Scholastic Summer Challenge kicks-off with a SMACKDOWN!

What a great day to kick-off summer reading! The weather is just gorgeous outside and we had a super fun Ultimate Author Showdown – or “SMACKDOWN” as host Jon Scieszka renamed it – with Scholastic Summer Challenge authors Lisa Yee, R.L. Stine, Christopher Paul Curtis and Gordon Korman.

We’ve blogged about Scholastic Summer Challenge before but we wanted to share with you some great news! Christopher Paul Curtis is the winner of the Ultimate Author Showdown! As the winner, Christopher randomly selected a participating school to win a classroom makeover full of books, magazines and classroom resources worth $3,500! His winning pick? Congrats to Ms. Melissa Hinerman who teaches at Wilsonburg Elementary in Clarksburg, West Virginia!

The authors were up against some tough questions sent from classrooms around the world. Not to mention, the audience was PACKED with kids from public schools all around NYC who rooted for their author louder than any baseball game I’ve been to. Now’s your child’s chance to join in on the Scholastic Summer Challenge and help Read for the World Record to beat last year’s minutes of 35,846,094! Register and watch the replay of the webcast here:

We want to say thank you to all of the classrooms who watched and a big thanks to Ms. Lisa Olaynack’s class at Thompson Middle School in Newton, Rhode Island. Her class was our Skype “call-a-classroom” that authors called on when they were stumped! Ms. Olaynack’s kids are super smart and they were right on with all of the answers.

Don’t forget that you can also participate in Scholastic’s Summer Challenge by helping us put more books into the hands of kids in need by donating to our Summer Challenge Champion: Reading is Fundamental (R.I.F.)! Just visit for more information. All kids deserve a good book to read – especially in the summer!

Previously On Our Minds:
* The Ultimate Author Showdown is almost here!
* Author Jon Scieszka on the On Our Minds “hot seat”
* Just around the corner: Summer Challenge LIVE!


Suzanne Collins is listed in the 2010 TIME 100!

BIG NEWS! Suzanne Collins, author of The Hunger Games trilogy is listed in the 2010 TIME 100 list along with other influentials such as President Obama, Oprah Winfrey, Steve Jobs and many more!

Lizzie Skurnick authored Suzanne’s entry for TIME 100. Excerpt:

“Like Katniss, [Suzanne]’s a natural, lighting from thriller to bodice ripper to fantasy in the space of a few chapters, churning out a powerful, innovative oeuvre without making a big deal about it…She’s a literary fusioneer, that rare writer who is all things to all readers. Today’s would-be revolutionaries should be so lucky.”

View the full entry at here.

We couldn’t be more excited about the third book in the series, Mockingjay, and this TIME 100 entry reminds us that what’s coming is well worth the wait! – CONGRATS, SUZANNE!

Image of Suzanne Collins is a screenshot from her entry at

Previously On Our Minds:
* Lights, Camera, Action! Help Cast The Hunger Games Movie
* An International Feast: Hunger Games Covers From Around the World
* Blogger Battle: Are You Team Peeta to Team Gale?

So, do you come here often?

The title of this blog post may be a joke, but the reason for it is certainly not. We’re conducting the first-ever OOM survey, designed to give us a snapshot of who you are and what you’re interested in so that we can produce the content that you want.

It’s a very brief survey–literally, just seven questions!–but we know you’re all busy, so as a thank you for reading OOM and responding to the survey, we’re raffling off THREE PRIZE PACKAGES to anyone who takes our survey! (Must be 18 or over to enter. NO PURCHASE NECESSARY. Void where prohibited. View official rules here.)

Survey is now closed. Thanks for responding!

UPDATE: Our three lucky winners have been randomly selected and will be contacted via email. We had 159 responses – wow!

Image credits

—Previously On Our Minds:
* The Ultimate Author Showdown is almost here!
* Five Questions with Dark Life‘s Kat Falls
* Lights, Camera, Action! Help cast The Hunger Games movie

Who’s your literary hero?

This Fall season, schools across the country will be celebrating their literary heroes when Scholastic Book Fairs launches its Fall 2010 theme, “Here’s to our Heroes! Reading Saves the Day!”

The artwork you see here was designed by Kazu Kibuishi, the author and illustrator of the critically-acclaimed Amulet series, and it really encompasses what it means to be a literary hero: they come in any size, shape, genre, or species, and can be found in and out of books. Maybe it’s a favorite character from a favorite novel, or maybe it’s a teacher or parent or mentor or author who got you hooked on reading.

When I found out about the upcoming Fairs theme, of course I started thinking about my literary heroes–so then I took the question to the streets (well, the offices here at Scholastic). Here’s what some of us had to say about our literary heroes!

Amanda: I’d like to give a shout-out to my 7th grade English teacher Mrs. Henry, who first introduced me to the classics – Dickens, Shakespeare, London, Stevenson, etc. By assigning us books that were outside the traditional curriculum, she expanded my horizons and I’m still a huge fan of classic lit today!

Morgan: I can name dozens of characters and authors who influenced me, but there’s one teacher in particular who got me thinking about books in new ways and expanded my reading horizons: Mrs. Lee, my high school AP English teacher. From the reading selection to the conversations she led to the projects she assigned, I started realizing how much literature I was missing out on by re-reading my favorites rather than trying new (and old!) authors. Yay for teachers!

Teryl McLane: I love Hazel the rabbit from Richard Adam’s Watership Down, one of my top three favorite novels ever. I re-read this book every other year. Hazel is selfless and brave and he loves his friends, and he believes in doing what’s right even if it’s the most extraordinarily difficult thing to do. And he’s thoughtful about every course of action he takes. He’s always been one of my most beloved fictional heroes.

