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Four Children’s Books for National Bullying Prevention Month

October is National Bullying Prevention Month, a world-wide effort to unite communities and raise awareness about bullying prevention, and this year marks the 10th anniversary of this campaign! Here are four books that champion the message of kindness, inclusion, and acceptance that this month is trying to spread nationwide.

By Rana DiOrio; Illustrated by Stéphane Jorisch; 9781939775092; Little Pickle Press; Trade Cloth, Picture Book; $17.95

“It’s encouraging to see a children’s book focused so specifically on the value of kindness, and one that gives so many definitions of what that term can mean… This is a charming book with a welcome perspective.” –Foreword Reviews

By Sara Cassidy; 9781554989058; Groundwood; Trade Cloth; $14.95

“Cassidy offers a brief, stellar option for readers looking for characters who refuse to bend to societal norms and instead follow their own instincts toward confidence and joy… A small, eloquent book with a powerful message.” –Kirkus Reviews, STARRED REVIEW

By Stephanie Campisi; Illustrated by Shahar Kober; 9781938063671; Mighty Media Kids; Trade Cloth, Picture Book; $15.95

“A bright, multicultural twist on a classic tale. … Kober’s illustrations are characterized by delicious changes in perspective, and Campisi’s sly, humorous asides ensure that the message of identity is not heavy-handed … Quirky retellings often lean on clever titles alone, but this surpasses and delights.”—Kirkus Reviews, STARRED REVIEW

By Nikki Sheehan; 9781780749242; Oneworld Publications; Trade Paper; $10.99

“Though the third-person narrative largely focuses on Johnny’s thoughts and worries, Sheehan highlights moments involving other key characters, adding further depth in this insightful story about bereavement and bullying.”–Publishers Weekly

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Check out The Treasure of Barracuda!

The Treasure of Barracuda (By Llanos Martinez Campos; Illustrated by Julia Sarda; 9781939775146; Little Pickle Press; Trade Cloth; $15.95) is an enchanting romp about sailing through the seas with a band of rugged pirates… who don’t know how to read. This becomes a problem when they discover a book left by the infamous pirate Phineas Johnson Krane, and they have to decipher it in order to find Krane’s secret treasure. This is a fantastic adventure packed with plenty of pirates, danger, outlaws, and lessons about the treasure of reading.

Praise for The Treasure of Barracuda:

The Treasure of Barracuda mustn’t be missed. Brilliant in every way, this choice boasts a wild cast of colorful characters that seamlessly blend together in this suspenseful, hilarious, action-packed adventure novel that is a solid nod to the magic that happens when you read.” – The Times Herald

“A clever, laugh-out-loud pirate story unlike any I’ve read!” —Robin Bernheim, writer/producer of Star Trek: Voyager and Star Trek: The Next Generation

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Nation Books is absolutely thrilled to announce that Ibram X. Kendi’s STAMPED FROM THE BEGINNING has officially been named a Nonfiction Finalist for the 2016 National Book Awards!

Stamped from the Beginning is a history of how racist ideas are built, and how they are built to last. Understanding this history is essential if we want to have any hope of progress. This book will forever change the way we think about race.”—Touré, author of Who’s Afraid of Post-Blackness

“Ibram Kendi is an important new voice in African American history.”—Peniel E. Joseph, author of Stokely and Waiting ‘Til the Midnight Hour

“Richly sourced and engaging, Ibram X. Kendi’s STAMPED FROM THE BEGINNING is a highly accessible yet provocative study that seeks to complicate our understanding of racist ideas and the forces that produce them.”—Dr. Yohuru Williams, Professor of History and Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences, Fairfield University

“In his  ambitious, illuminating, and engaging book, Ibram X. Kendi  seamlessly assembles sources from Cotton Mather to Angela Davis; the Great Awakening to Black Lives Matter; the Birth of a Nation to Hip Hop culture, to show how not only race but racist ideas are at the center of American thought.”—Paula J. Giddings, EA Woodson Professor, Smith College, and author of Ida: A Sword Among Lions: Ida B. Wells and the Campaign Against Lynching

 STAMPED FROM THE BEGINNING is a tour de force of intellectual history that brilliantly illuminates the tragic history of racist ideas from slavery to Black Lives Matter.”—Peniel Joseph, author of Stokely and Waiting ’til the Midnight Hour


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Our Children’s Publishers Are Heading to the Movies

Publishers Weekly has highlighted Annick Press, Groundwood Books, and Owlkids Books in an article about Canadian children’s publishers extending their reach into television and movie adaptations in both Canada and the US!

