May 28, 2017

It’s a bittersweet week in the library…the last week of book check-outs this school year. I’d much rather be putting books into children’s hands. However, I also have a professional responsibility to maintain our collection. I’ll need the last three weeks of school to do inventory and attempt to get back all those books! I’ll spend these weeks showing students how to access the public library online catalog and how to access eBooks.

Here are a few titles you might enjoy.  But before that, I need to share the Wonder official movie trailer because our students have been waiting for it.

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Wonder official movie trailer coming to theaters in November 2017. #choosekind

In honor of Memorial Day, here is a delightful new picture book.

Rolling Thunder, (2017)

words by Kate Messner and pictures by Greg Ruth

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Goodreads summary: 

Lines of bikes are miles long,
shining, half a million strong.
Rumbling, grumbling, engines roar.
Peace signs. High fives. Spirits soar.

Every Memorial Day in Washington, DC, more than a million veterans and their supporters gather for the Rolling Thunder® Ride for Freedom, a demonstration that pays tribute to the men and women of the US armed forces. This lyrical story honors the bravery and sacrifice of those American heroes — the ones who have returned home, and the ones who haven’t.

Check out author Kate Messner’s website.

A library volunteer shared with me that her family has recently discovered the Templeton Twins which gave me the nudge to let everyone else know about these two hybrids by Ellis Weiner.

The Templeton Twins Have an Idea (Templeton Twins #1), (2012)

words by Ellis Weiner and words by Jeremy Holmes

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Goodreads summary: Suppose there were 12-year-old twins, a boy and girl named John and Abigail Templeton. Let’s say John was pragmatic and played the drums, and Abigail was theoretical and solved cryptic crosswords. Now suppose their father was a brilliant, if sometimes confused, inventor. And suppose that another set of twins-adults-named Dean D. Dean and Dan D. Dean, kidnapped the Templeton twins and their ridiculous dog in order to get their father to turn over one of his genius (sort of) inventions. Yes, I said kidnapped. Wouldn’t it be fun to read about that? Oh please. It would so. Luckily for you, this is just the first in a series perfect for boys and girls who are smart, clever, and funny (just like the twins), and enjoy reading adventurous stories (who doesn’t? ).

Watch the The Templeton Twins Have an Idea book trailer.

The next two books are for our action/adventure readers.

The Door in the Alley (The Explorers #1), (2017)

by Adrienne Kress

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Goodreads summary: Featuring a mysterious society, a secretive past, and a pig in a teeny hat, The Explorers: The Door in the Alley is the first book in a new series for fans of The Name of This Book Is a Secret and The Mysterious Benedict Society. Knock once if you can find it—but only members are allowed inside.

This is one of those stories that start with a pig in a teeny hat. It’s not the one you’re thinking about. (This story is way better than that one.)

This pig-in-a-teeny-hat story starts when a very uninquisitive boy stumbles upon a very mysterious society. After that, there is danger and adventure; there are missing persons, hired thugs, a hidden box, a lost map, and famous explorers; and also a girl on a rescue mission.

The Explorers: The Door in the Alley is the first book in a series that is sure to hit young readers right in the funny bone.

Watch an interview with author Adrienne Kress talk about The Explorers: The Door in the Alley.

I haven’t read this first book in the upcoming trilogy yet but I’m hearing rave reviews. My pal Melissa Guerrette created the educator’s guide for this book. Check out her blog.

The Shadow Cipher (York #1), (2017)

by Laura Ruby

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Goodreads summary: It was 1798 when the Morningstarr twins arrived in New York with a vision for a magnificent city: towering skyscrapers, dazzling machines, and winding train lines, all running on technology no one had ever seen before. Fifty-seven years later, the enigmatic architects disappeared, leaving behind for the people of New York the Old York Cipher—a puzzle laid into the shining city they constructed, at the end of which was promised a treasure beyond all imagining. By the present day, however, the puzzle has never been solved, and the greatest mystery of the modern world is little more than a tourist attraction.

Tess and Theo Biedermann and their friend Jaime Cruz live in a Morningstarr apartment house—until a real estate developer announces that the city has agreed to sell him the five remaining Morningstarr buildings. Their likely destruction means the end of a dream long-held by the people of New York. And if Tess, Theo and Jaime want to save their home, they have to prove that the Old York Cipher is real. Which means they have to solve it.

From National Book Award Finalist Laura Ruby comes a visionary epic set in a New York City at once familiar and wholly unexpected.

Check out author Laura Ruby’s website.

I’m almost finished reading this next book. I am enjoying learning about Amina and her family and their Muslim religion.

