Blogs

If I Had a Triceratops by George O'Connor
Expected Publication Date: February 10th, 2015
Publisher: Candlewick Press
Page Count: 32 pages
Ages: 4-7 years old

With deft visual humor, a "New York Times" best-selling author-illustrator imagines how awesome it would be to have a pet triceratops living in your backyard. Wouldn't it be great to have a triceratops for a pet? If you had one, it would probably be your best friend. It would always want to play with you, and it would always know how you're feeling. On dark and stormy nights, if your triceratops got scared, you could let it sleep in your room. True, a triceratops is a little on the huge side, but that just means more pet to love, and more pet to love you right back Just imagine your very own pet triceratops running out to greet you at the end of the day. "Ooof "Wouldn't that be the best thing "ever"?

Why We Can't Wait: O'Connor's If I Had a Raptor won us over with the first page, and we have no doubt that his newest will do the same. Written in a similar fashion to If You Give a Mouse a Cookie, O'Connor's dinosaur stories are hilarious and adorable. With lovely, pastel illustrations, the images are just as fantastic as the words. We're sure If I Had a Triceratops will not disappoint!

Not too many new things out this week, but we are SUPER excited for Melissa Kantor's Better Than Perfect!
She's just fantastic!

Yoda: The Story of a Cat and His Kittens by Beth Stern & David Crane, Illustrated by K. A. Alistir
Publication Date: November 18th, 2014
Publisher: Aladdin Paperbacks
Genre: Picture Books
Ages: 4-8

From the author of the "New York Times "bestselling "Oh My Dog" comes the true story of Yoda, a very special cat--and adorable Instagram sensation--rescued by Beth and Howard Stern.
When Beth first met Yoda at the animal shelter, he was skinny and his fur was matted. He hid in the back of his cage and wanted nothing to do with anyone. But Beth chose Yoda. She took him home, cleaned him up, and gave him love.
Beth fosters kittens, too, and before long Yoda discovered them--and his life purpose. Now he's happy, and fluffy, and very, very busy. He makes sure the orphan kittens eat, he keeps them safe, and he even cleans up after them. Yoda acts like a father" and" mother to the foster kittens that fill his home, and taking care of others has helped him too: even though Yoda has a serious heart condition, he's made a miraculous turnaround, and is healthier than doctors thought he could be.
To further the important work that Beth does on behalf of animals, all of her proceeds from this book will be donated to North Shore Animal League America's Bianca's Furry Friends campaign.

Beth Stern, wife of Howard, is a very involved animal adoption activist. She first met Yoda, a Persian cat, at the animal shelter. He was skinny with matted fur and had a bad heart. His prognosis was bleak. He didn't think he would ever be adopted. He watched as all the other cats went to new homes. Beth fosters kittens at her home. She took a liking to Yoda and adopted him. Shortly after adopting him, he heard a big commotion in another room. He went to investigate and what should he find but KITTENS! He took it upon himself to be their adopted Dad. He looked after them,cleaned them, taught them how to be safe and to groom themselves. All of this gave Yoda a new purpose and lease on life. His spirit and his health started to improve. He is still going strong, is happy, loved by his family and the kittens are loved by Yoda.

All proceeds from the sales of this book will be donated to North Shore Animal League America's Bianca's Furry Friends Campaign. North Shore Animal League America is the largest no-kill,rescue, and adoption organization in the World.
Reviewed by Dori at Books Inc. Mountain View

Mark of the Thief by Jennifer A. Nielsen
Expected Publication Date: March 31st, 2015
Publisher: Chronicle Books
Page Count: 352
Ages: 10-14
Genre: Fantasy/Action & Adventure

When Nic, a slave in the mines outside of Rome, is forced to enter a sealed cavern containing the lost treasures of Julius Caesar, he finds much more than gold and gemstones: He discovers an ancient bulla, an amulet that belonged to the great Caesar and is filled with a magic once reserved for the Gods -- magic some Romans would kill for.
Now, with the deadly power of the bulla pulsing through his veins, Nic is determined to become free. But instead, he finds himself at the center of a ruthless conspiracy to overthrow the emperor and spark the Praetor War, a battle to destroy Rome from within. Traitors and spies lurk at every turn, each more desperate than the next to use Nic's newfound powers for their own dark purposes.
In a quest to stop the rebellion, save Rome, and secure his own freedom, Nic must harness the magic within himself and defeat the empire's most powerful and savage leaders.

Why we can't wait: Who didn't love The Ascendence Trilogy?! Exactly. Now Jennifer A. Nielsen is coming out with a NEW series and we WANTS IT! Just look at that cover. Also, it's set in ROME? This just keeps getting better and better!

Dan Gemeinhart lives in a small town smack dab in the middle of Washington state with his wife and three young daughters. He’s lucky and grateful to be a teacher-librarian in an elementary school, where he gets to share awesome books with awesome kids. He loves camping, cooking and traveling. He also plays guitar (badly) and reads (constantly). His house is always a mess. He is really pretty darn happy.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In all the ways that matter, Mark is a normal kid. He's got a dog named Beau and a best friend, Jessie. He likes to take photos and write haiku poems in his notebook. He dreams of climbing a mountain one day.

But in one important way, Mark is not like other kids at all. Mark is sick. The kind of sick that means hospitals. And treatments. The kind of sick some people never get better from.

