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Kids and Teen Blog

Guest Post: Cecil Castellucci, Author of Tin Star

by Dan
Fiction + Science Fiction and Fantasy + YA Fiction / March 31, 2014

In a special guest post for Raincoast, Cecil Castellucci, the author of Tin Star, explains why she created a role playing game based on her novel.


When I wrote my new novel, Tin Star, I knew that the story of Tula Bane was only going to be two books. It's a duet! But the universe that she lives in and all of the aliens and moving parts of the book were still interesting to me. So much stuff goes into world building. What's a nerdy girl to do? Write a game!

I am a gamer. I like to play all kinds of table top games and video games. And my favorite kind of game to play is a Role Playing Game (RPG). I don't play them often enough. In Los Angeles, I have a regular D&D game that I play with a group of friends once a month. We tweet about it, so if you follow me @misscecil, you've likely seen the mini figure—I'm a rogue—light up my twitter feed on the occasional Friday or Saturday night. 

I've played a lot of games and I've read a lot of books. This past fall I took a Coursera class on the transmedia of narratives where we read The Lord of the Rings, watched the movies and then also played the MMRPG (Massive Multiplayer Role Playing Game). What I love about transmedia is that it lets you engage with a story in many different ways.

Lucky for me, I have a friend Chris who is the publisher of Green Ronin and they created the True20 open license system which I used to create the game TIN STAR: A SIMPLE FAVOR.  

I recruited my brother and we wrote an adventure where you play some aliens who come aboard the Yertina Feray and go on an adventure where you have to interact with Tula, Tournour, Heckleck and Thado. 

Now perhaps some of you have never played a RPG before. Or you feel intimidated by the word "multi sided dice." Never fear! We wrote the adventure so that it's really easy to play. What you need is a group of friends who are fun and want to go on an adventure. A Game Master who will lead the group through the adventure and run the game. It helps if this person is a great story teller! A 20 sided die. You can get these at any gaming store. Or ask your gaming friends or relatives if you can borrow one. Maybe order a pizza! 

The Game Master will tell the players the story and lead them through the action of the game. You never know what is going to happen because dice are rolled and actions either succeed or fail and random events may occur.  Basically you're making up a story that stars you and has some guidelines as to make the story fun. 

The TIN STAR True20 Quick Start rules (PDF) give a detailed overview of the True20 rules and they describe the feats that the characters have. The TIN STAR: A SIMPLE FAVOR adventure  has all the stuff that the Game Master needs to run the adventure plus a player hand out and the pre-generated characters that your players will play. If you're an experienced gamer this will all make sense. True20 is pretty simple system. If you are not a regular gamer and are intimidated by all the percentiles, then just think of it like this. Roll the dice, if something is hard to do, then the players have to roll high. If it's easy, they can do it with a lower roll. You decide what's hard and easy. Trust me. You'll get the swing of it!

For me, writing the game in the universe of Tin Star was a way that I got to hang out with Tula some more. So I hope you'll enjoy playing the game and hanging out with Tula Bane and the gane. Reading the book will make parts of the game more fun, because you'll get some of the references and you'll know who is who. But if you or your friends haven't read it yet, that's cool too!  I think playing the game will make your eventual hanging out with Tula in the book fun too because you'll have already met her. Please let me know how your game goes!    


New Releases: Kids & Teen Highlights April 2014

by Dan
Kids + YA Fiction / March 10, 2014

Here's a sneak peek at some of the fantastic new books for kids and teens coming in out next month!  

TEEN

Love Letters to the Dead

Ava Dellaira

"I simply loved this book. Love Letters to the Dead is more than a stunning debut. It is the announcement of a bold new literary voice."—Stephen Chbosky, author of The Perks of Being a Wallflower

It begins as an assignment for English class: Write a letter to a dead person. Laurel chooses Kurt Cobain because her sister, May, loved him. And he died young, just like May did...

 

 

"Laurel and her friends’ struggles and hard-won successes are poignant, and seeing Laurel begin to forgive herself and May is extremely moving."Publishers Weekly

Ages 12-17

Available April 1


Illusion

Chronicles of Nick

Sherrilyn Kenyon

Old enemies and new friends square off for a major battle that will either restore Nick to his real world, or end him forever in Sherrilyn Kenyon's fifth novel in the #1 bestselling series The Chronicles of Nick.

Ages 12-17

Available April 1

 


Going Over

Beth Kephart

It is February 1983, and Berlin is a divided city with a miles-long barricade separating east from west. But the city isn't the only thing that is divided. Ada lives among the rebels, punkers, and immigrants of Kreuzberg in West Berlin. Stefan lives in East Berlin, in a faceless apartment bunker of Friedrichshain. Bound by love and separated by circumstance, their only chance for a life together lies in a high-risk escape. But will Stefan find the courage to leap? Or will forces beyondhis control stand in his way? National Book Award finalist Beth Kephart presents a story of daring and sacrifice, and love that will not wait.

