We like books.
We're interested in ways to help more people (especially kids) like books.
You can read more about our company at www.capstonepub.com.

Friday, February 29, 2008

The next you-know-who?

Check it out. We recently spotted our books on store shelves surrounded by some very good company.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Staff Spotlight: Maryellen Gregoire

Name: Maryellen Coughlan Gregoire

Occupation/role at Stone Arch Books:
Director of Product Planning and Public Relations. I work with Michael Dahl to determine what types of books we should publish and make sure they are appropriate for elementary and middle-school kids. I also work with the sales channels to make sure they get what they need, and I am in charge of any ancillary pieces we create to support the use of our books in the school.

Years at Stone Arch Books:
I’ve been here since the beginning, but that’s only three years. Prior to launching SAB, I was in product development for Capstone Press, our sister company, focusing on nonfiction for grades 3-5.

It’s a joke in my family: How many degrees can Mom get before she dies? I have a BA in English, a BS in Elementary Education, a Masters in Elementary Education, and I am currently working on my MLIS degree.

What's your favorite SAB book?
I like the quirky stories. This is a draw between two books: I loved Steel Eyes from the first season! It just caught my interest from the start. My other favorite is Trapped in Space. I had never read anything like it before.

What was your favorite book when you were a kid?
I loved Dr. Seuss, especially Horton Hatches an Egg and Are You My Mother? My mom loved to read those two. She would repeat phrases like "I meant what I said and I said what I meant; an elephant's faithful, 100 percent” in a very funny way.

What were you like as an elementary/middle-school student?

As the youngest of 8 kids, I was always compared to my siblings. While I was smart enough, I could never be as smart as some of the older kids! I tried to please my teachers until about 7th grade, and then I was a quiet rebel. Let’s not talk about high school!

What's your favorite thing to do in your free time?
There are a few things that I like to do: knit, read and go to movies. I made my son an ugly Christmas sweater this year, and I’m in the process of making my daughter an ugly Christmas vest. I read mostly kids/YA books, and thank goodness for my book club so I can read an adult book once in a while! I didn’t realize that I went to movies so much until I went through the award list and I had seen too many of them.

Tell us a memorable Stone Arch Books moment from the past year.
The day I remember most is our holiday party. We sponsored a family for the holidays whose dad had been diagnosed with brain cancer. The mom works as a paraprofessional in a local school district and they have three teenage kids. Our staff pulled together and bought over $600 worth of food and presents. Then we wrapped the presents at our holiday party. Our staff is pretty young, so every penny counts to them. For them donate as much as they did was amazing to me. The family was extremely grateful!

What’s the best part of your job?
I never have a boring day. The best part is being able to read kids books for my job! Plus, I didn’t know that I would enjoy working with my sister (Joan Coughlan Berge, the SAB president) and brother (John Coughlan, the SAB publisher) so much…it’s a lot of fun!

What’s the hardest part of your job?
Not having enough time. I have so many pieces I want to get out and so many projects to do for both marketing and sales on top of choosing good books to publish. It’s all fun and I just don’t have enough time to get to everything I want to do!

This is the second post in a multi-part series, which spotlights the members of the Stone Arch Books staff. Drawing of Maryellen Gregoire by Brann Garvey.

Monday, February 25, 2008

Come see us during PLA!

Are you traveling to Minneapolis for PLA next month? If so, we'd love for you to be our guest at the Capstone Publishers PLA Open House.

On March 27 from 6 to 8 p.m., tour the Capstone Publishers offices, enjoy refreshments, and get a sneak peek at some of the upcoming books from Stone Arch Books, Capstone Press, Picture Window Books, and Compass Point Books.

Our offices are located at 7825 Telegraph Road in Bloomington, Minnesota. We'll even provide you with busing from the Minneapolis Convention Center (buses will pick up near the Convention Center's front doors). Just let us know when you RSVP that you'll need transportation.

To RSVP, for more information, or to have a copy of the invitation emailed to you, contact Krista at k.monyhan@stonearchbooks.com. We can't wait to see you!

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

More teaching tools

We know it’s hard to gauge a student’s reaction and comprehension after reading a book. And book reports, while useful for you, can be boring and frustrating for the student. That’s why we created our handy book report form (opens PDF). It’s a simple handout, with areas for students to fill in the information they need to show that they understood a book. But with its fun design and clear areas for information, it doesn’t feel like an assignment.

Try it out in your classroom, library, or home, and let us know what you think! If the student agrees, send us a copy of any book report on one of our books—we love to hear what kids think, too.

For a great final project, you can combine the book report form and the blank graphic novel page we’ve created. Ask the student to read a graphic novel, write a book report on it, and then draw a graphic novel page of their own, using our create-your-own-graphic-novel page (opens PDF).

