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Is it safer to fly or take the train?
Is it safer to fly or take the train?

……. How dangerous is skydiving? And is eating that extra link of breakfast sausage going to kill you? We’ve all heard the statistics for risky activities, but what do those numbers actually mean in the real world?

In The Norm Chronicles, journalist Michael Blastland and risk expert David Spiegelhalter answer these questions—and far more—in a commonsense (and wildly entertaining) guide to personal risk.

The authors illustrate that chance and risk aren’t just about numbers—they’re as much about what we believe, who we trust, and how we feel about the world around us. What we do, or don’t do, has as much do with gut instinct as hard facts, with enjoyment as understanding.


“They teach us how math helps us sensibly assess and manage risk. Just remember: You can crunch the numbers as much as you like, but when it comes down to any given individual, chance always plays a part.”  — The New York Times Book Review

“Amidst the numbers and stories on topics as diverse as infant mortality, travel, extreme sports, and crime, the authors examine just how all of this affects non-theoretical humans….The whole is seasoned with a dash of humor to create a work that should satisfy anyone curious about just how and when this mortal coil might be shuffled off.” — PublishersWeekly

“Tackling a factor in matters ranging from personal choices to public policy, this book’s British authors — a journalist and a Cambridge statistician, respectively — make risk easy to understand without omitting its mathematical basis.” — PittsburghTribune-Review

“You can read this stuff in a prosecutorial tone of voice, if you like, as many writers on perception of risk have: Look how irrational and wrong everyone is! But the authors take a different tack—a better one. They argue ably that mathematical computations should be a buttress to our judgment but concede that computations will never, and should never, replace our judgment entirely. Of their risk-buffeted characters, they conclude: ‘We don’t know how to use data to tell them how to live.’ If they don’t, no one does.” — The Wall Street Journal

“General readers will appreciate this engaging exploration of statistics and their relevance to daily life.” — Library Journal

“Commendable for its wide compilation of facts and figures—but perhaps even more so for the authors’ “deep sense of uncertainties around data, statistics, and evidence.” — Kirkus Reviews

David Spiegelhalter has blogged on his site about the actual vs. perceived risk of plane crashes in light of the three crashes in the past week.

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The Flat Rabbit from Owlkids Books gets a starred review from Kirkus!

9781771470599_6d2e4At some point every parent is faced with questions from little enquiring minds that are not always easy to answer. We love this honest but gentle story about the cycle of life that every parent, teacher or grandparent should have on hand for those types of moments.

“Upon seeing a flattened rabbit on the road, a dog and rat try to honor her in this secular story about compassion and respect.

Walking along, a dog notices something; a rat stops, too. As they stare at a carcass in the street, a halting, awkward conversation ensues. Together, the dog and rat contemplate the rabbit’s existence—and what to do for her now. With a plan in place, the two gently peel the rabbit off the road and bring her to the dog’s house, where they work all night long. In the morning, they reveal a kite, with the rabbit attached. After much effort, the kite is airborne, and as it soars, they wonder if the rabbit is enjoying herself. Not sure of the answer, they let go, and the kite flies aloft, up and over the city. The artist’s pencil, pen and watercolor illustrations are raw and spare. Done in a faded, pastel palette, they thoughtfully convey different perspectives from both the visual and narrative standpoints. Although they depict a gruesome subject (roadkill), there’s nothing grotesque about the images. Spot illustrations on the left-side pages give context to the animals’ environment or foreshadow events to come. Oskarsson offers a pleasing vision of the afterlife, as the dog and rat try to give the rabbit a gift—an experience it didn’t have during its lifetime.

As perfectly, honestly childlike in its approach as Margaret Wise Brown and Remy Charlip’s classic The Dead Bird, this title should provoke both thought and discussion.”

