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, December 24, 2010

Happy Holidays!

We're off today, but Santa "Michael Dahl" Claus wanted to wish you and yours the happiest of holidays. Stay warm!

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Kylie Jean, on your screen

Oh, Kylie Jean.

You're not even available in print yet (just a few days!) but you're already getting tons of great reviews.

Plus, you're suuuuuuuuper adorable.

So of course we decided you should star in your very own book trailer.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Books and puppies? Wha?

Check out Donnie's post about the brand-new, much-anticipated DC SUPER-PETS, over at Capstone Connect today--and find out how books are like puppies.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Snow days 2010!

You may have heard that we had a bit of a blizzard here in Minnesota. Most of us managed to dig out in time to come to work today, but Emily and I thought we'd share a few shots of the storm!

During, in Minneapolis:

After, in St. Paul: (that little lump in the first picture is my toddler's head behind a snowdrift!)

Friday, November 12, 2010

Fiction Friday at Capstone Connect

Hop over to Capstone Connect, enter the contest, and read all about our recent photo shoot adventure!

Friday, November 5, 2010

Fiction Friday: New York Comic Con 2010

Check out Bob's post on Comic Con New York over at the Capstone blog! (And don't forget — over at Capstone Connect, every Friday is Fiction Friday. Join us!)

Tuesday, November 2, 2010


A big one! Head over to Capstone Connect, leave a comment on the contest post, and you could win $250 in Capstone gift certificates. Just doing the math in my head here, that would be a lot of great new books . . .

Friday, October 29, 2010

Ah, Halloween.

One of the best things about Halloween at Capstone Fiction is that we're visited by our favorite characters. Today, Cow (from the upcoming Snack Time for Cow), Pecos Bill, and the Incredible Rockhead stopped by. Link

Your Halloween Gift-giving Guide

So there's this author named Neil Gaiman. Maybe you've heard of him. Newbery Medalist? New York Times bestselling author? Yeah, that guy. Anyway, a week or so ago he wrote a very interesting post on his blog. There aren't, he said, enough good occasions for book-gifting. Therefore, he's proposing that we start a new tradition: the giving of a scary book on Halloween. (Only he's British, so he types "Hallowe'en," which is very charming.) Monica Edinger over at the Huffington Post chimed in with some excellent ideas of books to give, and in honor of the holiday, I thought I'd offer our own Capstone-centric gift-giving guide.

Coldfeet For the youngest book-lovers: You can't go wrong with any of our Monster Street books. They're about monsters, but they're not scary. Okay, I know the point of the whole thing is to give scary books, but sometimes you want a book that isn't scary. And COLD FEET is even about getting over fears!

Katie For kids who have just learned to read: Katie Woo, of course! In BOO, KATIE WOO! she dresses up like a monster and tries to scare everyone.

For young fans of nonfiction scares: check out the Really Scary Stuff series. Spooktacular!

MMM For graphic-novel lovers: Mighty Mighty Monsters tell the story of monsters' childhoods. Your giftee might also like seeing some of our graphic novel heroes battling famous monsters...for example, when Jimmy Sniffles takes on the Mummy. Jimmy mummy

For kids who prefer that scary stuff is true, there are some great new options in the Edge line. I bet a kid who was handed GHOULISH GHOST STORIES would be pretty in-demand at slumber parties!

For Twilight fans who want to believe Edward might show up at their school any minute, I don't think you could do any better than VAMPIRE LIFE.

Werewolf And for Twilight fans who want to believe that Jacob might be their one true love, I give you THE LEGEND OF THE WEREWOLF.

For older kids: You cannot go wrong with any of the Shade books. End of the line One that gives me the chills just thinking about it is THE END OF THE LINE. Shivers! There are also a few of Shaun Tan's early works in that set . . . and they are CREEPY.

And finally, for kids who want to write their OWN ghost stories: try SHARE A SCARE!

What? You haven't gotten all of your Halloween presents yet? My goodness. Time's a-wasting!

Happy Hallowe'en!

Beth Brezenoff
Managing editor

Cross-posted from Capstone Connect.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

What does Halloween have to do with fiction writing?

To me, Halloween has always been about the candy. My brothers and I used to spend every October brainstorming new ways to maximize candy-gathering while trick-or-treating. Candy is, after all, serious business when you’re 11! By using the following innovations, we always amassed a “healthy” supply of candy that lasted well into spring.