Amina’s Voice, (2017)

by Hena Khan

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Goodreads summary: A Pakistani-American Muslim girl struggles to stay true to her family’s vibrant culture while simultaneously blending in at school after tragedy strikes her community in this sweet and moving middle grade novel from the award-winning author of It’s Ramadan, Curious George and Golden Domes and Silver Lanterns.

Amina has never been comfortable in the spotlight. She is happy just hanging out with her best friend, Soojin. Except now that she’s in middle school everything feels different. Soojin is suddenly hanging out with Emily, one of the “cool” girls in the class, and even talking about changing her name to something more “American.” Does Amina need to start changing too? Or hiding who she is to fit in? While Amina grapples with these questions, she is devastated when her local mosque is vandalized.

Amina’s Voice brings to life the joys and challenges of a young Pakistani American and highlights the many ways in which one girl’s voice can help bring a diverse community together to love and support each other.

Check out author Hena Khan’s website.

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May 21, 2017

It’s hard to believe that the school year is coming to an end. Here are two important dates for you to remember:

Friday, May 26th – All ILL books must be returned so I can get them back to the libraries we borrowed them from

Friday, June 2nd – Last day of the year for book check-outs. I’ll need to spend the next few weeks wrangling all the books back to do a proper inventory of our materials

Although the school year is winding down, I will still be recommending titles that students can borrow from the public library. It’s never too early to start making a summer reading list!

The Great Big Boom (HiLo 3), (2017)

by Judd Winick

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Goodreads summary: HILO s BA-ACK in this funny “New York Times “bestselling full-color middle-grade graphic novel series that Bone creator Jeff Smith calls delightful and Big Nate author Lincoln Peirce says every kid will love!
HiLo may look like an ordinary kid, but he’s DEFINITELY not! When we last saw HiLo, DJ, and Gina, Gina had been sucked into a mysterious portal to who knows where! But friends don’t let friends disappear into NOWHERE! It’s up to D.J. and HiLo to follow her. Will there be danger? YES! Will there be amazing surprises? OF COURSE! Will Gina end up being the one to save them? DEFINITELY! With the help of Polly, the magical warrior cat, the friends will have to battle bad guys and face disgusting food, an angry mom, powerful magic, and more! Will they survive . . . and make it back to Earth before the portal closes again?! Find out in the third HiLo adventure!”

Watch the original HiLo book trailer with author/illustrator Judd Winick.

Giant Trouble (Hamster Princess 4), (2017)

by Ursula Vernon

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Goodreads summary: A magical beanstalk leads to a GIANT surprise in book four of the series that s chock-full of girl power and perfect for fans of Princess in Black and Babymouse.

Princess Harriet Hamsterbone doesn’t go looking for trouble. She prefers to think of it as looking for adventure. But when she climbs to the top of an enormous beanstalk and sneaks into the castle at the top, Harriet finds plenty of both. The castle is home to one very poetically challenged giant rabbit with two unusual prisoners a girl who is half harp, half hamster, and an extremely large goose. This calls for a heroic rescue, and Harriet is just the hamster for the job.
The fourth installment of the critically acclaimed Hamster Princess series turns the story of Jack and the Beanstalk upside down, with plenty of laughs along the way.”

Watch a book trailer for the Hamster Princess series.

Strong Inside (Young Readers Edition): The True Story of How Perry Wallace Broke College Basketball’s Color Line, (2016)

by Andrew Maraniss

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Goodreads summary: The inspirational true story of the first African American to play college basketball in the deeply segregated Southeastern Conference–a powerful moment in Black history.
Perry Wallace was born at an historic crossroads in U.S. history. He entered kindergarten the year that the Brown v. Board of Education decision led to integrated schools, allowing blacks and whites to learn side by side. A week after Martin Luther King Jr.’s -I Have a Dream- speech, Wallace enrolled in high school and his sensational jumping, dunking, and rebounding abilities quickly earned him the attention of college basketball recruiters from top schools across the nation. In his senior year his Pearl High School basketball team won Tennessee’s first racially-integrated state tournament.
The world seemed to be opening up at just the right time, and when Vanderbilt University recruited Wallace to play basketball, he courageously accepted the assignment to desegregate the Southeastern Conference. The hateful experiences he would endure on campus and in the hostile gymnasiums of the Deep South turned out to be the stuff of nightmares. Yet Wallace persisted, endured, and met this unthinkable challenge head on. This insightful biography digs deep beneath the surface to reveal a complicated, profound, and inspiring story of an athlete turned civil rights trailblazer.

Watch the Strong Inside book trailer.

