Your Black Friday Book Shopping Guide

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Have you started your holiday shopping yet? Need some help? We’ve got you covered for the book lovers in your life! Check out our suggestions below!


Best book for werewolf fans: Earning My Spots by Mark Eastburn

Summary: Sam and his family are the only werehyenas in their town, and he’s often told that he’s inferior to all the other kids of shifters. But as tensions rise between shifters and humans, it becomes clear that Sam is the only one who can stop a war that’s on the brink of erupting.

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Best books for fans of Once Upon A Time: Roses: The Tales Trilogy, Book 1 and Feathers: The Tales Trilogy, Book 2 by Rose Mannering

Roses Summary: Her silvery appearance is freakish to the numerous inhabitants of Sago, and she is tauntingly named Beauty by those who torment her. After fleeing town in the wake of a violent uprising that sets out to massacre all Magics, she is captured by State officials who threaten to take her back to war-torn Sago. She manages to escape them during a blizzard by running into a deep, enchanted forest, where she meets a great and terrible beast who will bargain for her life. But can Beauty accept Beast?

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Feathers Summary: Outcast from birth for his ability to turn into a swan, Ode was forced to discover how to control his remarkable gift entirely on his own. But even with his gift, he cannot save his family from the oncoming war. The Magical Cleansing is spreading across the realm, and strangers arrive from foreign lands bringing with them bloodshed and fear. With the help of his gift, Ode flees to a distant island where answers, Magic, and a girl with golden hair await him.
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Best book for Shakespeare lovers and theater kids: The Taming of the Drew by Stephanie Kate Strohm

Summary: Cass is so excited for her leading role in The Taming of the Shrew at the summer apprentice program of a Shakespeare theater company. But her co-lead in the play, Drew, is a total troll—and Cass’s bunkmate has a huge crush on him. So Cass decides to “tame” Drew and give him a personality makeover. What could possibly go wrong?

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Best book for anyone who feels like an outsider: A Blind Guide to Normal by Beth Vrabel

Summary: Ryder has limited vision and a prosthetic eye. His wit and popular made him popular at the school for the blind, but this year for eighth grade he’s going to the mainstream middle school—and fitting in is not as easy as he thought it would be. Can Ryder find his way to a new—and possibly even better— “normal”?

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Best book for someone who needs more time in her day: Timekeeper by Tara Sim

In an alternate Victorian London where clock towers control the flow of time and a broken clock can stop time completely, a young clock mechanic races to save his father who is trapped in a Stopped town, and to prevent attacks that could cripple all of England.

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Best books for young readers who wish they had a robot to do their chores: Project Droid #1: Science No Fair! and Project Droid #2: Soccer Shocker! by Nancy Krulik and Amanda Burwasser, illustrated by Mike Moran

Logan’s always wanted a kid brother, but when his inventor mom builds him a robot cousin, he realizes he’s gotten a lot more than he bargained for. Java is very literal-minded, and keeping his true identity a secret is going to be loads of trouble.

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Best book for a fan of science fiction: Beyond the Red by Ava Jae

For fans of The Girl of Fire and Thorns comes a story of betrayal, love, and loss—all on a technologically advanced alien planet where monarchy reigns, but lies rule.

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Best book for the dancer: Spin the Sky by Jill Mackenzie

Summary: Magnolia Woodson wants nothing more than to get her and her sister, Rose, out of the pitifully small, clamming-obsessed Oregon town that hates them—she just doesn’t know how. When a nationwide televised dance competition posts tryouts in nearby Portland, Mags’s best friend, George, says they have to go and audition. This could be Mags’s chance of a lifetime—a chance to get her and Rose out of Summerland. But will the competition prove too steep? Mags will have to learn that following her dreams may mean changing her life forever.

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Best book for the video game addict: It’s a tie! Invasion of the Overworld by Mark Cheverton or Catching the Jigglypuff Thief by Alex Polan
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Best book for the teen who’s always prepared: Pandemic by Yvonne Ventresca
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Best book for the varsity star: Double Exposure by Bridget Birdsall

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Books We’re Thankful For

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It should come as no surprise to anyone that the Sky Pony team members are big fans of books. We love to read and we each have a memorable book in our lives that inspired us. Check out the books we’re thankful for below!


Alison Weiss, Editor

The Goose Girl by Shannon Hale

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I’m thankful for Shannon Hale’s Goose Girl. If I had to point to one book that jumpstarted me into a career as a children’s book editor, it has to be this one. When I was in college, I had time between classes, but not necessarily enough that it made sense for me to go back to the dorms. I spent a lot of time at the bookstore. (I’d expect that’s true of a lot of people in publishing!) But though I would browse the literature section—I spent a lot of time catching up on my classics, too—one day freshman year, I found myself wandering into the very bright and inviting children’s section. At first, I just took in the books I had read as a kid, the new books from authors who I had loved at ten and eleven and twelve. And then I saw the Goose Girl cover. I loved that cover. I spent weeks going back to the children’s section and that beautiful illustration would inevitably catch my eye. And then, one day, I bought it. And I read it. And then I ran to the bookstore and bought every other book they had by Shannon Hale. And then I started buying other middle grade and YA, too. And signing up for courses like Children’s Fantasy—where I revisited old friends like Michael Bond’s Paddington and A.A. Milne’s Winnie the Pooh and made new friends like Alan Garner’s Owl Service and Frances Hardinge’s Fly by Night. And I started writing papers in my English literature classes on topics like the loss of innocence through the window of Peter Pan in Kensington Gardens and representations of American children in Paris in literature. And then, one day, I was looking for something to do for a summer and read a testimonial for someone who had an internship at Delacorte Books for Young Readers, and I applied, and got a job, and the rest is history. I still pick up every Shannon Hale book I can get. But Goose Girl will probably forever be my favorite.