Annick Press is celebrating its 40th anniversary this year. Paper Bag Princess—which has sold 12 million copies over the life of the book in various formats—is the publisher’s all-time bestselling title and continues ‘to pay the bills,’ says Rick Wilks, director of Annick. ‘So many people tell me that it was their favorite book as a child and now they are buying it again for their own children,’ Wilks says. ‘Even better, this year there has been renewed interested in turning it into an animated film or television series.’ More good news for Annick came earlier this year when it announced that it partnered with Pearson Canada to sell the publisher’s trade books in the education market.

Publishing for the ‘diversity market’ is increasingly important, Wilks says, with an emphasis on positive stories featuring indigenous characters. ‘We want to say, ‘Look around, there are amazing things happening,’’ Wilks says. ‘While it is always important to acknowledge the difficulty of history and of the residential schools and the hardship, it is also important to point out that there is kind of a creative renaissance happening. We want to look at the community’s struggles, but also its achievements, in an effort to change the conversation here.’

Sheila Barry, publisher of Groundwood Books, is also proud of her house’s breadth of diversity titles, which have also been marketed in a special catalogue called ‘Windows and Mirrors. ‘It’s a great tool for booksellers, libraries, and schools who want to add more diversity to what they can offer to customers,’ she says. ‘We have always had the books, and now—maybe it’s the election year—buyers, in the U.S. in particular, seem more courageous in what they are going to put in their general trade bookstore,’ she adds. For the fall, Groundwood has a book titled A Boy Named Queen, which is about the fact that children don’t need to be cognizant of gender identity.’This season and last season, more than half our books have been written or illustrated by nonwhite people,’ Barry says. ‘Diversity for us is like breathing.’

In other good news for Groundwood, The Breadwinner by Deborah Ellis— Groundwood’s bestselling book of all time, with four million copies sold in 30 languages—is being turned into an animated film by Cartoon Saloon of Ireland and will be released in 2017.

Meanwhile, Owlkids is looking at offering titles for the young adult market that are ‘issue oriented but don’t always hit you over the head,’ says Karen Boersma. One example of these is The Art of the Possible, which as aimed at 10–14-year-olds and discusses politics in a positive light, and has sold 5,000 copies. Another is Why Do We Fight? by Niki Walker, which came with the subhead Conflict, War and Peace.

Boersma says that the YA nonfiction titles are most likely to sell internationally and get picked up for rights deals. ‘The Asian markets in particular are interested in these.'”

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The Island Gets a PW Star!

The Island by Olivia Levez (9781780748597; Oneworld; Trade Paper; $9.95) has received a STARRED review in Publishers Weekly!

“Levez’s debut captures the emotional journey of 16-year-old Frances Stanton, one of a plane full of British juvenile delinquents and camp staffers headed to a skills-based intervention on an Indonesian island. When the plane crashes, Frances reaches a deserted island with few supplies, where she struggles to find food, water, and shelter among sharks and poisonous plants. With a dog as her only companion, Frances faces painful memories of her family back home, including her ill mother, her half-brother, and her mother’s lecherous boyfriend. Through short chapters, Levez effortlessly balances Frances’s past, present, and imagined future, including vivid flashbacks of her home life and acts of retaliation against a well-meaning teacher. After a storm hits, Frances meets another survivor, Rufus, whose prescriptive habits cause friction. Their relationship moves from rocky to companionable, but when food runs low and Rufus lands in a dire situation, Frances must find a way off the island to save her newfound friend. Echoing O’Dell’s Island of the Blue Dolphins, Levez’s story will keep readers riveted as determined, hard-edged Frances fights to survive.”

