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All Hallow’s Read 2014

Inspired by the Nerdy Book Club poll: What Books Would You Recommend Giving Out For All Hallow’s Read?, I thought I’d put together the books I recommended there along with a few other new or newish titles that are scary reads in this run up to Halloween.

"For library geeks, theater geeks, fans of the occult, demons, barbers, demon barbers, high school students, school librarians, library students, Sondheim fans, Italian speakers, actors, singers, prop mistresses, yeah pretty much everybody." —Angie Smits, Southern Territory Associates

“…terrifically entertaining from start to finish…” —Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books, starred review

9780763660383, Candlewick Press, Cloth, $16.99

"Jones has crafted a menacing, spooky Victorian London full of criminals and unfinished business, which is well balanced by the biting satire and buffoonery of the Bureau. Add to that a cast of fascinating, well-wrought characters—from the smarmy and threatening Jack, to the precocious, pot-stirring aspiring journalist, Clara—and it’s a winning combination of macabre atmosphere, whimsical antics, and heartfelt, earnest friendship." —Booklist, starred review

9781419707827, Amulet Books, Cloth, $16.95

“Chupeco makes a powerful debut with this unsettling ghost story…told in a marvelously disjointed fashion from Okiku’s numbers-obsessed point of view, this story unfolds with creepy imagery and an intimate appreciation for Japanese horror, myth, and legend.”
- Publishers Weekly starred review

“[A] Stephen King–like horror story…A chilling, bloody ghost story that resonates.” - Kirkus Reviews

9781402292187, Sourcebooks, Cloth, $16.99

"From vampires to ghosts and from strange creatures made of mercury to half-harpies, these beasts will broaden readers’ perspectives. Teens will never think about monsters in the same way again. Long after the last page is turned, these tales will linger in readers’ brains, in their closets, under their beds, and in the shadows." —School Library Journal, starred review

Monstrous stories by M. T. Anderson, Paolo Bacigalupi, Nathan Ballingrud, Holly Black, Sarah Rees Brennan, Cassandra Clare, Nalo Hopkinson, Dylan Horrocks, Nik Houser, Alice Sola Kim, Kathleen Jenkins, Joshua Lewis, Kelly Link, Patrick Ness, G. Carl Purcell.

9780763664732, Candlewick Press, Cloth, $22.99

"All proper scary stories require a spooky, menacing atmosphere, and Auxier delivers the goods with his precise descriptions of the gothic setting and teasing hints of mystery and suspense." —The Horn Book Magazine

“Lots of creepiness, memorable characters, a worthy message…atmospheric drawings and touches of humor amid the horror make this cautionary tale one readers will not soon forget.”
Kirkus Reviews, starred review

9781419711442, Amulet Books, Cloth, $16.95

"If this isn’t the definitive edition of Hansel and Gretel, it’s absolutely necessary. The swirling lines look as though they might start moving if seen at just the right moment. The pictures have inspired Gaiman to write some of his most beautiful sentences, direct and horrifying…The Grimm version is as frightening as a bedtime story gets, but this version will scare people in new ways…” — Kirkus Reviews, starred review

9781935179627, Candlewick/Toon Books, Cloth, $16.95

"In this moving and artfully structured ghost tale, four generations of Irish women come together. A big part of the pleasure here is the rhythm of the language and the contrasting voices of the generations. Any opportunity to read it aloud would be a treat." –Horn Book

“Written mostly in dialogue, at which Doyle excels, and populated with a charming foursome of Irish women, this lovely tale is as much about overcoming the fear of death as it is about death itself.” –Publishers Weekly, starred review

9781419707988, Amulet Books, Paperback, $7.95

"A stunningly atmospheric and genuinely horrifying story." — Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books, starred review

“….A good, old-fashioned literary horror tale for sophisticated readers.” —Kirkus Reviews, starred review

“Those who appreciate old-fashioned chillers will be rewarded by incident after unsettling incident…” —Booklist

