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November 2015 Newsletter November 2015
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Thanksgiving, Kidsreads Style
The Weasleys' gathering at the Burrow. I expect my Thanksgiving to be slightly less pajama-clad.
The Weasleys' gathering at the Burrow. I expect my Thanksgiving to be slightly less pajama-clad.

Hi Kidsreaders,

Thanksgiving is right around the corner, so my thoughts are swirling with the taste of turkey, sweet potatoes and apple pie.

But let's be real, here: aside from delicious foodstuffs (and the resulting food coma), Thanksgiving is all about family. The last Thanksgiving I celebrated was particularly exciting because my family increased by a generation (i.e. we were joined by my nephew, Charlie). This year's goal is to teach him how to say “gobble, gobble” before November 26th…that’s a big step beyond “baaa baaa,” though, so we’ll see how it goes. There’s also my red-headed nana who is sure to entertain with her less-than-appropriate jokes, and I can count on the annual debate amongst my cousins about her legendary chocolate cake. (Should it be yellow cake next year? Marble? Should we not make it anymore because only Shara really eats it? The answer, my friends, is that we must make it every year and it can only ever be chocolate. Fight over.)

While I obviously love spending the holiday with my own family, I can’t help but imagine what it would be like to ring in the fourth Thursday of November with some of my favorite fictional moms, dads and siblings. You can get a glimpse of a few of my daydreams, below:

The Weasleys (from the Harry Potter series): J.K. Rowling has allowed us to join in on several feasts with the Weasleys, whether it’s summer meals out on the patio or a slightly on-edge Christmas in HARRY POTTER AND THE ORDER OF THE PHOENIX. But what if this distinctly British clan decided to go American for a day and trade meat pies for cranberry sauce? I imagine that Molly Weasley could whip up some delicious gravy with that wand of hers, and that the Weasley twins (this fantasy is taking place early in the Harry Potter universe) would have a glorious time pranking all the guests --- don’t leave your plate unattended. I can also imagine an incredibly touching scene where everyone goes around the table expressing what they’re thankful for. Percy would have an uncharacteristic moment of warmth when discussing the family that inspired him, and Ron would mention his two best friends, Harry and Hermione (both in attendance). Molly would burst into tears and hug every single person at the table.

The Penderwicks (from The Penderwicks series): We’ve seen the four lovable Penderwick sisters --- Rosalind, Skye, Jane and Batty --- do everything from spend a summer vacation at the beautiful Arundel Estate to watch their father get married, and we’ve loved every moment of it. What could be more fun, then, than attending a Thanksgiving meal with these lovely ladies? Rosalind would of course call a MOPS (Meeting of the Penderwick Sisters) so they could plan all of the details of the meal, and she would help with much of the dinner preparations. Sabrina Starr writer Jane would compose a toast to their father and the family as a whole, and Skye would organize a family football game. Little Batty, who wouldn’t want to leave anyone (human or otherwise) out, would let some baby bunnies and squirrels into the dining room to join the fun. Chaos would surely ensue, and it would be hilarious to witness.

The Buckets (from CHARLIE AND THE CHOCOLATE FACTORY): While they might not have a lot at the beginning of the story, I can only imagine what Thanksgiving might look like for this wonderful family after Charlie inherits Willy Wonka’s factory. Three of his four grandparents would still be bedridden, so they’d have to eat on trays, and Charlie, his parents and Grandpa Joe would sit at small tables on either side of the four-posters. While the meal itself might be ho-hum, the desserts would be otherworldly. Willy Wonka and his Oompa-Loompas would have dreamt up endless heaps of sweets for this special day, including pies that make you whizz around the room and ice creams that taste like whatever you want. They’d concoct a cake as big as a small hut made of layers of chocolate, custard and blackberries, and, of course, classic Wonka Bars would be sprinkled across the blankets. Grandpa Joe, ever the entertainer, would skip and jig around the room in excitement, and everyone would take turns sharing their favorite memories.

