Chances are, you're still on the hunt for the perfect gift for more than one person on your list this year. Let us help you out! The BookPage 2013 Holiday Catalog is filled with more than 150 books that are sure to delight readers of all ages and interests.
Whether you're looking for the latest blockbuster mysteries, award-winning fiction, the hottest YA novels, colorful picture books, scrumptious cookbooks, awesome audio books or utterly intriguing nonfiction, we've got you covered. The hardest part just may end up being having to narrow down all of the choices!
But we won't delay you any further—go ahead and dive right in!
On January 15, 2014, kids and teachers around the world can watch a live Scholastic "Story Smashup" webcast of beloved authors Jeff Kinney (the Wimpy Kid series) and Dav Pilkey (the Captain Underpants series) as they create an original story, with art and pictures, based on suggestions from an audience of children.
Kids will learn how to write a story as Kinney and Pilkey explore character, setting, plot and more. The authors will also attempt to draw each other's characters, Greg Heffley and Captain Underpants, and then draw their own characters while blindfolded. Sounds like it'll be a mix of hilarious and educational, just as you'd expect from these superstar authors.
Kinney and Pilkey will create the first six panels of a story, which will be available for download starting January 15 as well. Teachers can register here for the webcast, download a contest entry form and ask their students to create their own three-panel ending to Kinney and Pilkey’s story. One Grand Prize Winner will have his or her entry framed alongside Kinney and Pilkey’s first six panels, autographed by each author.
We love any reason to get kids writing, and we can't wait to see what these two children's book legends have in store!
Kate DiCamillo, author of Because of Winn-Dixie and The Tale of Despereaux, brings us a new comic book-inspired adventure with Flora & Ulysses.
Flora Belle Buckman is a very observant 10-year-old who is also a bit of a cynic, but her life is drastically changed when her neighbor accidentally sucks up a squirrel in her fancy new vacuum. After Flora gives the poor squirrel CPR, he somehow wakes up with superpowers—he’s strong, he can fly and he can even write poetry. Flora names him Ulysses, and they form a fast friendship while getting into all sorts of silly hijinks.
Flora & Ulysses is a heartfelt story for young readers that finds a perfect balance between fun and sophistication. K.G. Campbell’s black and white pencil illustrations are just a fantastic accompaniment, and the comic-book style action sequences couldn’t be a better fit. This story is sure to melt the heart of anyone's inner cynic.
Watch the fun trailer below:
Holy Bagumba, readers! Are you reading this highly anticipated Children's Top Pick yet? (If not, you can enter this week's book giveaway to win a copy!)
Rainbow Rowell's new YA book, Fangirl, follows 18-year-old Cath Avery—a socially anxious, yet quick-witted college freshman who just happens to moonlight as an Internet-famous fan fiction writer.
Cath struggles to find the balance between devoting her attention to the real world—her family, college classes, living on her own (and separate from her party-girl twin sister, Wren), an unexpected romance and finding that elusive campus cafeteria—and disappearing into the comforting, fictional world of her own stories.
Though some of the premise may sound familiar, readers shouldn’t be too hasty to write this off as a typical coming-of-age story. Rowell’s characters are written with the utmost care and are imbued with refreshingly realistic qualities. Cath is quirky and lovable while also being frustratingly stand-offish, and Levi, Cath’s sweet and charming crush, has a receding hairline instead of leading-man looks.
Fangirl is a relatable, yet original take on that first year of bumbling adult independence that fanfic fanatics will especially enjoy.
Check out the book trailer for Fangirl:
It's been a great year for children's books (and it's not over yet), and it's always fun to see which of our favorites get recognized during awards season.
Kicking it off is the 2013 National Book Award Longlist for Young People’s Literature, released today:
• Kathi Appelt, The True Blue Scouts of Sugar Man Swamp
• Kate DiCamillo, Flora & Ulysses
• Lisa Graff, A Tangle of Knots
• Alaya Dawn Johnson, The Summer Prince
• Cynthia Kadohata, The Thing About Luck
• David Levithan, Two Boys Kissing
• Tom McNeal, Far Far Away
• Meg Rosoff, Picture Me Gone (BookPage review coming in October)
• Anne Ursu, The Real Boy
• Gene Luen Yang, Boxers & Saints
Got any favorites out of this bunch?
Stay tuned throughout the rest of the week for National Book Award longlist announcements for nonfiction (Sept 18) and fiction (Sept 19)!
Geoffrey Girard's two debut thrillers offer a unique premise: They tell the same story from two different perspectives. Cain's Blood is aimed at adult fans of sci-fi thrillers, and it follows the story of a former Army Ranger, Shawn Castillo. Project Cain is intended for young adult readers and unfolds through the perspective of 16-year-old Jeff Jacobson. In a guest post, Girard shares a little more about these parallel novels.