Monday, February 18, 2008

Shooting the perfect cover

Last week, three of us from Stone Arch Books—one senior designer, one editor, and one creative director—headed to downtown Minneapolis for a photo shoot. We were working on the covers for the new Claudia Cristina Cortez books that will come out next July. It was a long, fun day. The day before, Kay, the book’s designer, did a ton of shopping. She had to pick out things for the model to wear, and other props for the covers—things like pizza boxes, balloons, and sunglasses. When we showed up at the photographer's studio, we set up the props and clothes. Then, once the model and her mom arrived, we got to work! We shot the four covers one at a time, and took as many as 100 photos for each cover. After the photographer finished taking pictures for each cover, the three of us looked at all of the images on the computer and decide which ones we liked the best. It was a long day, involving many wardrobe changes, but we had a great time. And we love our Claudia model. Marcelia is 13, and we chose her over other models because she seemed so friendly, as if lots of different kinds of kids would like her. Though she’s young, she’s very professional. She’s confident as she’s being photographed, which helps us get the shots we need. Plus, she’s exactly how we imagined Claudia—fun, friendly, and with a great smile! The next step is for Kay to use the photographs to create the Claudia covers. She’ll pick a background color, add the photograph, use a cool font to showcase the title, and add interesting design elements to make the cover pop. Once the back cover copy is added, the cover’s done, and soon, it’ll be in the hands of Claudia fans all over the country!

Thursday, February 14, 2008

A love letter

Today we're sharing a love letter to Stone Arch Books that we recently received. Happy Valentine's Day!

Dear Stone Arch Books,

I never imagined that I would be writing a love letter to a publisher of books, but then again I never could have imagined books as wonderful as yours!

We love your books! When I first spied the titles in your catalog I was fascinated and when the books arrived I was thrilled. It was like opening a special gift for my students. The most startling thing happened is when the books hit the shelves…. They magically disappeared… every copy flew as if enchanted into the hands of all the kids in our school.

The teachers soon started asking about the newest treasures (your books) their students were hooked on. I explained that not only are your books Character Counts, and AR books but they were very COOL! Everyone is excited about the creative graphics and fonts used in your books. The storylines and subjects are just perfect!!!!!

In addition to all of those incentives to read the books there was also the extra added features at the end of every volume. There is kid friendly information about the authors, an easy to read glossary of terms used in the book, the kids really get excited about the internet sites mentioned.

Teachers just love, and use the discussion questions and writing prompts that are included on the final pages too!

I contacted our school character counts committee and gave them their very own catalog. I bought as many sets as we could afford and your books are first on our wish lists for next year. They are also FIRST in the hearts of our kids!!

Keep up the good work and we will keep on ordering as many books as we can.

Thank you so much

Cindy Price
Show Low Primary School Library
Show Low Arizona

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Boys, Books, Firetrucks, and SCBWI

The New York Fire Department made an unexpected guest appearance last week at the 9th Annual Winter Conference of the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI). Their visit was brief, thankfully. Saturday morning, as most of the guests and speakers were in their respective showers, the hotel’s fire alarms went off. A small blaze had started in a laundry chute. The fire was quickly put out; the alarms were switched off. In her opening remarks, Executive Director Lin Oliver explained the situation to the attendees and gleefully enjoyed crying “Fire in the Chute!” She said it had always been part of her “boy fantasy” to say those words.

Too bad there weren’t more words given over to boy fantasies, or mysteries, or adventures. The 1000+ crowd included only 160 men. This may not be an accurate reflection of the overall industry, but it made me think. Last year’s conference was all abuzz with “books for boys.” All the major trade houses had talked up their commitment to bring out more titles and series for the young male reader. But this year, the buzz was gone. The excitement was switched off.

Yes, there are a few more books out there with boy heroes and boy topics, but the big houses are concentrating on girls. Again. I guess they realize that’s where their biggest market is. Why not boys? Why not give every kid an adventure that can be found only on the written page? I want to create books that the reluctant boy reader will grab and devour. I don’t think of this as simply a trend, or something the team at Stone Arch Books will do just this year. It’s a daily preoccupation in our office. Sparking a boy’s imagination, firing up his curiosity, feeding the burning need for adventure and heroics. Fire in the chute!

--Michael Dahl
Editorial Director, Stone Arch Books

Monday, February 11, 2008

Another great kid review

Tennessee librarian (and SLJ blogger) Diane Chen has been working with her library classes to create reviews of books, and since she knows that we love to get reviews from kids, she sent this along. It’s a great review that a fourth-grade girl wrote about our book Yikes, It’s a Yeti!