The Fellowship of the Ring (from The Lord of the Rings series): While they’re not a family in a traditional sense, there’s no denying that the members of Frodo Baggins’ entourage --- The Fellowship of the Ring --- care for each other, protect one another and bicker the way any blood relatives would. Can you imagine feasting with these fellows? Merry and Pippin would surely eat the most, having been denied second breakfast, elevenses, luncheon and afternoon tea in preparation for the big meal, and Legolas and Gimli would get in a good-natured and ever-predictable debate about who were better cooks, elves or dwarves. Galdalf the Grey would make a surprise visit and entertain the group with some festive fireworks, and the whole group would get a much-needed break from fretting about that incredibly magical --- and dangerous --- piece of jewelry.

If you could celebrate Thanksgiving with a family from a book, who would you choose? Email and let me know!

So happy (almost) Thanksgiving, and I hope your stomach isn’t groaning too much in anticipation! In the meantime, be sure to check out our Holiday Bundle of Cheer contest and our holiday picture book and Star Wars bookshelves!

--- Shara Zaval (



Holiday Bundle of Cheer --- Enter Today!

At, we're kicking off the holiday season with our first Holiday Bundle of Cheer Contest and Feature. We are spotlighting some amazing books. Five lucky readers will win a copy of each of the featured titles, along with some incredibly festive goodies.

This year's featured titles include:

ANIMAL GROUPS by Jill Esbaum and Frans Lanting
BALANCE KEEPERS, Book 1: The Fires of Calderon by Lindsay Cummings
BRIDGET WILDER: Spy-in-Training by Jonathan Bernstein
CURIOSITY HOUSE: The Shrunken Head by Lauren Oliver and H. C. Chester
EDIBLE SCIENCE: Experiments You Can Eat by Jodi Wheeler-Toppen
ELLIE'S STORY by W. Bruce Cameron
EXTREME PLANET by National Geographic Explorer Carsten Peter
THE KEEPERS: The Box and the Dragonfly by Ted Sanders
MR. PUFFBALL: Stunt Cat to the Stars by Constance Lombardo
THE SCHOOL FOR GOOD AND EVIL #3: The Last Ever After by Soman Chainani
TODHUNTER MOON, Book One: PathFinder by Angie Sage
WHEN FISH GOT FEET, WHEN BUGS WERE BIG, AND WHEN DINOS DAWNED: A Cartoon Prehistory of Life on Earth by Hannah Bonner

Fill out the form by Thursday, December 17th at noon ET to be one of five lucky winners.

Click here to enter the Holiday Bundle of Cheer contest!

Special Feature: SCARLETT: A Star on the Run, by Jon Buller and Susan Schade

When you have a husband who loves to draw and a wife who loves to write, there’s only one thing for a couple to do --- work together, of course! And that’s exactly what Jon Buller and Susan Schade do --- work as a team to create graphic novels, picture books, early readers, chapter books and more.

Their newest graphic novel/traditional novel hybrid, SCARLETT: A Star on the Run, follows a talking cat and movie star as she runs away from her cruel producer. She meets a dog with a similar tale and is taken in by Mr. Bougnan, but her pursuers are drawing ever closer… yikes!

You can learn more about SCARLETT: A Star on the Run by checking out our special feature, which includes a review, interview and excerpt.

Click here to read the review.
Click here to read interview.
Click here to read the excerpt.


Click here to read the whole feature!

Special Feature: WARREN THE 13TH AND THE ALL-SEEING EYE by Tania del Rio and Will Staehle --- NOW IN STORES!

You may remember us talking about this book a few months ago, when we gave you the chance to win an early copy of this quirky, adventuresome illustrated novel that follows the adventures of a 12-year-old bellhop and tell us what you thought. It's now in stores!

We're thrilled that our readers fell in love with WARREN THE 13TH --- Joey from Davie, FL called it "a really interesting, not-moving-from-your-seat-until-you-are-done read" and Emily from White Plains, NY said "I am not sure which I loved more --- the story or the incredible illustrations."

