Tag Archives: editorial

A Reader’s Resolution

30 Dec

Happy New Year, everyone! In honor of 2011, we thought we’d do a quick “Reader’s Resolution.” These are books I am resolving to read this year. Leave a comment with some of yours!

In 2011, I plan to finally read The Brothers Karamazov and Boneshaker.

How about you?

The Wizarding World of Harry Potter!

29 Dec

This holiday season I was lucky enough to head down to Florida to experience The Wizarding World of Harry Potter. It – was – awesome! Walking up to the gates, we began to hear John Williams’ score from the movies, and then the Hogwarts Express came into sight.

And then of course, Hogsmeade.

They had everything—from Zonko’s to Honeydukes, and of course the Three Broomsticks…but we had a different plan. First off, we went to Olivander’s where we got to see a special kid get chosen by a new wand, and then Hogwarts!

The ”castle ride” had a bit of a wait (2 hours!), but all the while we were in line, we got to walk through Hogwarts. There were mandrakes in the conservatory and Harry, Hermione, and Ron even paid a visit to let us know what we were getting into (lots of flying and action, it seemed). We actually passed by the entrance of Dumbledore’s office!

And they were kind enough to give us warnings early on:

Once we got out of Hogwarts, we of course had to try Butterbeer and Pumpkin Juice! And then it was straight on to Honeydukes and Zonko’s!

There were Ton Tongue Toffees and Cauldron Cakes, and Extendable Ears and U-No-Poo tablets!

We headed back to Platform 9 ¾, where the conductor and a Weasley twin were kind enough to take a picture with a friend. (As you can see, the twin is still a bit of a prankster).

Sadly, we did have to leave The Wizarding World of Harry Potter, our own money bags a few galleons lighter, but our eyes full of wonder and magic in real life! I have to be honest, I bought a wand.

Overall, the experience was wonderful and it really was Harry Potter come to life. I just wish I could live there! I suppose I’ll just have to reread them yet again!

Sweet Dreams for You!

6 Dec

One of our favorite subjects for our little readers (and their parents!) is bedtime. And we’ve got quite a few bedtime books for you this winter, so there’s sure to be something for every kind of sleeper!

Twinkle, Twinkle, Time for Bed

A twist on the classic lullaby, this version of “Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star” shows that even toys need to be tucked into bed. With its adorable illustrations and story-time tips for parents, this bedtime book is perfect for reading and being read to! You can find it on Honeybee this December.

I Love You, Stinky Face

While settling down to bed, Stinky Face has just a few questions for his mom. No matter who he is, whether he’s an alligator or a gross, smelly skunk, Stinky Face’s mommy will always love him. I Love You, Stinky Face is available on Honeybee December.

Little Critter: Just Go to Bed

We all know and love Mercer Mayer’s Little Critter. He’s just as precocious as ever in this great installment of the series. Little Critter does not want to go to bed, and he will do anything to get out of it! Just Go to Bed is on Honeybee December.

Bedtime for Little Bears!

Enjoy the season and bedtime by saying good night to all sorts of arctic animals in this adorable picture book. Bedtime for Little Bears! is on Firefly’s cover this December!

If Animals Kissed Good Night

Here’s the perfect book for you if you want to say good night to the rest of the animal kingdom! Told in rhyme, If Animals Kissed Good Night shows us all the different ways that animals say good night. Find it on Firefly December!

Diary of a Wimpy Kid: The Awesome Truth

23 Nov

Well, it’s been two weeks. I’m sure some of us have read and re-read the fifth installment in the Wimpy Kid series. One thing is for sure, kids love these books! On the publication date (November 9, 2010) Scholastic Book Clubs sent out copies of Diary of a Wimpy Kid: The Ugly Truth to 300,000 classrooms (see map below). I thought we at the office were excited for this book. That was nothing compared to the reaction I saw from flipcams we sent to various classrooms around the country. Check it out:

Map Key

  • Each spot is a U.S. City

White point: 1000 to 9999 shipments in city

Yellow point: 100 to 999 shipments in city

Red point: 10 to 99 shipments in city

Black point: 1 to 9 shipments in city

Click to Enlarge

Click to Enlarge

Click to Enlarge

Who Wants a Visit from the Black Lagoon?

3 Nov

Do you ever stop and think: How do authors come up with iconic characters, such as the teacher from the Black Lagoon®? What else would you ask other famous authors if you could? What if…gasp…no one even notices when a famous author visits?

Well, in Mike Thaler (author) and Jared Lee’s (illustrator) latest work, The Author Visit from the Black Lagoon®, Thaler brings this idea to life. Our Lucky Editor, Shelly, reviewed the book for us below:

“A real live author, Penny Inkblot, is coming for a school visit, and Hubie has been selected to escort her! But what if her limousine pulls up and she totally ignores Hubie?  What if the book she reads is as boring as the phone book?! And what if, instead of signing books, she stamps everyone’s foreheads with a rubber stamp!?!”

