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.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Headed to ALA!

ALA is this week in Anaheim, CA. This is one of the biggest library events of the year, and we can’t wait to attend. We’ll be in booth 2478—please stop by, pick up one of our popular Jake Maddox or Library of Doom posters, preview our brand new books for Fall 2008 (hot off the presses!), and grab a new catalog so you can browse our complete list of contemporary fiction once you’re back at home. We’re featuring our new We Are Heroes set—come by and take a look. And we love to hear from and talk to librarians. If you have thoughts about our books or books you’d like to see, come on by and let us know.

Maryellen will have a recap of events next week—hope to see you in Anaheim!

Monday, June 23, 2008

Diane Chen on Interactive Books

Diane Chen, one of the librarians who visited us a couple of weeks ago, talks about Capstone Publishers’ Interactive books on her SLJ blog.

Take a look—she’s posted a few of her favorite Interactive books (including books from our own Library of Doom and Tiger Moth series!). She’s also made it easy for you to get a free trial of the entire Capstone Interactive library. Be sure to let her (and us!) know what you think.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Kids Are Still Reading

Reading is still alive and well, reports a new Scholastic study. According to the study, 62% of kids like to read and think reading for pleasure is important. While the percentage of kids who like to read decreases as kids grow up, even 55% of teenagers ages 15-17 like or love reading.
This is great news for parents, teachers, librarians, and people like us, who are invested in getting kids to read (and loving to read, too!).

Perhaps one of the more interesting findings of the study was that when kids don’t spend time pleasure reading, it’s because they’d rather be doing other things or because they don’t have enough time to read due to schoolwork. Kids also reported that they don’t spend more time reading because they have trouble finding appealing books, but there’s good news—when Scholastic published its last report in 2006, the number-one reason kids chose not to read was because they couldn’t find books that appealed to them. In the 2008 report, that answer moved down to the third most-frequent response.

So what does this mean for us? It means we—as parents, educators, and book lovers—are still creating a love of reading in children. We’re still writing, illustrating, and publishing great books—maybe even better books now than before. We’re on the right track, and kids are still reading.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Four Tennessee Librarians

We had a nice break from the norm yesterday when four librarians from Tennessee came to visit the Capstone Publishers Twin Cities office. Becky, Allison, Lynn, and Diane drove thirteen hours to Minnesota, and we took the opportunity to pick their brains about what librarians want in their libraries. It’s always great to hear from librarians about what’s working and what’s not.

Stone Arch Books staff met with the librarians for over an hour yesterday afternoon. We barraged them with questions, both about books we’ve already published and about books we dream about publishing. Afterward, we were all inspired, full of new ideas and with new thoughts about books we’re already working on.

We absolutely love feedback from librarians, teachers, and other educators (and from kids!). We’re especially interested in what we can do to make your job easier and in what fiction your library needs and can’t get enough of. If you have comments about our books, or questions about how we make decisions, or anything else, please contact us either by leaving a comment on this blog or by one of the methods on our website.

Thanks for visiting, Tennessee librarians! We can’t wait to see you again soon.

Monday, June 9, 2008

Stone Arch Books's Fall '08 Catalog

Our new catalog is here! The marketing team finished working on it just two weeks ago, so it was a great surprise when finished copies showed up on our desks on Thursday afternoon.

This season, our catalog is full of tons of new books we’re really proud of. Our new series, Graphic Spin, does for fairy tales what Graphic Revolve did for classic stories—in each Graphic Spin book, a fairy tale is lavishly told in graphic-novel format. You’ve never seen fairy tales like this before!

In Graphic Sparks, we have new books in our Eek and Ack, School Zombies, Time Blasters, and Buzz Beaker series. We also have the first two books in a brand-new series, Zinc Alloy, written by our own Donald Lemke. Kids will love the escapades of Zack Allen, the world’s newest superhero.

Our Graphic Flash set has grown by four new books—all stories of war that will fit in wonderfully to American history classes. And Graphic Revolve contains four new classic stories.

