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  • Jeff Somers 2:00 pm on 2017/03/02 Permalink
    Tags: , Kid Stuff, sam i am   

    Celebrate Read Across America Day with 10 Authors Carrying on the Spirit of Dr. Seuss 

    Few people have done more to encourage our children to read than the late Dr. Seuss (Theodore Geisel). With iconic picture books like The Cat in the Hat, One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish, and Green Eggs and Ham, Dr. Seuss made words magical and taught generations of children that reading was fun.

    For the past twenty years, the National Education Association (NEA) has honored Dr. Seuss by promoting Read Across America every March 2nd—Dr. Seuss’ birthday. The idea is to encourage kids of all ages to read more through events and partnerships and by making resources available to anyone who wants to help a child read more. But this doesn’t require anything fancy! If you want to help your child—or someone else’s—appreciate books more, the easiest thing you can do is read with them. And while Dr. Seuss’ books are an excellent choice for younger kids, you might want to spice things up a little with some modern masters who are carrying on the good doctor’s work—like these ten children’s authors who will also make books seem like magic to your kids.

    Ed Shankman & Dave O’Neill (Suggested Book: I Met a Moose in Maine One Day)
    Shankman and O’Neill understand something that Dr. Seuss knew perfectly well—kids love the absurd. With simple rhymes and a fun sense of the unexpected, like a moose that puts on sunglasses and begins dancing, they show young kids that reading isn’t drudgery—it’s a window into a world just slightly more interesting than the one they live in.

    Mo Willems (Suggested Book: Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus!)
    Dr. Seuss had a way of convincing kids that they were part of the story. Willems writes books for a range of ages, but Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus and its sequels achieves the same immersion when a bus driver goes on break and asks them—the readers—to watch his bus for him. When a pigeon arrives and begs to be allowed to drive the bus, the kids have a ball telling him “No!”

    Sean Ferrell and Charles Santoso (Suggested Book: The Snurtch)
    Dr. Seuss managed a lot of psychological complexity in his simple books. Ferrell, an accomplished adult novelist, writes a fanciful story about a being who plagues little Ruthie’s day with mischievous pranks and other misbehaviors that she gets blamed for. There’s a clear love of language and a deep lesson for kids under all the mayhem and fun, and a lot of kids will recognize Ruthie’s predicament.

    Anna Dewdney (Suggested Book: Llama Llama Red Pajama)
    An overlooked aspect of the Seussian vibe is the sense of danger he hints at, and the underlying feeling of things being out of control. This hits home for kids, and Dewdney—who passed away in 2016—captures those fears and anxieties in this adorably-rhymed story of a baby llama worried his mama isn’t coming back to his room despite is repeated calls. Fun Awesome Fact: It’s also one of the only children’s books regularly rapped by rising hip hop stars.

    Jeanne Willis and Tony Ross (Suggested Book: Big Bad Bun)
    Another team that gets the Seussian sense of anarchy that bubbled under every story, Willis and Ross have created the story of Fluff, who wants to be called Big Bad Bun as he runs off to join the Hell Bunnies and say rude words and generally be bad. The slight edge to the story will appeal to kids, the sweetness of the resolution ensures a good time for all, and the occasional clever moment that leans adult will make parents snort in appreciation.

    Peggy Rathman and Anthony Edwards (Suggested Book: Good Night, Gorilla)
    Dr. Seuss understood that simple was better, and Rathman does too, offering a simple story about animals being released from their cages at the zoo by a playful gorilla and following the zookeeper home. This is a more visual book, but the words Rathman does include are perfectly chosen to give little readers a sense of adventure that will excite them for the next book.

    Julia Donaldson (Suggested Book: The Gruffalo)
    The simple through-line of this clever tale will remind you of the way Dr. Seuss always managed to surprise. Donaldson borrows an old folk tale and reinvents it: a mouse walking home through the forest encounters a series of animals, all of whom wish to eat the mouse. To discourage them, the mouse says he’s having dinner with a Gruffalo, a terrifying creature the mouse has invented whose favorite food always happens to be the animal the mouse has encountered. When the mouse encounters an actual Gruffalo, the clever twist will delight young brains.

    Giles Andreae and Guy Parker-Rees (Suggested Book: Giraffe’s Can’t Dance)
    Andreae’s rhymes have the bouncing rhythms of prime Seuss, and that rhythm is a subtle nod to the theme of the story about an annual animal dance in Africa. Gerald the Giraffe wishes he could participate, but he has “four left feet” until he meets a friendly cricket who offers encouragement—and a beat.

    Scott M. Fischer (Suggested Book: Jump!)
    The madcap energy that Dr. Seuss brought to his stories has made them evergreen—no one can forget the Cat in the Hat causing havoc that seems to get bigger and bigger with each page. The feat is replicated by Fischer, who tells a simple story of animals jumping to evade enemies that starts small, with a ladybug, and scales up to a whale in a stirring and memorable fashion.

