Author Archives: Nick M.

December 15, 2009

STACKS Scavenger Hunt Answers

Posted by at 6:29 am in About Us, Trivia | Permalink

Trivia_tuesday Last week I posted this Scavenger Hunt to see how well you know the STACKS.

The first person to comment with all the correct answers was AndysLibrary. Nice job! How did you do? Were you able to find all the answers?

  1. This Ink Splot 26 blogger likes the book The Giver by Lois Lowry.
    Answer: Carly M. You can see all her favorite books in her blogger bio.
  2. College Pizza Delivery is a game about a pizza parlor located on what street?
    Answer: Main Street. Play the game now.
  3. Which beloved illustrator created "A Pancake Love Story" with input from a live audience?
    Answer: Jim Benton. Watch the video. It is pretty funny!
  4. What is the first name of the moderator for the Allie Finkle message boards?
    Answer: Elise. She's awesome! Go say hello to her on Message Boards.
  5. Fill in the blank: You, your friends, your _____!
    Answer: Reads! You’ll find this written all over the STACKS website.
  6. Which profile widget will help you be a better wordsmith?
    Answer: Word of the Day. Log in and add this Profile Widget to your Stack.
  7. What is the name of the new Goosebumps app that lets you monster-fy your photo?
    Answer: Goosebumps PhotoShock. Check out our gruesome pics on Ink Splot 26.
  8. Which lycanthropic actor was interviewed recently for Ink Splot 26?
    Answer: Taylor Lautner. Read the entire New Moon interview.
  9. How many different neckwear option are there for your STACKS avatar?
    Answer: Nine. Log in to your Profile to give your avatar some new accessories.
  10. SUPER CHALLENGE: What book was I referring to when I said, “There are all kinds of stories: some of them with clearly defined outcomes; and others that, in my opinion, are meant to be enjoyed for what they are, with no requisite moral lesson.”?
    Answer: Tales from Outer Suburbia. You can read my review here.

Thanks for playing. Hope you had fun! You guys are STACKS superstars!!

— Nick, STACKS Staffer

December 8, 2009

STACKS Scavenger Hunt

Posted by at 9:53 am in About Us, Trivia | Permalink

Trivia_tuesday How well do you know the STACKS?

Let's find out, shall we? All answers can be found somewhere on the STACKS website.

The first person to comment with the correct answers wins a big round of applause from all the STACKS staffers!

  1. This Ink Splot 26 blogger likes the book The Giver by Lois Lowry. (Hint: Did you know we have blogger bios? Find out all about us!)
  2. College Pizza Delivery is a game about a pizza parlor located on what street? (Hint: Head on over to Puzzle Games to order your pizza.)
  3. Which beloved illustrator created "A Pancake Love Story" with input from a live audience? (Hint: You can find the answer in our Video Hub. We think this video is pretty funny stuff!)
  4. What is the first name of the moderator for the Allie Finkle message boards? (Hint: You’ll have to check out the chatter on the Message Boards.)
  5. Fill in the blank: You, your friends, your _____! (Hint: You’ll find this written all over the STACKS website!)
  6. Which profile widget will help you be a better wordsmith? (Hint: Log in to check out all the Profile Widgets and add some to your Stack.)
  7. What is the name of the new Goosebumps app that lets you monster-fy your photo? (Hint: The answer you seek can be found in two places, the Video Hub and a Halloween post on Ink Splot 26.)
  8. Which lycanthropic actor was interviewed recently for Ink Splot 26? (Hint: He’s in a very very popular movie based on a book by Stephenie Meyer. Look for the answer in Ink Splot 26 Book to Big Screen category.)
  9. How many different neckwear option are there for your STACKS avatar? (Hint: Log in to your Profile to create your avatar.)
  10. SUPER CHALLENGE: What book was I referring to when I said, “There are all kinds of stories: some of them with clearly defined outcomes; and others that, in my opinion, are meant to be enjoyed for what they are, with no requisite moral lesson.”? (Hint: You can find all my blog posts from my bio page.)

Good luck!