*Starred Review:  Review Posted Online: July 16th, 2014 & Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1st, 2014*


Grade: 3
Fountas & Pinnel: N
 Lexile Measure: AD 610L
Common Core State Standards:

Bardur Oskarsson is a Faroese children’s writer, illustrator, and artist. He has won several literary awards and his works have been translated into Danish, Norwegian, Icelandic, French, German, and English. He lives in the Faroe Islands, Denmark.

The Flat Rabbit
Trade Cloth, Picture Book
US $16.95
Owlkids Books Fall 2014
Visit Owlkids Books here:
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In Toss the Gloss, you will learn . . .

w14_seal_tossthegloss_3dWhy the right cosmetics, not anti-aging skincare, will help you look your youthful best.

How to recognize the seduction of beauty-industry tactics designed to get you to spend more money than you need to.

Gimmick-free tips and easy-to-follow shortcuts to make the most of your features.

Take a look at Publishers Weekly review of Toss the Gloss from Seal Press

“In her first book, beauty industry executive Robinson (who has served as president of Tom Ford Beauty and Ralph Lauren Fragrances, chief marketing officer of Estée Lauder, and beauty editor at Vogue) uses her experience to debunk myths and offer a straightforward, insider’s perspective behind the often indecipherable potions and lotions in our medicine cabinets. Many of her tips, including when to throw out various makeup products like mascara (every three months) and cream blush (every six months), are useful for women of any age. Even though the book is targeted to readers over 50, it wouldn’t be a bad idea for younger women to purchase this book as a guide for how to make better use of their makeup. How many of us wished we understood how to read the claims and lingo on product packaging or decipher ingredients such as antioxidants, retinoids, and alpha hydroxy acids? Robinson clearly and efficiently explains it all, while providing the product advice and application tips (with a nine-step guide for applying lip liner) you would expect of a woman who has devoted her life to beauty. Full-color photos.”

Agent: Kristyn Keene, ICM
Publishers Weekly Reviewed on: 01/06/2014
Trade Cloth
US $24.00
ebook ISBN: 9781580054911
Seal Press Spring 20149781580054904_IL_2_ad70c9781580054904_IL_3_bd4d7
Andrea Q. Robinsons most outstanding luxury brands, including Ralph Lauren, Tom Ford, Prescriptives, Ultima II, Helena Rubenstein, Germaine Monteil, Alexandra de Markoff, and Bill Blass. She also served known makeup artists. Prior to her corporate positions, she was a magazine editor for Vogue, Mademoiselle, and Seventeen,back FiFi awards (the Oscars of the beauty Andrea has two children and lives in New York City. Find out more about Andrea at  (source:
Visit Seal Press here: 
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The King and the Magician

In this beautifully illustrated picture book, a powerful king learns about true friendship.

King believes he is the most powerful man in his kingdom; he demands the respect of his subjects, and as a result his subjects fear him.  One day the king learns of an old magician living in his Kingdom.  All the people love the old magician, and the king fears the magician’s power.  King wishes to rid the Kingdom of the magician and he hatches a plan tothe king and the magician kill the old man.  The king throws a grand party, and it is at this party where the old man is supposed to be killed.  The magician messes up the king’s plan when he tells the king that the two men will die on the same day.  The greedy king does not want to die, so he keeps the magician at the palace.  Overtime the animosity between King and the magician die, and they become the closest of friends.

Author Jorge Bucay and illustrator Gusti create a story of love and friendship.  They show, through the book and through the pictures, how hate can turn into love, and illustrate to young readers that love is stronger than hatred.





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One Family’s Journey and the Chinese American Dream
One Family’s Journey and the Chinese American Dream

Weaving history, journalism, and memoir, Eric Liu explores the parallel rise of China and the Chinese American, the means by which Chinese immigrants have excelled despite the constraints of racism and xenophobia, and how they are rewriting the American story.


