Happy Memorial Day!

The OOM team wishes all of you a happy, safe Memorial Day–a day when we take pause to remember those who serve our country.

This holiday weekend is usually punctuated with barbeques and pool parties, first forays onto beaches or the opening up of backyard pools. But remembering what the day is all about is an important part of Memorial Day, and Scholastic.com has–as always–some excellent resources for helping kids learn about the day.

There’s a great list of books that celebrate America, as well as lesson plans, timelines, printables, and more. Happy Memorial Day!

Photo credits

Previously On Our Minds:

* Friday Fun: On Our Desks
* MOCKINGJAY takes over Manhattan!
* Scholastic Book Club Critics on The TODAY Show


Friday Fun: On Our Desks @ Scholastic

Memorial Day weekend is upon us and before we break for the holiday, we wanted to offer you a glimpse into a side of OOM you rarely see … namely, what’s on our desks. Sure, all of our spaces are covered with the usual piles of file folders, books, and miscellaneous papers (some more than others *cough*Ivy*cough*), but since joining Scholastic, we’ve all accumulated some pretty random things. Here’s a look (bonus points if you can guess the owner of each item):

Wishing everyone a safe and happy Memorial Day!

Previously On Our Minds:

* Comic Version of Our OOMiversary
* In Honor of Banned Books Week
* I Scream, You Scream

MOCKINGJAY takes over Manhattan!

Last night we hosted a very special guest at Scholastic Headquarters: Suzanne Collins, bestselling author of The Hunger Games trilogy! The private event celebrated the upcoming August 24 release of the final installment in the trilogy, Mockingjay.

It was muggy outside, but inside, it was all Mockingjay, with festive decorations, themed hors d’oeuvres (Mockingjay spritzers, anyone?), and even costumed caterers (they wore District 12 hardhats. Brilliant!). After a brief introduction from Scholastic CEO Dick Robinson and President of Trade Publishing Ellie Berger, Suzanne appeared.

She read a brief passage from Catching Fire and then, with a chorus of gasps from the crowd, pulled out the beginning pages of Mockingjay. I was Tweeting the event from a discreet corner of the room (find the conversation here!) so I strained my ears, forced the background noise to fade away, and closed my eyes as the opening words of Mockingjay filled the room.

While I can’t share her words, I can share some incredible photos in the slideshow below:

And, I can also share some reactions from the crowd! Ivy recorded some thoughts from attendees, and here are our favorites:

  • Stephanie from Romantic Times Book Reviews: I’m Team Gale. I think after the revolution, they go back to District 12 and set up shop there.
  • Erin from Rockville Centre Public Library: I’m Team Peeta. He’s just such a good guy. We don’t know Gale very well but you can’t beat Peeta.
  • Lisa from Booktenders Secret Garden: August 24, I am working ALL day at the store. I wouldn’t miss work actually. I’ll be reading on the job.
  • Roxanne of Fairrosa: I want to see if the third book will be more about the Capitol. I guess I’m Team Capitol! I’m more for the social side of it rather than the romance, I guess.

We had so much fun Tweeting from the event last night. Hunger Games fans are some of the best around! Stay tuned to OOM all summer as we deliver exclusive Mockingjay posts and goodies until the big day on August 24!

Previously On Our Minds:
* So it begins: the Mockingjay countdown is on!
Suzanne Collins is listed in the 2010 TIME 100!
* Lights, Camera, Action! Help cast The Hunger Games movie

Scholastic Book Clubs Kid Critics on the TODAY SHOW

Today’s guest post is from our very own pit member Kristen who was with our Scholastic Book Clubs Kid Critics this morning for their first live taping of Al’s Book Club for Kids!

Imagine being backstage at the TODAY SHOW on NBC as producers run around frantically, the cast of the Broadway show Memphis warms up before their performance, and Matt Lauer checks for news updates in between interviews. Now, imagine being on live television in front of the entire country. For some, this might sound like a crazy way to start a Thursday morning, but for the Scholastic Book Clubs Kid Critics, it’s just another day in the life.

This morning, our very own panel of critics – Spencer Karl Otto, 11, Myles Nuzzi, 10, Sabrina Fernandez, 10, and Ava Thornton, 11 (and guest critic Josef Schmidt, 10 from Texas) – debuted on the TODAY SHOW as the new kids in Al’s Book Club for Kids. They were there to talk about Kirsten Miller’s Kiki Strike: Inside the Shadow City, a thrilling adventure story about a girl who discovers a sinkhole where she meets the mysterious evil-fighting Kiki Strike and her group of accomplices.

After grabbing breakfast in the green room and being prepped by the producers, the critics were whisked upstairs to the studio to prepare for the live segment. Everyone was excited and a little nervous, but once they were mic’d up and ready to go, they were like pros!

They sat down with Al Roker and the author, Kirsten, to ask questions about the book and the inspiration behind it. Guest critic Josef Skyped in from Texas to ask his question as well. The critics asked some tough questions, but Kirsten managed to answer them all! She shared that her idea for the book came from a real news story about a sinkhole that opened up in New York City where an underground room was discovered. She expanded the concept and thought about what it would be like if there was an entire underground city! Just watch for yourself:

Visit msnbc.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

Check out the video from the live broadcast below, and then hear the Book Clubs Kid Critics’ thoughts on being at the TODAY SHOW!