I loved Orphan Train. This week I read Orphan Train Girl to ensure it was appropriate for our students. I’m happy to say they did a really nice job turning it into a young readers edition.

Orphan Train Girl, (2017)

by Christina Baker Kline

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Goodreads summary: 

This young readers’ edition of Christina Baker Kline’s #1 New York Times bestselling novel Orphan Train follows a young foster girl who forms an unlikely bond with a ninety-one-year-old woman. Adapted and condensed for a young audience, Orphan Train Girl includes an author’s note and archival photos from the orphan train era.

Molly Ayer has been in foster care since she was eight years old. Most of the time, Molly knows it’s her attitude that’s the problem, but after being shipped from one family to another, she’s had her fair share of adults treating her like an inconvenience. So when Molly’s forced to help an elderly woman clean out her attic for community service, Molly is wary. Just another adult to treat her like a troublemaker.

But from the very moment they meet, Molly realizes that Vivian, a well-off ninety-one-year-old, isn’t like any of the adults she’s encountered before. Vivian asks Molly questions about her life and actually listens when Molly responds. Molly soon sees they have more in common than she thought. Vivian was once an orphan, too—an Irish immigrant to New York City who was put on a train to the Midwest with hundreds of other children—and she can understand, better than anyone else, the emotional binds that have been making Molly’s life so hard. Together, they not only clear boxes of past mementos from Vivian’s attic, but forge a path of friendship, forgiveness, and new beginnings for their future.

Watch the book trailer for Orphan Train.

Pedal Power: How One Community Became the Bicycle Capital of the World, (2017)

by Allan Drummond

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Goodreads summary: Bikes rule the road in Amsterdam today, but that wasn’t always the case. In the 1970’s, Amsterdam was so crowded with vehicles that bicyclists could hardly move, but moms and kids relied on their bikes to get around the city. PEDAL POWER is the story of the people who led protests against the unsafe streets and took over a vehicles-only tunnel on their bikes, showing what a little pedal power could do! Author and illustrator Allan Drummond returns with the story of the people that paved the way for safe biking around the world.

Check out Allan Drummond’s website.

May 14, 2017

I’m sending this a day early to remind you that today you have two very fun kid lit options in store for you.  You can head over to the State House from 2-4pm to meet the authors and get a free copy of this year’s Kids Read Across RI title. It is a fun-filled event with lots of book-related activities to experience. I had the chance to hear Sarah Weeks and Gita Varadarajan speak about their collaborative writing process last night, and I was very moved by their joy and respect for one another. I wish your family that same opportunity this afternoon!

Save Me a Seat, (2016)

by Sarah Weeks and Gita Varadarajan

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Goodreads summary: Joe and Ravi might be from very different places, but they’re both stuck in the same place: SCHOOL.

Joe’s lived in the same town all his life, and was doing just fine until his best friends moved away and left him on his own.

Ravi’s family just moved to America from India, and he’s finding it pretty hard to figure out where he fits in.

Joe and Ravi don’t think they have anything in common — but soon enough they have a common enemy (the biggest bully in their class) and a common mission: to take control of their lives over the course of a single crazy week.

Watch a Save Me a Seat book trailer.

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You also have the opportunity to meet author Mark Parisi  on his Marty Pants book tour at Jeff Kinney’s bookstore, An Unlikely Story, today at 4pm. Follow this link to secure your free tickets to this event.

Watch our own Emma’s book trailer for Marty Pants.

This is a brand new graphic novel we have added to our library.  I know it will make its way into our readers’ hearts.

Invisible Emmie, (2017)

by Terri Libenson

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Goodreads summary: Debut graphic novel that tells the story of two totally different girls—

quiet, shy, artistic Emmie

popular, outgoing, athletic Katie

—and how their lives unexpectedly intersect one day, when an embarrassing note falls into the wrong hands.

Meet Terri Libenson and learn how to draw Emmie.

We have also recently added a new hybrid to our collection.  This silly cover alone will capture our readers.

Gnome-a-geddon, (2017)

by K.A. Holt

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Goodreads summary: Buck discovers that his favorite book series might be less fictional than he thought in this delightful middle grade adventure.

Harry Potter. Percy Jackson. Custard the Gnome.

Buck is a super fan of the book series, The Triumphant Gnome Syndicate. He knows all the trivia. The properties of the Troll Vanquishing Mace, and even what kind of snack Custard, the Gnome of the West, prefers. But when the book’s author disappears in a cloud of smoke at the release party for book three, and Buck’s little sister disappears into a bottomless dumpster, Buck realizes that the world of gnomes and trolls might really exist. What the heck?

