Today I’m celebrating one of the unexpected perks that has come with the growing success of this blog. I’m talking about free books.
Now, I spend my fair share of the family budget on books. In fact, I’m willing to bet I spend more on books in a year than my not-a-book-nerd friends do on movies, or concerts, or bicycling trips. And I check a ton of books from the library, and borrow from friends, and listen on Audible. I don’t NEED free books – but I do love them! Especially when they aren’t just free, they are ARCs.
Not an ARK, an ARC!
ARC is a publishing industry abbreviation for Advance Review Copy. The book is bound, but may still undergo editing and changes before publication. Illustrations may not be in their final format, and the cover contains information about marketing plans, rather than the information you’re accustomed to seeing on the back of a book when you pick it up in the bookstore. Publishers distribute ARCs to book sellers, reviewers, etc to get the word out before the book is launched to the public.
Can I just tell you how much getting an ARC in the mail makes me feel like one of the cool kids? (That right there tells you a lot about me, doesn’t it?) I’ve got an inside glimpse – an EXCLUSIVE INSIDE GLIMPSE – into the future of publishing. Gives me chills, people.
I promised myself I wasn’t going to turn this blog into a book review blog (I already know and looove too many of those.) And I promised myself any reviews I did write would be honest, interesting, and most of all would matter to my readers. I expect you all to hold me to that! That said, every once in a while I’d like to use this platform to share with you some upcoming books I’m excited about.
I recently received an offer from a publicist at Candlewick to check out some of the titles in their upcoming spring catalog. The list was full of amazing titles, and I’ll certainly be buying a number of them when they’re released. But for you guys, my readers, I picked one book for each of three age ranges that I thought you’d want to hear more about.
For the 5-7 year-old crowd, I chose Where Are You Going, Baby Lincoln? by Kate DiCamillo, illustrated by Chris Van Dusen.
Fans of Kate DiCamillo’s hilarious Mercy Watson books will recognize Baby Lincoln as Mercy the pig’s elderly next door neighbor, the sweet and gentle tonic to her older sister Eugenia’s grumpy, grouchy attitude. I wondered if a main character with grey hair and wrinkles would appeal to my children, but I should not have doubted the magic of this author/illustrator team. Tired of being bossed around by her grouchy big sister, Baby is moved by a dream to hop on a train and take “a necessary journey.” On the train, she meets a series of entertaining characters who change her perspective and give her the tools she needs to take charge of her own happiness. My kids hung on every word and cheered for Baby when she stood up to Eugenia. You’ll have to wait til August 2, 2016 to get your hands on this treasure – but you can check out some other Tales from Deckawoo Drive while you wait. Or read on for a chance to win it before you can buy it!
For the 7-9 year olds, I selected Juana and Lucas, an illustrated chapter book by Juana Medina.
The author/illustrator weaves memories of her childhood in Bogota, Columbia, into this energetic story of Juana and her puppy Lucas. Juana is playful, spunky, and fun, with a real sense of adventure – until it comes to learning English. She gets so frustrated trying to get the hang of grammar and pronunciation, but knows she needs to learn to go on a special trip with her abuelos. This story is sprinkled with plenty of Spanish words that children can quickly understand thanks to context clues and illustrations. I really love seeing a relatable Latina child in a fun, authentic setting and situation. My first grader liked this book as a read-aloud; my second and fifth graders both read it independently and with great relish. They are already asking for a sequel! Juana and Lucas releases in September – but keep reading to see how you could win my ARC.
For 8-12 year-olds, I selected the middle grade novel The Evil Wizard Smallbone by Delia Sherman.
When Nick runs away from his mean uncle and nasty cousin, he never expects to find a new home as apprentice to the Evil Wizard Smallbone, a grouchy, quirky, old man who claims he can perform magic, owns the Evil Wizard Bookstore, and protects the tiny town of Smallbone, Maine. There’s an nemesis wizard-wolf, a sentient bookstore, a lot of shape-shifting, innumerable mysteries and a cozy ending – it’s EXACTLY my kind of book. My fifth grader, a fan of Spirit Animals and Harry Potter, gives it two thumbs up. You’ll be able to get your hands on it September 16th…unless you win it sooner.
Yup, I’m happy to share the wealth! Just comment on this post by April 3rd. I’ll draw the name of one lucky winner, who can choose their ARC from the three featured here. (US addresses only, please!)