    Jan Thomas (Suggested Book: Here Comes the Big, Mean Dust Bunny!)
    Finally, Thomas’ book has the brightly-colored sensibility of a great Seussian ride, as the second book featuring his rhyming, nervous dust bunnies finds them dealing with a cranky gray bunny who finds ways to turn all of their rhymes against them, a perfect short adventure for rowdy kids that will show them that reading can simply be fun.

    The post Celebrate Read Across America Day with 10 Authors Carrying on the Spirit of Dr. Seuss appeared first on Barnes & Noble Reads.

  • Elodie 1:00 pm on 2016/11/01 Permalink
    Tags: , , , , Kid Stuff   

    8 Ways Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire Goes Wonderfully Dark 

    The much-loved Harry Potter series may start off with a bunch of lighthearted magical shenanigans, but by the time we hit book number four, things take a turn for the serious. In Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, Harry finds himself competing in the Triwizard Tournament, a dangerous competition that pits contestants from three wizarding schools against each other in a trio of increasingly treacherous magical competitions. The thing is, he didn’t sign up for this—someone else entered his name. Possibly someone with a dark purpose and a larger plan in mind.

    So how exactly do things get dark in the fourth chapter in Harry’s story? Let us count the ways.

    1. We meet the Death Eaters.
    We already knew there were people who supported Voldemort (the wizarding world’s resident big bad) back when he was powerful. Now we have a name for them, and it’s chilling: the Death Eaters. And it looks like there are still some living among the masses in secret.

    2. It gives us a feel for the First Wizarding War.
    Harry defeated Voldemort when he was just a baby. But before that, Voldemort’s rise to power was littered with panic, confusion, and mysterious deaths aplenty—and suddenly that dark period is at the front of everyone’s minds.

    3. It pits Muggles vs. wizards.
    Voldemort’s is driven by a belief that wizards and witches are superior to Muggles (non-magical people) and Muggleborns (witches or wizards with non-magic parents—like Hermione Granger). The events of Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire put this conflict front and center, forcing everyone to choose where their loyalties lie.

    4. The Triwizard Tournament could be deadly.
    Hogwarts is no stranger to danger. But now that the school is hosting a magical tournament that was discontinued for 200 years after the death toll got out of hand, the stakes are higher than ever.

    5. The arrival of Professor “Mad-Eye” Moody.
    Harry’s new Defense Against the Dark Arts professor used to be an Auror (basically, the wizarding world’s equivalent of a federal marshal), whose entire job involved catching dark wizards. What we’re saying is, he’s a gruff and eccentric oddball who has seen some stuff, and he’s not shy about letting his students know it.

    6. We learn that magic isn’t all fun and games.
    The imminent threat of rising dark forces throws some of the uglier realities of the wizarding world into sharp relief. Between the Unforgivable Curses—the only three spells punishable by life in wizarding prison Azkaban—and the fates of those who wound up on the wrong side of the Death Eaters all those years ago, we’re given an unpleasant look at what wizards are capable of doing to each other (besides just turning each other’s quills into ravens).

    7. The book puts Harry’s orphanhood into fresh perspective.
    Harry lost his parents the very night he inadvertently defeated Voldemort. He was a baby; he never really knew them. But now that he might be in over his head with this whole “death tournament” thing, it could not be more obvious that what Harry wants—what he really wants—is a parent.

    8. The story is rife with themes of loss. Now, no spoilers, but we may or may not lose a character or two this time around. We DID tell you Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire is when things get really real. The events of this novel in particular have far-reaching consequences that have a major effect on the rest of the series—right up to the brand-new two-part play, Harry Potter and the Cursed Child.

    The post 8 Ways Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire Goes Wonderfully Dark appeared first on Barnes & Noble Reads.

  • Elodie 1:00 pm on 2016/10/11 Permalink
    Tags: , , , Kid Stuff   

    7 Ways Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban Ups the Stakes 

    Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban details Harry’s third year at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, and it brings the story to a whole new level of intrigue, treachery, and page-turning excitement. Why? Because this year at Hogwarts, it’s not all riding broomsticks and casting spells: a notorious mass murderer has just broken out of wizarding prison Azkaban to finish what he started 13 years ago. His target? You guessed it: Harry Potter. Here are just a few ways Prisoner of Azkaban is a series turning point.

    The Marauders. Harry, Ron, and Hermione have a friendship to end all friendships, but before they ever set foot on the grounds of Hogwarts, there was another group of goodhearted troublemakers running the school: the Marauders. The foursome may be gone from Hogwarts, but their legacy lives magically on. The overarching storyline of the Marauders—codenamed Moony, Wormtail, Padfoot, and Prongs—is one of the best in the entire series, and it all begins in Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban.