"A stark reminder of the power of hope, courage, and love."Booklist (starred review)

"An excellent example of historical fiction focusing on an unusual time period."School Library Journal (starred review)

Ages 14+

Available April 1


Always Emily

Michaela MacColl

Emily and Charlotte Brontë are about as opposite as two sisters can be. Charlotte is practical and cautious; Emily is headstrong and imaginative. But they do have one thing in common: a love of writing. This shared passion will lead them to be two of the first published female novelists and authors of several enduring works of classic literature. But they're not there yet. First, they have to figure out if there is a connection between a string of local burglaries, rumours that a neighbour's death may not have been accidental, and the appearance on the moors of a mysterious and handsome stranger. The girls have a lot of knots to untangle—before someone else gets killed.

"Reimagined as detectives, the Brontë sisters kick-start their writing careers by solving a mystery... Equal parts gothic melodrama and Nancy Drew derring-do."—Kirkus Reviews 

"satisfyingly action-filled and breathtakingly resolved."Publishers Weekly

 
Ages 12+

Available April 8

Expiration Day

William Campbell Powell

Tania Deeley has always been told that she's a rarity: a human child in a world where most children are sophisticated androids manufactured by Oxted Corporation. When a decline in global fertility ensued, it was the creation of these near-perfect human copies called teknoids that helped to prevent the utter collapse of society.

Though she has always been aware of the existence of teknoids, it is not until her first day at The Lady Maud High School for Girls that Tania realizes that her best friend, Siân, may be one. Returning home from the summer holiday, she is shocked by how much Siân has changed. Is it possible that these changes were engineered by Oxted? And if Siân could be a teknoid, how many others in Tania's life are not real?  

"In this coming-of-age diary, a girl navigates life in a dystopic near-future... An auspicious debut."Kirkus Reviews

Ages 13-18

Available April 22


KIDS

The 26-Story Treehouse

Andy Griffiths & illustrated by Terry Denton

Andy and Terry live in a 26-story treehouse. (It used to be 13 stories, but they've expanded.) It has a bumper car rink, a skate ramp, an antigravity chamber, an ice cream parlor with 78 flavors, and the Maze of Doom-a maze so complicated that nobody who has gone in has ever come out again. Well, not yet, anyway.

 

 

 

 

)

Ages 8-12

Available April 1


Here Comes Destructosaurus

Aaron Reynolds & illustrated by Jeremy Tankard

Watch the unstoppable destructive force of a raging temper tantrum! Tremble at the enormous mess and disrespectful roaring! Despair as no amount of scolding can stem the heedless fury! Someone is heading for a time-out, Mister! Anyone who has witnessed (or been) a toddler in the throes of a full-blown fit will delight in this clever book's movie-monster rampage, and may just come away from it with a bit more sympathy for toddler and caregiver.

Ages 2-3

Available April 1


Dinner with the Highbrows

Kimberly Willis Holt & illustrated by Kyrsten Brooker

Bernard has never been to dinner at a friend's house before. His mother gives him quite the list of rules to follow—no elbows on the table, put your napkin on your lap, don't talk with food in your mouth, and so on. But Bernard isn't prepared to discover that the Goldsmiths think the table is the best place for elbows and feet, never put their napkins on their laps, and talk with food in their mouths! How will Bernard survive dinner with such an obnoxious crew?

Ages 4-7

Available April 8


The Open Ocean

Francesco Pittau and Bernadette Gervais

Guess a sea creature from its silhouette, shell, or scalesand just lift the flap to discover the answer! This lush, oversized book about marine life features a variety of guessing games and special features, and provides hours of educational entertainment. With elegant, graphic illustrations, plus intriguing facts about each animal, learning about ocean life has never been so fun or interactive.

Ages 5-8

Available April 8


Tea with Grandpa

Barney Saltzberg

In this sweetly simple, rhyming picture book by acclaimed author/artist Barney Saltzberg, a little girl tells us about her daily tea ritual with her grandfather where they sing and laugh and clink their teacups with the help of their computers and a video chat.

 

Ages 3-8

Available April 15


Janet Gurtler #16ThingsIThoughtWereTrue Interview

by Dan
Author Q & A + YA Fiction / March 07, 2014

Janet Gurtler

We're very excited about Janet Gurtler's new novel 16 Things I Thought Were True (if you don't believe me, take a look at our list of "Things We Thought Were True About Publishing!" inspired by the book on Facebook!) and to celebrate its release we thought we'd ask the Calgary-based author a few questions about the book and her writing process...  

Where do you write?

I can write almost anywhere if I have to, but I usually just sit on my couch with an ottoman under my feet, laptop in my lap. Sometimes I also write at Starbucks. Lastly, my son is a swimmer and I often write in the viewing area while he swims. He swims A LOT.

Tell us about your writing process.

I tend to be more of a seat of the pants writer, meaning that I don’t do heavy plotting. I usually come up with a character first and build around that character’s life. I try and make my characters and secondary characters well rounded and relatable and I use Donald Maass’s Breakout Workbook a lot when I’m writing.

Is there a teacher or librarian who has influenced your life?

I had a teacher in sixth grade who really encouraged my creative writing. He was a really great teacher, Mr. Dufferin, and he made me believe in myself as a writer. I think he made me a writer in my soul.

What is your favourite social media platform?

I am a Facebook fan. Because I’m old. But I do love Twitter as well.

Why did you choose to incorporate social media into this novel?