] On September 3, Simon & Schuster releases my first two novels. Cain’s Blood is a dark techno thriller for adults. And Project Cain is a dark techno thriller for young adult readers. They essentially tell the same story. But not . . .
Cain’s Blood recounts through a dozen viewpoints (and fairly omnisciently) how the U.S. Defense Department has cloned violent serial killers in an attempt to harness the genetics of violence, and these clones (made from men like Bundy, Gacy, Berkowitz) are in their teens now. Some of these teens are good, some not so much. When the bad ones escape, a troubled and retired Special Ops agent, Shawn Castillo, tracks them down with the help of one of the “good” boys: a 16-year-old Jeffrey Dahmer clone. Project Cain tells this same story, but entirely from the point of view of Jeff Jacobson, the teenaged Dahmer clone.
The original idea (thanks to my agents at Foundry Literary & Media) was that the story was exciting/curious enough that adults would want to read it and also teens. Simon & Schuster agreed with that idea—but not quite like Paramount releasing the PG version of Saturday Night Fever (have I shown my age?) or some kind of “he said/she said” thing between Castillo and Jeff. So, how would they be different?
While they follow the same basic story, the two novels deviate often with specific scenes. Most of what happens in Cain’s Blood would surprise the heck out of Jeff Jacobson. It focuses more on Castillo and his return home from war, and has a lot more scenes with the Bad Guys. These scenes would explain a lot to Jeff (and readers of the teen novel), but they are scenes/developments that are only hinted at in “Jeff’s” book.
Meanwhile, in Project Cain, Jeff gets in adventures and reveals information that don't appear in the adult book at all. These are his own discoveries and trials outside the scope of the main book—teen discoveries and trials.
We/I do not expect readers to read both books. But if you read one and loved it and want more, you can check out the other. There were enough differences put in to make it, I hope, worth your while.
Cain’s Blood is told as a traditional thriller. (“Crichton meets King,” one blurb claims, and I’m happy to repeat it here.) It’s the book my agents first said YES to. It’s the more commercial book, written for the largest audience.
Project Cain is a first-person story from the POV of a teen boy physiologically different from other boys, which offers a special opportunity to do something different with this book for a very specific audience. I’ve been teaching high school English for 10 years at an all-boys school and have developed some ideas on the kind of book a teen (specifically a boy) might like to read. My guys prefer nonfiction, so Project Cain is written in that style. Also, the devices of composition in the novel are those of a teen boy writing a journal, not of an adult author or even a teen girl. Jeff is genetically prone to becoming a sociopath so his communication and delivery are often, at quick glance, stilted, cold, detached. While there are glimpses of a special kid throughout, he’s still gonna tell it his way. The net result is that folks either love Jeff and his take on the world or hate me as a writer. That was a risk/price I was willing to pay for this specific book.
In either case, I hope readers flip through each book and decide which works best for their reading tastes. When in doubt, if over 18, give Cain’s Blood a look. If still in junior high school or high school, check out Project Cain.
Thanks, Geoffrey! Cain's Blood and Project Cain are both out today.
In honor of first fiction month, we’re highlighting some of our favorite debut novels of the year so far. Here are our top 5 young adult debuts. What’s your favorite debut novel of the year? Comment to weigh in!
Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell
Rowell made her actual fiction debut with her 2011 adult novel, Attachments, but her YA debut is too good not to include on this list. This raw, complex depiction of two teen misfits falling in love in the '80s is at once heartbreaking and searingly hopeful. With a shared love of music and a mountain of hurdles to overcome, Eleanor and Park's love story is just the right amount of awkward and magical.
The Madman's Daughter by Megan Shepherd
H.G. Wells gets the teen treatment with this entertaining adaptation of The Island of Dr. Moreau. The story, as told by the doctor's daughter, 16-year-old Juliet, doesn't tone anything down for younger readers. Gothic horror and Victorian romance blend masterfully here, and the gruesome scientific experiments are so creepy that animal-loving Shepherd had trouble writing them.
Golden Boy by Tara Sullivan
In 13-year-old Habo's home country of Tanzania, a person with albinism is called a zeruzeru, meaning "zero-zero." He has always been an outcast, but he now faces a greater threat: He is being hunted for his body parts, as many believe his light skin will bring them luck. Sullivan's depiction of this growing East African human rights issue is at times horrifying, but she writes beautifully of the landscape and of Habo's strong spirit in the face of such monstrous injustice.