    New enchanted objects. Harry’s trusty Invisibility Cloak is back, and with it a bunch of brand-new items—like biting textbooks, crystal balls, and the Marauder’s Map, a magical mischief-maker’s guide to every secret passageway in Hogwarts castle, courtesy of the mysterious Marauders themselves. When it winds up in Harry’s possession, shenanigans ensue.

    More magical classes. In addition to Potions, Transfiguration, Charms, Herbology, and Defense Against the Dark Arts, Prisoner of Azkaban gives us a more in-depth peek at the various Hogwarts classes we’d exchange for algebra in a heartbeat—including Divination and Care of Magical Creatures, also known as “trying not to get your hand bitten off by a creature that’s half-horse, half-eagle.”

    Professor Lupin. Remus Lupin is Hogwarts’ savvy new Defense Against the Dark Arts professor at Hogwarts. He quickly locks in his reputation as the cool teacher who’s class actually studies practical applications, but beyond that, he’s a fascinating character well-versed in the art of compassion. He genuinely cares about his students, and he’s widely adored by both the characters in Harry’s world and its fans alike. There’s just one hitch: he may or may not be guarding a dark and dangerous secret.

    Hogsmeade. Prisoner of Azkaban introduces us to Hogsmeade, a nearby village that Hogwarts students are allowed to visit on weekends. Whether you’re touring the real-life model at Universal’s Wizarding World of Harry Potter in Orlando, Florida, or simply reading about it at home, Hogsmeade is a testament to J.K. Rowling’ superb world-building. Not only does it evoke a vivid mind portrait of every quaint British hamlet you’ve ever seen in movies, but it’s home to some of our very favorite places in the wizarding world, chief among them the Three Broomsticks pub, sweet shop Honeydukes, and Zonko’s Joke Shop.

    Dementors. We learn about a whole slew of magical creatures, but the most notable (and terrifying) is the Dementors. They’re hooded creatures that feed on despair, fear, and doubt, and they serve as a metaphor for all things terrible. But a well-learned wizard can fight Dementors using the Patronus Charm (it’s like a spirit guardian fueled by hope and happy memories), and the existence of the Patronus speaks to one of the larger thematic elements of the novel—namely that despair, fear, and doubt can be overcome.

    It’s J.K. Rowling’s favorite book. Okay, so she said it’s “one of” her favorites, but she had seven brilliantly penned, life-changing novels to choose from, so that’s saying something.

    The post 7 Ways Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban Ups the Stakes appeared first on Barnes & Noble Reads.

  • Elodie 1:00 pm on 2016/10/04 Permalink
    Tags: , , , , Kid Stuff   

    8 Unforgettable Characters You’ll Meet in Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets 

    Best friends Harry, Ron, and Hermione are the heart of the Harry Potter series, and a friendship force to be reckoned with. Their status as the Potter world’s three musketeers is cemented in Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, as Ron and Hermione stick by Harry even when the rest of the school is treating him like Voldemort 2.0.

    But Harry and his tried and true friends aren’t the series’ only beloved characters. Chamber of Secrets introduces readers to a whole slew of gloriously dynamic figures—witches, wizards, and…creatures you’ll love, or love to hate—many of whom will make appearances throughout the series. Here are eight of our favorites.

    Dobby. Dobby comes into the story not with a fizzle but a bang, and he serves as our introduction to one of the wizarding world’s most intriguing magical creatures: house-elves. Short of stature, floppy of ear, and decked out in nothing but a pillowcase, Dobby invariably knows more than he’s letting on, but has a real knack for banging into walls whenever he feels he has said too much.

    Lucius Malfoy. He’s the father of Harry’s school rival, Draco, and is basically the Hogwarts version of an overprivileged helicopter parent—but a lot more evil, and a lot more likely to be involved in some very dark magic.

    Gilderoy Lockhart. Lockhart is every incompetent teacher you’ve ever had, but with better hair. He’s a celebrity memoirist, famous for his account of magical derring-do, when he becomes Hogwarts’ new Defense Against the Dark Arts professor. But despite having literally written books on the subject, he doesn’t know much in the way of magic. Case in point: when in doubt, it’s always best NOT to unleash a swarm of pixies on a class of 12-year-olds, but what do we know? He’s the professor.

    The Weasley family. We meet Ron Weasley in book one, of course, but Chamber of Secrets is the first time we encounter the wonderful Weasley clan en masse—from Arthur Weasley and his fascination with spark plugs and all things Muggle-related to Ginny’s schoolgirl crush on Harry.

    Colin Creevey. Excitable Hogwarts first-year Colin would run for both president and vice-president of the Harry Potter Fan Club if such a thing existed. Colin loves nothing more than to tag along and take pictures of the famous Harry Potter, much to Harry’s chagrin. Despite his faults, you’ve gotta love Colin—like a puppy, he has a lot of heart and a heap of (misdirected) affection.