Dina Paul-Parks (Scholastic’s brand new Director of Communications, Education!): One is Miriam in A Thousand Splendid Suns. Her strength and willingness to sacrifice herself for a woman who was once her rival blew me away. I love the story about the strength of women and the strength of the bond between women.

It’s your turn now. Who’s your literary hero, and how did reading help save the day for you?

—Previously On Our Minds:
* The Ultimate Author Showdown is almost here!
* Five Questions with Dark Life‘s Kat Falls
* Lights, Camera, Action! Help cast The Hunger Games movie

The Ultimate Author Showdown is almost here!

What do I love about summer? 1) the weather 2) eating corn on the cob and ice cream (not together) and 3) Summer Reading! Ever since I was in grade school I couldn’t wait for summer because it meant that I had three glorious months where I could read ANY BOOK I CHOOSE (while eating ice cream!).

This summer is no different – just better – because kids can pick up any book they want to read and start logging their minutes in the Scholastic Summer Reading Challenge to Read for the World Record. We’re kicking-off summer reading this Friday with an Ultimate Author Showdown no one will forget. Bestselling authors R.L. Stine, Lisa Yee, Christopher Paul Curtis and Gordon Korman will go head-to-head in a battle of book trivia with questions sent in from classrooms around the world. And we have a special host author Jon Scieszka! You may remember him from a stellar performance in last year’s Summer Challenge LIVE!. We’re thinking of nominating him for an Emmy, a Webby and a Tony this year.

What’s the big deal about reading in the summer, you ask? Well, it’s all about giving kids a chance to read books they choose and it’s also a proven fact that kids who read over the summer do better in school. All it takes is four or more books!

Don’t worry, it’s not too late to register for the webcast this Friday at 1 p.m. ET. The audience on Friday will be filled with kids from classrooms across NYC. And don’t forget this year’s “Ambassador of Summer Reading” is WordGirl! Take it away, Becky *oops* I mean, WordGirl!

(The full recap and highlights of the webcast will be available after the live broadcast at

Previously On Our Minds:
* Author Jon Scieszka on the On Our Minds “hot seat”
* Just around the corner: Summer Challenge LIVE!
* What some of us at Scholastic read this summer

5 Questions with Dark Life’s Kat Falls

Who out there doesn’t like a good dystopian read? I’d been hearing whispers about Dark Life beginning way back in February, so when a copy landed on my desk, I jumped at the chance to read it. It’s set in a disturbing version of the future in which the oceans have risen so much that people are crammed onto the small pieces of land that remain—except for small populations of pioneers who’ve decided to live below land. As in, underwater.

From the very first paragraph, Dark Life is packed with action, following the narrator, teen boy Ty, as he tries to navigate the troubles of living underwater while reluctantly helping a Topsider (that’s someone who lives above water) search for her missing brother—and while trying to hide the rumored Dark Gifts he and the other underwater kids have. As I read Dark Life, I couldn’t help but note how visual and fast-paced this book is—and when I talked to author Kat Falls for her OOM 5 Questions video, I learned why: Kat is a screenwriter, and the methods she uses to write screenplays have helped make this debut novel a riveting, captivating read.

Find out more about Dark Life, including how Kat was inspired and which Dark Gift she’d choose to have, in the video. And then get ready for May 1, when Dark Life hits stores!

And even though the book hasn’t been officially released yet, film rights have already been optioned by Gotham Group, which you can read about in this piece from Variety (with additional speculation from the mag here!).

—Previously On Our Minds:
* 5 Questions with Meg Cabot: You won’t Runaway from this book!
* Teen Lit Day and interviews with YA authors
* Video: Fuse #8 blogger on her Top 100 Children’s Novels list

Lights, Camera, Action! Help Cast The Hunger Games Movie

The release of Mockingjay is still months away (August 24!), but here at OOM, The Hunger Games is always On Our Minds (pun intended). As so, as we wait for the third installment of Suzanne Collins’ bestselling trilogy to arrive, we thought we’d turn our attention to something else we’re hungry for: the upcoming Hunger Games movie!

The big screen adaptation is still in development, but we’ve been mentally casting the film for weeks now. And while we don’t have any official casting news to share, we’d love to hear your thoughts on who should play:


GIVEAWAY! All you need to do to enter is tell us how you would cast the four roles above (of course, feel free to cast the rest of the characters too!). We’ll pick five winners at random to win one of FIVE mockingjay pins!

(Must be 18 or over to enter. NO PURCHASE NECESSARY. Void where prohibited. View official rules here.)

UPDATED: Thanks to, we have our winners! Congrats to:

Katniss – For some reason, I couldn’t get Alexandra Daddario off my mind while reading it. Weird.
Peeta – Alex Pettyfer
Gale – Ethan Peck
Haymitch – Robert Downey Jr!

Katniss – Willa Holland
Peeta – Jeremy Sumpter
Gale – Taylor Kitsch
Haymitch – Robert Downey, Jr.
Prim – Elle Fanning
Mother – Drew Barrymore
Effie – Kristin Chenoweth
Rue – Jamia Simone Nash
Cinna – Jude Law

Katniss – Mia Wasikowska (Alice)
Peeta – Anton Yelchin (Star Trek)
Gale – Emile Hirsch (Speed Racer)
Haymitch – Woody Harrilson (2012)

Katniss – Nina Dobrev
Peeta – Hunter Parrish
Gale – Asher Book
Haymitch – Jeffrey Dean Morgan

Katniss: Kaya Scodelario
Peeta: Hunter Parrish
Gale: Asher Book
Haymitch: Robert Downey Jr

Previously On Our Minds:

* Hunger Games Book 3 Cover Revealed!
*An International Feast: Hunger Games Covers From Around the World
* Blogger Battle: Are You Team Peeta to Team Gale?