9780763669379, Candlewick Press, Paperback, $8.99



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"Did I love this book or was I merely hypnotized? Does it deal with suffragettes in turn-of-the-century Portland, or human rights everywhere in the world today? Is it a cautionary tale, or a love story? Does it make you stand up and shout, or lull you into a beautiful dream? The answer to all of these question is yes, yes indeed." —Angie Smits, Southern Territory Associates


Olivia Mead is a headstrong, independent girl—a suffragist—in an age that prefers its girls to be docile. It’s 1900 in Oregon, and Olivia’s father, concerned that she’s headed for trouble, convinces a stage mesmerist to try to hypnotize the rebellion out of her. But the hypnotist, an intriguing young man named Henri Reverie, gives her a terrible gift instead: she’s able to see people’s true natures, manifesting as visions of darkness and goodness, while also unable to speak her true thoughts out loud. Winters breathes new life into history once again with an atmospheric, vividly real story, including archival photos and art from the period throughout.

Nominated for the 2015 Amelia Bloomer Project

“[A] gripping, atmospheric story of mind control and self-determination.”
Kirkus Reviews

“Winters combines the history of women’s rights in the early 20th century with a spellbinding story of a young woman caught at a crossroads between family and self.”
School Library Journal

“Winters (In the Shadow of Blackbirds) creates a rich, gothic backdrop (further brought to life through period photographs and illustrations) for a story that will open many readers’ eyes to historical injustices inflicted on women—injustices with plenty of present-day parallels.”
Publishers Weekly

“Winters continues to be a refreshing, incisive talent with a unique perspective.”Booklist

“As much a provocative social commentary as it is a well-crafted coming-of-age story, The Cure for Dreaming is a positively unique edition to this year’s young adult collection.”
ALAN Picks

The Cure for Dreaming proves the potential, relevance, and importance of YA fiction. It’s entertaining, educational and mystical. YA naysayers may have just met their match.”
Starburst Magazine

New in paperback this month, Cat Winters’ debut novel, In the Shadow of Blackbirds:

In the Shadow of Blackbirds, received three starred reviews and was a finalist for YALSA’s Morris Award for debut YA fiction.

Click here for my blog post featuring my bookseller at FoxTale Bookshop going all fan girl for In the Shadow of Blackbirds.
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Everglades: America’s Wetland by Mac Stone, University Press of Florida

Watch this amazing video to see how Mac Stone was able to capture the amazing photo that appears on the cover of the book.

For my book, Everglades: America’s Wetland, I knew I needed to include vignettes on the various iconic species of the watershed. There is hardly a bird more emblematic of the impacts of mankind and the biological conditioning of this habitat than the endangered snail kite. To get permission to photograph this bird I needed to work directly with state biologists. I wanted an image that I had never seen before, something to represent the unique behavior of this incredible bird. This is the story behind imagining and eventually creating the image that would become the cover of the book. www.EVERGLADESBOOK.com

I was joined by Christian Chauvin, Andrea Garcia, Carlton Ward Jr, and Grace Shafir who helped make some of this footage. Edited by 5pinstudios.

All photos © Mac Stone

Enter to win a copy of Everglades: America’s Wetland from the University Press of Florida! The winner will be randomly selected. Click here for all the details. A winner will be announced on October 17, 2014.

Everglades: America’s Wetland
Mac Stone
Foreword by Michael Grunwald
University Press of Florida
October 2014 

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West of the Moon by Margi Preus

Have you read it yet? I was late getting to it in my to-be-read pile, but I just finished it Sunday. Wowzers! Is that even a word? [Urban Dictionary: Means the same thing as wow but with more “oomph” & enthusiasm.]