Becky Herrick, Editor

A Wrinkle in Time by Madeline L’Engle

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I’m thankful for A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle, which was one of my favorite books when I was growing up. I had an old used copy with a weird and ominous cover that my science fiction-loving dad had bought from a library sale and given to me. Because it looked so weird, it took me a while to actually want to read it for the first time, but one rainy day I was finally bored enough to try it. It was like nothing I’d read before, and the afternoon fell away as I got lost in the strange, faraway worlds and transformative experiences of Meg, Calvin, and Charles Wallace. After that, A Wrinkle in Time became my go-to book for when I was having a bad day—when I was sick in bed or just really upset. Even now I still have my battered copy on my bookshelf, and I return to it when I want to escape.

Cheryl Lew, Publicist

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone by J. K. Rowling

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This may be a bit cliché, but the book that I am most thankful for is Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone by J.K. Rowling. While I had read books for school before (and picture books and chapter books when I was younger to improve my reading skills), Harry Potter was the first series that I read purely for enjoyment. I was definitely more of a Saturday morning cartoon kind of kid (which unfortunately—fortunately?—is still true, even in my old age).

But the second I picked up this first Harry Potter book, I knew it was unlike anything I had ever read before. Rowling’s incredible world building, the relatable characters, and the fact that I was the exact same age as Harry and the gang when the first book came out made it very easy to picture what my life would be like had I grown up in this world. Aging with the characters I loved over the course of 9 years made this series a huge part of my childhood, and one of my favorite series of all time. Every few years or so, I’ll re-read the series in its entirety, and while still incredibly enjoyable, I’ll always be jealous of my 10 to nearly 20-year-old selves for being able to read these books and discover this world for the very first time.

 

Kat Enright, Editorial Assistant

The Harry Potter Series by J. K. Rowling

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So I’m going to pull the biggest cliché of girls my age and cite the Harry Potter series as the single most influential book series of my childhood. I was in elementary school when the books were first published in the US, and though I had always been a voracious reader Harry Potter captivated me in a way no other book did, and it’s stuck with me because I was lucky enough to grow up with Harry and his friends. As I’ve grown older and the world has changed around me, I’ve found that these books are even more relevant. Against a backdrop of whimsy and wonder, J.K. Rowling told a tale of finding an inclusive community, of fighting for the good in the world, and learning that part of growing up is learning to choose between what is right and what is easy.

And this Thanksgiving, more than any before, I am thankful that I grew up knowing what power hope and love held.

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Kylie Brien, Assistant Editor

Margaret Peterson Haddix

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I’m thankful for Margaret Peterson Haddix and all of the amazing books she’s written. I remember sitting in a circle and reading Among the Hidden with my sixth grade class . . . sneakily reading ahead because I was so captivated by the story. Of course, at eleven, I didn’t understand the complexities of the world that the characters lived in. I was compelled to keep turning the pages because of her fleshed out characters and gripping storyline that ultimately came down to life and death. I read every book available in the Shadow Children series and then started working on all of Margaret Peterson Haddix’s other books. I moved on to Running Out of Time, Just Ella, Escape From Memory, and Turnabout. I fell in love with all of her books and they helped shape me as a reader, a writer, and editor, and even as a person.

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Behind the scenes of Leonard’s Beard with Nancy Cote

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We’re so excited to welcome author and illustrator Nancy Cote to talk about her new book, Leonard’s Beard, and the real-life inspiration for the character of Leonard.


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As a creator of children’s books, I find inspiration everywhere, especially through the people and places that I am most familiar with.

My newest book, Leonard’s Beard, is a perfect example of how a writer taps into their familiar surroundings, and with an open mind, lots of imagination and a heightened sense of exaggeration, a story with universal appeal emerges.

The idea for my newest book, Leonard’s Beard, began on a windy day in the fall. Leaves were falling from the trees in my yard, and I jokingly remarked that there was no need to rake them, since they would all end up in my neighbor’s yard at the bottom of the hill. Suddenly, I envisioned my neighbor Leonard, who wore a large unruly beard, standing in his yard with leaves and debris trapped in his beard. My imagination took hold as I visualized not only leaves, but objects of all kinds, landing in that big red beard.

The story written in rhyme, blew into my thoughts as organically as the wind blew into my studio on that fall afternoon, and I was hooked.

My neighbor Leonard was a professional writer. He worked in a little studio behind his house, which was located at the bottom of a steep hill along the Taunton River in Somerset, MA. He was a free thinker and gentle soul who lived by his own standards.

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Because he looked a bit eccentric, he was somewhat misunderstood, and other than his family, Leonard never appeared to have many friends. We both enjoyed talking and sharing our appreciation for nature and animals and he was fascinated by my work in children’s books.