— Nick, STACKS Staffer

September 26, 2009

A Dream Come True: Meeting Suzanne Collins

Posted by at 8:39 am in Authors | Permalink


Hi Ink Splot 26 Readers,

Two girls from completely different walks of life had the same desire to meet the creator of The Hunger Games (a book for ages 12 and up).

Amanda is a young girl who dreamed about meeting her favorite author, Suzanne Collins, but never thought her dream would be a reality. Thanks to Scholastic and the Make-A-Wish Foundation which grants wishes to kids with life-threatening medical conditions, Amanda got her wish.

Kayley is the winner of the Hunger Games Writing Contest, in which she answered the question, “How would you survive the Hunger Games?” (Read Kayley’s winning essay about being “the girl with the silver tongue.")

Over the summer, both girls traveled to the Scholastic headquarters where they each spent an afternoon with Suzanne.  Here are their stories in their own words.

— Nick, Scholastic Staffer

Amanda's Story


My heart was racing as I rolled along, seemingly calm behind the bubbly and kind publicist Sheila Marie. I couldn't believe that I was finally here to meet Suzanne Collins, my idol, whose works have been my obsession for the past five years. It had been almost a year since I asked Make-A-Wish to help this dream along, but with all the confounded procedures, surgeries, and pain, I had to postpone until today. Well, anyway to the fun stuff! I was so excited and nervous at the same time that I felt I was being pushed on a conveyor belt to something I wasn't quite prepared for, but was eager to see all the same. I found myself uttering the words "help, mommy help" in a voice resembling Minnie Mouse with a severe sore throat. It didn't seem real, like someone fantasizing about the stereotypical life—new Mustang, high-paying job, mansion, and that drop-dead gorgeous husband deal—but never believing they could get it. Well I was getting it and I couldn't believe it.

My experience with Suzanne Collins was absolutely breathtaking. As soon as I spoke with her, my nervousness melted away. Despite the lights, cameras and teleprompters, she made me feel at home during the video shoot. She was so sweet and said that she was afraid that she was going to be a boring wish. My first thoughts were, "I'm honored just to be within ten feet of you, and you're nervous about being my wish! Man, is she nice!" She was getting her makeup done so I was afraid of disturbing her, but she assured me that I could talk. To my amazement, I could speak calmly as if I were talking to a friend, not my idol whose writings have consumed my mind and heart ever since I read her first book. She even hugged me. Oh my God! Did Suzanne Collins actually hug me!? She touched me! The creator of Gregor the Overlander, Katniss the clever, Ripred the obnoxious, actually touched me and is smiling at me, this inconsequential nothing. Then they asked if I would mind being in a video shoot with her. Would I mind? I have spent the last five years rounding up, forcing, hounding, and pounding people to read these books! While my mother was reading the book in her room I would sit at the door waiting to hear her laugh and then say, "What was so funny? What part are you at?” I was ridiculous, annoying and relentless. My mom called me a “Gregor stalker.” And now they were asking me if I would like to do a video shoot with the woman who started it all, creating the little book monster also known as me. Of course I wouldn't mind! Then she asked me if we should say "Happy birthday Scholastic." Trying to be as polite as possible, I suggested that we say "Happy birthday Scholastic. Fly you high!" During the shoot she let me hold her sword. She likes swords! I'm crazy about them! We have something in common! I wonder if she has a three-sided one like Luxa talks about in Gregor the Overlander. Oh my God, I get to go and talk to her now! I think I'm having a panic attack! 

Here is the amazing thing. This beautiful lady went out of her way to get her favorite books for me (because reading is the start of writing), along with a few personal items that are now treasures in my eyes. She had piled up a world of keepsakes for me. It was unbelievable! We talked about writing techniques, and she shared some of her most useful secrets. We were originally allotted one hour to talk by ourselves. Well, that hour went completely out the window. I spent close to six hours with Suzanne and I loved every minute of it. I felt completely and utterly at ease with this woman that I idolized. It was a dream come true and I am happy to say that I miss Suzanne, not only as a fan but as a friend as well, and I thank everyone involved for bringing us together.

