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  • 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.

  • BN Editors 8:00 pm on 2016/09/20 Permalink
    Tags: , , Kid Stuff,   

    Watch the Exclusive Book Trailer for Bryce Moore’s The Memory Thief 

    The Memory Thief

    For better or for worse, our memories shape who are. So imagine having the power to steal them from other people—from the memories they cherish, to those they deeply regret. This is the magical premise behind author Bryce Moore’s newest novel for young readers, The Memory Thief, brought to you by Adaptive Studios and available exclusively at Barnes & Noble.

    When Benji runs into a group of bullies at a county fair, he ducks into a tent called The Memory Emporium and meets Louis, a strange man with the power to take memories from others. Benji’s parents have been arguing, and he immediately imagines how taking some of their memories could keep them from fighting with each other, and convinces Louis to teach him this intriguing skill. But as he learns more about the art of being a “memory thief,” Benji realizes it is an ability that brings with it powerful—and sometimes damaging—consequences. And soon after meeting fellow memory thief Genevieve, who uses her abilities for evil, Benji finds himself pitted against her in a desperate struggle to protect the memories of everyone in town—including his little sister, Kelly.

    Check out The Memory Thiefs eerily atmospheric book trailer for a colorful glimpse into Moore’s haunting story.

    The Memory Thief is on B&N bookshelves now.

    The post Watch the Exclusive Book Trailer for Bryce Moore’s The Memory Thief appeared first on Barnes & Noble Reads.

  • Jeff Somers 5:30 pm on 2016/07/08 Permalink
    Tags: , , , , Kid Stuff,   

    Strange Facts About Presidential History 

    The first thing people might wonder upon glimpsing Grover Cleveland, Again! on a bookshelf is why in the world Ken Burns, the celebrated documentarian who gave us in-depth films such as Baseball and The Civil War, would be writing an illustrated children’s book. The second thing would probably be why in the world it’s titled Grover Cleveland, Again!.

    The answer to both questions is contained in Burns’ charming introduction to this beautiful book (illustrated by Gerald Kelley): When his daughters were very young Burns, ever the historian, would get them to sleep by reciting the names of the presidents in order. His kids quickly memorized the list, and it became a game they played at bedtime—he would say the first name, they would supply the last name. When they got to Grover Cleveland’s second term, the kids would shout “Grover Cleveland, again!”

    If you’re surprised to find out that Grover Cleveland was both our 22nd and 24th president—the only person to have been elected to two non-consecutive terms, in fact—then this book is perfect for you and your kids—or just you. Because Burns and Kelley have given us a book that kids will find engaging and interesting, and adults will find surprisingly compelling themselves.

    Growing Up to be President
    Burns also has an ulterior motive in writing this book: he wants to impress upon kids that nothing, really, is stopping them from someday being president themselves. Despite the fact that 43 out of our 44 presidents to date have been white men, Burns looks a little deeper and finds a vast spread among the education, wealth, background, and philosophies of each president and uses this often overlooked diversity to make the point that America remains a country where people can rise from humble or unlikely beginnings to become leader of the country. In an age where we’ve just seen our first black president and might just be on the cusp of electing our first female president, the message really resonates.

    A Tiny Education
    Most people in the modern age aren’t terribly familiar with past presidents; after all, their decisions, controversies, and performance in office often seems like ancient history that has no bearing on our modern lives. Grover Cleveland, Again! is composed of two-page spreads for each president (two for Cleveland, naturally!) that are wonders of design, offering a wealth of easily absorbed information offering a glimpse of the times, the issues, and the achievements of each president. An official portrait and dense list of stats is accompanied by a gorgeous painting by Kelley depicting an important (or often private) moment from the president’s life or career, coupled with a clear, concise writeup that will give anyone a basic understanding of that president’s place in our shared history.

    Unlike a lot of books aimed at children, Burns doesn’t try to candy-coat history too much. While there’s no room for in-depth analysis, Burns doesn’t exclude negative facts about the presidents; for example, in his writeup of Andrew Jackson, Burns says, “Andrew Jackson did a couple of things in particular that most people think were wrong. First, he strongly supported the institution of slavery.” In his introduction, Burns also writes that “the great stain of slavery” still haunts the nation. He includes just enough of this sort of complexity to keep his overview of the presidents honest—and, more importantly, to spark questions from kids reading or listening to the book.

    Gorgeously Illustrated
    Gerald Kelley has been one of the top illustrators in the world of commercial art and book illustrations for a long time now, and his lush watercolors are both striking and beautiful. Kelley’s style is simultaneously simple (with implied backgrounds and rough edges) and complex (with a color sensibility and compositional eye that makes each piece pop off the page). The choice of which moment to illustrate for each man is also smart throughout, always a scene that isn’t one of the famous images already associated with that president, making every one a wonderful surprise for both kids and adults.