I had the opportunity to tell Leonard about the story I had in mind featuring him, and he was humbly honored. He invited me to visit his studio, which overhung the river, and gave me permission to take photos. It was during that visit that the story came together for me, but before I had finished the manuscript, Leonard unfortunately passed away during open heart surgery. From that moment on, I was determined that this story would be the best I could write and be published as a tribute not only to Leonard, but to freelancers and those of us, who sometimes find ourselves isolated due to life’s distractions.

In the story, Leonard is a happy and successful writer who is passionate about everything in life. He begins to isolate himself so that he can write more, but instead, he discovers that he no longer has anything to write about.

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As he becomes distressed over his situation, he doesn’t notice a storm that is brewing. When the wind blows down his door, it carries with it an array of outrageous objects from a can of peas to a wonderful cello which all land in Leonard’s beard.

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As he untangles the mess, the preposterous objects he removes all serve to help him to rediscover what’s really important.

Although the story was inspired by my neighbor, it is a story about the dangers that accomplishment and complacency can have on the creative process.
Simply put, we all need to find something to be passionate about, and never allow ourselves to lose perspective.

Writing and illustrating children’s books is a perfect outlet to deliver profound concepts in a simple way through joyful language and pictures.now-he-makes-time

It doesn’t have to take a wind storm to remind you to be yourself, but sometimes it helps!

 


Leonard’s Beard by Nancy Cote

Leonard is a writer with many stories to tell. In his house on a hill, with his dogs and his frog, he writes stories of adventures and excitement. He is so consumed with his stories, though, that he loses touch with all of his friends and feels very lonely.

Each day Leonard’s beard grows longer and longer, and more wild and untamed, as he fills up pages and pages of stories. His life becomes dull and much less exciting as he focuses too much on his writing. Leonard is so busy that he doesn’t notice a storm is brewing until the wind shakes the windows, the roof, and the floor and a strong gust knocks off his door. Once the storm passes, Leonard discovers just how out of control his beard has gotten. He finds strange things that have gotten stuck in there, including a mouse, a bird, and some apples. As Leonard removes the items from his beard, he comes to realize that being consumed with writing adventures has prevented him from having his own.

Leonard’s Beard is a story about discovering what is important in life. The rhyming text is perfect for reading aloud, and the illustrations of all of the silly things that wind up in Leonard’s beard will have little ones giggling on each reread!


About Nancy Cotenancy-cote-headshot

Nancy Cote is an award-winning children’s book author and illustrator who finds joy in the smallest things. She is the author and illustrator for numerous picture books, including Watch the Cookie!, Watch the Birdie!, and Puddle Jumpers (all published with Sky Pony Press). Nancy lives along a river in the historic village of Somerset, Massachusetts.

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Character Quiz: Are you more of a Henry or a Dolf?

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In Henry Hunter and the Beast of Snagov, we meet two best friends, Henry Hunter and Adolphus Pringle (Dolf for short). The pair are complete opposites but together, they make an excellent team as they traipse off on supernatural adventures. Take our quiz to find out if you’re more of a Henry or a Dolf!


Are you more of a Henry or a Dolf?

  1. If you were stuck on a deserted island would you . . .
    a. Explore the island and discover what interesting artifacts or island secrets you can uncover.
    b. Hang out on the beach and work on your tan.
  2. What’s your style like?
    a. Dapper and always put together.
    b. Casual and often in t-shirts.
  3. In the face of danger you . . .
    a. Investigate and learn about the danger. Everything is a learning opportunity.
    b. RUN!
  4. During the school day, we’d find you . . .
    a. Not in class but off jet setting and trying to uncover priceless artifacts or supernatural truths.
    b. Asleep at your desk.
  5. Ghosts are . . .
    a. Real. I’ve seen one.
    b. Eh, I’m skeptical

 

If you answered mostly A’s . . . 

You’re more of a Henry. You’re always ready for adventure and looking for the next opportunity to learn. You have a wild imagination and believe that anything is possible. You are good at motivating your friends and helping them see their inner strengths.

If you answered mostly B’s . . .

You’re more of a Dolf. You’re a little more on the laid-back side but willing to have an adventure as long as there will be snacks there. You can take the lead but it takes dire situations for you to realize your inner strength and that you have the power to save the day.

Henry Hunter and the Beast of Snagov by John Matthews

henry-hunter-9781510710382Adolphus Pringle lived a relatively normal life before he met Henry Hunter, but being the best friend of a twelve-year-old millionaire genius certainly makes life interesting. He has accompanied Henry on adventures all over the world and encountered dozens of supernatural creatures. Henry has a penchant for paranormal mysteries, and he never fails to drag his trusty sidekick, Dolf, into adventures to track down the truth in these mystical legends.

Henry announces one morning that he and Dolf are going to go in search of a creature more terrifying than Dracula himself: the Beast of Snagov. The pair of supernatural investigators travel from where Bram Stoker stayed in Whitby to Transylvania. Along the way they come across some strange things such as Dracula’s daughter, Bella, and an organization called the Order of the Dragon that wants to sacrifice Henry Hunter to the Beast of Snagov. When Henry is taken, it’s up to Dolf and Bella to team up and rescue him!

Will Henry survive this supernatural adventure? Get ready to discover the world of the supernatural through the eyes of our spooked narrator as he tags along on the first adventure in the Henry Hunter series!


Which character are you? Share below!

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NCTE Preview – All the Sky Pony Details You Need to Know

Sky Pony is very excited that we’ll be at NCTE this year. Here’s all the information you need to know about booth number, panels, signings, and giveaways.