Kayley's Story

It’s hard to put into words just how brilliant my experience at the Scholastic headquarters was. From making Hunger Games twitter jokes, to David Levithan’s thoughts on the pairing of Haymitch and Katniss, it was a day that I will never forget. Promptly upon arrival, my mother and I were met in the reception area by Adrienne Vrettos, the lovely woman we had been in constant communication with since I won the contest which brought me over 3,000 miles to New York City. We were taken to the roof of the building where Suzanne Collins was being photographed for a newspaper article, and I joined her in a few of those before we went down to one of the coolest rooms I have ever entered. On the walls were large pictures from tons of books that I had grown up reading and loving. The Wild Things, Harry Potter and Winnie the Pooh were among the illustrations making up the wall décor in this room fondly referred to as Scholastic’s living room.

For the next couple of hours we all ate great food and had even greater discussions. About ten people, including my mother and me, surrounded a large table and talked book recommendations, Greek mythology, funny college anecdotes, and first New York City apartment stories (I have a lot to look forward to, it would seem). It was beyond excellent; I could have sat there for hours.

Unfortunately, the afternoon was drawing to a close, and Suzanne had to dash off, but not before giving me a few precious treasures. She gave me a lovely copy of Far from the Madding Crowd by Thomas Hardy, the book which gave Katniss Everdeen her surname, and a spider ornament representing a character from her other book series, The Underland Chronicles. In addition, she signed two advanced readers copies of Catching Fire, to ensure minimal scrabbles for the book on the flight home between my mom and me, and the entire Underland series. I was given a number of other books that I simply cannot wait to read, including Shiver by Maggie Stiefvater which, based on all of the strong recommendations, should be awesome.

A few more photos were taken and goodbye hugs were given. I cannot remember the last time I was surrounded by so many genuine and kind people. Thank you, Scholastic for giving me the opportunity of a lifetime and thank you Suzanne Collins for writing such a fantastic story—I can’t wait for more! Interning or working at Scholastic would be such an incredible experience; one day I hope to do one of the two. Now, off to finish Catching Fire!

March 25, 2009

It’s Back . . . In Paperback — Paint the Wind

Posted by at 7:11 am in Authors, Reads | Permalink

Hi Ink Splot Readers,

One of my favorite Scholastic authors is Pam Muñoz Ryan. She is an incredible writer who has written over 30 books! I met Mrs. Ryan at an event at Columbia University. She was part of an Authors Readers Theatre group, along with some of Scholastic's best authors: Brian Selznick, Sarah Weeks, and Avi. Each of the authors selected an excerpt from their books to perform, then had their fellow authors help them in reenacting the scene. It was amazing to hear the story from the author's own voice. Mrs. Ryan chose a scene from her book Paint the Wind.

The book is about a girl named Maya who lost her parents when she was five and has to live with her extremely stifling paternal grandmother. Her grandmother is so strict that she doesn't let Maya run, shout, or play in the house. Bringing friends over is out of the question. Her grandmother even refuses to talk about Maya's mother. Maya is basically a prisoner . . . until her grandmother dies. After her grandmother's death, Maya goes to Wyoming to live with her grandfather on her mother's side. In Wyoming, there is a horse named Artemisia who runs free. Artemisia holds the key to Maya's memories about her mother.

We are fortunate enough to have an interview with Pam Muñoz Ryan about Paint the Wind. My favorite question is about the horses' names. Pam says that they were all named after famous painters, mostly from the American West, where the story is set. I love when character names have some significance beyond the story.

If you want to read more about the horses' names and other behind-the-scenes trivia, read her interview! And leave me a comment letting me know which question is your favorite!

— Nick, STACKS Staffer

December 26, 2008

THE FIVE: Nick’s Top Books of 2008

Posted by at 6:30 am in Reads | Permalink

Nick's Top Five Kids Books from the past year, 2008, including The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins, Allie Finkle's Rules for Girls 1: Moving Day by Meg Cabot, The Tales of Beedle the Bard by J. K. Rowling, Brava, Strega, Nona! By Tomie dePaola, Robert Sabuda, and Matthew Reinhart, and Sourpuss and Sweetie Pie by Norton Juster and Chris Raschka

Here is my contribution to today's FIVE: My Top FIVE Kids Books of 2008:

Sourpussandsweetiepie5. Sourpuss and Sweetie Pie by Norton Juster and Chris Raschka

This one is on my list even though it is a picture book. I love the bitter-sweet story, and I LOVE that Norton Juster wrote it. Juster's The Phantom Tollbooth was and is one of my favorite stories — it definitely appealed to my linguistic/mathematical brain.