1) Pillowcases. There’s nothing better to carry your sweet, sweet loot. Yes, we filled them completely by night’s end, in no small part due to our second innovation…

2) Rollerblades. This was a major breakthrough -- it allowed us to hit more houses per minute! Of course, we fell down a lot (you try to rollerblade with a cape, sickle, and skeleton mask on sometime), but that didn’t matter much as we had a big sack of candy to cushion the blow. (And as far as we were concerned, flattened candy tasted just as good, anyway.) The third innovation, however, was the true source of our success…

3) Create a memorable character. I always went as the grim reaper, so I spoke in a gravelly voice. I also made sure my cloak was just long enough to conceal my rollerblades; that way, I appeared to float like a ghost from house to house. Year after year, my grim reaper character was recognized by more and more houses. And, year after year, my candy returns increased!

As an editor, I encourage my writers to take the same approach to crafting a memorable character. Readers will not become engaged in a book if they are unable to relate to the protagonist on some level. The character has to make sense within the world presented in the story. This is true of all ages of readers, but it’s especially important in children’s literature because kids see the main character as at least a partial projection (or reflection) of themselves to an even greater extent than adult readers do. Thus, if a character is a walking, talking info dump, it’ll come off as flat and unrelatable, and the book will end up back on the shelf before the first chapter is finished.

For comics and graphic novels, character creation is even more important. Visual presentation alone does not a compelling character make; thus, if the character speaks like an adult, thinks like an adult, and acts like an adult, it won’t matter if it looks like a kid -- young readers can tell when a character isn’t authentic, and they have no patience for it! So, whenever dealing with the comic book medium, we ask our writers to provide thorough, well thought out character descriptions that are expressions of the character’s inner person. We also ensure that our illustrators properly convey the characters’ personalities visually.

In a way, I suppose books with good characters are a lot like candy: they’re rewarding to consume and wrapped in an enticing package. I mean, come on—we all need a treat now and then (or perhaps a pillowcase full).

Sean Tulien
Associate Editor - Fiction

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Capstone Connect

So...you guys all know about the new Capstone Connect blog, right?

Head on over. There are daily posts from various divisions in the company—including from yours truly here at Capstone Fiction. (Look for us on Fridays, but check it out every day.)

And have no fear—the Stone Arch Books blog will stay here. But when we get busy, you'll have guaranteed reading material every day at Capstone Connect.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Moonbeam Children's Book Awards

We are pleased to announce that three of our titles have won the 2010 Moonbeam Children's Book Awards. This award celebrates youthful curiosity, discovery and learning through books and reading.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Words of Wisdom Wednesday: Why kids read for fun

There are so many entertainment options available for kids today. From video games to cell phones to t.v. and movies, kids have an array of activities at their fingertips. So how can we inspire kids to read? What do they look for from a book?

The 2010 Kids & Family Reading Report provides some great insights:

68% of kids age 9-17 say they read books to use their imagination and 66% read books to gain new information

62% of kids age 9-17 say they read books for fun to be inspired by storylines and characters.

Half of kids age 9-17 say they read books for fun "to help you figure out who you are and who you could become."

Friday, October 8, 2010

Early Childhood Honors

Over the past year, Capstone Publishing has began marketing into the early childhood market. Making books for the toddler and preschool crowd has been incredibly interesting and incredibly fun.

Here at fiction, we are particularly proud of two new series, our Hello Genius board books and Little Boost picture books. This week our efforts were recognized; two of our titles were selected as winners of the 2010 Creative Child Awards Program, sponsored by Creative Child magazine. Pony Brushes His Teeth from the Hello Genius series won the Seal of Excellence Award, while Crabby Pants from the Little Boost series won a Preferred Choice Award.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Field Trips! Mysteries! Prizes!

Wasn't the best day at school whatever day had a field trip scheduled? Yes. It was. And wouldn't the best field trip have been one wherein you and your gang of scrappy best friends solved a mystery? Wouldn't it???

I remember my field trips mostly for the bus rides. When I first started concepting the Field Trip Mysteries series a couple of years ago, I asked a friend who's a middle-school English teacher if I could go on one of her school's field trips. We saw an IMAX movie on the ocean, and I remember the 3-D made someone feel sick. But mostly I remember that the bus smelled exactly like I remember field trips smelling back in the last century when I was a girl.

Did you know that October is Field Trip Month? And it's also Mystery Month? Isn't that perfect for October? It does feel like field trips and mysteries.

Tell me something about how you're spending your October by next Friday (the 15th) and I'll pick a winner at random to receive a copy of the Field Trip Mysteries special limited edition (four stories in one gorgeous book!), On the Bus, On the Case.

Happy October!