Since I am late reading it, the book already has five ★’d reviews! For good reason. It is a mash-up of storytelling, folklore, fairy tale, myth, magic, mysticism, dreams, hero’s journey, historical reality, intergenerational family ancestry, religion, integrity, violence, sisterhood, women’s studies, and “America fever”, with a bibliography, glossary and pronunciation guide, author’s note and illustrations in an unassuming package. Seriously. This book is quite slight, considering the wallop it packs. Generous line spacing on the 213 pages usually indicates a read that isn’t too challenging, and in this case it is deceptively true. Preus’ use of language is deft and easily flows, but the story she tells is razor sharp. She wastes no time getting right on with it, and boy, what a story it is. I am already a fan of hers, having read two of her previous books, Heart of a Samurai, a 2011 Newbery Honor Winner, a New York Times Bestseller and NPR Backseat Bookclub Pick, and Shadow on the Mountain, a thrilling WWII novel of the Norwegian underground resistance movement.

In West of the Moon, Preus tells us a fresh story of history that derives from her own family background that interweaves a massive number of threads that make for wide and varied discussion and further reading. If you’re late getting to it like I was, rectify that now. Here is the description from the publisher, ABRAMS/Amulet Books:
Award-winning and New York Times bestselling author Margi Preus expertly weaves original fiction with myth and folktale to tell the story of Astri, a young Norwegian girl desperate to join her father in America.

After being separated from her sister and sold to a cruel goat farmer, Astri makes a daring escape. She quickly retrieves her little sister, and, armed with a troll treasure, a book of spells and curses, and a possibly magic hairbrush, they set off for America. With a mysterious companion in tow and the malevolent “goatman” in pursuit, the girls head over the Norwegian mountains, through field and forest, and in and out of folktales and dreams as they steadily make their way east of the sun and west of the moon.


"Like dun silk shot thought with gold, Preus interweaves the mesmerizing tale of Astri’s treacherous and harrowing mid-nineteenth-century emigration to America with bewitching tales of magic. A fascinating author’s note only adds to the wonder."
Booklist, starred review

“Norwegian history, fiction and folklore intertwine seamlessly in this lively, fantastical adventure and moving coming-of-age story.”
Kirkus Reviews, starred review

“Enthralling and unflinching, this historical tale resonates with mythical undertones that will linger with readers after the final page is turned.” —School Library Journal, starred review

“Astri is like a girl out of a fairy tale, and the native folktales that Preus weaves through the narrative serve as guides, lessons, and inspiration for her.” --Publishers Weekly, starred review

“Several Norwegian folktales are seamlessly integrated into the fast-paced, lyrically narrated story, which features a protagonist as stalwart and fearless as any fairy-tale hero.” —The Horn Book Magazine, starred review
Norwegian Troll postcard art

“It’s Astri’s voice, however, that is most appealing: her direct, no-nonsense narration has a sharp bite, yet it also reveals the vulnerable young girl who’s willing to continue to fight but is nonetheless exhausted by the weight of her struggle. The chapters have an episodic structure that makes this an ideal choice for readaloud or storytelling adaptations, while the mix of folklore, fact, and fantasy will please fans of Edith Patou’s East.” —The Bulletin of The Center for Children’s Books

“It’s amazing. Dark and resilient with a core theme that simply cannot be ignored … with folktales and beautifully written prose. With a deep sisterly bond, and a serious consideration of what is right and what is wrong and what is necessary in desperate circumstances. Slow to start, smart when it continues, and unlike anything you’ve ever really read before … Remarkable.” —Elizabeth Bird, School Library Journal Fuse Eight blog.

Margi Preus is a children’s book author and playwright. Her first novel for young people, Heart of a Samurai, is a 2011 Newbery Honor Book, an ALSC Notable Book and a recipient of the Asian Pacific American Award for Children’s Literature, among other honors. Her picture books include Celebritrees; Historic and Famous Trees of the World, winner of the 2013 Flicker Tale Award. Margi served as the artistic director of Colder by the Lake Comedy Theatre for 25 years and with current Colder director and playwriting collaborator, Jean Sramek, has written hundreds of comedy sketches, a couple of comic operas, and dozens of plays for young people and grown ups. When she isn’t writing, she likes to ski, hike, paddle or sit quietly with a book in her lap.

