Monday, September 22, 2014

Learning how to PAAAAAR-TAY!

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 “Kids today.”  Those two words, when uttered, can make me feel firmly planted in middle age. There’s a lot of talk about “kids today” and what they do or don’t do, what they say, and what they like. In my job as Associate Art Director for Lerner Publishing Group I need to know about “kids today,” and one thing we can all agree on is that computers, social media, virtual friendships, and online gaming are here to stay. But where does that leave the fine art of how to throw a party? Enter the new series from Lerner Publications: Party Time! (September 2014)

Designing this series for tweens and early teens was so much fun for me because I got to break all the design rules and use lots of fun fonts, colorful dingbats and doodles and pictures to make an energetic backdrop for all the great information about hosting a party.

What is the most important element for having a party? The food? The games? The music? I think (and maybe it’s just the designer in me) it’s the invitation. It sets the tone of the party to come, creates a feeling of anticipation, and most importantly it also tells your friends when, where, and why (and what to bring!).

As I put it this series together I recalled the thrill of having my own holiday parties and the time and energy spent putting together fun invitations with my husband. We own a small printing press (called a Print Gocco) so we came up some elaborate schemes!

One year, inspired by nostalgic matchbook art we created our own “club” matches. These oversize matchbooks had a secret message inside for the recipient. No detail was spared: gritty paint was used to make the “match” heads and a strip of sandpaper for the striking pad.

Another year we decided to pay homage to Santa through a Bazooka Joe comic parody. My husband created the joke and I executed the art down to the ubiquitous rough and slightly off-register printing in primary colors. A waxy “gum wrapper” feel was created by rubbing a block of clear wax over the printed piece.

The parties themselves were raucous good time (albeit a blurred memory!) but the saved invitation is a tangible reminder of the love that we have for the friends and family that we hosted. And isn’t that what we should strive to teach “kids today” —that face-to-face connections are where memories are born and bonded?

I haven’t had a party in years, but designing these books to help future generations learn how to host an awesome party is making me seriously consider dusting off the printing press and getting the friends together for a holiday soiree. Check it out this fun series and let Party Time! inspire you to throw your own bash!

Friday, September 19, 2014

Free Book Friday: Chris Monroe's Bug on a Bike

Congratulations to V. (@aimmyarrowshigh)! You've won Up for SalePlease send us a DM on Twitter or an email to with the subject line "Free Book Friday" and your mailing address so we can get your book in the mail.

This week, enter to win Bug on a Bike, a charming new picture book from author-illustrator Chris Monroe.

Are we there yet?

The Bug on the Bike isn't saying. He just started riding his bike one day and invited his friends—from the athletic pickle to a surprisingly agile nickel—to follow behind him. Nobody knows where they're headed, but it's a long, strange trip everyone is happy to take.

Chris Monroe, creator of the Monkey with a Tool Belt series, brings her characteristic love of silly details to this rhyming read-aloud romp.

If you'd like to win Bug on a Bike, please leave a comment on this post (including your first and last name), or tweet this line: "Free Book Friday! RT to win BUG ON A BIKE from @LernerBooks."

We'll announce the winner on Friday, September 26, so check the blog then to see if you've won!

Good luck!

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Free teaching resources for Our Great States

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Do you know what's great about Colorado? How about Alabama? Lerner's new Our Great States series will show you the top ten kid-friendly things to do in each of our great United States. The backmatter includes key information for report-writing, such as each state's motto, bird, population, biggest cities, and more.

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To help you use these books with your students, we've put together some FREE classroom assignments and projects that you can download from our website. The research project walks your students through the process of asking questions, using books and digital reference materials to find answers to their questions, and sharing what they learned with one another. The Sidebars Lesson Plan will teach students how to use the curriculum-focused sidebars in the books. And the Flag Assignment provides information about the state flag, then asks students to refer to details and examples in the text to answer questions about that information.

These assignments address Common Core State Standards for English Language Arts, and they'll help your students learn more about each of our great states. Check back in two weeks for more FREE eSource materials!

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Friday, September 12, 2014

Free Book Friday: Up for Sale

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Congratulations to Doris Mendez-DeMaio (@DMendezDeMaio)! You've won The AlternativePlease send us a DM on Twitter or an email to with the subject line "Free Book Friday" and your mailing address so we can get your books in the mail.

This week, enter to win Up for Sale: Human Trafficking and Modern Slavery by Alison Marie Behnke.

"Trafficking thrives in the shadows. And it can be easy to dismiss it as something that happens to someone else, somewhere else. But that is not the case. Trafficking is a crime that involves every nation on earth, and that includes our own."—US secretary of state Hillary Rodham Clinton, 2009

Human trafficking is as old as slavery and continues to be practiced in the modern world. Victims of human traffickers include workers in restaurants and in garment factories, maids and nannies in the homes of wealthy families, child sex workers, beggars on the street, boy soldiers, even infants kidnapped for foreign adoptions. Women and children are more likely to be coerced or seized than men and boys, especially if they are poor and uneducated. Traffickers sell their victims for their bodies or for their labor and reap an enormous profit. Human trafficking is estimated to be a $30 to $45 billion industry on an annual basis, rivaling weapons and drug trafficking as one of the most profitable criminal undertakings in the world.

Up for Sale takes a hard look at human trafficking, identifying perpetrators and telling the stories of victims through their own words. You'll discover why some people become vulnerable to trafficking and you'll read about what their lives are like on a daily basis. You'll also meet some of the courageous individuals and organizations working to free people from lives in bondage so that, in the words of US president Barack Obama, each person can "forge a life equal to [their] talents and worthy of [their] dreams."

If you'd like to win Up for Sale, please leave a comment on this post (including your first and last name), or tweet this line: "Free Book Friday! RT to win UP FOR SALE from @LernerBooks."

We'll announce the winner on Friday, September 19, so check the blog then to see if you've won.

Good luck!