For more on the books, look below the schedule.

Stop by the booth and say hi!  We can’t wait to see you!

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Friday, November 18 – Sunday November, 20

Booth #236

 

Friday, Nov 18

1:00-2:00pm GIVEAWAY: Project Droid #1: Science No Fair! by Nancy Krulik and Amanda Burwasser, illustrated by Mike Moran (Chapter Book)

3:00-4:00pm GIVEAWAY: The Hamilton Affair by Elizabeth Cobbs (Adult)

 

Saturday, Nov 19

8:00-9:15am PANEL: Making Space for Advocacy in YA Speculative Fiction – Tara Sim, author of Timekeeper – B218 (YA)

10:00-11:00am AUTHOR SIGNING: Melissa Hurst, The Edge of Forever (YA)

12:30-1:45pm PANEL: Diverse Voices in YA Historical Fiction Tara Sim, author of Timekeeper – B402 (YA)

2:00-3:00pm GIVEAWAY: The Phantom Virus (Middle Grade)

2:45 – 4pm PANEL: Authors Exploring Diverse Perspectives in the Classroom – Tara Sim, author of Timekeeper – A404 (YA)

4:00-5:00pm AUTHOR SIGNING: Tara Sim, Timekeeper (YA)

 

Sunday, Nov 20

9:00-10:00am GIVEAWAY: The Inspired Teacher by Donna Quesada (Adult, Educator)

10:00-11:00am AUTHOR SIGNING: Sarah Reida, Monsterville: A Lissa Black Production (Middle Grade)


science-no-fair-9781510710184When you have an android cousin, losing your head takes on a whole new meaning.

There’s nothing Logan Applebaum has ever wanted more than to have another kid around the house. So when his inventor mom builds him a robot cousin, Logan’s really excited–until he finds out that it’s not so easy keeping Java;s android identity a secret. Because even though Java is really smart, he doesn’t seem to understand anything.

Still, with the third grade science fair coming up, having a cousin with a computer for a brain just might come in handy. Does having Java around mean Logan finally has a chance at winning first prize? Or will those nasty, super-sneaky Silverspoon twins outsmart him again?

 

 

 

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Set against the dramatic backdrop of the American Revolution, and featuring a cast of legendary characters, The Hamilton Affair tells the sweeping, tumultuous, true story of Alexander Hamilton and Elizabeth Schuyler, from passionate and tender beginnings to his fateful duel on the banks of the Hudson River.

Hamilton was a bastard and orphan, raised in the Caribbean and desperate for legitimacy, who became one of the American Revolution’s most dashing—and improbable—heroes. Admired by George Washington, scorned by Thomas Jefferson, Hamilton was a lightning rod: the most controversial leader of the new nation. Elizabeth was the wealthy, beautiful, adventurous daughter of the respectable Schuyler clan—and a pioneering advocate for women. Together, the unlikely couple braved the dangers of war, the perils of seduction, the anguish of infidelity, and the scourge of partisanship that menaced their family and the country itself.

With brilliantly drawn characters and an epic scope, The Hamilton Affair tells a story of love forged in revolution and tested by the bitter strife of young America.

 

 


timekeeper-9781510706187-2I was in an accident. I got out. I’m safe now. 

An alternate Victorian world controlled by clock towers, where a damaged clock can fracture time–and a destroyed one can stop it completely.

A prodigy mechanic who can repair not only clockwork, but time itself, determined to rescue his father from a Stopped town.

A series of mysterious bombings that could jeopardize all of England.

A boy who would give anything to relive his part, and one who would give anything to live at all.

A romance that will shake the very foundations of time.

The first book in a dazzling new steampunk-fantasy trilogy, Timekeeper introduces a magical world of mythology and innovation that readers will never want to leave.


In 2013, sixteen-year-old Alora is having blackouts. Each time she wakes up in a different place with no idea how she got there. The one thing she is certain of? Someone is following her.

edge-of-forever-9781632204240In 2146, seventeen-year-old Bridger is one of a small number of people born with the ability to travel to the past. While on a routine school time trip, he sees the last person he expected—his dead father. The strangest part is that, according to the Department of Temporal Affairs, his father was never assigned to be in that time. Bridger’s even more stunned when he learns that his by-the-book father was there to break the most important rule of time travel—to prevent someone’s murder.

And that someone is named Alora.

Determined to discover why his father wanted to help a “ghost,” Bridger illegally shifts to 2013 and, along with Alora, races to solve the mystery surrounding her past and her connection to his father before the DTA finds him. If he can stop Alora’s death without altering the timeline, maybe he can save his father too.

 


phantom-virus Herobrine has crafted an evil game for Gameknight999 to play.

Herobrine, the artificially intelligent virus, was deleted. The computer it resided in was completely destroyed. Without their leader, the few survivors of its evil army were cast away into the shadows. It looked as if there would finally be peace and happiness throughout the servers of Minecraft.

But suddenly, and mysteriously, software began misbehaving. Sheep fell from the sky. Snowballs appeared out of nowhere. What seemed at first like harmless glitches quickly became dangerous. Pigs begin walking backwards, it starts to snow in the middle of the desert, and sheep are falling from the sky.

Gameknight999, the User-that-is-not-a-user, has no choice but to investigate. But the odd yet harmless pranks are turning deadly, and it’s not long before entire villages are completely destroyed. Examining the arrogant clues, Gameknight is no longer so sure that Herobrine was destroyed after all. Is it possible he escaped? Everything points towards a deadly trap far worse than anything that Minecraft has seen before. Will Gameknight solve the puzzle before the Overworld is destroyed?