I actually wanted to use the paradox of a girl who has been overexposed online, and then finds herself hiding out online. I know so many people (myself included) who spend a lot of time alone and being online makes it somehow less lonely. As a writer I am pretty much alone most of the day, but I love being able to check in on social media sites. It makes me feel connected to others. I wanted to explore that connection, but also show how this girl needed to get a “real” life as well as an online one.

What have you learned over the past four novels? Has that influenced the way you wrote this fifth novel?

Wow. I’ve learned that I really can write a book! That may sound like I’m kidding but sometimes when I’m at the middle point of a first draft, it feels like it’s not possible to ever finish. But I know I can. I am big on giving myself daily word counts. It’s a great way to keep a book going.
I also learned how much I love the revision process. The type of writer I am, it works best for me to get the first draft down in a choppy, rather sloppy way, and then the real shape comes in the revision process.

Other than your own book, what’s your favourite book that you’ve read in the last year?

I’ve read some great books this year, Rainbow Rowell is amazing! But I think I was most taken with, It’s Kind Of A Funny Story, by Ned Vizzini. The voice is amazing and I really admired the book. I was so sorry to hear of his death. Such a talented but conflicted man. Mental illness sucks.

Have you ever been tempted to write genres other than contemporary YA?

I’ve been more than tempted! I’ve done it! I’ve actually written a couple of paranormal YA’s. Neither sold. But right now I’m writing an MG series for Capstone, called Mermaid Kingdom. It’s fun. Four small books. So different than my YA.

What is one of the things you thought were true as a teenager?

I thought that Rex Smith was the most beautiful man on the planet. I thought that this was the most beautiful and meaningful song ever written. And a great video. Ha ha. 

What advice would you give to aspiring writers?

Read a lot. Write a lot. And try to find some writing friends who “get” what you’re trying to do. It’s not always easy but if you love it, you’ll keep at it.

Where do you get inspiration for your novels?

I get inspiration everywhere, and lots from real life. Most of my ideas start with characters. I’m kind of a “what if” writer. What if a girl’s embarrassing video accidentally went viral and she was hiding out on Twitter. What if a girl ate a peanut butter sandwich and then kissed a boy who had peanut allergies.

Why do you write novels for young adults?

I think that’s where my voice is most natural. I tried writing romance when I wrote my first book but when I started writing my first YA, I was like, YES, this is what I was meant to write. I think in my head I’m a sixteen year old girl, and it’s easy for me to write at that level. Scary. True.

How do you choose names for your characters?

Very randomly. I use social media to find names for most of my main characters. I have to make sure I’m giving my characters names that are popular today and not when I was a teenager. I’m not the kind of writer who gets really hung up on character’s names. In 16 Things, Adam was not Adam until my editor gave me revisions. His name was Riker and my editor really nicely asked if I would change it. It tends to happen more with my male characters. That they get changed, I mean.

What would be in your road trip survival kit?

First coffee. Then Diet coke. And Gum. Especially if I’m driving. I love to chew gum when I drive. And good speakers, if I’m driving. So I can play loud music. If I’m a passenger, I need a good book.

What has been your most memorable road trip?

I took A LOT of road trips as a kid. That was our go to summer holiday plan in my family with 4 kids. The one that stands out the most is when family friends drove all the way from the Edmonton joined us in Toronto (where we’d recently moved from Edmonton) and we drove all the way to the Maritimes. Two station wagons, 9 kids, 2 dogs, 4 adults. We camped along the way. I mostly remember the fireflies in on East Coast. They were so cool.

What kind of advice would you give kids who are suffering from cyber bullying? Do you think it’s something that will keep escalating?

As the mom of a teenager, I really hate the idea of cyber bullying, but of course it happens. I think parents need to play an active role if they can. By that I mean making sure they are aware of what kids are doing online and keeping communication lines open. So if bullying is happening with kids, they can feel comfortable about asking parents for help. Which is hard, I know, because being bullied feels so shameful (when it isn’t the fault of the victim at all) but it’s not always something kids want to talk about. My advice is to tell someone. Ask for help. No one should have to deal with bullying alone.

If you could go back in time and give your teenage self 5 pieces of advice, what would they be?

  1. Stop perming your hair.
  2. Drinking does not make people like you more. Quite the opposite. You’re okay without it. Shy isn’t a death sentence. Be yourself.
  3. You’re not so bad. Give yourself a break.
  4. A boy who says you need to lose weight is NOT a boy you want to be dating. Also. You are NOT fat.
  5. Don’t be so worried about what other people think.

Do you imagine that your characters go on to live happier, stronger lives having overcome the obstacles they face? Or, do you think they continue to be presented with struggles in their adult lives?

Great question ha ha! I always imagine my characters going on to have a happier life after the books is over, I really do! I don’t usually think of them all the way to adult lives, but I think past the time when the book ends and they’re off to college, or with the boy or whatever they need to do to get happy when the book is over. ☺

Who is your favourite character from your books, and why?

Hmm. This is hard. I always really love the characters I’m currently working on. And it’s harder than naming my favorite child, because I only have one so he always wins. Picture me currently in deep thought. Okay. I’m going to go with Sam from Who I Kissed. I felt very protective of her because she really did think she didn’t deserve to have any happiness in her life after the tragedy in the book took place. It was a hard book to write, very close to home, as my son has peanut allergies. I really felt emotionally connected to Sam.