“In this provocative book, Liu, once a speechwriter for President Bill Clinton, effortlessly connects his personal experience to larger historical and cultural trends… These elegant essays contain at their core a passionate, well-reasoned argument for the value of both cultures from which Chinese Americans come and an appreciation of the unique blend that results… Liu has created the go-to source for anyone interested in the place Chinese Americans have had, currently have, and are pursuing in the U.S.”—Booklist

“This is an eye-opening book that should be read by everyone. To top it off, it’s entertaining.”—Huntington News

“In this vigorous, sharp book, [Liu] examines his identity against the backdrop of both Chinese and American cultures…. An eloquent, thought-provoking and timely memoir.”—Kirkus Reviews

“A Chinaman’s Chance makes the personal political — and historical — in the most elegant possible way. Eric Liu’s memoir is intimate and also encompassing; it is of this 21st-century moment but also part of the centuries-long process of America reinventing itself by incorporating new Americans. It is an important and enjoyable addition to the literature of ethnic diversity, struggle, and success in the United States.”—James Fallows, The Atlantic

“Equal parts contemplative and provocative, lyrical and wonkish, A Chinaman’s Chance is a mesmerizing collage of childhood memories and contemporary reflections that compare and contrast China and America, and the Chinese and American Dreams. As he visits the place where the waters of his Chinese ancestral heritage and his American upbringing meet, what Liu finds is two worldviews that are at once decidedly different, and uncannily similar; what he finds, ultimately, is himself, and all of the rest of us whose Chinese American identity makes us the best of two worlds, yet belonging fully to neither.” — Jeff Yang, columnist, Wall Street Journal Online

Eric Liu will be taping an interview about A CHINAMAN’S CHANCE for NPR’s Morning Edition with Steve Inskeep on Friday, July 25th!



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Kirkus Reviews Painted Horses from Grove Press



A mid-1950s oater that wants to come over all cowboy and sensitive at the same time.

Catherine Lemay, the heroine of Brooks’ debut, is a young archaeologist who’s seen the aftermath of war poking around in the rubble of London. John H—she thinks it could stand for “horses,” but “hell raiser” is a reasonable candidate—rides the Western fence line, following the mustangs. He’s known war up close, a member of the last American horse cavalry unit to see combat, fighting the Germans in Italy. It stands to reason that, Montana being a small state and all, they’ll meet and become intertwined like two wind-blasted strands of barbed wire. When Mr. H funs, he funs, but when he and Catherine get serious, well….There’s plenty to be serious about apart from sad reflections on the war, for a dam is coming to the coulee in which the mustangs run, and both Catherine and John H have to make a stand: Do they serve progress, or do they fight for what’s real about the West? Brooks does a good job of plotting, following parallel stories that speak to that large question through characters who are more than just symbols—though they’re that, too. There’s some fine writing here, especially when it comes to horses and the material culture that surrounds them, and when it comes to Western landscapes, too, for Brooks knows that in good Western writing, the land is always a character. There’s also some overwriting, along the lines of “[s]he wanted Audrey Williams to keep talking, wanted to know her story too, the fragments and pieces and the buried mysteries, wanted the whole vicarious treasure of it.” A little of that goes a long way, especially when Brooks places himself inside Catherine’s head—and, from time to time, elsewhere in her body.

It’s a sight better than The Bridges of Madison County, but it’s a kindred project: Boy meets girl under open sky, boy kisses girl, girl emotes, and then it’s a whole new shooting match.

Review Posted Online: July 2nd, 2014
Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15th, 2014

“Brooks’s debut captures the grandeur of the American West.”-Publishers Weekly (Starred Review)

“Brooks delivers an authentic story, examining in gripping, page-turning prose what it means to live in the West. . . . An outstanding debut novel that will linger in the reader’s mind.”-Donna Bettencourt, Library Journal (Starred Review)

Trade Cloth
US $26.00 /  CAN $28.50
Grove Press Spring 2014
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Publishers Weekly reviews TWO from KO Kids Books