 


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Donna Quesada had been teaching for about a dozen years when the first signs of burnout hit her. Rather than give in to her frustration, she reached for Buddha’s teachings, the Zen wisdom that formed the basis of her own longtime spiritual practice. She survived the semester and gradually rediscovered the joy in her job that had been progressively declining. In this wise and inspirational book, she shares the lessons she learned—lessons that revealed, time and again, that no matter the situation, it’s always about getting your head in the right place first. Resolution begins in our own minds. Some days, some semesters, and even some years will be more challenging and more wearisome than others, she warns. But in The Inspired Teacher, Quesada offers a lasting source of encouragement and Zen. Although the book draws from Eastern teachings, the wisdom is for everyone, regardless of personal background, creed, or faith.

With elements of The Last Lecture as well as Chicken Soup for the Teacher’s Soul, this is the perfect gift for teachers—but also for anyone needing inspiration.

 


monsterville-9781510707337 Beware what lurks beneath your bed. . . . It could lead to a monstrous adventure.

Thirteen-year-old Lissa Black is miserable when her parents force her to move from New York City (the perfect home for an aspiring writer/director/actress) to Freeburg, Pennsylvania, nowhere capital of the world. There’s nothing to do there, except play her little sister Haylie’s favorite new game, Monsterville, and hang out with her new neighbor Adam.

But when a walk in the woods lands her face-to-face with a swamp monster hungry for brains and then a Sasquatch that moos, even Lissa can’t call her new home totally boring. With Adam’s help, she catches the culprit behind the drama: a shape-shifting goblin who’s fled from the monster world of Down Below.

And what do you do with a creature that can be literally anything? Make monster movies, of course! Lissa is convinced that Blue will be the secret to her big break.

But when Haylie goes missing on Halloween, Lissa, Adam, and the monster must venture Down Below to stage a rescue—and face the real Monsterville, which is anything but a game.

Monsterville is a fusion of The Boxtrolls, Jumanji, and Candyland, weaving together friendship, family, and monsters into a funny fantasy-horror brimming with heart from a great new middle grade voice.

 

 

 

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Author Mark Eastburn Takes on the Sky Pony Press Q&A

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Sky Pony author, Mark Eastburn takes on the Sky Pony Q&A and talks about his debut novel, Earning My Spots. Check it out!


Q: Why did you gravitate to the genre that you write in?

I teach science to kids in the middle grades, so writing a book with characters who change into animals was a natural springboard to literature. I’ve always been fascinated by other living things, as well as world cultures, and Earning My Spots gave me the opportunity to learn more about both. The original inspiration for this story came through watching how my dog moved, and wondering how that might feel, but I didn’t want to write a typical werewolf (or weredog) story. The history of Africa is something that I’ve studied in my spare time, with a focus on the Jewish people of Ethiopia, and as it turns out, they are sometimes considered bouda, or “hyena people” in that part of the world. It was believed that they held special powers because of their abilities to make iron tools, and that they could transform into hyenas. Of course, a lot of this mythology is based on anti-Jewish bias, which unfortunately exists all over the world, but I decided to turn that superstition into a positive by showing hyenas to be the proud, intelligent, and brave hunters that they really are. In Africa, spotted hyenas and lions are in constant competition, and in some areas, lions scavenge far more than hyenas do. Hyena society is also dominated by females, who are larger and stronger than their male counterparts. I thought that would be an interesting contrast with most other predators—especially lions and wolves.

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Our Newfoundland dog has been my family’s faithful companion for the past six years, and he keeps my feet warm while I write!

 

Q: What are you reading right now?

At the moment, I am reading Last Child in the Woods, by Richard Louv, since I’m convinced that kids these days really need to reconnect with nature. As a teacher, I know that there is a lot of enthusiasm for learning about the Earth’s fellow creatures, and I am trying to find more opportunities to make that possible. I’m also reading lots and lots of research papers on jumping spiders, ants, and acacia plants, since I’ve been doing research on the world’s only known vegetarian spider for my master’s degree.

Q: If you could be a character in any children’s book, who would you be and why?

I’d be Nate Twitchell from The Enormous Egg, or Louis from The Mysterious Tadpole. They’ve been favorites of mine for as long as I can remember, and I’ve always hoped to make surprising discoveries like they did.

Q: Where’s your favorite place to write?

I write in the room with my tortoises, who are named Leo and Josephine. They have deformed shells because they didn’t get proper care with a previous owner, but I’m trying to ensure that they get the best treatment possible. I also share the room with Green Fruit Loop, a little lizard that one of my students discovered in salad greens last year. That story made international news, and there is a whole list of articles about her on my website.

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Leo and Josephine are still kind of shy, unless I’m bringing them food.

 

Q: What’s your favorite classic movie?

My favorite movie of all time would have to be Pee Wee’s Big Adventure, although I’m also a huge fan of the Star Wars movies and the original Jurassic Park . . . even though it had a lot of incorrect information about dinosaurs. For example, T. rex probably had some of the best eyes in the animal kingdom, and it wouldn’t have shaken the ground when it moved.

Q: If you could have any animal as a pet (current or extinct), what would it be?