Other great reviews for The Island:

“Readers will quickly see that conditions on the island are more physically dangerous than in Fran’s squalid apartment—but much less emotionally treacherous. Not all readers will embrace this novel’s haunting, open-ended conclusion, but those who do will find much to appreciate and discuss.” — Kirkus Reviews

“Readers will root for the characters’ survival…. A page-turner.” — School Library Journal

“It’s strong, raw, harsh and filled with the kind of uncut emotion that will leave you stunned and feeling it all. Extremely well detailed, Olivia Levez’s novel manages to capture the stages of survival; how modesty or proper food becomes a thing of the past when you don’t know if you’ll be alive to see the sun rise tomorrow… If you’re looking for haunting writing, then Olivia Levez’s book is one you should pick up.” — The Guardian

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Searching for the Meaning of It All at the Oxford English Dictionary
Searching for the Meaning of It All at the Oxford English Dictionary

In The Word Detective, author John Simpson, tells a story that is at once deeply personal and part of the larger story of a fundamental shift in how we share information.

Great write up and author Q&A in Maximum Shelf for Wednesday, – click here to read the entire article.

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Seasons of the Bear: A Yosemite Story

Seasons of the Bear: A Yosemite Story (by Ginger Wadsworth, Illustrated by Daniel San Souci; 9781930238664; Yosemite Conservancy; Trade Cloth, Picture Book; $15.95) is a sweet new story following a mother bear and her newborn cubs living in Yosemite National Park. Readers will experience the changing seasons through the eyes of this family of bears, and witness their interactions with other wild creatures and the world around them.

Praise for Seasons of the Bear:

San Francisco Chronicle, July 30, 2016
“Half Dome and Bridalveil Fall are landmarks of Yosemite National Park. For a more intimate view, try this lovely natural history by a pair of Northern Californians. Set in the high country, glorious watercolors zero in on a mother bear and her two cubs as they snuggle in their winter den, emerge to a snowy spring, venture into icy waters, search for food, ignore summer tourists, escape a forest fire, gorge on autumn acorns and finally prepare to hibernate. Emphasis is on the rhythm of life and behaviors to ensure survival. An author’s note explains more about the park’s black bears and efforts to keep them healthy. Warning: No feeding allowed! Bears will then forage ‘more naturally,’ away from campgrounds. That makes for ‘a win-win situation,’ according to this fine monograph that applauds responsible stewardship.”

Foreword Reviews, August 26, 2016
“A mother bear and her two young cubs awaken one cold morning in their den and venture out into the wild, capturing the spirit of the national park, in Seasons of the Bear: A Yosemite Story, from Ginger Wadsworth. The snows of winter, hungers of spring, summer tourists, and autumn forest fires are no match for the indomitable strength and majesty of the American black bear. Thoughtful paintings from Daniel San Souci complement the straightforward narrative, gracefully showcasing the blend of both bear and human inhabitants, while an array of fun facts shared in the author’s note are a welcome addition for campers, park rangers, naturalists, and wildlife enthusiasts of all ages.”

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The Peculiar Haunting of Thelma Bee — In Stores Now!

Debut author Erin Petti’s quirky ghost story, The Peculiar Haunting of Thelma Bee (9781938063725, Illustrated by Kris Aro McLeod, Mighty Media, Trade Cloth, $16.99), is in stores now!

Eleven-year-old budding scientist Thelma Bee has adventure in her blood. But she gets more than she bargained for when a ghost kidnaps her father. Now her only clues are a strange jewelry box and the word “Return,” whispered to her by the ghost. It’s up to Thelma to get her dad back, and it might be more dangerous than she thought—there’s someone wielding dark magic, and they’re coming after her next.

Praise for The Peculiar Haunting of Thelma Bee:

“Petti steadily increases a sense of suspense and dread. The worlds she creates, especially the ones inside the box, are imaginative and fresh. It is rewarding to read about a scientifically minded female protagonist, and that should help attract an audience. VERDICT Those looking for a chilling but quick read should enjoy this one, as will reluctant readers. Recommended for most middle grade collections.” —School Library Journal

“Black-and-white illustrations add visual dimension to Thelma’s peculiar haunting, punctuated by secrets from the past, paranormal happenings, diverse and devoted friends, and a fiery finale. Such humorous details as a car named Gary Indiana and the bickering of Thelma’s friends in the Riverfish Valley Paranormal Society keep the tone light. An inventive debut ghost story starring a contemporary girl with ancient powers.” —Kirkus Reviews