Bravastreganona4. Brava, Strega Nona! by Tomie dePaola, Robert Sabuda, and Matthew Reinhart

The story is a great one about a grandma who makes me think fondly of my own grandma. This book is another great pop-up by Sabuda and Reinhart, who created some excellent books like Star Wars: A Pop-up Guide to the Galaxy, Mommy?, and Castles.

Movingday_cover3. Allie Finkle's Rules for Girls Book 1: Moving Day by Meg Cabot

Okay, so I'm a boy and this book clearly says in the title that Allie Finkle writes her rules for girls . . . BUT I still like the book. I like that Allie doesn't just accept rules set by her parents or friends or her teachers, but instead takes her experiences and comes up with her own rules. I sort of do the same thing in my own life. I read this book so that I could help develop the website, and I was definitely skeptical at first. I thought that I wouldn't like it at all; I mean what is a 20-something guy going to relate to in a story about a 9-year-old girl? After I started reading it, though, I definitely got into the story. I like Allie's attitude and the way that she is an independent spirit — that, I could relate to.

2. The Tales of Beedle the Bard by J. K. Rowling

I fell in love with the Harry Potter series, and this was just what I needed to fan the flames of my love for the wizard world masterfully created by Rowling.


Hungergames1. The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins (Ages 12 and up)

This is my favorite book this year, period. Out of all the books I've read (and I've read quite a few this year), this one left me most excited and wanting more. Plus, I have considered Suzanne Collins a fantastic author since The Underland Chronicles, and I was so happy to see her branch out into the young adult arena. I also have a bit of a vested interest in this one because I helped create The Hunger Games website.

— Nick, STACKS Staffer

December 2, 2008

Vote for Us!

Posted by at 12:51 am in Graphic Novels | Permalink

Nickelodeon Magazine has a brand new award called the Comics Award, and Scholastic has several outstanding nominees.The Scholastic nominees for the first ever Nickelodeon Magazine Comics Award are:

graphic novels


Bone (series) by Jeff Smith: Favorite Graphic Novel
Bone (series) by Jeff Smith: Favorite Fantasy Graphic Novel
Bartleby (from Bone series): Cutest Comic Character
The Arrival by Shaun Tan: Favorite Graphic Novel

Amulet by Kazu Kibuishi: Favorite Fantasy Graphic Novel

The Invention of Hugo Cabret by Brian Selznick: Favorite Graphic Novel

Super Diaper Baby (from The Adventures of Super Diaper Baby): Cutest Comic Character

Captain Underpants’ Underpants (from Captain Underpants series): Grossest Thing in Comics

The newly created Nickelodeon Magazine Comics Awards honor the best comic books, strips, and graphic novels for kids published across the United States.

— Nick, STACKS Staffer

November 18, 2008

A Sneak Peek into Suburbia

Posted by at 2:25 pm in Graphic Novels, Reads, Sneak Peek | Permalink

If you haven’t checked out The Arrival,
then you are missing out. It is a beautiful wordless book by Shaun Tan
about the arrival of an immigrant man to a bizarre new world. Well,
Shaun Tan has created another masterpiece called Tales from Outer Suburbia
that publishes in February 2009. This collection of (sub)urban legends
for ages 12 and up is a random walk through a strange and fantastical
world. Tan’s idiosyncratic drawings take mundane suburban life and give
it an unconventional makeover. There are all kinds of stories: 
some of them with clearly defined outcomes, and others that, in my
opinion, are meant to be enjoyed for what they are, with no requisite
moral lesson.