When the big day arrives, Hubie is relieved to find that Penny Inkblot is supercool. She tells the class how she much loves to write, and that everyone in class can be an author, too. All you need is a pencil, a piece of paper, and your imagination! That’s all that Hubie needs to hear—by the end of the day, he has his written his own story. Perhaps Mrs. Beamster will put it in the school library!”

Remember that you should absolutely check Lucky November or click here to find out how you could win a school visit from Black Lagoon® author, Mike Thaler! Just…don’t ignore him.  🙂

Comics in the Classroom

13 Oct

Call them what you will—comic books, graphic novels, illustrated guides—but these formats are permeating the mainstream. On Monday, we posted a mini picture post from our adventures at New York Comic Con this past weekend, and you guys had plenty to say! The comments covered everything from comic books being just like TV and video games to comic books being a great gateway into reading. Just like any other medium, comics are both these things and many others.

We were lucky enough to attend a lecture given by Scott Westerfeld on Sunday. He spent a few minutes talking about how he decided to write a series of novels (the Leviathan trilogy) with illustrations, and reminded us that, historically, most novels were once illustrated. On the right, you’ll see illustrations from a late 18thcentury edition of Jane Austen’s Sense and Sensibility. He noted an edition of The War of the Worlds that heralded the illustrator’s name far larger than that of H.G. Wells! Illustrations are beginning to regain the reputation they lost for being just as legitimate as the words themselves.

Comic books aren’t comic books because of their content—they are comic books because of the heavy use of illustrations to denote action that interacts with the text. They can contain any type of story or information: Comic books can be about superheroes or space aliens, but they can also be about history (as with the Maus graphic novels) or science (as with The Secret Science Alliance and the Copycat Crook)! For some children, sequential art makes difficult concepts easier to grasp.

Elephant & Piggie, a series of beginning readers by award-winning illustrator Mo Willems, feature common comic-book styles while still using the repetitive text and illustrations classically used in the genre. Compare these illustrations below: On the top, you have Elephant & Piggie and underneath, you have a strip from Scholastic’s own middle-grade graphic novel series, Amulet. Both use sequential art and speech balloons while also containing positive themes that students can relate to…but one is a reader and one is a comic.

Books for older children are also embracing traditional comic-book characteristics. Did you know that Jeff Kinney actually started the ever-successful Diary of a Wimpy Kid as a Web comic? Now the very same series has kids thrilled about reading! It also deals with issues kids face every day: bullying, growing up, friendship—look how excited these kids were to get their copies of the fourth book, Dog Days.

Graphic novels, illustrated guides, comic books—however you want to refer to them—have evolved into an excellent reading tool. Many of them cover complex issues and concepts in an accessible design. Some of you noted that this format has aided students with learning disabilities, others mentioned that these books were a great way to get kids interested in reading. After reading your comments, we decided to put together a list of classroom-appropriate graphic novels that cover a variety of subjects. If you have any suggestions, definitely leave a comment! We’d love to see what books you use!

Ghostopolis | Tab October
Bone | October
Amulet | Teens September
Resistance | Teens September
Maus | Teens September
Diary of a Wimpy Kid | Pre-order #5
Calvin and Hobbes | Fall
Dork Diaries | Arrow October
Popularity Papers | Arrow September
Adventures of Ook and Gluk | Lucky September
Elephant & Piggie Pack | SeeSaw October

Teachable Moment: Special Days

30 Sep


Firefly October Featured Book: The Spooky Wheels on the Bus

This humorous, Halloween-themed version of the classic song “The Wheels on the Bus” is a perfect new book for the season. It features a shiny foil cover with vibrant illustrations on each page, and children will love following along with the bold, repeating text. The story chronicles one bus driver’s night as he cruises through town on Halloween, picking up all sorts of unexpected passengers. Plus, the story provides a great opportunity to practice simple counting skills. From “one spooky bus” to “ten goofy ghosts,” children will enjoy counting and singing along to this not-so-spooky Halloween rhyme!

In addition to being a fun read-aloud, we especially love this book because it’s a wonderful introduction to the holiday. Reading stories like this one about Halloween helps children understand why holidays are special days. They can pick out images from the story that signify Halloween to them, such as jack-o’-lanterns, black cats, mummies, and witches. You can also talk to your children about what words like “spooky” mean to them. Discussing what makes certain days more special than others helps young children make sense of their world.  Costumes, candy, decorations—it can be overwhelming for a kid to take in all at once, but a lot goes into making holidays special. Once your child understands the holiday better, celebrating can be all the more exciting!

What are some other books you’ve found that provide teachable moments?


Legend of the Guardians: The Owls of Ga’Hoole

24 Sep

The owls of Ga’Hoole have had a pretty exciting fall, with the theatrical release of Legend of the Guardians: The Owls of Ga’Hoole happening this week. (Today, in fact. Right now. What are you doing here?)

I’ve been asked by the awesome Book Talk staff to talk a little bit about the film, and how it compares to the books. Beware, there might be some *SPOILERS* below. If you want to go see the film now, we’ll wait here patiently.

Back? Cool. Let’s just start.

…….