Want to read all of the readers' comments? Click here!

You can also:

Click here to learn more about the book.
Click here to read an excerpt of the book.
Click here to read the full feature.


Series Feature --- Major Update!

What's better than a book (and no, we don't mean ice cream)? It's a whole series of books! At, we know that a lot of you are all about series. Once you find characters, topics or a fictional world you love, you don't have to leave --- you can just move from one adventure to another to another.

That's why we've decided to give our series feature a major makeover! We've updated the feature so that you'll find nearly 200 fantastic middle grade series, both modern and classic. We also chose to include several major picture book series, and readers from 0-12 will find something in here that appeals to them.

You can find series organized by age and alphabetically, learn the premise of each series and, most importantly, see which book comes after the one you just finished!

We'll also be including periodic "series updates" in our Kidsreads newsletter, so you'll know if we added a new series we think you should check out. So go check it out --- we know you'll love it!

Click here to see our updated series feature!

November's Cool & New Books Roundup

This month’s Cool and New roundup includes THE TRILOGY OF TWO by Juman Malouf, a mystical circus tale that follows twin musical prodigies with extraordinary powers; KID ATHLETES by David Stabler with illustrations by Doogie Horner, the latest in the True Tales series highlighting little-known stories from celebrities’ childhoods; and I DON'T KNOW HOW THE STORY ENDS by J.B. Cheaney, where three friends make a movie --- and search for the perfect ending --- in the early days of Hollywood.

Click here to see November's Cool & New Books roundup!

November's New in Paperback Roundup

In paperback titles this month, we have INKBLOT by Rebecca Langston-George, which shares examples and prompts for four creative writing genres; THE ROOKIE BOOKIE by L. Jon Wertheim and Tobias J. Moskowitz, a hilarious, statistics-filled book about a football betting ring gone terribly awry; and ABSOLUTELY TRULY: A Pumpkin Falls Mystery by Heather Vogel Frederick, where Truly is determined to get to the bottom of a mysterious letter she discovers in a first edition copy of CHARLOTTE’S WEB.

Click here to visit our November New in Paperback feature!

November's New in Picture Books Roundup

This month’s roundup includes THE CAMBODIAN DANCER: Sophany's Gift of Hope by Daryn Reicherter with illustrations by Christy Hale, the true story of a Cambodian woman who fled the Khmer Rouge and started a dance school in the United States; LOST. FOUND. by Marsha Diane Arnold with illustrations by Matthew Cordell, a nearly wordless picture book featuring a menagerie of animals who come up with clever ways to use bear’s misplaced scarf; and THE STORY I'LL TELL by Nancy Tupper Ling with illustrations by Jessica Lanan, a gentle and fantastical adoption story that celebrates the meaning of family.

Click here to see November's Picture Books roundup!

Holiday Picture Book Roundup

Whether you're two or 82, there is nothing quite like the perfect picture book to ring in the holidays, and luckily for us, there are plenty of great ones to choose from this year!

We culled from all of the Christmas, Hanukkah and general winter books coming out this year and selected the best of the best. Whether you're a fan of toys going on a grand snowy adventure (in TOYS MEET SNOW), experiencing the holiday sights in NYC through the eyes of a German Jewish immigrant in 1938 (OSKAR AND THE EIGHT BLESSINGS) or cheering for a little pig struggling to come up with a homemade Christmas gift for her family (A HOMEMADE TOGETHER CHRISTMAS), you're sure to find something on this list that will get you in the holiday spirit.


Click here to see our Holiday Picture Book Bookshelf!

Ten Star Wars Books to Prepare for The Force Awakens
Whether you can name every single cyborg in the Star Wars universe and dressed up as Han Solo for Halloween, or you think Chewbacca is a type of bubblegum, there’s no escaping Star Wars mania as the release of Star Wars: Episode VII – The Force Awakens draws ever closer (December 18th!)

