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Amy Novesky Loves

Amy Novesky Loves

Dear Miss Karana by Eric Elliot

One of my favorite books when I was a kid was Island of the Blue Dolphins by Scott O’Dell. I grew up in a Southern California beach town that looked out on Catalina Island, which is in the same island chain as San Nicolas, where Karana lived. An island was my horizon. Karana was my heroine. I was fascinated by the story of a girl left behind on an island all alone, who grows up and fends for herself. That story has stayed with me years later as a children’s book editor and as an author. There have been no other children’s books about Karana, until now. At a recent book conference, I came across Eric Elliot’s Dear Miss Karana, published by local independent publisher Heyday Books. I was drawn to the book’s watery cover and its appealingly diminutive size, and then delighted to discover that the book was inspired by Scott O’Dell’s extraordinary character, and, of course, the real-life lone woman of San Nicolas Island. At last!

Dear Miss Karana is about 10-year-old Tishmal who, after reading O’Dell’s classic novel, feels a kinship with Karana and begins an email, or tóomawutal-náawish (“thunder writing” in her native language of Chamtéela) correspondence with the spirit of Karana, whom she discovers is from a related Native American Islander tribe. The story is charming and compelling, effortlessly evoking Tishmal’s world that is both of this time and timeless.

Eric Elliot, the author, learned the Chamtéela language as a way to help preserve it. The book is printed in English, but the Chamtéela version is available to download. Wít, ‘iyákko, wít! (OMG) How cool is that? I love this book, and that Heyday published it and books like it, and I have been telling everyone about it, including you. I hope you like it.


Amy Novesky is an award-winning author. Pick up her fantastic books Me, Frida; Georgia in Hawaii; Imogen, the Mother of Modernism and Three Boys; Mister and Lady Day; and the just released Cloth Lullaby at your local Books Inc. today! Amy lives in Sausalito. Visit her at www.amynovesky.com

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Kids Books Adapted for the Big Screen

One of my favorite things is seeing a film adaption of a beloved book! Sure, there's usually a lot left out, but it's fun to see the different ways different minds interpret the same story. So, I've compiled a group of children's and middlgrade books coming to the big screen this year:


The Great Gilly Hopkins by Katherine Paterson


The BFG by Roald Dahl


Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them by J.K. Rowling


Pete's Dragon

Ok... this is kind of cheating because it's a remake of another MOVIE, however, there is a Little Golden Book verson!



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Happy Birthday LeVar Burton!

So a little birdy informed us that today, February 16th, is the wonderful LeVar Burton's birthday!!

You may recognize him from the widely popluar and extremely missed, Reading Rainbow television series:

Over the span of 20 years, Burton won 5 Emmy's for his work on Reading Rainbow. Though the show ended in 2009, Burton and the creators are still encouraging the love of reading through Reading Rainbow and Skybrary. Check it out here.


Happy Birthday LeVar Burton and thank you for all that you've done for a generation of readers and all that you continue to do for the next!

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Picture Books to Celebrate the Lunar New Year!

Dragon Dance: A Chinese New Year Lift-The-Flap Book by Joan Holub

It's Chinese New Year and there are so many fun things to do Shopping at the outdoor market for fresh flowers, eating New Year's dinner with the whole family, receiving red envelopes from Grandma and Grandpa, and best of all-watching the spectacular Chinese New Year's parade Introduce the customs of Chinese New Year to even the youngest readers with this festive new lift-the-flap book.
Illustrated by Benrei Huang.


Holidays Around the World: Celebrate Chinese New Year by Carolyn Otto

For two joyous weeks red is all around. The color represents luck and happiness. Children receive money wrapped in red paper, and friends and loved ones exchange poems written on red paper. The Chinese New Year is also an opportunity to remember ancestors, and to wish peace and happiness to friends and family. The holiday ends with the Festival of Lanterns, as many large communities stage the famous Dragon Dance. Fireworks, parades, lanterns, presents, and feasts: these are some of the joys experienced by all who observe Chinese New Year.
"Celebrate Chinese New Year" is the latest, timely addition to National Geographic's popular Holidays Around the World series. With 25 colorful images and a simple, educational text, the book is a lively invitation to revel in this child-friendly, national and international holiday. Carolyn Otto brings the historical and cultural aspects of the Chinese New Year into focus, and young readers experience the full flavor of an event celebrated by over a billion people in China, and countless others worldwide.


Happy, Happy Chinese New Year! by Demi

In a book that is itself a celebration, Demi explains the rituals and ideas behind the Chinese New Year festival. The last 15 days of the old year are spent cleaning and preparing ( Wash your hair and get a new haircut. Pay the debts that you owe and collect what is owed to you ). On the eve of the new moon, a special feast is prepared. . . . The first 15 days of the new year are spent celebrating with lion dances, firecrackers, and other activities. Demi's characteristic tiny, lively figures illustrate each page, with several spreads devoted to small, labeled pictures identifying things associated with the holiday. Infused with joy and filled with information.


