While teaching your child to read can seem daunting, the moment you see it click in their eyes is precious. And once they are reading independently, the world really opens for them through books. We have two in the independent but not quite ready to make their own selections for reading material. This is where Sky Pony Press comes in to help parents. With topics directed for the younger reading group, Sky Pony Press has released the following books this fall that would make a nice reading list over the holidays.
Sky Pony Press is the children’s book area under Skyhorse Publishing. The goal is to provide books for readers with a wide variety of interests. Their list of books is continually growing and currently over titles under fiction, picture books, educational books, novelty books, and several reissue versions of some well-loved classics.
Most kids would dread the start of middle school and the year-long Explorations project that comes with it, but Ana knows that her + her best friend Lily + their plan to write and sell their own cookbook is a recipe for success. Lily’s not just the perfect partner in culinary crime—she’s also the only person in the world who understands Ana’s need to wash her hands five times before picking up a spatula, and would never make fun of her for it.
But Ana and Lily’s plan for edible entrepreneurship turns into one big baking disaster when they’re assigned to different partners for their projects. As if it wasn’t bad enough that Lily seems more excited to get to know her new partner than bummed about being separated, Lily and her new friend plan to use the cookbook idea for themselves—and they didn’t even ask! Worse, Ana’s partner is Dasher, the strange new girl from Alaska, and she wants to do their project on the weirdest thing imaginable: sled dog racing.
Dasher’s dogs are scary, slobbery, and decidedly not germ-free, but Ana thinks she’s found a loophole when she agrees to bake pancakes for spectators while Dasher mushes in a local race. That is, until Dasher sprains her ankle and has to drop out of the running. Can Ana learn to mush—and overcome her anxiety—in time to save her friendships, finish her project, and compete in the big race?
Natalie Rompella is the author of more than forty books and educational guides for young readers, and the winner of a Work-in-Progress grant from the Society for Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators for an early version of Cookie Cutters & Sled Runners. Just like Ana, Natalie loved baking in sixth grade, and as an adult she fell in love with sled dog racing—watching it, that is! A former museum educator and elementary and middle school teacher, Natalie lives with her family in Libertyville, Illinois.
Douglas has grown up around the business of death. Generations of his family have run the Mortimer Family Funeral Home. The mortician and gravediggers are all his buddies. And the display room of caskets is an awesome place for hide and seek. It’s business as usual in Douglas’s small New England town. Until one day an incredibly out of the ordinary murder victim is brought to the funeral home. And more startling: others follow.
On the cusp of Halloween, a serial killer has arrived. And unsatisfied with the small-town investigation, Douglas enlists his friends to help him solve the mystery. With sumptuous descriptions of a bucolic town and it’s quirky people, fascinating yet middle grade–appropriate insider information about the funeral process, and a crackling mystery with a heart-pounding conclusion—Death and Douglas has something for readers young and old.
J. W. Ocker is the Edgar Award–winning author of Poe-Land: The Hallowed Haunts of Edgar Allan Poe. His work has appeared in Rue Morgue magazine, the Boston Globe, CNN, the Atlantic, and other places people stick writing. He’s from Maryland but has lived in New Hampshire since 2008. This is his first book for children.
Twelve-year-old Rosie is fiercely proud to be an American, and has a happy life with her family in their comfortable home in sunny Honolulu, Hawaii.
Then, on the morning of December 7, 1941, Pearl Harbor is bombed and everything changes.
Rosie’s parents, both of German descent — but American citizens who have lived in Hawaii nearly all their lives — are immediately rounded up by the military. Though they’ve done nothing wrong, they are interrogated as German spies and imprisoned, and all the family’s possessions are seized. Within days, Rosie and her brother are abandoned and homeless. A relative begrudgingly takes them in until their beloved aunt (who was also rounded up, but released) comes for them. Even then, the children’s once-idyllic lives are filled with darkness and discrimination as they can only wait — and hope — for their parents’ safe return.