Have you ever wanted to revisit any of your characters in a sequel?

I think at some point I’d like to write a short novella or something where all my characters meet up and there’s some resolution to where they ended up after their stories ended. I haven’t felt compelled to continue a characters story in a full book though.

Which character is the most like you?

Honestly I think little parts of me slip into most of the characters. Or they get to do or say thing I always wanted to.

This book is a departure from your previous cover treatments. What do you think of the new cover?

I really really really love it! (really really) I think it is a great representation of what the book is about. I love the Morgan they used on the cover and the feeling of being alone in all that white space!

Thanks Janet!


Lindsay from Me On Books interview Cecil Castellucci about Tin Star

by Crystal
Fiction + Science Fiction and Fantasy + YA Fiction / March 06, 2014

 
Today on the Raincoast Blog we are very excited to welcome Lindsay from Me On Books as our special young adult book blogger guest! 
 
A few weeks ago I planned a blogger dinner with Marissa Meyer and a handful of our fabulous West Coast YA Book Bloggers. I asked the ladies seated around the table what their favorite book so far in 2014 has been. Lindsay spoke passionately about Cecil Castellucci's book Tin Star and the number of reasons that she loved the book. 
 
To celebrate the release of Tin Star I decided to invite Lindsay to interview Cecil and do a special guest post with us. Welcome Lindsay as our very special Raincoast Guest Blogger!
 
Lindsay: I think I'm drawn to weird and quirky books, meaning books that go beyond contemporary everyday life with no magic beyond finding a $20 bill in an old coat pocket. Books with fantastical creatures in distant lands, books with advanced technology capable of traveling across galaxies, books with time travel and countless other impossibilities. Reality can be boring enough some days, most days, and so I end up falling head-first into those books that take me somewhere else. Books like Tin Star.
 
 
The first book I read by Cecil Castellucci was The Year of the Beasts, this awesome novel/graphic novel hybrid with Nate Powell. I remember reading it and feeling my heart break for Tessa. Then I read First Day on Earth and wondered for hours how so much happened in such a small book. Then came Tin Star. And Tula. And Tournour. And Heckleck. And the space station. And I wanted to be a part of this book, to be in it, to be there in the future in deep space (there's only one other series that does this to me and that's Maggie Stiefvater's The Raven Cycle).
 
 
As much as I love books that don't take place in reality, I love books about people. Their struggles, their fears, their happiness, their unbridled joy. And as much as I love Tin Star for its deep space setting and intriguing space station, I love Tin Star because of Tula. Her strength, her pain, her suffering. Her spirit. So I'll stick with my weird books and wait not so patiently for Tula's return. In the meantime here is my interview with Cecil Castellucci.
 
Lindsay: I found Tin Star to be such an interesting book, this look at one human girl, abandoned and cast aside, left for dead, who is in a way saved by aliens and ekes out a life on a space station surrounded by those aliens. Where did the idea of this book start? Did it start with Tula, with wanting to tell her story?
 
Cecil: It did start with Tula.  I wondered what it would be like if you had to eat alien food or die.  That was kind of the first seed.  But it really came together when I was re-watching Casablanca.  I was struck by the idea of this city being this way station for people in limbo during WW II as they tried to escape from Germany.  The city was a character in that movie and that coupled with the idea of a human girl choosing to eat alien food and live was the real start of the book.  I knew that I wanted Tula to be the only human on that station, and in a way I model her after Rick from the movie, who is shut down after being disappointed and deceived when fleeing Paris.  Tula almost has to become an alien and shed her humanity until she's confronted with it again when the three humans crash onto the station.  
 
Lindsay: How important was it to have Tula be so strong, to be able to come back and continue living? (Of course, I imagine her need for revenge for what Brother Blue did to her provided some incentive.)
 
Cecil: It was very important.  For the revenge, for sure.  But also because I think when anyone experiences trauma you kind of have to choose to come back.  When she is clutching onto that Alin plant that she stole from Tournour, that is really the moment that she decides to live.  That is evident when Heckleck tries to buy it from her and she knows that if she gives it up she'll die.  
 
Lindsay: Tula is often looked down upon for being human, for being part of a species that just wanders through space seemingly without a care. Why categorize Humans as a Lesser Species, as wanderers?
 
Cecil: I wanted to not only have Tula be alone on the station, but alone in the galaxy.  Really friendless.  As for making Humans a lesser species, I was interested in the idea of moving away from a human centric galactic story which we often times see in science fiction, humans are the star and the saviors and the most civilized of all.  And of course Tula is a human and she's the star.  But I mean humans as a civilization.  I thought it would be interesting to really try to explore humanity through alien-ness.  As for the human wanderers, I was thinking about the humans who went out on intergenerational ships and just kind of got stuck and couldn't come home.  And of course, there is a reason for humans being lesser in the sense that there is room for them to grow.  And a lot of that crops up in book two!  But you'll have to wait to see what's in store in Stone in the Sky.  
 
Lindsay: Tula has a curious relationship with her own humanity. She spends years on the station, time away from Humans and time with many different aliens. It's an interesting look at the 'other,' and when Humans come to the station, how we can feel like the 'other' when we're with someone almost exactly like us. Was that intentional?
 