As it turns out, the real Custard (don’t call him that) needs Buck’s help to find the Troll Vanquishing Mace. And Buck needs to find his sister. So Buck and his best friend Lizzie set off on an adventure that would make any fan’s head spin. But not everything is as Buck expected—it seems the books did not tell the whole truth about this not-so-make-believe world. Buck soon discovers that real life doesn’t work like a story, and the heroes and villains might not be who they seem. Holy trolls! What’s a super fan to do?

Buck is about to fulfill the ultimate fantasy: going on adventures with his favorite characters, and getting the chance to save the world. Assuming he can figure out whose side he’s really on.

Check out author K.A. Holt’s website.

I am chomping at the bit to get my hands on this title. I just won a Barrington Books gift certificate in a Barrington Little League raffle so this will be on our library shelves soon!

Clayton Byrd Goes Underground, (2017)

by Rita Williams-Garcia

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Goodreads summary: From beloved Newbery Honor winner and three-time Coretta Scott King Award winner Rita Williams-Garcia comes a powerful and heartfelt novel about loss, family, and love that will appeal to fans of Jason Reynolds and Kwame Alexander.

Clayton feels most alive when he’s with his grandfather, Cool Papa Byrd, and the band of Bluesmen—he can’t wait to join them, just as soon as he has a blues song of his own. But then the unthinkable happens. Cool Papa Byrd dies, and Clayton’s mother forbids Clayton from playing the blues. And Clayton knows that’s no way to live.

Armed with his grandfather’s brown porkpie hat and his harmonica, he runs away from home in search of the Bluesmen, hoping he can join them on the road. But on the journey that takes him through the New York City subways and to Washington Square Park, Clayton learns some things that surprise him.

Watch the Clayton Byrd Goes Underground book trailer.

Our Next Generation Science Standards include studying how humans impact the environment. I thought this next title would be perfect to support our science curriculum.

Birds vs. Blades: Offshore Wind Power and the Race to Protect Seabirds, (2016)

by Rebecca Hirsch

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Goodreads summary: Find out how scientists are working to ensure that the promise of clean, renewable offshore wind power won’t spell disaster for the millions of seabirds that play a critical role in the ocean food web.

Learn more about the world’s first wind farm.

This last one is for your pure reading pleasure.

Bob, Not Bob!: *to be read as if you have the worst cold ever,  (2017)

words by Liz Garton Scanlon & Audrey Vernick and pictures by Matthew Cordell

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Goodreads summary: Little Louie is stuck in bed with a bad cold. His nose is clogged, his ears are crackling, and his brain feels full. All he wants is his mom to take care of him, but whenever he calls out for her, his stuffed-up nose summons slobbery dog Bob instead! As Louie tries and tries to make himself understood in this funny picturebook, kids will love calling out with him, “Bob, not Bob!”

Watch the Bob, Not Bob! book trailer.

Finally, I want to congratulate four of our fourth graders who were recognized this week by Kate Lenz, director of the RI Center for the Book, for their outstanding Letters About Literature, a contest through the Library of Congress. Three of our students were Level 1 Semi-Finalists and one of our students was the Level 1 Winner for the state! I should add that the Level 1 category is for students in grades 4-6. We are all so proud of these amazing writers!

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May 7, 2017

Andrew Luck

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I love when a person uses their fame for good. Andrew Luck, quarterback for the Indianapolis Colts, has started a book club and podcast to promote reading. This month’s pick is a 1963 Newbery award-winning classic. It is also on our 5th grade Battle of the Books list.

A Wrinkle in Time, (1962)

by Madeleine L’Engle

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Goodreads summary: It was a dark and stormy night; Meg Murry, her small brother Charles Wallace, and her mother had come down to the kitchen for a midnight snack when they were upset by the arrival of a most disturbing stranger.

“Wild nights are my glory,” the unearthly stranger told them. “I just got caught in a downdraft and blown off course. Let me be on my way. Speaking of way, by the way, there is such a thing as a tesseract”.

Meg’s father had been experimenting with this fifth dimension of time travel when he mysteriously disappeared. Now the time has come for Meg, her friend Calvin, and Charles Wallace to rescue him. But can they outwit the forces of evil they will encounter on their heart-stopping journey through space?

Read more about Andrew Luck’s book club and podcasts here.

Check out Andrew Luck’s book club website.

If you enjoyed reading A Wrinkle in Time, a similar book you could read is this 2010 Newbery winner.

When You Reach Me(2009)

by Rebecca Stead

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Goodreads summary: Four mysterious letters change Miranda’s world forever.