We decided to help get you in the mood for all things light saber, Stormtroopers and starships by rounding up some elementary and middle grade books that center on this intergalactic franchise. From knitted Luke Skywalkers to origami Yodas, we know that you’ll find everything you need right here. May the Force be with You!
Click here to see the Star Wars bookshelf!

Now in Stores: THE TRILOGY OF TWO by Juman Malouf

THE TRILOGY OF TWO by Juman Malouf (Children's Fiction, Supernatural)

Identical twins Sonja and Charlotte are musical prodigies with extraordinary powers. Born on All-Hallows-Eve, the girls could play music before they could walk. But lately, mysterious things are starting to happen when they play their instruments. During one of their performances, the girls accidentally levitate their entire audience, drawing too much unwanted attention. Soon, ominous Enforcers come after them, and Charlotte and Sonja must embark on a perilous journey through enchanted lands in hopes of unlocking the secrets of their mysterious past.

Click here to learn more about the book.
Click here to read the review.


Now in Stores: FINDING FORTUNE by Delia Ray
FINDING FORTUNE by Delia Ray (Children's Fiction, Mystery, Family Life)

Running away from home isn't as easy as Ren thinks it will be. At least she isn't running very far; just a few miles to the ghost town of Fortune...or Mis-Fortune as everyone else calls it. Mis-Fortune on the Mississippi. Supposedly, there's an abandoned school on the outskirts with cheap rooms for rent. Ren knows her plan sounds crazy, but with only a few more weeks until Dad comes home from his tour of duty in Afghanistan, she also knows she has to do something drastic so Mom will come to her senses and stop seeing that creep Rick Littleton for good.

Click here to learn more about the book.
Click here to see Delia Ray's website with lots of fun facts about the book.


Now in Stores: HARRY POTTER AND THE SORCERER'S STONE: The Illustrated Edition, Collector's Edition (Harry Potter, Book 1) by J.K. Rowling

HARRY POTTER AND THE SORCERER'S STONE: The Illustrated Edition by J.K. Rowling and illustrated by Jim Kay (Children's Fiction, Adventure)

For the first time, J. K. Rowling's beloved Harry Potter books will be presented in lavishly illustrated full-color editions. Kate Greenaway-award winning artist Jim Kay has created over 100 stunning illustrations, making this deluxe format a perfect gift as much for a child being introduced to the series, as for the dedicated fan.

Click here to learn more about the book.

New Reviews

New! WEBSTER: Tale of an Outlaw by Ellen Emerson White (Children's Fiction, Friendship)

Webster is too cool to be scared. Or alarmed. Or even a tiny bit nervous. So what if no one will adopt him? He’s had it with people anyway. He’s going to be a loner, and not get too comfortable in this new animal shelter. And the first chance he gets, he’s hitting the road and living life on the range, just like one of the stoic cowboys he’s decided to model himself after. --- Reviewed by Christine Irvin.

New! ON THE RUN by Tristan Bancks (Children's Fiction, Mystery)

Ben has always wanted to be a cop, so he's intrigued when police officers show up at the door, asking for his parents. After they leave, his parents come home and rush him and his sister into the car, insisting they are going on a vacation --- to a remote cabin deep in the woods. Then Ben discovers his parents' secret: millions of dollars were deposited into their bank account by accident, and they took the money and ran off. --- Reviewed by Kathy Purcell.

New! TICKET TO INDIA by N.H. Senzai (Children's Fiction, Family Life, Historical Fiction)

A map, two train tickets and a mission. These are things 12-year-old Maya and her big sister Zara have when they set off on their own from Delhi to their grandmother’s childhood home of Aminpur, a small town in Northern India. Their goal is to find a chest of family treasures that their grandmother’s family left behind when they fled from India to Pakistan during the Great Partition. But soon the sisters become separated, and Maya is alone. Determined to find her grandmother’s lost chest, she continues her trip, on the way enlisting help from an orphan by named Jai. --- Reviewed by Christine Irvin.