ABRAMS/Amulet Books
April 2014
Ages 10 to 14

ABRAMS/Amulet Books
Ages 10 to 14

My review: A middle-grade novelization of the life of Nakahama Manjiro, believed to be the first person from Japan to visit America in 1843. From humble beginnings, a set of circumstances leads a young boy into an unimaginable life and experience of a world unknown to his home culture. From Manjiro’s perspective, the story presents an interesting frame of reference for America at that time in history. Conversely, it is fascinating to learn about Japan in that same context. Elements of natural history, whaling, sailing, prejudice, politics, courage and determination make the life of this one man a valuable teaching moment. An epilogue, a historical note, an environmental note, and a glossary add to teachable components of this story. The reference to samurai in the title comes from Manjiro’s desire to be a samurai, an aspiration which he would never be allowed in Japan. But for strange twists and turns of his life, he indeed earns the rank of samurai for helping Japan overcome 250 years of isolation and enter into a relationship with America and the west.
ABRAMS/Amulet Books
Ages 10 to 14

My review: An accessible story of a lesser known aspect of World War II. A Norwegian boy finds himself serving as messenger, then spy for the resistance movement as his country struggles under Nazi occupation. When he is ultimately found out, he makes a harrowing escape to Sweden. An easy read, Shadow Mountain offers insight into a culture of teenagers grappling with the difficulties brought on by the challenges of occupation. Based on a true story, the book could serve as a gateway to other books of WWII for middle grade or early YA readers.

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Mix it Up! by Herve Tullet

Mix it Up! debuts at #14 on the National Indie Bestseller List!

More from Herve Tullet:

Press Here: The Game

Description: The magic of the New York Times bestseller Press Here is now available in game form! Hervé Tullet has reimagined his groundbreaking book in an entirely new dimension. Players take turns completing color sequences by placing red, blue, and yellow playing pieces on one of twenty-five fabulously designed game boards. What seems like a simple choice is likely to lead to animated discussion as players come to understand the visual logic at the heart of the game. With two levels of play to choose from—so that it’s easy enough for a toddler to grasp, but also complex enough to challenge older siblings and adults—this engaging game delivers hours of entertainment for the whole family.

The New York Times bestseller “Irresistible.” –The Wall Street Journal


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Congratulations, Herve Tullet and Chronicle Books!


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Animalium Book Trailer


Welcome to the Museum is a series of books set on the “walls” of the printed page, showcasing the world’s finest collections of objects — from natural history to art. Open 365 days a year and unrestricted by the constraints of physical space, each title in this series is organized into galleries that display more than 200 full-color specimens accompanied by lively, informative text. Offering hours of learning, this first title within the series — Animalium — presents the animal kingdom in glorious detail with illustrations from Katie Scott, an unparalleled new talent.
Designed to mimic the experience of visiting a natural history museum, this elegant, eye-catching volume explores the animal kingdom through gorgeously detailed pen-and-ink illustrations that resemble vintage taxonomical plates. … It’s easy to imagine these exquisite images hanging in the gilded hallways of a museum, but unlike a museum, readers can take this experience along with them. — Publishers Weekly (starred review)

Part oversized album and part encyclopedia, this “museum” of the animal kingdom showcases its variety and diversity with numerous examples from around the world. What distinguishes this collection from similar overviews is its presentation. The illustrations look like nature prints from long ago, but unlike those old engravings and lithographs, these fine-lined drawings began with pen and ink and were colored digitally. … Overall, this impressive survey will surprise and please its visitors. — Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

Jenny Broom, Katie Scott
Candlewick Press/Big Picture Books
112 pages
10 11/16” x 14 9/16”
September 2014
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