My First Chinese New Year by Karen Katz

Chinese New Year is a time of new beginnings. Follow one little girl as she learns how to welcome the coming year and experience all the festivities surrounding it. Karen Katz's warm and lively introduction to a special holiday will make even the youngest child want to start a Chinese New Year tradition.


A New Year's Reunion by Li Qiong Yu

This poignant, vibrantly illustrated tale, which won the prestigious Feng Zikai Chinese Children's Picture Book Award in 2009, is sure to resonate with every child who misses relatives when they are away and shows how a family's love is strong enough to endure over time and distance.


This Next New Year by Janet S. Wong

A young boy looks forward to Chinese New Year - also known as the Lunar New Year, the day of the first new moon. It is a time of hope, and you don't have to be Chinese to celebrate it! His best friend, Glenn, who is French and German, and his cousin Evelyn, part Hopi and part Mexican, like the food and the envelopes of money, while he celebrates the fresh start the day offers. He cleans the house to make room for luck, and is glad the palms of his hands itch - that means he is coming into money. Most of all, he vows not to say things such as "can't do / don't have / why me" because he has dreams he is ready to make come true. Janet S. Wong's spare, lyrical couplets voice a child's determination to face the new year with courage and optimism. Yangsook Choi captures the spirit of celebration in her vibrant, energetic pictures.


The Race for the Chinese Zodiac by Gabrielle Wang

Long ago in ancient China, the Jade Emperor, ruler of heaven and earth, proclaimed a mighty race, saying that the first twelve animals to cross the river would have a year named after them. When the gong rings out, Tiger leaps in the river, followed by peaceful Rabbit clutching a log. Rat and Cat climb on Ox’s back, and Dog splashes in the shallows while Rooster finds a raft and takes clever Monkey and gentle Goat on board. Snake hitches a ride in Horse’s mane, powerful Dragon flies over the river, and Pig plays happily in the mud. But thirteen animals are racing for only twelve places on the Zodiac. Who will be honest, and who devious? Who will help friends along the way? Who will come first — and who will miss out?


Sam and the Lucky Money by Karen Chinn

Sam can hardly wait to go shopping with his mom. It's Chinese New Year's day and his grandparents have given him the traditional gift of lucky money red envelopes called leisees (lay-sees). This year Sam is finally old enough to spend it any way he chooses. Best of all, he gets to spend his lucky money in his favorite place Chinatown But when Sam realizes that his grandparents' gift is not enough to get the things he wants, his excitement turns to disappointment. Even though his mother reminds him that he should appreciate the gift, Sam is not convinced until a surprise encounter with a stranger. With vivid watercolor paintings, artists Cornelius Van Wright and Ying-Hwa Hu celebrate the sights and sounds of festive Chinatown streets. In her picture book debut, author Karen Chinn tells the affecting story of a child who discovers that sometimes the best gifts come from the heart.

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Publishers Weekly's Most Anticipated Middle Grade Books for 2016

Booked by Kwame Alexander

Alexander trades basketball for soccer in this follow-up to his Newbery Medal–winning novel-in-verse, The Crossover. Like that book, this story balances in-the-game action with struggles at home and at school as it follows the ups and downs of a 12-year-old boy named Nick, all captured in Alexander’s vivid, zigzagging rhymes. Available in April.


Pax by Sara Pennypacker

Timely, sensitive, and thought-provoking, this novel from Clementine creator Pennypacker traces 12-year-old Peter’s efforts to reunite with his pet fox, Pax, shifting between the perspectives of boy and animal. Pennypacker’s fans will also want to keep an eye out for her book Waylon! One Awesome Thing, also out this spring and illustrated by her Clementine collaborator, Marla Frazee. Available Now.


Raymie Nightingale by Kate DiCamillo

DiCamillo, the outgoing National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature, has racked up devoted fans (and major awards) for one novel after the next, from Because of Winn-Dixie and The Tale of Despereaux to her more recent Newbery Medal for Flora & Ulysses. In this story, set in 1975 Florida, three girls learn that they can count on each other when the adults in their lives prove less reliable. Available in April.


Summerlost by Ally Condie

Best known for her dystopian Matched trilogy for teens, Condie switches gears (and audiences) with this tender summer story set against the backdrop of a town’s Shakespeare festival, as 12-year-old Cedar, her mother, and her brother regroup after recent deaths in their family. Available in March.


The Wild Robot by Peter Brown

Picture book creator Brown moves into longer-form fiction for the first time with the story of Roz, a robot who washes up on an island and attempts to reach out to the local animals and make it her home. Robots like Roz may not have much in the way of emotions, but readers’ feelings will be put to the test as Roz adopts a baby gosling and contends with forces seeking to retrieve her. Available in April.

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