Given my previous answers on favorite books, I guess it’d be cool to have a pet Triceratops or Loch Ness monster, but I’ve already got lots of animals in my home. I’ve been thinking long and hard about getting a group of spiny tailed monitor lizards, because they look so cool, although I doubt that I have space with all of my other reptiles, including ten turtles, seven snakes, and my wall lizards from a small island off the coast of Italy. They’re actually bright blue!

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As soon as I learned about these blue wall lizards, I couldn’t help but buy a few. Last summer they laid eggs, so I might be getting more!

 

Q: Milk, dark, or white chocolate?

Dark chocolate, because it’s supposed to be healthier than the rest. It also needs to be sourced from Central America, since I used to walk through chocolate farms while I was living and working in Panama. I’m always looking for ways to help those farmers out, since their plantations can help protect the rainforest and the beautiful frogs that live on the tree trunks and forest floor.

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Poison dart frogs love to hop around under chocolate plants!

 

Q: What’s your favorite holiday?

Thanksgiving, because it’s the time when people get together and nobody has to worry about gifts. It’s all about sharing time, and not material things. I also love the food!

Q: What’s your favorite emoji? OR What’s your favorite GIF?

Anything with a jumping spider in it, like this one:

via GIPHY

 

Or this one:

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I also really like pufferfish:

via GIPHY

Q: What did you want to grow up to be when you were Sam’s age?

I wanted to be an exotic pet veterinarian, and work with reptiles. The part about working with reptiles came through, although I never found the time to go to veterinary school. Maybe I will someday!


Earning My Spots by Mark Eastburn

earning-my-spots-9781510707788Sam and his family are the only werehyenas in their town, and they do their best to keep up their cover in front of the humans while the other more aggressive shifters mock the werehyena family for being weak and passive. But Sam sees no other life for himself, as he believes what he is told: he is inferior to the other shifters.

One night, a pack of shifters raids Sam’s house and takes his family, leaving him all alone. With the help of some new friends, Sam sets off on a journey from Vermont to South America to rescue his family. Along the way, he meets various shifters who aid him on his quest. He even meets a tribe of werehyenas in Louisiana who teach him how powerful his kind actually is and how far his ancestry goes back. From them, Sam learns he has a great destiny to fulfill.

As Sam draws closer to finding his family, he begins to understand how different the world of shifters is that exists outside of his small hometown. Shifters are tired of humans destroying their homes, and they want not only revenge but also to force humans into submission. It becomes clear that Sam is the only one who can stop a war that’s on the brink of erupting.

Fans of the Spirit Animals and Warriors series will enjoy accompanying Sam on his quest as he discovers not only that his destiny and inner strength are greater than he thought, but also that being a werehyena is not as laughable as he assumed.

 

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Q&A with TIMEKEEPER author Tara Sim

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Today, we are so lucky to have Timekeeper author Tara Sim to join us for the Q&A. Her debut is one of the most anticipated novels of Fall 2016, and we’re excited to chat with her to learn a little more about the woman behind this intricate clock-controlled alternate Victorian world.


Q: Why did you gravitate to the genre that you write in?

I’ve always been more interested in made up worlds than our own, mostly because I felt like more was possible in those worlds–magic, adventure, what have you. Two very early influences were Harry Potter and the Song of the Lioness series, which were both magical and fun and far more interesting to me than contemporary stories. I mean, wizards and lady knights, come on. Ever since reading those series, I’ve been a fairly consistent fantasy reader/writer. One day, I decided that I wanted to write my own worlds, my own magic systems, and my own adventures.

Q:What are you reading right now?

I just finished The Midnight Star by Marie Lu, and right now I’m turning to my backlist and finally picking up Uprooted by Naomi Novik.

Q: If you could be a character in any children’s book, who would you be and why?

I would love to be Inej from Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo. She’s insanely awesome and sneaky, and gets to hang out with Kaz.

Q: Where’s your favorite place to write?

In my bedroom. I have a tiny desk by my bookshelves that faces a window, which is great for when I need to sit back and stare into space/admire my book collection.

Q: What’s your favorite classic movie?

I actually don’t watch very many classic movies, but my favorite movies of all time are The Lord of the Rings. Also anything by Hayao Miyazaki, and a ton of Disney, of course.

Q: If you could have any animal as a pet (current or extinct), what would it be?

A wolf! I’ve always loved wolves. They’d probably make bad household pets, though.

Q: Milk, dark, or white chocolate?

Dark chocolate. Milk is good too, but white chocolate is made of lies and sin.

[Editor’s note from Tara’s actual editor: I knew I liked you.]

Q: What’s your favorite holiday?

Christmas. Not just because of the presents (although those are pretty nice), but because it’s in my favorite season, with my favorite weather, and it just looks pretty. It makes me feel happy and nostalgic.

Q: What’s your favorite GIF?

tara-gif

 

Q: What did you want to grow up to be when you were 17?

An author. 😉


sim-tara-timekeeper Tara Sim can typically be found wandering the wilds of the Bay Area in California. When she’s not chasing cats or lurking in bookstores, she writes books about magic, clocks, and explosives. Timekeeper is her first novel.

Follow her on Twitter at @EachStarAWorld, or online at www.tarasim.com where you can find fun Timekeeper extras.


 

9781510706187-frontcover

I was in an accident. I got out. I’m safe now.

An alternate Victorian world controlled by clock towers, where a damaged clock can fracture time–and a destroyed one can stop it completely.

