. Just a friendly reminder: Please don’t spoil the book for everyone else. The great thing about the Summer of Hunger Games was that, even though most of you were rereading the first two, nobody even tried to put spoilers in their comments for Catching Fire while we were discussing The Hunger Games. So let’s keep that up. Even Suzanne Collins wants you to avoid spoilers!
  4. Last but certainly not least, thank you! Thanks to everyone who has made the Summer of Hunger Games so much fun! We hope you had fun as well!

That being said, the two winners from Friday’s post are Jodi and Christine P. Congratulations! Like I said, come back tonight at midnight for what will be a lot of OMG-ing and great discussion!

Also, in case you haven’t heard…there is a video of Suzanne Collins reading the first chapter of Mockingjay!!!! Check it out!

SoHG: We’ve Arrived!

20 Aug

We’re finally here, just four short days away from the release of Mockingjay – can you believe it?? Are you guys ready to talk about everything? Hunger Games, Catching Fire, and even throw in your Mockingjay theories! This time, everything goes. However, never forget, on the right hand side of this post you’ll see Book Talk’s own WORDS WE LIVE BY – so please, keep it friendly and fun.

As you know, we have another give-away! Two Mockingjay Pins, just in time for Mockingjay’s release! As with the first round, to enter be sure to comment on this post with the phrase “I want a Book Clubs Mockingjay pin!” in the body of your comment. You must be over the age of 18 and a valid U.S. resident, click here for complete rules. You will have until tonight August 20th, 2010 at 9pm EST to enter. We will draw two (2) names at random and announce the winners on Monday, August 23rd. Please only submit the phrase one time, and leave the rest of your comments for good ole’ fashioned book talk.

Click through to get started! Continue reading