So Mark runs away. He leaves home with his camera, his notebook, his dog, and a plan to reach the top of Mount Rainier--even if it's the last thing he ever does.

The Honest Truth is a rare and extraordinary novel about big questions, small moments, and the incredible journey of the human spirit.

 

 

 

 

1. What was your inspiration for The Honest Truth?
I wrote The Honest Truth in memory of a friend of mine who died of cancer. He was also named Mark, and he was my sister's fiancee. He was a wonderful guy - the kind of guy that would drop whatever he was doing to help someone else. He loved books (he worked at an indie bookstore) and mountain climbing; he climbed peaks all over the world, including Mt. Rainier (which figures prominently in the book). I wrote this book in his honor, but I really tried to make it a triumphant adventure story, not a morose tragedy. I didn't want it to be a "cancer book," because cancer isn't what I think about when I think about Mark. I think about his spirit, about loyalty and friendship and living - and that's what I wanted the book to really be about.

2. Is Mark at all influenced by how you were as a kid?
Not really - Mark is a pretty angry kid (for lots of good reasons), and he's bold and brave and pretty darn tough. I was very much a shy, quiet, introverted kid. If I'd ever turned up missing like Mark it is infinitely more likely my parents would have found me curled up in a quiet place somewhere reading - not climbing a mountain in a blizzard. I had to imagine how a kid in Mark's shoes would have felt, what traits he would have to have in order to pull this adventure off, and then I tried to construct a character that was inspiring but believable and "real."

3. Mark’s dog is incredibly loyal to Mark throughout their entire journey. Did you have any pets like his when you were a kid?
I'm a total animal lover, and I kind of define the different eras of my childhood by what pets we had at the time. But, boy...Beau is pretty darn special. He's definitely not based on any one dog that I've had, but in some ways I think that almost every dog has that kind of greatness inside them. If you treat them right and give them your love and loyalty, they give it right back tenfold. It's pretty amazing. So although Beau is not cut whole-cloth from a dog I've known, you could definitely say he's kind of a stand-in for the greatness of all the dogs I've known. 

4. A portion of your book is written from Jessie’s point of view, what made you decide to include her story as well?
I really struggled with how to write this story. I started (from scratch) three different times, trying different voices and perspectives, and I just couldn't figure out how to tell Mark's story in an immediate, emotional way but still tell the story of his friend and family back home. I thought that home piece was really important to the heart of the story, and to its themes.  Without the perspective of Mark's parents and Jessie, the story just didn't sing; it was too dark and constant, and it felt unbalanced. Mark is angry, but we need to see why he's angry, and we need to see him through the eyes of the people that love him so we can better understand him. Finally I hit on this split chapter idea: the main chapters from Mark's perspective, with shorter "half chapters" between them (in 3rd person) showing what was happening at home. As soon as I tried it, I knew I'd finally found the way to tell this story.

5. Have you ever climbed Mt. Rainier yourself?
I have not! I do a lot of camping and backpacking and I've visited Mt. Rainier several times, but I've never actually summited her. I have climbed Mt. St. Helens, but that's really just a long, steep hike in bad weather. 

6. If you weren’t an author, what would be your dream job?
I'm lucky in that I already have both my dream jobs: I'm a writer and an elementary school teacher-librarian. I get to work with books and kids and kids' books all day  (and all night, sometimes), so I'm pretty darn happy. My third dream job, though, would be to work at a great bookstore. So, either way: I'm with books. 

7. If The Honest Truth were turned into a movie, who would you cast?
Hmmm...fun question. For the two main parts (Mark and Jessie), I'm not sure...I don't know too many child actors. Let's just say definitely not Justin Beiber. Although, if we had a time machine at our disposal, wouldn't a 12 year old Leonardo DiCaprio be amazing? And for Jessie (also with a time machine), Shelbie Bruce (the girl from Spanglish) would be perfect. And for Wesley, a small but important minor character, I always pictured him looking exactly like Sam Elliott.

8. Are you a pantser or a plotter?
I'm an unhappy mix. I'm a half-pantser who wishes he plotted more, and/or a lazy plotter who wishes he would just relax and let the story flow. I usually make a pretty rough outline with lots of holes (like, the entire middle third) and then it starts to fall more rigidly into place as I write. I'd say that at the time I sit down to start writing a book, I know about 50% of what's going to happen - then it's just a matter of finding the flow and connecting the dots of the parts you know. It's a weird process, for sure.

9. What’s your ideal writing ambiance?
Night time. Dark. Everyone else in bed. Sometimes some mood-appropriate (fast, or pensive, or sad, depending on the scene I'm writing) instrumental music playing - never any music with words, and a lot of times just silence. I sit on my couch with my feet up, my computer on my lap, and maybe one lamp on for some dim lighting. I love it.

10. Who was your literary crush growing up?
Oooooh...literary crush, huh? I went through some serious binge phases: Hardy Boys, Louis L'Amour, Narnia, Stephen King, Narnia, John Steinbeck, Hemingway. My hands-down favorite poet is e.e. cummings (he owns a fair amount of real estate in my soul). I became enraptured with A River Runs Through It in high school - a vastly under-appreciated book - and read it seven times. Since college, my favorite "grown up" author has been Jose Saramago. And that's just the tip of the iceberg. Basically, when it comes to literary crushes, I'm a really promiscuous serial monogamist. 

And head over to Books Inc. Palo Alto on Sunday, February 22nd at 6pm for a special evening of truths with Dan!

Pages