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

Monday, March 24, 2008

Time for PLA!

PLA is this week! We hope you’ll come and see us at our booth in the exhibit hall. We’re in booth #1611, and we’ll be giving away posters featuring our bestselling Jake Maddox sports books. We’re also part of a giveaway with Capstone Press and Linworth Books. The drawing has a great prize—9 of our Graphic Revolve books, 14 of Capstone Press’s Graphic Science books, and two books by Michele Gorman (Getting Graphic! Comics for Kids and Getting Graphic! Using Graphic Novels to Promote Literacy with Preteens and Teens) will go to one lucky winner. Simply sign up at our booth during exhibit hours. We’ll ship the prize to the lucky winner after the show.

Stone Arch Books staff will be busy manning the booth. You might even run into some of our authors while you’re there. So come and see us—we can’t wait to meet you and tell you all about our awesome books.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Minnesota publishing

Looking forward to traveling to Minneapolis for the PLA conference? We’re looking forward to having you here! If this is your first professional trip to Minnesota, you might not be aware that the area is a hotbed of publishers—we’ve got all kinds of publishing houses here, but the educational publishing in Minnesota is especially outstanding. Check out this article in SLJ for more (including some comments from our president, Joan Berge).

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

On oral language

Oral language -- language that is similar to the way kids speak and hear it -- is vital in fiction books for struggling readers. According to Kylene Beers’s book When Kids Can’t Read What Teachers Can Do, “fragments, run-ons, short sentences, and slang all help create what readers call ‘real talk’ or ‘slang lang’ in a book.” This is the language kids hear in their heads. When this type of language is used in a book, it becomes easier for them to relate to the text on the written page.

This is something the editors at Stone Arch Books are constantly thinking about. We want our characters to sound real. Characters who speak with words and phrases appropriate to the situation, and are contemporary without being too trendy, help the reluctant reader enjoy the story. No kid wants to read about a hero who sounds like a grammar textbook. Bullies should sound mean, not literate. We take care to make our books sound the way kids talk, paying close attention to things like contractions, limited narrative passages, lots of dialogue, and sentences ending in propositions. They’re not always a part of exceptional literature, but they help students get into reading and eventually transition into more difficult literature.

In short, oral language gets kids reading. Specific elements of oral language, however, need to be kept to a minimum, or sometimes even deleted, to aid the struggling student. These include figurative, or flowery language, unnecessary use of idioms, homophones, and homographs. Whatever is not a part of a kid’s natural speech habits needs to be introduced in small and deliberate doses.

This approach extends a helping hand and gently moves the reader from oral language to the basics of written language, and then upward to more complex and more engaging material. No one will read Hamlet unless they can first get excited about ghosts, graveyards, and swordplay. And no one can get excited about ghosts, graveyards, and swordplay unless they are given the material in words that are familiar. At Stone Arch Books, we want to get kids excited about reading. To do so, we take time to make sure that our books echo kids’ words as well as their world.

--Michael Dahl
Editorial Director, Stone Arch Books

Friday, March 14, 2008

More graphic novel news

We’ve been looking forward to March for a long time—and not just because the temperatures are finally starting to rise. This month is the first time one of our books is a Junior Library Guild pick. Frankenstein, one of the graphic-novel retellings in our Graphic Revolve set, was chosen as one of the March Junior Library Guild selections. It’s just the first of many of our books that the JLG has honored in this way (look for upcoming selections in the next few months), and we’re thrilled! The Junior Library Guild looks through more than 3,000 manuscripts each year before determining its 288 selections, so we feel very honored to have been chosen.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Catch the Reading Bug!

In March in Minnesota, it doesn’t feel anything like summer, between the frigid temperatures and the piles of snow—although with Daylight Savings Time upon us and temperatures above 40 this week, we’re starting to believe summer will come eventually. Of course, once summer comes, we won’t be excited about the bugs. But right now, bugs sound pretty great.

We’re getting excited for summer with our new summer reading collection, the Bug Collection. Moths, beetles, mosquitoes, and more are the focus of these fun novels and graphic novels, all part of the summer reading program at public libraries this year.

For more information on the books, check out our website, and for more information on the summer reading program, head to http://www.cslpreads.org/ .

Monday, March 10, 2008

Have no fear!

Last week, the St. Paul Pioneer Press reported on a new graphic novel course offered at Hazel Park Middle School in St. Paul, Minnesota. Not surprisingly, at least to Stone Arch staffers, the instructor, Linda Morrison, raved about her students’ interest in the course and their reading progress. All was good in the world . . .

The real story, however, came the day after the article’s publication. In several follow-up responses, a number of people voiced strong opposition to the course, stating, “Comic books have no place in a curriculum.” This type of public feedback shocked us, to say the least. Hadn’t graphic novels secured their place as a respected literary genre? Didn’t the New York Times, the National Book Foundation, and even the Pulitzer Prize Board embrace the format long ago? Wasn’t the Maryland State Department of Education Comic Book Initiative enough to prove the benefits of graphic novels for reluctant readers? Maybe we’ve read too many comic books, but it sure felt like we’d slipped into the Bizarro world.

Have no fear! We were rescued from the depths of disillusionment by the most likely of heroes—the students themselves. In the original article, one of Morrison’s students, Noushoua, exclaimed, “Reading graphic novels makes you want to read more.” Can entertaining, inspiring, and educating students really be that simple? Well, at Stone Arch Books, we believe it can!

Check out our website for tons of graphic novels your readers will want to read. And while you’re there, browse our Educator Resources, sure to help calm any, um, unearthly fears.

--Donnie Lemke
Senior Editor, Stone Arch Books

Thursday, March 6, 2008

Calling All Kid Reviewers

A big part of my job at Stone Arch Books is to get reviews and awards for our books. We get excited about reviews that are in magazines, but we REALLY like hearing directly from kids. That’s why we need your help.

Have your students read any books from Stone Arch Books? We would love it if they would write about the books they’ve read. What was their favorite part of the story? Did they like the illustrations? Would they recommend this book to a friend? Why?

After they have written the reviews, they can either email them to me at k.monyhan@stonearchbooks.com or they can mail them to:

Krista Monyhan
Stone Arch Books
7825 Telegraph Rd.
Bloomington, MN 55438.

Once I get the reviews, I will post them on our website. (We won’t use the students’ names, but will identify their grade and city with their review.)

Please feel free to contact me if you have any questions. I hope this will be a good way to get your students writing after they read books!

--Krista Monyhan
Sales and Marketing Coordinator, Stone Arch Books

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Great Graphic Novels

Two of our graphic novels are featured in an School Library Journal article this month. King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table, from our Graphic Revolve set, and Tiger Moth, Insect Ninja, from our Graphic Sparks set, are spotlighted in Michele Gorman’s list of 25 great graphic novels for young readers. The books are among some great company--our sister company Capstone Press's The Shocking World of Electricity with Max Axiom, Super Scientist! is listed, as are a bunch of other great books.

Check out our website to see the other graphic-novel retellings of classic books in our Graphic Revolve set, and other funny, goofy books in our Graphic Sparks set.