Based on true events, Different Days tells the story of a little-known aspect of World War II: the Internment of German Americans.
Vicki Berger Erwin is the author of twenty-six books, including picture books and middle grade, young adult, and adult nonfiction. She admits middle grade with a hint of mystery is her favorite genre. In addition to writing, Vicki also worked in publishing for more than twenty years as a bookstore buyer and publishers’ sales rep before achieving her dream of owning an independent bookstore. She still serves as bookseller emeritus at Main Street Books in historic St. Charles, Missouri. Vicki lives in Kirkwood, Missouri, with her writer husband, Jim, and crazy dog, Luna.
Arthur is fed up with his younger brother Liam getting all the attention from their parents just because he’s a little bit different from other children. Arthur just wants a normal family and a normal life, where he can play soccer and hang out with friends — without Liam always being SO embarrassing.
But just when Arthur can’t take it anymore, Mister P, a polar bear with a suitcase, shows up on Arthur’s doorstep… so Arthur invites him in. Though Mister P is enormous and clumsy, and a little bit unpredictable, it’s clear he’s not dangerous. In fact, he seems to be there to be a friend, and immediately makes life way more fun! But is Mister P there for good? And can he help Arthur get what he wants?
This funny, fresh, accessible story is full of heart and tackles themes of autism, jealousy, friendship, and family — and will make readers wish for their own polar bear ally!
Maria Farrer trained as a speech therapist and teacher and has worked in hospitals and schools. She later completed an MA in Writing for Young People. She has had several books for young readers published in the UK. She lives in Somerset, United Kingdom.
Daniel Rieley is a freelance illustrator. He is inspired by animals (the wild kind), French cinema, and surfing, among other things. He lives in London, United Kingdom.
Carol really loves Christmas. The decorating and shopping, the Christmas sweaters and music—she wishes it all could be a year-round event. The only downside to the holiday is that she lives in Florida (not exactly the land of snow) and her only family is her Uncle Christopher, who adopted Carol when she was young, after her father’s disappearance and mother’s death. Her uncle owns a toy company and is super rich—but he’s a grinch and a workaholic.
Then, on a magical December trip to NYC, Carol meets her destiny. Santa—the real man with the bag—meets Carol at the top of Rockefeller Center, overlooking the tree. There he explains that Carol is descended from a long line of Defenders of Claus, those who protect and serve Santa. Carol’s dad was a Defender. And now Carol has been tapped to fulfill his legacy.
Who would want to hurt Santa? Someone pretty scary and shady, it appears—a masked man who’s trying to destroy Christmas! Carol is whisked off to the North Pole on the adventure of a lifetime. Can she help save Santa before it’s too late?
Robert L. Fouch is an author and journalist who grew up in the hills of West Virginia and now makes his home on Long Island in New York. He has worked in the newspaper business for longer than he cares to admit, including twenty-two years at Newsday as a copy editor, page designer, and occasional feature writer. He has a bachelor’s degree in editorial journalism from Marshall University in Huntington, West Virginia, and is married with a teenage son, who is his sounding board and toughest critic. He is a Browns and Cubs fan, which, before the end of the curse in 2016, was about as much misery as a sports fan could stand.
What a unique list of topics readers between the ages of 8 to 12 years old. Our eight year old is not a strong reader but he was able to understand and read these books. Readers on the higher levels should be able to breeze through these without assistance but the topics sure lend themselves to conversation starters if you want to grab a copy for yourself.
One of the older family members usually reads a chapter or two ahead in order to be able to discuss the information in the book or to be prepared to explain any topics that might be new to the younger reader like in Cookie Cutters & Sled Runners where Ana gets her feelings hurt or in Me and Mr. P. where autism, jealousy, and the value of friendships are discussed.
Overall, any of these books would be a nice addition to your younger reader’s library. They are all available at your local retail bookstores as well as online at Amazon.
We’ve added SkyHorse Publishing to our 2018 Valentine’s Day Gift Guide! Check it out here!