The Peculiar Haunting of Thelma Bee is a delightfully scary story about a bright young girl with a curious mind and an adventurous spirit. When Thelma’s dad is kidnapped by a ghost, she must find a way to get him back. The book is filled with likeable characters and interesting settings, brought to life by simple black-and-white drawings scattered throughout the text. Children ages eight to twelve will be thrilled with an engaging story that is full of twists and surprises. —Foreword Reviews

The thing I like most about Thelma Bee is the way she views the world. Whether she’s planting exotic flowers or chasing ghosts through the kitchen, she sees things as a (proudly) smart, young scientist and as a hopeful, starry-eyed dreamer. Hypothesis: she’ll steal lots of hearts.”—Natalie Lloyd, New York Times bestselling author of A Snicker of Magic and The Key to Extraordinary

“A full-of-surprises heroine, her intrepid friends, ghosts and monsters, dark wizards and good witches, mad bulls and wild cats, a haunted jewelry box and spooky goo—there’s something for everyone in this rollicking fun read!”—Margi Preus, author of Newbery Honor winner Heart of a Samurai and Enchantment Lake

“Thelma Bee is the girl I always wanted to be friends with in school: a smart, funny, chatty little scientist who’d be endlessly entertaining even if she weren’t developing supernatural powers. Likewise, The Peculiar Haunting of Thelma Bee is a smart, fun, and inventive adventure down a fantastical rabbit-hole. Thelma’s world is brimming with wit, colorful characters, and unexpected thrills. (And magic, of course.)”—Neil Reynolds, writer for The CW’s The Vampire Diaries

“I want to hand copies of Thelma Bee to every middle schooler in town. Thoroughly original, but with little echoes of everything from Stars Hollow to Ghostbusters to Buffy the Vampire Slayer, it’s sure to leave everybody as it left me: looking for the next page.”—David Mogolov, writer, comedian, and parenting advice columnist at The Boston Globe

Thelma Bee takes place at the intersection of science, magic, and mystery. It’s engaging, clever, and suspenseful. I only wish I could time travel and give it to myself at ten. This one is definitely going on my daughter’s bookshelf!”—Annie Mebane, writer for ABC’s The Goldbergs, NBC’s Community, and ABC’s Happy Endings

“Terrific, energetic and full of supernatural wonder! As someone who comes across a lot of paranormal fiction, I believe Thelma Bee is refreshing and a must-read for all ages!” —Ryan Buell, host/executive producer of A&E’s Paranormal State and author of My Journey Into The Unknown.

“It’s so smart, and every twist and turn is totally unexpected! Erin’s writing is visual, smart, and full of imagination. Her characters are so fleshed out and real, I could see each of them. I also didn’t realize it would be such an adventure; it starts innocent enough and then wham, bam, thank you, you’re hooked! This is a book for all ages. I would seriously recommend this to anyone and everyone. Also, I hope there is a sequel and, dare I say, A MOVIE?”—Alexandra Fox, Emmy-nominated writer for PBS’ Odd Squad and writer for Amazon’s The Stinky and Dirty Show

“In Thelma Bee, author Erin Petti brings the reader on an exciting paranormal adventure full of surprises. Her quirky characters add life to this ghostly story and draw us in. It’s a fun read that quickly becomes a can’t-put-down page-turner.”—Ellen Prager, author of the Tristan Hunt and the Sea Guardians series

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Discover Harlan and Win Books for Your Book Club!
Discover Harlan and Win Books for Your Book Club!

As the summer winds down, we’re excited for many things: school starting, cooler weather, and the return of our regular book clubs. Nothing’s better than sharing a cool afternoon with friends, food and drink, while talking about that hard-to-put-down book. Well, have we got the prefect book for your club: The Book of Harlan.

Spanning nearly 60 years of the Twentieth Century, this book tells the story of the life of Harlan Elliott, and his journey from Georgia to Harlem to Paris to Buchenwald and back. McFadden beautifully weaves in real historical characters, along with characters inspired by her familial ancestors to create a rich and engaging tale. Fans of historical fiction, coming-of-age stories, alternative history, and inspiring stories will love this book. It’s by far Bernice McFadden’s best book yet. This is a book that will cause you to sit up reading until dawn, and then tell all of your friends about it the next day.