The Whole Stupid Way We Are by N. Griffin
No punches get pulled in this story set during a freezing Maine winter. Fifteen-year-old Dinah is innocent and endlessly positive, but her best friend Skint, who has stopped wearing a coat for some reason and whose father suffers from early-onset senility, is exactly the opposite. This heart-wrenching, thoughtful tale is sad, for sure, but Griffin speckles the novel with flashes of humor and warm personality.
If You Could Be Mine by Sara Farizan
This dazzling story of two Iranian girls in love sensitively approaching issues rarely—if ever—addressed in YA literature. In Iran, homosexuality is punishable by death, but gender reassignment surgery is generally accepted. So when Sahar discovers that her best friend and the girl she loves is to be married, she contemplates the surgery as her only option. Farizan tells this important, compassionate story with immense grace. On sale 8/20. Look for a review in our September issue!
Fans still have a long wait before the conclusion to Veronica Roth's Divergent series—Allegiant comes out October 22! At last week's San Diego Comic-Con, Roth teased fans by revealing that Allegiant will be told in alternating chapters by both Tris and Four. Both Divergent and Insurgent were told through only Tris' perspective.
HarperAudio has created a contest for Divergent fans to vote on who will be the voice of Four in the Allegiant audiobook! The voice of Tris is already spoken by Emma Galvin, who also narrated Divergent and Insurgent.
Fans vote from a selection of four pre-approved narrators who will remain anonymous until the contest is over. Everyone who votes can enter for a chance to win “the ultimate Divergent series audiobook prize pack” which includes: a Kindle Fire HD loaded with copies of the Divergent and Insurgent audiobooks, a pair of Skullcandy Crusher headphones, 12 Audible credits and a signed copy of Allegiant.
The contest began last Thursday and will continue until noon EST on August 2. Vote here!
Young adult mysteries and thrillers tap into some really creepy ideas—often with the help of a supernatural element—that keep teen readers burning through the pages. Few characters in YA mysteries are like cops and spies—they're not out looking for trouble, but it finds them anyway, and the pursuit of the truth is impossible to resist. And this year, it's all about the girls.
17 and Gone by Nova Ren Suma
Seventeen-year-old Lauren has visions of girls who have gone missing—always without a trace. As the missing girls reveal their stories to Lauren, she becomes obsessed with one girl in particular: Abby Sinclair, who vanished from summer camp. What happened to her? Is she dead like the other missing girls? A chilling psychological thriller with whispered warnings for young readers.
The Caged Graves by Dianne K. Salerni
It's 1867, and Verity Boone has just moved to Pennsylvania to live with her father and meet her future husband. But when she discovers that her mother and aunt, who both died 15 years before, are buried in unhallowed ground outside the cemetery and are guarded by a cage, she begins to dig into the mystery of the two women's deaths—and the secrets of her father's town. A great historical mystery.
What We Saw at Night by Jacquelyn Mitchard
Three kids with Xeroderma Pigmentosum (or XP, a disease that requires complete avoidance of sunlight) take to the nighttime rooftops, practicing Parkour and slighting their own vulnerability. But one night, they spy through an open window a possible murder in progress. The daredevils begin an investigation, and it seems to be no limit to their ability to risk their own lives.
This Is W.A.R. by Lisa and Laura Roecker
Revenge is sweet for an unlikely alliance between four girls. When popular girl Willa Ames-Rowan is pulled from the lake at Hawthorne Lake Country Club, everyone knows golden boy James Gregory was the last person to see her alive. Willa’s friends Sloane and Lina, Willa’s sister Madge and outsider Rose team up to solve Willa's death and make the killer pay.
The Waking Dark by Robin Wasserman
Coming September 10
The publishers are calling this one an homage to Stephen King, and that's dead on. This horror thriller finds 12 people dead, killed by five murderers who were all friends and family. Only one murderer didn't take her own life, and she has no idea why she did it. It falls to five survivors to stop whatever's happening. A terrifying, thrilling read.
Anyone up for something creepy?
Bernard Waber, the creator of many beloved picture books featuring Lyle the Crocodile and other gentle souls, passed away on May 16 at age 91. His books included The House on East 88th Street and Ira Sleeps Over, among many others. Though his most common milieu was New York City, children all over the world found comfort and humor in the stories he told. What could be more reassuring than to know that everybody, even Ira, gets homesick sometimes?
Waber's more recent books included Courage (2002), which he wrote partly in response to the 9/11 attacks. In a hand-drawn Q&A about the book, Waber exhorted children to hold onto their dreams, as he surely did. He leaves a legacy of more than 30 books, ensuring that generations of children to come can still meet Lyle the Crocodile and follow him on his adventures.