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Just Direct Your (Cold) Feet to Monster Street

When I was a first-grader, there was a TV anthology show my parents watched on Sunday nights called Chiller that specialized in Grade-Z monster movies. I was not allowed to join in the fun. I did, however, sometimes sneak down the hall, barefooted, and listen to the roars, screams, sound effects and near-Shakespearean dialogue. Once I listened to a movie called Attack of the 50-ft. Woman. I wondered: How scary, really, is a woman with fifty feet? What could she possibly do? Kick you? Steal your shoes?

I obviously didn’t grasp the reality of the title, but I did make some creative connections of my own. It reminded me that while children may be terrific observers, they are often terrible interpreters. And they need help when it comes to parsing out words with two or more meanings. Or when confronted by those phrases that adults use so easily, yet stumble against a child’s limited vocabulary and experience. Like the idiom “In one ear and out the other.” I used to think grown-ups were discussing flying insects. How about “having cold feet”? Sounds like a Chiller movie about the abominable snowman to me.

I had a lot of fun writing the new picture book series called Monster Street, because it involved making up stories to explain those idioms. And because I could remember how it felt to be confused about words and their tricks and twists. I think my favorite in the series is Two Heads Are Better Than One. I love how the illustrator, Migy, has portrayed the spunky, but sometimes sad, little monster George as he faces life with only one head in a family whose members all sport two. Poor George. Faces life? There’s another idiom. We’re surrounded by them! It’s raining cats and dogs with them! I think of Monster Street as a safe, cozy haven for those young listeners (and readers) like me who were afraid of “another mouth to feed” or the chilling possibility of real butterflies taking up residence in your stomach.

Michael Dahl

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Words of Wisdom Wednesday: Stress Less

Stress among children is estimated to have increased 45% over the past 30 years. In a recent poll question on Capstone Kids, we asked kids what they do when they feel stressed or upset. The number one answer was listen to music.

1. Listen to music (31%)
2. Watch TV or play a video game (27%)
3. Read a Book (16%)
4. Other - something not listed (16%)
5. Talk to friends (5%)
6. Play a sport or do something active (5%)

I’m surprised to see that talk to friends and play a sport or do something active are so low on the list. How do you see kids handling stress?

Friday, September 17, 2010

And last but not least . . .

Rounding out our Fall '10 offerings, here's your report on the newest licensed books and graphic novels from Stone Arch Books!

Last season, we introduced our partnership with Sports Illustrated Kids and launched our first graphic novels under the SI Kids brand. This season, we take it a step further and add full-color chapter books to the mix. The kids at Victory School all have extraordinary athletic ability, but they face ordinary struggles, learning that teamwork and fair play are just as important to them as they are to normal kids. Check out the awesome Victory School Superstars trailer, too:

We've also got six brand-new graphic novels from Sports Illustrated Kids. These books have been getting some great reviews. School Library Journal said they were "sure to fly off shelves." Nice!

Did you know that some of our ever-popular Graphic Revolve retellings of classic tales are also available in Spanish! Es verdad! English-language learners, bilingual kids, and Spanish-language learners will all appreciate these editions of some of our coolest graphic novels.

And we're granting wishes to librarians and kids everywhere by adding classic Arabian Nights tales (with absolutely breathtaking illustrations) to the Graphic Revolve set.

Ever wonder what certain monsters were like as kids? Find out in our brand-new Mighty Mighty Monsters series, set in Transylmania. Horror fans and kids who just love graphic novels will love this new series by Sean O'Reilly.

And speaking of awesome kids, we've added a new graphic novel in the Monster and Me series and the Princess Candy series, and two new graphic novels in the Incredible Rockhead series. (This time, Rockhead battles Scissorlegz and Papercutz.)

And for the new readers who love graphic novels, My First Graphic Novel is back with four new books, all set at school.

Finally, we have four new Batman books, four new Wonder Woman books, and four new Superman books in our DC Super Heroes set.

And that's our list!

If you missed my rundown of our newest books from Picture Window Books and our new novels from Stone Arch, check out those posts.

Here's my question for you, readers: What are we missing? As readers, authors, illustrators, librarians, teachers, parents—what would you like to see on this list? What do you want more of? Please let me know in the comments!

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

What's New in Novels from Stone Arch Books

Good morning! Today is feeling even more autumnal than Monday—cold, gray, and rainy. Let's brighten things up with another rundown of what's new from Capstone Fiction!

Today, I'll talk about some of the new novels from Stone Arch Books available now for the Fall 10 season.