Don’t believe me? Here’s what others have said about it:
“Simply miraculous . . . As her saga becomes ever more spellbinding, so does the reader’s astonishment at the magic she creates. This is a story about the triumph of the human spirit over bigotry, intolerance and cruelty, and at the center of The Book of Harlan is the restorative force that is music.” —The Washington Post, April 25, 2016


“McFadden packs a powerful punch with tight prose and short chapters that bear witness to key events in early twentieth-century history: both World Wars, the Great Depression, and the Great Migration. Partly set in the Jim Crow South, the novel succeeds in showing the prevalence of racism all across the country—whether implemented through institutionalized mechanisms or otherwise. Playing with themes of divine justice and the suffering of the righteous, McFadden presents a remarkably crisp portrait of one average man’s extraordinary bravery in the face of pure evil.” —Booklist, Starred review, April 15, 2015


“Through this character portrait of Harlan, McFadden has constructed a vivid, compelling narrative that makes historical fiction an accessible, literary window into the African-American past and some of the contemporary dilemmas of the present.” —Publishers Weekly, April 11, 2016


Have you met Bernice? You should!
Bernice L. McFadden is the critically acclaimed author of nine novels, including Gathering of Waters (a New York Times Editors’ Choice and one of the 100 Notable Books of 2012), Sugar, Loving Donovan, Nowhere Is a Place, The Warmest December, and Glorious, which was featured in O, the Oprah Magazine and was a finalist for the NAACP Image Award. She has received awards from the Black Caucus of the American Library Association (BCALA) and is a three-time finalist for the Hurston/Wright Legacy Award, among many other honors. She is currently a visiting assistant professor of creative writing at Tulane University in New Orleans, and has an amazing Twitter feed: @queenazsa


Want to meet Bernice IRL?
She’ll be at the Brooklyn Book Festival on September 17th and 18th.
The Fall for the Book in Fairfax, Virginia on September 30th.
See the full event list here:


Are you interested? Then join our contest!
From now through September 30th, post a tweet of your favorite book of 2016. (There’s no wrong answer!)

Make sure you use the hashtag #HarlanBookClub.

Follow @AkashicBooks

The lucky winner will be notified on the 30th!


What you can win:
A set of books for your book club! You won’t have to make that 11th-hour run to your local bookstore, or sit in the hold queue of your library while 8 others read it before you. You’ll win one set of books for each person in your book club (limit of 10 copies).

Also, Bernice will Skype with your club! Have a burning question to ask about the story? Now’s your chance!



So what are you waiting for?! Enter the contest today for a chance for you and your book club to discover what The Washington Post calls “one of the best novels of 2016.”

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Creston Books ABA Profile

Creston Books logoCreston Books has been featured in the American Booksellers Association’s Small Press Profile! This profile covers the birth of Creston Books, Marissa Moss’s role as publisher, and its recent and upcoming titles. Check out the whole article here!

“Creston Books, a small author/illustrator-driven children’s book publisher in Berkeley, California, produces quality picture books and middle grade titles, at least a third of which are by debut authors and illustrators…
Creston publishes eight books a year — four in the fall and four in the spring. All Creston titles offer online curriculum guides for use by teachers and homeschoolers and some have associated videos posted on Creston’s YouTube channel.
Moss said that Creston has helped fill the void left by New York publishers’ consolidation into fewer and fewer big companies, producing books that reflect less diverse tastes and interests.
‘Creston’s mission is basically to provide more opportunity. Because of consolidation, there is just less choice out there these days,’ said Moss. ‘When I started out as an author almost three decades ago, there were so many publishers, and there was just a wide variety of visions and faces. It seems like there is just less chance for people to break in, and there is also less diversity among midlist authors.’
Creston’s most successful book by far, said Moss, is the picture book biography Ada Byron Lovelace and the Thinking Machine, written by first-time author Laurie Wallmark and illustrated by Chu. The story of Lord Byron’s daughter who excelled in mathematics has sold millions of copies, made multiple top 10 book lists, and received a host of prizes, including the California Reading Association Eureka! Gold Medal and a Cook Prize Honor.
Moss, who attended the 2016 ABC Children’s Institute and is an annual attendee at the Winter Institute, said that small presses such as hers and independent bookstores are natural partners that understand each other’s values.
‘Indie bookstores really matter,’ Moss said. ‘They underpin cultural diversity in our country.’”

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