I read a book called Yikes, it’s a Yeti! by Karen Wallace with pictures by Mick Reid. It was a book about a boy named Norman who had a normal, boring life. One day his mom says he gets to go “camping” with his grandma. Norman’s mom says it so loud that all his friends hear and start making fun of him. Then his grandma takes him to the Himalayas in search of a Yeti. They find one and Norman brings home a Yeti tooth. All his friends think he’s crazy until he pulls out the Yeti tooth. Just at the moment he pulls it out, he sees his life isn’t so boring after all! I think you should read this book if you like comedy.

Diane’s kids are also reviewing other books, including our sister company Capstone Press’s Ballroom Dancing. We hope she’ll send us more! Do your students write reviews? If so, please send them to us! We love to hear what kids think.

Thursday, February 7, 2008

Networking in New York

New York will be in a good mood when I arrive this afternoon – an afterglow of congeniality from the Giants’ Super Bowl lightning-bolt win. Of course, there’s always a feeling of camaraderie at the SCBWI (Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators) conference. SCBWI is an international professional organization that promotes knowledge among authors, illustrators, publishers, agents, educators, and booksellers who are passionate about children’s books. It’s the ideal networking opportunity for people who are already a part of this industry, as well as those who want to join in. I look forward to their annual winter conference each year; it’s a great place to meet enthusiastic and talented authors and artists. That’s where I met Lisa Trumbauer. Her book A Practical Guide to Dragons had just topped the NY Times bestseller list. She went on to write one of our first sports books for girls, Storm Surfer. And now she’s working with us on another project for Spring ‘09.

Last year’s conference brought together three of the biggest names in children’s literature: Katherine Paterson, Susan Cooper, and Brian Selznick. It was an alignment of the heavenly bodies. This year’s opening address will be given by poet Nikki Grimes. Wow! And Richard Peck, one of my favorite authors, will be there, along with Susan Patron (Newbery Award-winning author of The Higher Power of Lucky) and David Wiesner (Caldecott Medal-winning author/illustrator of Flotsam).

I’m also excited to hear from some equally influential stars on the business side of the industry. David Gale, Vice President/Editorial Director at Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, and Mark McVeigh, the Editorial Director at Aladdin Paperbacks, will be heading up breakout sessions. I’ve signed up for both of them. When I return to the office, I know that my laptop will be reaching its megabyte limit with new names and addresses of potential authors and illustrators for Stone Arch Books, as well as info on the hottest industry trends, the latest technology, the changing profile of young readers, and the delight and challenge that all the participants share in the ageless art of storytelling.

--Michael Dahl
Editorial Director, Stone Arch Books

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Girl (Super) Power!

Recently, Newsweek and the Guardian featured articles on the surge of women and girls in comics, both as creators and as readers. At Stone Arch Books, we’ve already started supporting this fast-growing trend. In fact, the Guardian included an interview with Stone Arch author Trina Robbins.

Robbins has written for Wonder Woman and Powerpuff Girls comics, Scholastic, Marvel, and Disney. She has translated Japanese manga into English, and has written award-winning books on comics for girls and superheroines. Her book, The Great Women Cartoonists, was named one of the top ten books on comics in 2001 by Time Magazine. In the Guardian article, Robbins expresses her excitement for the surge, stating, “There are more women creating comics than ever before. I hope it'll get even better.”

Stone Arch would like to see this happen as well. That’s why this season we’re offering even more graphic novels created by female writers and illustrators, which feature even more female protagonists.

Robbins’s newest graphic novel for Stone Arch, Freedom Songs: A Tale of the Underground Railroad, follows a 14-year-old girl named Sarah during her grueling journey out of slavery. The book is sure to satisfy any girl’s (or boy’s) appetite for comics and will be a welcomed addition to every Black History Month reading list.

Check out our website for other graphic novels your girl readers will love.

--Donnie Lemke
Editor, Stone Arch Books

Friday, February 1, 2008

January wrap-up

January was a busy month here at Stone Arch Books! We’re in the thick of working on our Fall 2008 list. All of the manuscripts are in. Illustrators are busily working away at covers, designers are starting the initial cover designs, our librarian reviewers and reading consultants are reading edited manuscripts, our marketing team is starting to work on sales flyers, and editors are polishing up the final manuscripts. Plus, we’re starting to receive manuscripts and talk about design concepts for some of our Spring 2009 books! But even when we’re busy working on our books, the rest of SAB life doesn’t slow down: we traveled to ALA this month, and are looking forward to SCBWI in February and ahead to PLA (here in Minneapolis—we can’t wait!) in March. We’ve got a lot going on—but the truth is, we like it that way.