Jake Maddox is back with twelve new books—four boy stories, four girl stories, and four new extreme outdoor adventure books. Our bestselling and well-reviewed Claudia Cristina Cortez set is back, too—with four more stories from Claudia’s point of view. We also have four new Vortex mysteries (including Curtains!: A High School Musical Mystery by our own Michael Dahl) and six new Shade Books, perfect for the kid who’s looking for a little bit of creepy suspense (that’s still safe!)

And we’ve mentioned the We Are Heroes series before on this blog. This new series contains six high-low books about ordinary kids making extraordinary changes in their communities. Whether it’s planting trees at school or painting a room in a house built by Habitat for Humanity, these books show real ways kids can make differences. (And, of course, proceeds from the book Kids Against Hunger will go to the nonprofit organization Kids Against Hunger™.)

These books aren’t available yet, but they will be on July 15. Keep your eye on this blog for more information about all of our new products over the next couple of months! Take a look at all of our books, or request a catalog of your own, at www.stonearchbooks.com.

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Kids Against Hunger in action

On Friday, Krista Monyhan and I drove to Mankato, MN to take part in a really special opportunity. We headed to Franklin Elementary School, where the school principal had contacted Kids Against Hunger and organized a special volunteering day for the kids there. As we’ve mentioned before in this blog, we have a book (which I edited) coming out this summer about Kids Against Hunger, and it was my first chance to get to see for myself what the organization does.

When Krista and I arrived at Franklin Elementary, the day was already in full swing. We entered a noisy, crowded gym, where five long tables had been set up. Ten kids (and two adult supervisors), each wearing a special Kids Against Hunger apron and a hairnet* were at each table. The tables were covered with big plastic containers, each full of a different component of the special rice-soy casserole. As we watched, the kids scooped up rice, soy, dried vegetables, and “chicken” powder**. Each scoop went into a funnel, which led to a plastic bag with cooking instructions and nutrition facts. Once the bag was full, one of the kids brought it to the weighers, who made sure that the package was the right weight. If it wasn’t, they’d add or subtract some ingredients. Then another kid sealed the package using a special heat-sealing machine, and passed it on to be packed into a box.

None of these jobs sounds particularly thrilling for a kid, but it was incredible to see how all of the kids in the room were working together. They’d race, trying to fill more boxes than the table next to them. They’d relay orders--"less rice! More soy!"--and box counts down the line. Every so often, they’d trade jobs, so that everyone got a chance to try different parts of the line. And they kept saying “Come on, it’s for the kids! Hurry up, it’s for the kids!”

As I helped one fifth-grade girl learn to use the sealing machine, another girl looked at me and said, “I’ve been helping Kids Against Hunger for like, longer than I can remember.” I smiled and said, “That’s great! Today’s my first time.” But I have the feeling it won’t be my last—it was such a fun experience, made even more fun by a really great group of kids and their teachers, and other volunteers for Kids Against Hunger.

While Krista and I were there (and we were only there for half of the day!), the kids packaged enough food to make more than twenty thousand meals. That’s a lot of good, filling, healthy food for people who don’t have enough to eat—and all it took was one afternoon, a gymnasium, and a bunch of really great kids. These are exactly the kind of kids we had in mind when we came up with our series We Are Heroes (which includes the book Kids Against Hunger)—everyday, ordinary kids doing extraordinary things.

You can learn more about Kids Against Hunger at their website. And we’ll give you more information about our book Kids Against Hunger when it’s available for purchase.

--Beth Brezenoff
Senior Editor, Stone Arch Books

* I thought the kids would be embarrassed to be wearing hairnets, but no! At first, they seemed hesitant—when we handed out the hairnets to a new group of kids, one of them said, “Well, we look dumb, but at least we ALL look dumb.” But by the end of each session, they were begging to be able to keep their hairnets.

** The chicken powder is vegetarian, to accommodate the needs of various diets throughout the world.

Krista Monyhan and Beth Brezenoff at Franklin Elementary School.