New! CHILD CONVICTS by Janette Brennan (Children's Nonfiction, History)

At the age of seven, children in 18th-century Britain were tried in court like adults. For crimes such as picking pockets or stealing clothes, they could be sentenced to death by hanging or transported to the then-perilous and isolated colonies of Australia. Life in the colonies was often as difficult and dangerous as the poverty from which many of the convicts came, but the dreaded sentence of transportation could also present opportunities. --- Reviewed by Corinne Fox.

New! ABRACADABRA: The Story of Magic Through The Ages by HP Newquist (Children's Fiction, Magic)

In this nonfiction narrative of magic through the ages, HP Newquist explains how the world's most famous tricks were created. From the oracles of ancient Egypt and the wizards of medieval Europe on to the exploits of Houdini and modern practitioners like Criss Angel, this book unlocks the secrets behind centuries of magic and illusion. --- Reviewed by Christine Irvin.

New! LISTEN TO THE MOON by Michael Morpurgo (Children's Fiction, Historical Fiction)

Alfie lives off the coast of England. Merry lives in New York City. Until Merry and her mother set sail on the Lusitania for England, where Merry's father is recuperating from a war injury. People told them not to go, hearing rumors that the Lusitania might be carrying munitions. But they are desperate to be reunited with Merry's father. Alfie and his father find a lost girl in an abandoned house on a small island. The girl doesn't speak, except to say what sounds like "Lucy." Alfie's mother nurses her back to health. The others in the village suspect the unthinkable: Lucy is actually German --- an enemy --- because she's found with a blanket with a German tag. --- Reviewed by Maya Berman.

New! THE LIGHTNING QUEEN by Laura Resau (Children's Fiction, Friendship)

Nothing exciting happens on the Hill of Dust, in the remote mountains of Mexico in the 1950s. There's no electricity, no plumbing, no cars, just day after day of pasturing goats. And now, without his sister and mother, 11-year-old Teo's life feels even more barren. And then one day, the mysterious young Esma, who calls herself the Gypsy Queen of Lightning, rolls into town like a fresh burst of color. Against all odds, her caravan's Mistress of Destiny predicts that Teo and Esma will be longtime friends. Suddenly, life brims with possibility. --- Reviewed by Corinne Fox.

New! MINNA'S PATCHWORK COAT by Lauren A. Mills (Children's Fiction, Prejudice)

Minna and her family don't have much in their small Appalachian cabin, but "people only need people," Papa always reminds her. Unable to afford a winter coat to wear to school, she's forced to use an old feed sack to keep her warm. Then Papa's terrible cough from working in the coal mines takes him away forever, and Minna has a hard time believing that anything will be right again...until her neighbors work tirelessly to create a coat for her out of old fabric scraps. Now Minna must show her teasing classmates that her coat is more than just rags --- it's a collection of their own cherished memories, each with a story to share. --- Reviewed by Maya Berman.

New! THE LEAGUE OF UNEXCEPTIONAL CHILDREN by Gitty Daneshvari (Children's Fiction, Adventure)

The League of Unexceptional Children is a covert network that uses the nation's most average, normal and utterly unexceptional children as spies. Why the average kids? It's simple: they are the forgotten ones. Until now! --- Reviewed by Charles Payseur.

New! MY DIARY FROM THE EDGE OF THE WORLD by Jodi Lynn Anderson (Children's Fiction, Fantasy)

Spirited, restless Gracie Lockwood has lived in Cliffden, Maine, her whole life. She’s a typical girl in an atypical world: one where sasquatches helped to win the Civil War, where dragons glide over Route 1 on their way south for the winter and where Dark Clouds come for people when they die. When a Cloud comes looking for her little brother Sam, her parents pack the family into a used Winnebago and set out on an epic search for a safe place that most people say doesn’t exist: The Extraordinary World. --- Reviewed by Sarah Rachel Egelman.


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