Cecil: Absolutely! In this story, we are the strange aliens. Tula is apart and manages it because of her overwhelming desire to survive, but ultimately that like I hinted at above, I was interested in Tula having to rediscover and reclaim her humanity after sort of having to become an alien herself.  I mean, I suppose it's actually much deeper than what I can articulate.  But yes, it was completely intentional.  There are so many great stories where aliens come to Earth and are the other, I wanted to flip that around.  
 
Lindsay: The different aliens on the station, aliens like Tournour and Heckleck, all have 'Human' characteristics. They are alien, they're not Human, but they are sympathetic towards Tula. Was there anything that inspired the different alien species, or specifically Tournour and Heckleck? (I kept going back to the sketch of Becky Cloonan's of Tournour that you posted on Twitter whenever Tula came across him.)
 
 
Cecil: I love Becky's sketch of Tournour!  I love how dreamy she made him!  And Heckleck, too!  Did I post that one?  With Tournour, I wanted him to have some kind of something that we could grab onto, which is why they have the most human eyes.  I purposefully make Humans and Loors have the same kind of sun.  I thought that could sort of signal that they have some kind of familiarity to each other.  With Heckleck, I wanted to create an alien that looked very scary but actually has a kind heart.  I have a short story about him and his soft heart that Tor.com is supposed to publish at some point called The Sound of Useless Wings that explains more about him.  But there is a big tradition in Sci Fi of bug-like aliens and so he is kind of a nod to that.  Personally, bug-like things freak me out and if I had to be saved by one I'd probably faint with fear!  In a way, as alien as you make your aliens, you are still bound by being human.  Since we haven't met any yet, it's very hard to imagine! And ultimately, we have to be able to relate to the characters a bit, so I have to define them with my human eyes and brain! 
 
 
Thanks to Cecil for chatting with me about Tin Star. I'm going to continue blogging about weird books over at Me on Books while I wait for the sequel of Tin Star to be released.
 
-Lindsay

16 Reasons to Read #16thingsithoughtweretrue

by Melissa
Fiction + YA Fiction / March 04, 2014

16 Reasons to Read This Book
(yes, I went there!)

#16ThingsIThoughtWereTrue

1)    It’s written by the lovely (and Canadian!) Janet Gurtler.

2)    It features a road trip. Who doesn’t love road trips!?

3)    Social media plays a predominant role in this book.  Our culture is so immersed in social media and 16 Things I Thought Were True does an excellent job of portraying some of the issues that go along with it

4)    This book features a realistic protagonist who has flaws

5)    It’ll make you laugh

6)    It’ll make you cry

7)    It’s about friendship

8)    It’s about family

9)    It’s about love

10)  It tackles the hard issues

11)  It has an awesome hashtag #thingsithoughtweretrue

12)  It's a contemporary YA book, so there’s no need to immerse yourself in a new world or learn new terminology

13)  There’s an element of mystery as secrets are uncovered

14)  It's perfect for book clubs

15)  It’s a great spring break read

16)  Because I said so!

16 Things I Thought Were True is available in stores now. Read it! You won’t regret it.


 


The Winner’s Curse Has Cursed Me: A Tale of Burgeoning Superfandom

by Megan
YA Fiction / March 03, 2014

Have you ever read a book that sticks out from the genre, that pulls at you in a way that makes you feel as if it was written just for you? Yes, this book has certainly doomed me (if not outright cursed me) to a life spent ravenously waiting for the next Marie Rutkoski book. It’s that good, people, and the interwebs so far is in agreement. Here is a smattering of praise from our beloved bloggers:

“A striking start to a sweeping, epic series. I eagerly anticipate the next installments, and hope that they are just as beautiful, just as crushing, and romantic as this one.” – glass-of-wine.blogspot.ca

“[…] I cannot say enough how beautiful and talented this author is […]. I loved every aspect of it and cannot wait to see what she does in the future.” – conversationsofareadingaddict.blogspot.ca

“The Winner's Curse is enchanting and powerful.” – me-on-books.blogspot.ca

Here’s why I loved The Winner’s Curse, and why I can’t wait for more in the trilogy:

· There are so many larger issues in this fantasy-esque story that make it seem uncomfortably familiar: war, colonization, the endless expansion of Empire… These things will haunt you long after you put down the book and make you look at the world around you just a little bit differently.

· Despite my pledge to not judge a book by its cover, WOULD YOU LOOK AT THAT COVER?! Simply gorgeous.

· This could easily have been a simple love story. But the yearning and role reversal that haunts Kestral and Arin’s relationship ensures that every move is laced with complexity and calculation, despite the attraction that draws them together.

· Complex writing by Rutkoski that manages to be sweeping, piercing, and aching all at once. This is the kind of writing that sticks with you on the bus ride home.

· A strong female protagonist makes this book all the better. Kestral is headstrong, intelligent, passionate, and daring. She is the kind of person who tells hard truths and sticks to her own moral code, even when that moral code comes into question.

I could go on and on, but let's get to some important survival tips...

