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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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I Wish My Teacher Knew-
I Wish My Teacher Knew-

August 31, 2016

 New York Times “Well” column about Kyle Schwartz’s I WISH MY TEACHER KNEW made yesterday’s New York Times daily “Briefing” email and is currently the paper’s #1 most viewed story!

September 1, 2016

USA Today just posted a slideshow using ten of the student notes that are in the book!

 And Us Weekly just posted an article about the book using half a dozen of the student notes!


*“Sharing the profound events that shaped her pupils’ lives, both online and now in this book, allowed the author to show how easy it is to bring teachers and students together to build a stronger classroom community. Addressing issues of poverty, grief, trauma, family makeup, character development, and self-efficacy, Schwartz demonstrates how significantly these events can impact learning. Supported with a sound research base, each topic is outlined and leads to concrete solutions that teachers can implement…A real passion for the kinds of teaching that better the lives of students is evident in Schwartz’s every word, and her compassion and caring is contagious.”Library Journal (starred review)

“Provide[s] suggestions for transforming any classroom or school into a greater community. After reading Schwartz’s book, teachers will be inspired to join the #IWishMyTeacherKnew movement and get to know their students better.”BookPage
“There is wisdom as well as pain in the fill-in-the-blank responses that Schwartz shares with readers.”—InfoDad blog

“If you’re a teacher…this book could change your career. Look for it.”—“The Bookworm Sez” syndicated column


“Kyle Schwartz has turned a viral classroom exercise into a powerful argument for what American students need: to be asked, heard, and finally answered. Packed with sharp insights and vivid classroom details, I Wish My Teacher Knew is a must-read for anyone who believes in the power of education.”—Elizabeth Green, co-founder, CEO, and editor-in-chief of Chalkbeat and author of Building a Better Teacher

“Kyle Schwartz truly understands that relationships matter most in the classroom, and she shares tools and stories that every educator will find both powerful and engaging.  It is a ‘back-to-school’ must read!”—Tony Wagner, author of The Global Achievement Gap and Creating Innovators

 I Wish My Teacher Knew is both inspiring and practical.  With rich detail, it shows how, by beginning with building trust between a teacher and her students, magic can follow.  Teachers will value the helpful to-do’s, and all of us will value the account of life in the classroom.  At a time when policymakers are obsessed with tests and accountability, I Wish My Teacher Knew delivers a powerful reminder that teaching isn’t a matter of drill and kill, that the teacher’s job is to develop children’s excitement about learning as well as their character.  For anyone who cares about teaching and learning—and that should be all of us—this book is indispensable.”—David L. Kirp, Berkeley professor and author of Improbable Scholars: The Rebirth of a Great American School System and a Strategy for America’s Schools

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Willa’s Roaring Comeback

Willa Havisham, the titular heroine of Coleen Murtagh Paratore’s The Wedding Planner’s Daughter series (Simon & Schuster) is returning, but to a new publishing house: Little Pickle Press! Roar Like a Girl (9781939775078, Trade Paper, $9.95). is the first installment in the all-new Always Willa series, and chronicles Willa’s move from Cape Cod to Troy, New York, and her adjustment to a new life. Willa is already getting buzz, with a write-up in Publishers Weekly, and a five-star review from Foreword!

“Willa is likable, and she benefits from the friendly and fair people around her…The lessons waiting for young readers in Roar Like a Girl are powerful.”
Foreword Reviews


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One of the country’s most prominent young writers on race delivers an unflinching account of what it means to be a young black man in America today, and how the existing script for black manhood is being rewritten in one of the most fascinating periods of American history.


“‘Invisible Man, Got the Whole World Watching’ is ambitious, ardent and timely.” —Walton Muyumba, New York Times Book Review 

“An ambitious blend of autobiography and cultural criticism.” New York Times Book Review, Editors’ Choice 

“[an] audacious debut book…This is a must-read book for the generations.” —Charlie Braxton, Washington Post

“…a superbly thoughtful memoir.”—Buzzfeed 

“…wonderful…While Invisible Man, Got the Whole World Watching may not have the answers, its attempt to define the undefined something buzzing about blackness feels like catching lightning in a bottle.”—, Summer Reading Selection

“[Mychal Denzel Smith] provides perspective into the complexity of blackness that’s commonly lost in discussions about race…this memoir is both groundbreaking and saddening. It might be the first of its kind: a book that offers a comprehensive look into the genesis of black millennial lives through the eyes of a young black man.” —Daren W. Jackson, Chicago Tribune

“Mychal Denzel Smith is one of the most important and vibrant voices of his generation. Born into the grim and brutal realities of systemic racism, police violence, and the prison industrial complex, Smith’s work—searing yet funny—is, in some ways, a miracle. He has survived the grave challenge of simply being a young black man in America and has lived to tell the tale. Smith’s writing, speaking, and television appearances, as well as his incisive use of social media, inspire one to imagine what it would be like if James Baldwin, Richard Wright, or Ralph Ellison were on Twitter.” —Jeremy Scahill, author of Dirty Wars and Blackwater

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Annick, Groundwood, and Owlkids in SLJ!

Annick Press, Groundwood, and Owlkids Books have been featured in a School Library Journal article highlighting diversity in Canadian children’s book publishing! This article focuses on diversity and “the inclusivity of—and the collaboration between—the publishing industry and public libraries in Canada.” The publishing environment in Canada is particularly unique because of Canada’s two official languages (French and English), the prominence of independent publishers, and publishers’ commitments to “prioritizing the caliber of their titles over the potential bottom line.”

Here is what SLJ says about our PGW publishers:

“Of the many Canadian publishers displaying a diverse world through children’s books, Groundwood Books is a leader. ‘We are keeping the tradition of not considering sales and marketing,’ says Sheila Barry, president and publisher. ‘We concentrate on making the very best book.’ The strategy has worked. Groundwood titles are highly respected. In addition to the Bologna win, it has garnered awards in all the major book competitions in Canada.”

“The first year the Bologna prize was awarded, Annick Press was a nominee. Sounding a similar note to Groundwood’s Barry, Rick Wilks, director of Annick Press, stresses that his is an editorially driven company. ‘Annick needs to survive, but we want to publish books that make a difference,’ he says. Annick’s recent lists have featured nonfiction narratives that are as exciting as fiction. It’s had significant success with its contemporary tales from indigenous peoples. A prime example is Dreaming in Indian (2014; an SLJ Best Book), edited by Lisa Charleyboy and Mary Beth Leatherdale.”

“While developing new Canadian talent, Owlkids has showcased international authors with books such as The Flat Rabbit (2014), a touching story of death from a Faroese writer, Bardur Oskarsson. Its singular advantage is direct access to children’s opinions through its magazines, Owl, Chirp, and Chickadee.”

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Maxwell the Monkey Barber Book Trailer!

Cale Atkinson has developed an adorable 8-bit book trailer for Maxwell the Monkey Barber (Atkinson; 9781771471039; Owlkids Books; Trade Cloth, Picture Book; $16.95) over at All the Wonders! Check it out here, along with an interview about Cale’s creative process in creating Maxwell and his menagerie of customers.

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