Previously On Our Minds:
* 5 Questions with Scholastic Summer Challenge Authors
* Judy Newman of Scholastic Book Clubs on Children’s Books
* 5 Questions with Dark Life’s Kat Falls

Book Bloggers invade Scholastic!

Book-loving people from far and wide have converged upon New York City this week for Book Expo America — and along with it is probably the largest-ever gathering of book bloggers!

Several of them have put in some long hours organizing the first ever Book Blogger Convention (#bookbloggercon), scheduled for Friday, and we were excited to have about 20 of them here at Scholastic HQ on Monday for a tour of our home!

We gave them a few of our upcoming book releases to preview, along with some other goodies. But we didn’t want those of you who couldn’t make it to NYC to be left out, so we’re giving away similar Scholastic totes full of secret BEA book-related goodies to two OOM readers!

To enter, leave a comment below with your e-mail address.

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

—Previously On Our Minds:
*New kid on the blog
*So it begins: the Mockingjay countdown is on!
*Blogger Battle: Are you Team Peeta or Team Gale?

Book Pull: Radio Fifth Grade by Gordon Korman

Book Pull [colloq]: When a library assistant or staff librarian (at Scholastic) pools a list of book requests from writers, editors, et. and journeys down to the archive to pull them from the archive shelves.

One thing that the librarians and staff are constantly doing here is making runs to the archive to get books for editors, writers, photo researchers and others in the building. Strolling through the shelves, some of the titles just jump out at us, reminding us what it was like when the word “summer” was always followed by the word “vacation.”

Remember those books you read so often that you knew exactly where they lived in the library? Or you actually owned your favorites and they could open by themselves to your favorite parts? Well, we here at OOM do too, and that gave us the idea to start a new feature called Book Pull. This is where we go downstairs, pull a book out of the archive and review it here, letting all of us take a stroll down into the archive and visit some friends.

The first novel featured in Book Pull is Radio Fifth Grade by Gordon Korman. This is the story of Benjy Driver and his friends Mark and Ellen-Louise, who run a Saturday morning radio show called “Kidsview.” When their teacher wins the lottery and calls from the airport on her way to Hawaii to say that she won’t be coming back in (and who hasn’t had that fantasy), the fifth grade class gets a new “professor” who decides instead of a “class,” she was going to teach a “seminar.” To Benjy and his classmates, that just means more homework, which gives Benjy the great idea to add a weekly quiz to “Kidsview” to help everyone get their homework done. Now, if they can only keep the “professor” from tuning in…

This book was a lot of fun to read. It literally made me laugh out loud on the subway at times. I remember being in the fifth grade and the teachers making it a point to get us ready for middle school. The class work got harder and the phrase “You won’t be able to get away with that in middle school” was used over and over. My favorite characters were the Pit People—the group of students in Benjy’s class who sit in the corner of the classroom where the floorboards are about three inches lower than everyone else in class. They had a wisecrack for every occasion and provided perfect Monday morning commentary. Add in Winston Churchill, a pair of homicidal kittens, a cheap pet shop owner, and a Swedish hairdryer, and this book is a great trip back to the fifth grade, whether you had a class or a seminar. Luckily, it was just re-issued this month!

Do any of you remember reading Radio Fifth Grade? Let us know in the comments!

Previously On Our Minds:

Attention: Storm Warning is here

This is definitely a storm warning to stick around for (really!): today is the release of the 9th book in The 39 Clues series and it’s called Storm Warning by Newbery Medal winner Linda Sue Park! Can you believe there have been eight books chronicling the adventures of Amy and Dan Cahill already? Lucky for those kids they’re still alive and on the hunt – but that’s more than I can say for some of the other characters in the books.

If you’re as excited as we are to see where the hunt takes Amy and Dan next, then you’re in for a treat because we’ve got the first 10 minutes audio book of The 39 Clues: Storm Warning from our friends at Scholastic Audio (maybe we bribed them with cookies or maybe with the knowledge of gaining another clue – you guess).

What makes the timing of this release even better is that it all fits in oh-so-well-heel-kick! with SUMMER READING – which we’ve been blogging about since it was only 45 degrees out! Even one of the 39 Clues authors, Gordon Korman is a fellow team leader on the Scholastic Summer Challenge, a summer reading program for kids of all ages to share their favorite books and log their reading minutes. Lots of summer reading programs are taking off including Barnes and Noble which has its very own 39 Clues summer reading initiative that you can read more about here as reported by New York’s examiner.com. Whichever program your kids choose to join – both if they’re up for the challenge and they happen to be die hard 39 Clues fans – these books are just another fabulous read that will keep them on their toes until the big conclusion. And now’s the perfect time to start the adventure so that you’ll be all caught up when the final book is released at the very end of summer.

We hope you enjoy the audio clip and here are some photos our publicist Charisse Meloto took on the 39 Clues authors’ most recent book signing at B&N. Enjoy, and we’ll see you all on the hunt and be sure to tell us what your kids or students think of the series in the comments below!

Previously On Our Minds:
* The 39 Clues book 9 and 10 covers revealed!
* The 39 Clues Book 8: The Emperor’s Code revealed!
* 5 Questions with Peter Lerangis: author of The 39 Clues The Viper’s Nest