First off, I am so excited to introduce Monica! This series is a spin-off of our very popular The Complicated Life of Claudia Cristina Cortez. Monica is Claudia's best friend, but in this series she comes out from behind her friend's shadow. While the Claudia books are peppered with whimsical margin art, the Monica series uses text messages throughout to help tell the story. Young teenage girls are going to love this series. (You, faithful reader, may remember that I've talked about the cover shoot and editing the series in previous entries!)

The Librarian is back, and this time with longer stories, a new sidekick, creepier covers, and gorgeous art. Our Hero, the watcher of the Library of Doom, and his compatriot, the Specialist, battle evildoers who would release the world's most dangerous books. Check out our book trailer!

We have three new series in our Stone Arch Readers program this season. In Level 1, Little Lizard has a party, hangs out with his family, enjoys his first day of school, and gets a new bike. In Level 2, the members of the Pet Club have a ton of fun with their fish, dog, cat, and rat. And in Level 3, Buzz Beaker (from our popular graphic novel series) is back with new inventions.

Older readers will adore Annie, the main character in the Ridgeview Riding Club series, and will want to read all eight books. This season, we've added four more.

School Library Journal
called The Graffiti Mystery "an excellent, lighthearted, and enjoyable read with many humorous situations and clever crime-solving tactics." Now Damian Drooth has more cases to crack!

If you've got mystery lovers in your library, Stone Arch is your new best friend. We've added four more books to our bestselling Field Trip Mysteries series. This time, Cat, Gum, Sam, and Egg are on field trips to four exciting cities in the United States: New York City, Washington, D.C., San Francisco, and New Orleans.

And one more super sleuth to round things out: Klooz, everyone's favorite kid detective, solves two more crimes in record time.

Finally, it wouldn't be a season round-up of Capstone Fiction novels without more sports stories from Jake Maddox. This season, we see the Wildcats football team through the eyes of four different players on the team. Each guy has his own challenges and victories, but they all have to learn teamwork if the Wildcats really want to win.

Whew! That was a big list. Next time, new graphic novels and licensed books (we'll see if I can fit it all in one post!)

Enjoy your Wednesday. More soon!

Monday, September 13, 2010

What's New from Picture Window

Happy Fall!

Here in Minnesota, the leaves are JUST beginning to change, and school buses are making their daily trips around the neighborhood. Fresh apples line the tables at the farmers' market, days are getting shorter, and mornings are cool. And the final sign of fall? New books from Capstone Fiction. This week, I'll be highlighting the newest books on our shelves, available now!

Today's new books are all from our Picture Window Books imprint. When we're choosing books for Picture Window, we think bright, wholesome, and fun—the very best of childhood.

We're so excited about introducing Little Boost—adorable picture books that kids will love, about new experiences and common preK troubles. (Roger from Crabby Pants is a personal favorite.) Check out our book trailer for more about all four books!

We're also debuting another new series of picture books, Monster Street. These books turn idioms into hilarious stories, full of bright, gorgeous, interesting art by Migy.

Introduce young readers to classic tales with My First Classic Story, a new set of fourteen (with more to come!) bright and colorful books in a kid-friendly size.

And last but not least of our brand-new series, MICHAEL DAHL PRESENTS SUPER FUNNY JOKE BOOKS. Here's a great one from Screaming with Laughter:

Why didn't the monster eat the comedian?
Because he tasted funny.

Everyone's favorite spectacled and sassy little girl, Katie Woo, is back! This time, she's celebrating different holidays with her family and friends.

Stay tuned this week for more of the season's best from Capstone Fiction. Happy Monday!

Friday, September 3, 2010

On libraries

Happy Friday, blog-readers!

Many of you probably already know that this is Library Card Sign-up Month. Many of you probably already have a library card, work at a library, or frequent a library.

Big confession time.

I've had a library card for most of my life. As a kid, I spent a ton of time in the library, both at school and at the public library. But around the time I got an income of my own, I stopped going to the library. It didn't seem convenient when I could just pop into a bookstore or order something online. The ease of buying cheap used books online made my habit even worse. I'd still buy the expensive hardcover when it was one of my favorite authors, but I never went to the library.

My husband and I have over a thousand books, which makes sense since he's a writer and I'm an editor. But we also live in a house that's less than a thousand square feet. You do the math. We have boxes and boxes and boxes of books stacked in the basement. We have books stuffed on top of books on the shelves upstairs. Our bedroom's bookshelf has books stacked three books deep. And our 2-year-old son seems to have inherited our problem--his books don't fit on his dedicated shelves.