A prodigy mechanic who can repair not only clockwork but time itself, determined to rescue his father from a Stopped town.

A series of mysterious bombings that could jeopardize all of England.

A boy who would give anything to relive his past, and one who would give anything to live at all.

A romance that will shake the very foundations of time.

The first book in a dazzling new steampunk-fantasy trilogy, Timekeeper introduces a magical world of mythology and innovation that readers will never want to leave.


Timekeeper is an extraordinary debut, at once familiar and utterly original. Between its compelling world, its lovely prose, and its wonderful characters, the pages flew by.” —Victoria Schwab, #1 New York Times bestselling author

“Alive with myth, mystery, and glorious romance, Timekeeper will keep hearts pounding and pages turning til the stunning conclusion. Reader beware—there’s magic in these pages.” —Heidi Heilig, author of The Girl from Everywhere

Timekeeper is a triumph . . . If you read only one such book . . . let it be this one.” –Bustle

“Part mystery and part romance, this fantasy novel delves into what it means to grow up and make important decisions. With an easily relatable main character struggling to fit in, the novel has a realistic and contemplative voice. VERDICT: A must-have richly written fantasy novel that will have readers eagerly anticipating the next volume.” —School Library Journal

“Sim creates a cast of complex and diverse characters, as well as a mythology to explain how the clock towers came to exist . . . an enjoyable, well-realized tale.” —Publishers Weekly

“[M]ystery, LGBTQ romance, and supernatural tale of clock spirits and sabotage that explores how far people might go for those they love. Its strongest elements are the time-related mythology and the supernatural gay romance.” —Booklist

“This LGBTQ steampunk romance sports a killer premise and admirably thorough worldbuilding, helpfully annotated in the author’s afterword. The characters—even the bad guys—are sympathetically drawn and commendably diverse in sexuality and gender.” —Kirkus Reviews

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The Ten Words You Need To Know If You Can’t Wait for MOANA

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 We don’t know about you, but the whole team here at Sky Pony is basically counting down the minutes until Disney’s Moana hits theaters on November 23rd. Teen girl power? Adventure-packed ocean voyages? Demigods and diverse main characters? A song by Lin-Manuel Freaking Miranda? You can bet we’re gonna be jumping into that opening-night screening like:

falling

So, if you’re even half as excited as we are, start preparing now with this list of Hawaiian words you have to know from Lisa Freeman, the author of YA novels Honey Girl and its sequel, Riptide Summer, coming next summer. Dive in!


With the movie Moana coming out later this month, I thought it might be fun to share some of my very favorite Hawaiian words. I’ve learned bits and pieces of the language over the course of many visits to Oahu, and I weave it into my YA series starting with Honey Girl. The language is melodic; the sound is unforgettable, and when I speak the words, I feel like I am connected to something far bigger.

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Wouldn’t it be great if it were possible to learn Hawaiian in school? Until then, I’ve put together a list of ten of my favorite words so you can start learning the beautiful language on your own.

Fun Fact: There are only twelve letters in the Hawaiian alphabet: five vowels (a, e, i, o, u) and seven consonants (h, k, l, m, n, p, w).

  1. Aloha: a state of mind that describes peace, harmony, and kindness. Aloha is also a greeting and a farewell. Take a deep breath when you say it, and if you’re having a tough day, you’ll feel better.
  2. Mahalo: thanks. People in Hawaii are very generous, and this word is a way to show your gratitude when you visit.
  3. Pono: to do the right thing. To “make it pono” means to make it right and be a person of your word.
  4. Wiki wiki: hurry up
  5. Mana: an energy, a divine power that some people think is supernatural. The late, great surfer Eddie Aikau had very powerful mana.
  6. Poi: a staple food made from cooked taro root and pounded into a delicious sauce you eat with your fingers
  7. ‘Ohana: family and super-close friends
  8. Pau: Done! Over!
  9. Honua: the Earth and land we live on
  10. Kai: the ocean, sometimes also known as the current of the sea

Got ’em? Well done!

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Mahalo and aloha.

Hau’oli Lā Ho’omaika’I (pronounced how-oh-lay-la-ho-o-ma-key-kah-ee): Happy Thanksgiving, Sky Pony Readers!

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Here are some great sources where you can learn more of the most beautiful language in the world:

  • Hawaiian Dictionary by Mary Kawena Pukui and Samuel H. Elbert
  • A Pocket Guide to the Hawaiian Language by Albert J. Schütz
  • Ka ‘Olelo Hawaii No Na Keiki (The Hawaiian Language for the Children) by Kulamanu

Honey Girl by Lisa Freeman

honey-girl-9781632204257They call the heart attack that killed fifteen-year-old Nani’s surfer father “the widow-maker”; when it struck, it killed him instantly. Almost as quickly, it turned Nani’s mother from the half-owner of Honolulu’s most famous bar to a hopeless alcoholic seeking a fresh start in California, and Nani into a fish out of water on Santa Monica’s State Beach.

It’s 1972, and as the new girl on one of the country’s most famous beaches, Nani’s only hope for acceptance—and survival—is following “The Rules,” an unspoken list of dos and don’ts that made her queen of the beach in Hawaii. After a series of harrowing initiations she manages to get in with the locals, even gaining the attention of surf god Nigel McBride.