By sixth grade, Miranda and her best friend, Sal, know how to navigate their New York City neighborhood. They know where it’s safe to go, like the local grocery store, and they know whom to avoid, like the crazy guy on the corner.

But things start to unravel. Sal gets punched by a new kid for what seems like no reason, and he shuts Miranda out of his life. The apartment key that Miranda’s mom keeps hidden for emergencies is stolen. And then Miranda finds a mysterious note scrawled on a tiny slip of paper:

I am coming to save your friend’s life, and my own.
I must ask two favors. First, you must write me a letter.

The notes keep coming, and Miranda slowly realizes that whoever is leaving them knows all about her, including things that have not even happened yet. Each message brings her closer to believing that only she can prevent a tragic death. Until the final note makes her think she’s too late.

Watch a When You Reach Me book trailer.

Check out author Rebecca Stead’s website. I’m excited about the upcoming project she’s got cooking with her author pal Wendy Mass.

For our children who love anything sports-related, I’ve recently discovered books by Howard Bryant. We’ll be adding these to our library.

Legends: The Best Players, Games, and Teams in Basketball, (2016)

by Howard Bryant

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Goodreads summary: From Magic Johnson to Michael Jordan to LeBron James to Steph Curry, ESPN’s Howard Bryant presents the best from the hardwood–a collection of NBA champions and superstars for young sports fans!
Fast-paced, adrenaline-filled, and brimming with out-of-this-world athleticism, basketball has won the hearts of fans all across America–yet it is particularly popular among kids and teens. Giants of the game like Steph Curry, LeBron, and Michael Jordan have transcended the sport to become cultural icons and role models to young fans. From the cornfields of Indiana and the hills of North Carolina, to the urban sprawl of New York City, Chicago and L.A., love of the game stretches from coast to coast.
Featuring Top Ten Lists to chew on and debate, and a Top 40-style Timeline of Key Moments in Basektball History, this comprehensive collection includes the greatest dynasties, from the Bill Russell-era Celtics, to the Magic Jonson-led Lakers, to the Jordan-led Bulls, right up to the Tim Duncan-led Spurs. All the greats take flight toward the hoop in this perfect book for young fans who dream about stepping on an NBA court.

Howard Bryant has also written these two Legends books:

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This new graphic novel is sure to be a HUGE hit with our students. Shannon Hale has done it again! She had me at the dedication.

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Real Friends, (2017)

by Shannon Hale and LeUyen Pham

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Goodreads summary: When best friends are not forever . . .

Shannon and Adrienne have been best friends ever since they were little. But one day, Adrienne starts hanging out with Jen, the most popular girl in class and the leader of a circle of friends called The Group. Everyone in The Group wants to be Jen’s #1, and some girls would do anything to stay on top . . . even if it means bullying others.

Now every day is like a roller coaster for Shannon. Will she and Adrienne stay friends? Can she stand up for herself? And is she in The Group—or out?

Newbery Honor author Shannon Hale and New York Times bestselling illustrator LeUyen Pham join forces in this graphic memoir about how hard it is to find your real friends—and why it’s worth the journey.

Watch the Real Friends book trailer.

Last week author Mark Parisi visited our school to talk about his brand new hybrid Marty Pants. What I didn’t realize was that Hampden Meadows was the first kid audience he ever spoke in front of. We were the very first stop on his book tour. Not surprisingly, our students were very well-behaved and everyone commented on how funny his presentation was.

Emma, Grade 4

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Last week in library class we started working on creating book summary recommendations and I mentioned that students may want to take it a step further by creating their own book trailers at home using iMovie. Emma, the fourth grader pictured above, went home Thursday night and created an absolutely amazing book trailer for Marty Pants.  With permission from her parents, I shared it with Mark Parisi.

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His people got in touch with Emma’s people and now Emma’s book trailer is being shared to promote his new book. How cool is that?! Way to go, Emma! You’ve made us so proud!

Marty Pants, (2017)

by Mark Parisi

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Watch Emma’s amazing Marty Pants book trailer.  And be sure to congratulate her when you see her!

If your child hasn’t stopped talking about Mark Parisi and this book, you have a chance to meet him and check out Jeff Kinney’s book store in Plainville, MA on Saturday, May 13th at 4pm. It’s less than an hour away and a worthwhile road trip. You haven’t experienced an author book signing until you’ve done it at An Unlikely Story. Leave it to a best-selling author to create the most incredible space for author and illustrator events!

Speaking of Jeff Kinney, his 12th Diary of a Wimpy Kid book comes out in November. Here is the cover reveal:

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The countdown is on!

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