Like Otoshi’s Zero and One, this book stars numerals brushed in cheery colors on clean 9780972394666_0c28dwhite pages. Two is best friends with One—or was, until Three comes between them. “Come play with me, One,” invites Three. “Odds are better than the rest, but One and Three are the best!” Over-the-top language makes it easy for readers to understand that taking sides is not the way to go. When Two despairs (“Maybe it’s time for me to be done with One”), Zero exhorts her to try some out-of-the-box thinking: “What if you can make things right? Can you find it in your heart to see, a new angle to this, possibly?” The other numbers quickly join forces: “When the Dance turns and shifts, let’s groove and flow. If you’re holding too tight—let go.” Otoshi’s cognitive behavioral approach suggests that heroic action isn’t always something that can be seen; it’s something that happens inside. Clearly meant for public readaloud and classroom discussion, this is a polished, on-message opening for dialogue about bullying, mean girls, and other social plagues.

Review: Publishers Weekly Reviewed on: 07/07/2014 Release date: 09/01/2014

Children’s book author and illustrator Kathryn Otoshi’s book One was the winner of 15 awards, including the E. B. White Read Aloud Honor Book and the Teacher’s Choice Award. She lives in Marin County, CA.

KO Kids sellsheet




KO KIds pic rev 1

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New from Sky Pony Press – Pack of Dorks


Lucy is one of the most popular girls in her 4th grade class.  Becky, Lucy’s best friend, convinces Lucy that kissing Tom Lemmings behind the ball shed during recess will make both of them 4th grade legends.  Unfortunately, the quick kiss does the exact opposite:  Lucy quickly becomes the least popular girl in her class.  Now Lucy is stuck in Dorkdom, where she is subjected to bullying by her previous best friends.  On top of it all, Lucy’s baby sister is born with Down Syndrome causing her parents to become extremely preoccupied with the baby, and as a result Lucy feels she has to deal with her bullying problems on her own.  She pairs up with fellow classmate Sam, another “dork”, on a research project about wolves, which prompts an unlikely friendship between Lucy and Sam.  The two fourth graders take their class by storm, and by the end of their project, Lucy and Sam create their own pack of dorks.

Beth Vrabel creates a story that is not so uncommon in society.  Unfortunately, bullying is an issue many students and schools have to deal with on an everyday basis.  Vrabel illustrates the harms bullying has on a child, and shows how that child deals with the situation.  She creates a character that learns how to stand-up to her bullies, and how to speak for herself.

Pack of Dorks (978-1-62914-623-2) by Beth Vrabel. Due out from Sky Pony Press 10/7/2014.

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Masters of Sex: The Life and Times of William Masters and Virginia Johnson, the Couple Who Taught America How to Love
Masters of Sex: The Life and Times of William Masters and Virginia Johnson, the Couple Who Taught America How to Love

By Thomas Maier

Paperback Reprint

ISBN: 9780465079995


Congrats to Masters of Sex on its 5 emmy nominations

Also this week, posted an essay by Tom Maier on Masters & Johnson that mentions the book and the season premiere of the show this Sunday. It also includes photos from LIFE magazine’s coverage of the couple in 1966.

Maier has also been interviewed for an article in TV Guide’s August 11th issue on balancing fact and fiction on TV 


Actress in a drama series (Lizzy Caplan) – Primetime Emmy nomination

Guest actor in a drama series (Beau Bridges) – Primetime Emmy nomination

Guest actress in a drama series (Allison Janney) – Primetime Emmy  nomination

Outstanding art direction – Primetime Emmy nomination

Outstanding main title design – Primetime Emmy nomination

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United States of LEGO: A Brick Tour of America




In this hilarious guide to the US, photographer and author Jeff Friesen gives readers a unique tour of the United States.  Friesen composes LEGO dioramas of scenes that represent each state.




Each image is accompanied by a short caption that explains the picture or points out a fun fact about the state.  The captions are highly amusing and each one comments on the aspect of the state that is being represented.


new york










Friesen takes readers on a tour of the United States that they the simply cannot get anywhere else; as Freisen says, “the only one realistic option for exploring the fifty states remains: armchair travel.”

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