 

Ways to Curb Your Cravings for the Next Book

Need something to ease the craving for more in the series? Here are some tips:

1) Join us tonight for a Twitter chat with Marie Rutkoski . You can bet it will be a WINNING chat (apologies, I had to do it):

 

2) Check out Rutkoski’s amazing backlist. It doesn’t disappoint!


New Releases: Kids & Teen Highlights March 2014

by Dan
Kids + Picture Books + YA Fiction / February 24, 2014

There are so many great books for kids and teens coming in out in March! Here's a look at some of the highlights.... 

TEEN

My Life with the Walter Boys

Ali Novak

Wattpad's most loved story with over 26 million views, published for the first time!

Sixteen-year-old Jackie Howard is devastated when her parents are killed in a car accident. She has no one to turn to except for her mom's best friend Katherine Walter. Jackie quickly discovers that Katherine is no stranger to being a mom—she's got twelve boys! And every single one is a handful...

Ages 12-17

Available March 1


The Winner's Curse

Marie Rutkoski

The Winner's Curse by Marie Rutkoski is a story of deadly games where everything is at stake, and the gamble is whether you will keep your head or lose your heart. In the tradition of Kristin Cashore and Cassandra Clare,it is a brilliant, unputdownable, star-crossed romance about the curse of winning.

Ages 12-17

Available March 4

 


Paperback Original

Searching for Beautiful

Nyrae Dawn

From the bestselling author of Charade, a heartbreaking look at a failed teen pregnancy and how a broken girl can love again, told in alternating chapters from the before and the after.

Ages 13+

Available March 4


The Nightmare Dilemma

Arkwell Academy #2

Mindee Arnett

Following The Nightmare Dilemma, the thrilling new fantastical Arkwell Academy mystery series from YA author Mindee Arnett continues with The Nightmare Dilemma. 

Ages 13-18

Available March 11


16 Things I Thought Were True 

Janet Gurtler

Morgan isn't thrilled to take a summer job at the local amusement park the summer before her senior year. Her super-hot manager, Adam, makes it bearable...until she gets fired. And when Morgan's mom gets sick and confesses that Morgan's dad is not actually dead, she becomes determined to find him. To her shock, Adam agrees to help. Road trip with a cute guy? Summer is finally starting to look up.

Ages 13+

Available March 11


KIDS

Canada Doodles 

Megan Radford & illustrated by Peter Cook

Explore the rugged beauty of Canada's varied landscape as you travel on highways, in trains and planes, and even floating in bathtubs. Enjoy a plate of poutine and other tasty treats, admire the world's biggest tomahawk, and take in a hockey game.

Ages 8+

Available Now


Edgar Gets Ready For Bed

A BabyLit First Steps Picture Book

Jennifer Adams & illustrated by Ron Stucki

Meet the plucky toddler Edgar the Raven! He's mischievous, disobedient, and contrary. Dinnertime, clean-up time, and bedtime are all met with one word: NEVERMORE! But as the evening winds to a close, Edgar's mom knows just what to do to get her son into bed—a bedtime story.

Infant to 3

Available Now


The Big Book of Superheroes

Bart King

As a child, Bart King discovered he could punch people into outer space. Sadly, he lost a lot of friends that way. Today, Bart is one of the world's most in-demand superhero experts. So if you're wondering if you have what it takes to be a superhero-of course you do! All you need is a burning desire to fight evildoers. Oh, and also a secret identity, the perfect name, a cool costume, some terrific superpowers, and an archenemy. Actually, you know what? You better get this book!

 

Ages 8+

Available March 1


The Cupcake Club: Baby Cakes

Sheryl Berk and Carrie Berk

Delaney is shocked to find out her mom is expecting twins! She LIKES being an only child. It's been 10 years, and she's had her parents-and her room-all to herself. But her cupcake club pals are excited to bake for the baby shower-until Delaney's mom wants a giant stork made out of cupcakes! Meanwhile, Delaney wonders what kind of a big sis she'll be. She's never babysat and definitely has never changed a diaper. The girls of Peace, Love & Cupcakes are about to give her a crash course in Baby 101!

 

Ages 9-12

Available March 4


Daddy Wrong Legs

Nina Laden

Every daddy is different—and here's the proof! Featuring Nina Laden's colourful artwork and trademark humour, this interactive format will delight the youngest readers (and their fathers) as they mix and match the split pages to create a bevy of daddies that are part hairy, part scaly... and wholly fun.

Infant to 3

Available March 4


I Didn't Do My Homework Because...

Davide Cali & illustrated by Benjamin Chaud

How many excuses are there for not doing homework? Let us count the ways: Giant lizards invaded the neighbourhood. Elves hid all the pencils. And then there was that problem with carnivorous plants...The excuses go on and on, each more absurd than the next and escalating to hilarious heights.

Ages 6-9

Available March 4


642 Things to Write About

Young Writers Edition

826 Valencia

Write a to-do list for a villain. Describe your dream tree house. Create a haiku about your shoes. Young writers will get their creative juices flowing with this collection of smart, funny, and thought-provoking writing exercises. Kids can open to any page to find inspiration, express themselves, and jump-start their literary genius.