Legend of the Guardians covers the story of the first three books of the Ga’Hoole series. It’s a lot of ground to cover, but the movie handles it with skill and gallgrot (an owl word meaning nerve). Of course, certain things have to be shortened, changed, or even cut when you are turning a book into a film, but screenwriter John Orloff has done a great job being faithful to the spirit of the books. (And I’m not the only one who thinks so. Watch this YouTube video made by Kathryn Lasky to get her opinion on the film.)

The movie follows Soren, a young owlet who falls out of his family’s nest and is kidnapped by the evil St. Aggie’s—an “orphanage” that turns young owlets into mindless slaves. He manages to escape, however, and then he and his new band of friends seek out the Guardians of Ga’Hoole, a noble group of owl warriors thought only to be legend.

The movie focuses a lot more on Soren’s family, closing in and fleshing out some of these relationships. Kludd, Soren’s dubious older brother, gets a much bigger role in the film, as does his younger sister Eglantine—though she is ostensibly a ball of fluff with eyelashes. In fact, Eglantine steals pretty much every scene she’s in. Her cuteness is hard to resist, and there’s a very fluffy Beanie Baby available of her through Ty Inc.

That’s not to say the movie is all sweetness and down feathers, though. The owls of Ga’Hoole are warriors, and much like the books, there’s a lot of exciting aerial combat and clinking battle claws.

Also like the books, the film might be a better fit for kids about ages eight and up. The fighting can be a little intense (the director is Zack Snyder, after all), and the story might be a bit involved for younger viewers. (I had a toddler sitting in front of me that became very vocal about his shrinking attention span toward the end of the screening.) Still, the graphics are so beautiful and the story so fast-paced and fun, I think Ga’Hoole fans of all ages will really get a kick out of seeing their favorite characters on-screen.

Be sure to check out the first Guardians of Ga’Hoole book, The Capture, on Arrow and Lucky this October!

This post comes to us from a friend in our Trade Editorial department, Zach. He is the expert on all things Guardians of Ga’Hoole!


Books to Movies!

22 Sep

Photo by Mr. Wabu

Did you hear? They’re turning GOOSEBUMPS into a movie! When we heard this news, it got us thinking…what are some of our favorite book-to-movie experiences? While we definitely are in the business of reading and books, it’s fun to see how the silver screen compares to our imaginations sometimes. I can remember seeing The Return of the King in the theater and thinking, “That is exactly what I pictured the Mount Doom scene to look like.”

In our opinion, the best movies based on books have to stay true to the character and the story, and most of all, leave you wanting to read (or reread!) the book. Here are a few favorites that we definitely couldn’t skip:

Harry Potter

Of course we have to pick Harry Potter—we are already rereading the series in anticipation for the seventh movie!

Charlotte’s Web

This E.B. White classic chapter book has an equally classic movie to go alongside it—I still sing Templeton the rat’s carnival song every so often when I’m feeling particularly silly!

James and the Giant Peach

The animation and technology of this movie perfectly encapsulated the whimsy and adventure of Roald Dahl’s book about a boy braving the seas with his crew of ragtag insects!

Freaky Friday

The original, of course. Jodie Foster brought the smart-talking Annabel Andrews to life in this Mary Rodgers classic. She sure figured out that her mom’s life wasn’t nearly as enviable as she thought!

A Series of Unfortunate Events

Equal parts distressing and hilarious, this movie was perfect for the Lemony Snicket set. Even with us at the edge of our seats, the Baudelaire children came back time and time again from everything the evil Count Olaf threw at them.

Go on! Tell us some of your favorites!

Chapter Books Band Wagon!

20 Sep

It’s an exciting time for kids heading into first and second grades this fall—some have discovered chapter books and there are so many great ones out there! Chapter books are an important milestone for new readers. I can distinctly remember graduating to The Baby-Sitters Club after six months’ worth of Baby-Sitters Little Sister—it was a momentous occasion. It meant I was finally one of the big kids! So today, in honor of all those kids jumping on the chapter book wagon, we decided we’d take a look back at some of our favorite chapter books!

The Trumpet of the Swan

This is my absolute favorite E.B. White story. Some may prefer Charlotte and her salutations, but for me it was always about Louis and his trumpet.

The BFG

Roald Dahl’s story of a giant catching good dreams is certainly one of his more friendly pieces. There’s a tiny bit of me that still wants to be Sophie!

Where the Red Fern Grows

Billy’s love for his two dogs, Old Dan and Little Ann, is the integral (and heartbreaking) part in this story about friendship and loss. I dare you to read this without getting teary eyed.

Bunnicula

I have to be honest—the Bunnicula cover terrified me when I was younger. But when I finally got around to reading it, I couldn’t believe it’d taken me so long. It is about a bunny vampire who sucks the juice out of vegetables—a.k.a. Instant Hilarity!

Pippi Longstocking

Pippi Longstocking was definitely one of my idols growing up—she’s brash and headstrong, but so caring and adventurous that it didn’t matter! (Also, I reeeeally wanted to live in her house!)

So there you have it, Book Talkers—some of our favorite chapter books growing up. Now you tell us! What were some of yours?