But maintaining stardom is harder than achieving it, and Nani is harboring three secrets that could instantly destroy everything she’s worked to achieve. #1: She stole her dad’s ashes, hid them from her mom, and plans to spread them in the ocean he loved. #2: In order to get in with the lineup, she spied on them—and now she knows more than they’ll ever let her get away with. And deadliest of all, #3: she might just be in love with Rox, the queen supreme of State Beach.


lisa-freeman-authorLisa Freeman started her work as an actor and has been in numerous TV productions and films (Mr. Mom and Back to the Future I & II to name a few). She performed at the Comedy Store, which lead to her writing career in radio and spoken word. Freeman has a BA in liberal studies and Creative Writing, an MFA in Fiction, and a certificate in Pedagogy in Writing from Antioch University. Honey Girl, her debut novel, was inspired by a time when girls were the color of tan-before-sunscreen, drank Tabs by the six-pack, smoked Lark 100’s, and were not allowed to surf. Lisa lives in Santa Monica, California.

Visit her online lisa-freeman.com, and follow her on Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, and Pinterest.

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Fandom Fashion: Spin the Sky

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Check out this outfit inspired by the cover of Spin the Sky by Jill MacKenzie!


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Spin the Sky by Jill MacKenzie

spin-the-sky-9781510706866Magnolia Woodson wants nothing more than to get her and her sister, Rose, out of the pitifully small, clamming-obsessed Oregon town that hates them—she just doesn’t know how. Forced to put up with the snide comments and hateful looks the townspeople throw at them, Mags thinks she’s destined to pay for the horrible, awful thing her mom did—and that she’s left her and Rose to deal with—until the day she dies.

But when a nationwide televised dance competition posts tryouts in nearby Portland, Mags’s best friend, George, says they have to go and audition. Not only have they spent the past fourteen years of their lives dancing side-by-side, dreaming of a day just like this, but also it could be Mags’s chance of a lifetime—a chance to win the grand-prize money and get her and Rose out of Summerland, a chance to do the thing she loves most with everyone watching, a chance to show the town that she’s not—and has never been—a “no-good Woodson girl,” like her mother. But will the competition prove too steep? And will Mags be able to retain her friendship with George as they go head-to-head in tryouts? Mags will have to learn that following her dreams may mean changing her life forever.

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Author Chantele Sedgwick takes on the Sky Pony Q&A

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Chantele Sedgwick takes on the Sky Pony Q&A! Check out her answers below!


Q: Why did you gravitate to the genre that you write in?

I write young adult because I think teenagers are amazing, intelligent, wonderful people. Being a teen is hard. They have so many emotions zipping around their bodies, they’re trying to figure out their place in the world, and they deal with some pretty heavy things. I love first experiences and young adult fiction has helped me put some experiences teens go thorough on paper. I love the stories of first love. The first kiss. Going through trials and growing from them. Relationships with parents, friends, siblings. I love it all.

Q: What are you reading right now?

I just barely started Gemina (Illuminae Files book 2) by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff. I absolutely LOVED Illuminae, so I’m hoping the sequel will be just as awesome.

Q: If you could be a character in any children’s book, who would you be and why?

Hermione Granger. She’s loyal, brave, smart and can be fierce if messed with. Plus, she’s a witch and can do magic!

Q: Where’s your favorite place to write?

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Q: What’s your favorite classic movie?

The Sound of Music. Hands down. (I’m a big musical fan.)

Q: If you could have any animal as a pet (current or extinct), what would it be?

Cheetah.

Q: Milk, dark, or white chocolate?

Milk. Although, I do love white too.

Q: What’s your favorite holiday?

Christmas. I love being with my family.

Q: What’s your favorite emoji? OR What’s your favorite GIF?

via GIPHY

Q: What did you want to grow up to be when you were Oakley’s age?

I wanted to be an elementary school teacher. I became a mother and an author instead and I love it.


Love, Lucas by Chantele Sedgwick

love-lucas-revised-9781510709928A 2015 Whitney Award Nominee!

A powerful story of loss, second chances, and first love, reminiscent of Sarah Dessen and John Green.

When Oakley Nelson loses her older brother, Lucas, to cancer, she thinks she’ll never recover. Between her parents’ arguing and the battle she’s fighting with depression, she feels nothing inside but a hollow emptiness. When Mom suggests they spend a few months in California with Aunt Jo, Oakley isn’t sure a change of scenery will alter anything, but she’s willing to give it a try.

In California, Oakley discovers a sort of safety and freedom in Aunt Jo’s beach house. Once they’re settled, Mom hands her a notebook full of letters addressed to her—from Lucas. As Oakley reads one each day, she realizes how much he loved her, and each letter challenges her to be better and to continue to enjoy her life. He wants her to move on.

If only it were that easy.

But then a surfer named Carson comes into her life, and Oakley is blindsided. He makes her feel again. As she lets him in, she is surprised by how much she cares for him, and that’s when things get complicated. How can she fall in love and be happy when Lucas never got the chance to do those very same things?

With her brother’s dying words as guidance, Oakley knows she must learn to listen and trust again. But will she have to leave the past behind to find happiness in the future?

Chantele Sedgwick is a young adult author, harpist, wife to one and mom to four. She loves fairy tales, happy endings, Kit Kats, and (judging by her bookshelves) buying way too many books. She lives in Roy, Utah, with her family and can usually be found reading, or talking her husband’s ear off with her endless supply of book ideas.

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