There is the story of Eric, for example, an unusual foreign exchange
student. Eric had a tendency to sleep and study in the kitchen pantry.
He kept to himself, and rarely had questions for his hosts. When he did
ask something, it would be about an object or subject that his hosts
took for granted. There is a picture of Eric looking curiously at the
underside of a postage stamp, and pointing out the serial number on an
electrical plug. His hosts would dismiss his strange demeanor as being
a “cultural thing.” Then, one day, Eric left with just a wave and a
good-bye. His hosts didn’t even know that he was leaving for good. He
did leave them something though . . .

Click to view larger

Then there’s a story about a discontented family who always
complained about their lives, until they found a secret inner courtyard
in their house! The family started having picnics in their inner
courtyard, and they enjoyed the privacy and the special secret that
only their family knew about . . . or so they thought.

Click to view larger

Another great story is about a place where every household has their
own missile. They were just sitting there, in the backyard, waiting for
the time when the government may need to use them. Eventually they
became so commonplace that people started decorating their missiles.
Soon everyone was painting their missile, or using it to grow plants,
or store things.


Click to view larger

The artwork in this book is stunning. Tan’s style is such an
eclectic mix of the real and surreal. Some illustrations are with
color, some without, and some juxtapose vibrant hues against a shaded
backdrop. The illustration about the inner courtyard looks like a
painting that you might see at the Metropolitan Museum of Art! Shaun
Tan has let his imagination run wild once again, and I love it! I hope
you’ll love this book as much as I do. What’s the story that your
imagination would tell about your neighborhood?

— Nick, STACKS Staffer

October 8, 2008

A Cyber Revolution

Posted by at 8:44 am in Reads, Sneak Peek | Permalink

CyberiaI want to tell you about a book called Cyberia by Chris Lynch. This book is a very quick read with only 158 pages. It’s definitely something to read if you don’t have the time or patience to read a big book like Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows or Inkdeath. And even if you like those books (which I do), you’ll like this sci-fi revolution story.

Cyberia is the story of Zane, a boy who lives in an electronics-controlled world. Everything he does is monitored by his computerized room. He talks to his parents through giant screens on his wall, and even his dog, Hugo, is hooked-up to the system. One day Zane gets a gadget that lets him hear what his dog is saying . . . and what other animals are saying as well! He finds out that the animals really hate being wired as much as he does. The animals want a revolution, and Zane is going to have to help them out, but not without getting into trouble. Eventually Zane gets caught and is put under house arrest, but his parents let him have one visitor —a visitor who used to be able to speak to him, but now just licks his nose. I’m sure this isn’t the last we will hear from Zane and his dog Hugo.

If this sounds intriguing, than I’ve got a treat for you. You can read a sneak peak of the book now!
Read an excerpt from Cyberia (PDF)

—Nick, STACKS Staffer

September 17, 2008

We the People

Posted by at 7:30 am in News | Permalink

Did you know that today is Constitution Day? Two hundred and twenty-one years ago to this very day, the founders of the United States had just finished up the very first Constitutional Convention, an almost four-month-long brainstorm. Can you imagine being assigned a project that takes you almost four months to complete?! Now imagine that you had to work on this project with over 50 other people!

On this day in 1787, the 56 representatives from all 13 colonies signed the Constitution, setting the foundation for the democratic government we have today. The Constitution, in a nutshell, lays the blueprints for how the government should be structured. There are three branches, with each branch assigned different responsibilities, and each branch not having too much power on its own—a system called “checks and balances.”

If you’ve been watching the news, you know that the most talked-about branch is the executive branch, the one with the President, Vice President, and all of the Cabinet members. The second branch is the Legislative branch, which has the Senate and the House of Representatives. The final branch is the Judicial branch. The head of the Judicial branch is the U. S. Supreme Court, and is supported by a huge network of lower courts — including the courthouse in your town!.

The Constitution is a living and growing piece of history. There have been 27 amendments since the signing of the Constitution in 1787. It goes to show that even the founders weren’t able to predict everything that was going to happen in the future — but they were smart enough to know that things might change someday!

The Constitution is the solid foundation on which the United States of America stands tall.

— Nick, STACKS Staffer