Ages 8-12

Available March 4


Bedtime Math 2

This Time It's Personal

Laura Overdeck & illustrated by Jim Paillot

Inside Bedtime Math 2, families will find fun, mischief-making math problems to tackle-math that isn't just kid-friendly, but actually kid-appealing. With over 100 math riddles on topics from missing socks and glitter to your favorite wild pet and how fast you can run, kids will find math isn't just fun, it can be found in their everyday lives.

Ages 3-8

Available March 11


The Riverman

Aaron Starmer

Alistair Cleary is the kid who everyone trusts. Fiona Loomis is not the typical girl next door. Alistair hasn't really thought of her since they were little kids until she shows up at his doorstep with a proposition: she wants him to write her biography. What begins as an odd vanity project gradually turns into a frightening glimpse into the mind of a potentially troubled girl.

Ages 10-14

Available March 18


Presto Change-o!

A Book of Animal Magic

Edouard Manceau

See the raccoon hiding in a magic cauldron? The owl pretending to be a clock? The lion masquerading as a flower? A rabbit hiding in a hot-air balloon? Kids will love working magic with just a few simple turns-and a few rhyming verses-that transform everyday objects into familiar creatures.

Ages 3+

Available March 18


Two Hands to Love You

Diane Adams & illustrated by Paige Keiser

With two loving hands, an adoring mother cradles her baby after bath time and a devoted father lifts his newborn to look into a nest. Sister, brother, grandma, and grandpa all can't wait to share what they love best with their newest family member. And when it is time to step out into the world, this caring family is right there alongside their littlest one. 

Ages 2-4

Available March 25


Lately Lily

The Adventures of a Travelling Girl

Micah Player

Where has Lily been lately? Everywhere! In this heartfelt picture book from illustrator Micah Player, Lily—a world travelling girl with boundless curiosity—goes on enviable adventures with her best friend Zeborah, travelling by plane, train, boat, and even by camel. Whether venturing far away or staying close to home, Lily knows that the joy of discovery is the best way to travel each and every day.

Ages 3-5

Available March 25


The Glorkian Warrior Delivers a Pizza

James Kochalka

The Glorkian Warrior isn't the brightest bulb in the box, so it's good he's got his trusty talking backpack to advise him as they set out on a perilous journey to deliver a pizza. The pizza's got clams and peanut butter on it, so it's not clear who's going to want it, but deliver it they will. With bright, lively illustrations and classic pratfalls, this graphic novel for kids is 112 pages of super icky gross-out humor and ludicrously bad decisions

Ages 5-9

Available March 25



Chronicle Books Introduce Twirl

by Dan
Kids + Picture Books / February 13, 2014

 

Our friends at Chronicle Books have announced they are partnering with Éditions Tourbillon in Paris to create Twirl Books. 

Lovingly created by a dedicated team of editors and designers, the English-language interactive books and games will feature innovative formats and eye-catching visuals for babies, toddlers and young children.

Check out the first five Twirl titles due out next month:

 

A Tree For All Seasons

Maryse Guittet

This uniquely shaped board book celebrates the cycle of the year with a tree that blossoms in spring, bears fruit in summer, sheds its leaves in fall, and cradles snow in winter. Young readers follow the passage of seasons in a succession of spreads, each filled with simple text and intriguing lift-the-flaps that reveal the many creatures-from owls to bumblebees-who all find shelter in the tree's boughs.

 

 

 


 

 

JoJo's First Word Book

Xavier Deneux

Meet Jojo, the irresistible young bunny who's every toddler's best friend and the star of this friendly and reassuring first word book! Together with his sister Lulu, Jojo explores scenes of daily life familiar to every child, from mealtime to playtime to bedtime. 

 

 

 


 

 

My First Color Dominoes

The Game of Color Discovery

Edouard Manceau


This book and accompanying domino game offer an intriguing way to learn and explore the world of colour. The game-28 sturdy pieces securely stowed-features colourful familiar objects to match end to end. And the robust board book stashed in a pocket on the other side reinforces colour combinations learned in the game. 

 
 

 

Presto Change-O

Edouard Manceau

Here you'll find a magic book
Where all's not what it seems.
For when you turn each object round

PRESTO CHANGE-O!

The unexpected will be seen. 

 

 

 

 

 


 

 

The Ultimate Book of Vehicles

From Around the World

Didier Balicevic

Vehicles, vehicles, vehicles—nearly 100 of them—in all shapes and sizes! A giant crane hovers over a construction site, a space ship roars into space... Super-sized spreads feature marvellously detailed illustrations that just beg to be pored over again and again. Best of all, lots of flaps, popups, pull-tabs, and rotating wheels bring the various vehicles to life. 

 


Boxers & Saints: Gene Luen Yang Discusses His New Graphic Novel

by Dan
Graphica + YA Fiction / October 25, 2013

Gene Luen Yang

Writer and artist Gene Luen Yang first burst onto the book scene with his best-selling graphic novel American Born Chinese. A modern fable about growing up Chinese-American, the book was a 2006 National Book Award Finalist for Young People's Literature, and the winner of the 2007 Eisner Award for Best Graphic Album.

Gene's new two-volume graphic novel Boxers & Saints, released in September and a finalist for this year's National Book Award for Young People's Literature, tells the parallel stories of two young people caught on either side of the Boxer Rebellion in China at the end of the 19th century. An extraordinarily accomplished, yet accessible work, I recently took the opportunity to talk to Gene about why he became interested in this particular period of Chinese history, and the difficulty of bringing historical events to the page: 

Boxers

When did you become interested in Boxer Rebellion?