Enter the library. We have a great library in our neighborhood of St. Paul. They have a children's storytime, lots of computers, friendly staff. I've had a library card here since we bought our house, but I hardly ever use it. Besides, though the library is great, the collection is fairly small. Easier to just order it online, right? Then I realized that I'd been missing the point. In the amount of time it takes to find a cheap used book online and buy it, I can request the same book at the library, have it delivered from another branch (if necessary), and walk through my cute neighborhood to pick it up. I was definitely patting myself on the back for that display of genius until I realized that everyone else already knew to do that.

So here's to library cards. For letting me try new authors and old favorites without committing to an investment of space and money. Let's face it--I'm still going to buy books. Obviously I'm going to continue to buy books. I work in publishing. I love books. But now I'll be able to justify my purchases even more and seek out even more new authors. Yay for library cards! I'm just sorry I'm so late to the party. Apparently I should behave more like my ten-year-old self more often.

Have a happy holiday weekend, and bring on autumn--I've got a ton of books waiting to be read.

more soon!

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Words of Wisdom Wednesday: Read In Public!

Saturday was Read Comics in Public Day. (Note: For most of our staff, every day is Read Comics in Public Day. Yesterday, editorial director Michael got a box of comics shipped to him, and within seconds, half of my coworkers were huddled around his desk, paging through all the new stuff.)

To celebrate Read Comics in Public Day this weekend, Bob, one of our art directors, combined two of his passions: comics and the Minnesota State Fair.

Where do you like to read--comics or otherwise--in public? Is there a place you wouldn't read in public? Tell us!

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Words of Wisdom Wednesday: Slogans

At the beginning of every football season in Green Bay, WI, a dedicated fan paints a new slogan about the Packers on the fence across from Lambeau Field. Over the years this has become such a phenomenon that its now featured in newspapers and media all over the state. People look forward to the day the fence is being painted. This year there is even an email address where fans can submit suggestions for the slogan. It's a fresh slate every year, a new start every season.

As you think about the new school year, what do you want your slogan to be? Where would you paint it?

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Return to The Library

I remember the first book I ever checked out with my own library card. It was The Voyages of Doctor Dolittle and I was seven years old. I was entranced by the Hugh Lofting’s detailed illustrations, by the mysterious word “voyage,” and by the prospect of talking animals! The library, in North Minneapolis, and long-since demolished, was a medieval-looking structure built of huge sandstone blocks and pillars. The separate entrance to the children’s section, which made it all the more appealing, was a low, heavy stone archway at the bottom of a small flight of outdoor steps. My first library, then, was a castle, a dungeon, and a fortress all wrapped up in one imposing edifice.

I was in awe of libraries. They were places of silence. They had weird furniture. One couldn’t go to them alone (well, I was only seven). Countless books lined the shelves, and each one was potentially mine Maybe only for a week, but during that time the book belonged to me, and me alone. It was an odd, sobering, yet exhilarating responsibility.

A few years ago, when I got the chance to write a series for Stone Arch Books that would grab the most reluctant and struggling readers, I naturally thought about what hooked my interest as a young boy. I was not a reluctant reader, but I was definitely picky. So the thought of creating a fantasy series set in the world’s largest and most secretive library immediately got me excited. I was 10 when I saw Howard Hawks’s Land of the Pharaohs starring Joan Collins as an evil Egyptian princess. The pyramid’s deadly maze, hidden passageways, and amazing booby-traps burned into my imagination. (I don’t want to give away the jaw-dropping finale of the film, but I will say that I have had a respect for the power of sand ever since.) The Library of Doom grew out of that enigmatic and colossal structure.

I wrote 12 books in the original Library of Doom series, focusing on monsters and villains that all had some kind of book or library connection – there were deadly bats formed from ripped off pages, bookends that came to life, bookworm creatures that dwelt in hidden caverns and were large enough to devour humans. It was fun to imagine, fun to write, and I have received hundreds of positive responses from librarians, teachers, and parents who told me that their student or child hated to read before he or she picked up one of the Librarian’s adventures.

More recently, I was invited to Return to the Library of Doom. Six more books. But I wanted to do something new. I figured that those students who accompanied my bookish hero through his various escapades could be challenged. They would feel confident enough to attempt a longer story. So the new books are twice as long as the first. And readers will meet new characters, including a super heroine who fights alongside the Librarian and is known as – the Specialist. She owes a little to one of my favorite TV shows growing up, The Avengers, with Diana Rigg as Mrs. Emma Peel.

Books have been my companions ever since I opening the cover to a Golden Book (The Color Cats!). Libraries have been my refuge and my inspiration. Writing about the Librarian and his hidden fortress has been a way for me to stay in the library long after closing time. I have never really left.

-Michael Dahl