    The Lesson
    In the end, Burns succeeds in making his point: while superficially our list of presidents have been similar looking, in reality they’ve been very diverse—in their beliefs, their philosophy of government, and their origins. We’ve had educated presidents and uneducated presidents, rich ones and poor ones, physically frail ones and Teddy Roosevelt, even presidents with learning disabilities. Seeing all those differences spread out in one book like this really does drive it home: in America, any citizen can be president—and that’s a wonderful lesson for kids to learn.

  • Jenny Shank 5:30 pm on 2016/06/07 Permalink
    Tags: , , , Kid Stuff, nightmare fodder,   

    5 Disturbing Details from the Books of Roald Dahl (That You Probably Don’t Remember) 

    Roald Dahl knew how to capture the imaginations of children, and he always respected them as readers. His books often take extreme plot twists, conveying how dramatic ordinary events can appear to a kid, and how capricious, mysterious, and unfair adults can seem. In painting with broad strokes, Dahl makes life feel true to kids, who have little control over their days. Plus, Dahl always follows Matilda’s rule for writing for children: books for kids should always have plenty of “funny bits.” Sometimes Dahl’s funny bits are a little disturbing, which is part of what makes him such a distinctive and beloved writer. Here are five brilliant, disturbing details from Dahl’s books that you may not recall.

    Little box of horrors: The Chokey in Matilda
    Like all memorable sadists, the Trunchbull, the massive headmistress at Matilda’s school, is creative in her punishments. When a child’s long braids displease her, she uses them to hurl her across the schoolyard. When a boy is caught stealing cake, the Trunchbull makes him eat an entire cake in front of his assembled classmates. But the Trunchbull’s most twisted torture device has to be the Chokey.

    As fellow student Hortensia tells Matilda, “The Chokey…is a very tall but narrow cupboard. The floor is only ten inches square so you can’t sit down or squat in it. You have to stand. And three of the walls are made of cement with bits of broken glass sticking out all over, so you can’t lean against them. You have to stand more or less at attention all the time when you get locked up in there.” And you can’t lean on the door, either, because it has got “thousands of sharp spikey nails sticking out of it.”

    Once you’re a mouse, there’s no turning back in The Witches
    When The Witches‘ seven-year-old, unnamed narrator’s parents are killed, he goes to live with his grandmother. They form an especially close bond, and she teaches him all about spotting witches, her pet obsession. Then they book a trip at a resort that turns out to be hosting a convention of covert witches, who turn the narrator into a mouse. His small stature comes in handy for defeating them, but there is one drawback: he remains a mouse.

    Most children’s book writers would probably choose to have the spell wear off or to figure a way out of it, but Roald Dahl commits to his magic. The narrator cannot be turned back into a boy, which means he’ll have a mouse-sized lifespan. “A mouse-person will almost certainly live for three times as long as an ordinary mouse,” Grandmamma tells him. “About nine years.” But the boy rejoices in the news, figuring then he and his grandmother will die at about the same time, and he’ll never be alone. Has there ever been a stranger or more beautiful metaphor for the depths of the love a child can feel for his guardian?

    Rampant drug use among animals in James and the Giant Peach
    Believe it or not, the charming classic James and the Giant Peach is frequently banned. Is itchallenged because James’ adoring parents are eaten by an escaped zoo rhinoceros? Or because his horrid aunts get squashed flat by a peach? Nope, it’s mostly challenged for its drug and alcohol references, as in this rhyme that a Centipede sings to James: “Once upon a time/When pigs were swine/And monkeys chewed tobacco/And hens took snuff/To make themselves tough/And the ducks said quack-quack-quacko/And porcupines/Drank fiery wines.”

    Giants: They’re made out of people in The BFG
    In The BFG, the title character kidnaps Sophie and takes her to Giant Country, where kids are on the menu. “We is having an interesting babblement about the taste of the human bean. The human bean is not a vegetable,” one giant says. Even though the plot of the book involves ridding the world of people-eating giants, The BFG frequently lands on banned lists for its depiction of cannibalism.

    Get the kid to the juicer in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory
    Willie Wonka could swap stories with the Trunchbull about creative punishments for kids. So why does he endear while the Trunchbull horrifies? He’s much more debonair, his punishments are always just, and the children inflict them on themselves when they disobey. My favorite punishment is that of Violet Beauregarde, who clamors after some blueberry gum in such a spoiled manner that when she gets it, she turns blue and inflates into a blueberry. Wonka instructs the Oompah-Loompahs to roll her the Juicing Room. “We’ve got to squeeze the juice out of her immediately,” he explains. “After that, we’ll just have to see how she comes out.”

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