I first became interested in the Boxer Rebellion in 2000, when the Roman Catholic Church canonized a group of Chinese Catholic saints. I grew up in a Chinese Catholic community and my home church did a series of events to celebrate the canonizations. When I looked into the lives of the new saints, I discovered that many of them were martyred during the Boxer Rebellion.

Did you know right away that you wanted to make a graphic novel about it?

Well, I’m a comic book guy. That’s how we comic book guys think. Whenever we run across something interesting, we wonder, “Would this make for a good comic book story?”

Saints

Was it always going to be two volumes?

The more I read about the Boxer Rebellion, the more fascinated I became.  Issues of identity and power and belief played important roles in the historical incident. I just felt very ambivalent in my research. I couldn’t decide who the good guys were. The two-volume nature of the project is an expression of that ambivalence. The good guys in one are the bad guys in the other.

Boxers page 130

Was one book harder to write than the other?

Saints is the shorter of the two books, but it was definitely the harder to write.  The Boxers lent themselves to narrative. They went on this epic journey from the farmlands of China to the capital city, fighting along the way. The Boxers’ Chinese Christian victims, on the other hand, had a much quieter story. They basically stayed in their villages, held onto their faith as best they could, and died. Theirs was an internal struggle, much more difficult to portray.

How long did it take you to complete them both?

The entire project took me six years from beginning to end.

Did you have to do a lot of research?

I research for about a year, a year and a half before I started writing and drawing. I visited my local university library once a week and read everything I could get my hands on about turn-of-the-century China. I also visited a Jesuit archive in France where they had photos and letters from that time period.

Were there any historical details you had to leave out that wish you could have left in?

In my research, I stumbled across the Taiping Rebellion, a rebellion led by a failed Chinese scholar who believed that he was the younger brother of Jesus Christ. It occurred about 50 years before the Boxer Rebellion. I give it a passing mention in the books, but that event really deserves its own graphic novel.

Saints page 73

The two stories have quite different tones to them. Boxers is almost an adventure story, while Saints is much more introspective. Was this a conscience decision? How did you try and reflect the difference visually? 

I worked closely with the immensely talented Lark Pien who colored both volumes. I wanted Boxers to be a comics equivalent of a Chinese war epic.  That’s why it’s long and colorful and full of blood. Saints is, as you said, much more introspective. I wanted it to be humbler and more intimate than Boxers. That’s why it’s shorter, with a more limited color palette.  Lark and I drew inspiration from American independent comics for that one. 

Boxers & Saints has just been shortlisted for the National Book Award for Young People’s Literature. Have you been surprised by the reaction to the books?  

It’s been overwhelming. The National Book Foundation changed my life when they nominated American Born Chinese, my 2006 graphic novel.  They’re changing my life again.

You’re also a parent and high school teacher. Is it important to you that kids can read your books?

It’s important to me that kids read books, period. Storytelling is this on-going conversation about what it means to be human. It’s important that kids are a part of that.  And if they read my books as a part of the conversation, even better. grin

The Shadow Hero

Your new book with artist Sonny Liew, The Shadow Hero, has just been announced. How did this project come about and when will it be in stores?

The Shadow Hero is a revival of an obscure Golden Age superhero called the Green Turtle. The Green Turtle was created by Chu Hing, one of the first Asian Americans working in American comics. Rumor has it that Chu Hing wanted the Green Turtle to be a Chinese American but his publishers didn’t think it would sell.  Chu Hing reacted in this very unusual way. In those original Green Turtle comics, we almost never see the hero’s face. His almost always has his back facing the reader. The rumor is, Chu Hing did this so he could imagine his hero as he originally intended, as a Chinese American. I found the Green Turtle to be so strange that I wanted to write a story about him. I’m working with Sonny Liew, a comics wunderkind from Singapore. I’m doing the writing, he’s doing the art. First Second Books will release it in the summer of 2014.

Sun Wukong appears in both American Born Chinese and Boxers. Do you think you’ll ever write a book about the Monkey King (please!)? 

I love the Monkey King character. As you said, he’s already appeared in two of my projects. I’ll probably use him again in the future, though I don’t have any current plans.

Thanks Gene!

 


The Shadow Hero: Forthcoming From Gene Luen Yang and Sonny Liew

by Dan
Graphica + YA Fiction / October 16, 2013

Shadow Hero by Gene Luen Yang

Earlier this week Cory Doctorow revealed the cover for Gene Luen Yang and Sonny Liew's forthcoming graphic novel The Shadow Hero (available June 2014) on popular website Boing Boing. Cory's post also included this fantastic video of author Gene Luen Yang explaining the genesis of The Shadow Hero, and the Golden Age inspiration for the book: 

 
In other news, it has just been announced that Gene Luen Yang's latest work, the incredible two volume graphic novel Boxers & Saints, is a finalist for the 2013 National Book Award for Young People's Literature.  
 
 
Established in 1950, the National Book Award is an American literary prize organized by the National Book Foundation. The winners of this year's awards will be announced on November 20th, 2013. 
 
Congratulations, Gene! 

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