    Aragog. Aragog is Hogwarts Castle’s friendly neighborhood spider, and by “neighborhood” we mean he hangs out in the deepest parts of the Forbidden Forest, and by “friendly” we mean he eats people. Related: Chamber of Secrets is also the book that reveals Ron’s deepest held terror—spiders.

    Moaning Myrtle. This Hogwarts student-turned-Hogwarts ghost spends most of her time in the girl’s bathroom, weeping profusely. Also, she has a thing about being dead, so don’t bring it up in conversation. She’s kind of sensitive about it.

    Tom Riddle. Fifty years before Harry came to Hogwarts, a student named Tom Riddle was faced with the same situation Harry’s facing in Chamber of Secrets: saving Hogwarts—the only place he has ever called home—from strange supernatural attacks, lest it close down for good. All those years ago, Tom Riddle was the one who caught the perpetrator, and through some magical dealings he’s back and willing to lend Harry a hand. Hopefully he’s not harboring any dark and dangerous secrets.

    The post 8 Unforgettable Characters You’ll Meet in Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets appeared first on Barnes & Noble Reads.

  • Heidi Fiedler 1:00 pm on 2016/09/25 Permalink
    Tags: Kid Stuff,   

    Celebrate Maker Faire with 8 Books to Encourage Young Computer Geniuses 

    When you clean out the backseat of your car, do you find miniature circuit boards mixed in with the crumbs? Is there a constant hum of video game music playing in your house? Do your kids dream about Minecraft? Maker families are invited to explore Barnes & Noble’s Mini Maker Faire November 5th and 6th. With demos, workshops, and project ideas galore, young programmers, graphic designers, and other tech-heads will feel right at home. Already excited? Check out one of the books below! They’re designed to inspire your resident genius’s next great idea—and they’re exclusive to Barnes & Noble!

    Getting Started with Raspberry Pi
    New to programming? Raspberry Pi is the perfect way to get started, and this book is a simple introduction. Kids will learn how to do everything from setting up a Pi to recording their own songs. They can even use Python to develop their own Minecraft masterpieces. This berry is ripe with possibilities, and this guide will help make the first steps kids take a success.

    Writing Computer Code
    Programming is about more than memorizing a series of zeros and ones. It’s about learning to speak the language of computers. This accessible introduction teaches kids to write a script that produces an online robot that makes it easy to visualize the effects of each line of code. Young programmers can customize their bot’s shapes and colors, and even teach it to dance!

    Getting Started with Coding
    This book teaches new programmers more skills, including how to create a drawing tool, animate graphics, and add a timer to applications. The simple, classroom-tested activities encourage confidence and build a foundation of knowledge that give young coders the freedom to design any digi-wonder they can dream of.

    Making YouTube Videos
    Whether your kids are drama queens, young activists, or pint-sized mad scientists, their future is video. YouTube is where  people go to express themselves and connect with others. This exclusive title shows kids how to star in their own videos and post them online. There are digital tips and tricks and ideas for creating content. In no time, kids will be ready to host their own channel!

    Modding Minecraft
    An octopus-shaped skyscraper? Sure. World’s best tree fort? Why not! A loop-de-loop rollercoaster made of gold? YES! All this and more!!! The mega game Minecraft has been proven to improve abstract thinking, spatial reasoning, and creativity in players young and old. If the builders in your house are obsessed, grab a copy of this book while you’re at the Maker Faire. It’s packed with ideas and pro tips to help kids design their own totally unique mods—whatever crazy shape they might take.

    Building a Minecraft City
    Depending on their personal aesthetic and obsessions, Minecraft fans can build surreal structures or mind bogglingly realistic cities. Some cities take years to build. If your kiddo is looking for ways to speed up construction just a bit, this exclusive book is here to help. Author Sarah Guthalas invites players to go deeper into the world of blocks, try new techniques, and build something totally fresh—without requiring two years of construction!

    Creating Digital Animations
    Imagine. Program. Share. That’s what Scratch is all about. It’s a simple language designed to help kids create and share stories, animations, and games. This book teaches the basics and more, with step-by-step instructions that show young makers how to turn their ideas into real programs, with sound effects, animation, and lots of other fun bells and whistles. If that doesn’t scratch their programming itch, nothing will!

    Designing Digital Games
    With a little Scratch know-how, young designers can create a game from the ground up. This book includes three simple projects that produce impressive results. Readers will learn how to design a digital pet snake, build a maze, and develop a game. By encouraging kids to create their own engaging graphics, this book makes computer time active, not passive!

    To learn more about the Barnes & Noble Maker Faire, click here! We hope to see you there!

    The post Celebrate Maker Faire with 8 Books to Encourage Young Computer Geniuses appeared first on Barnes & Noble Reads.

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