When I started to write about Ice Cream Star, I knew I wanted her to be a hero. She would be an ideal hero – brave, selfless, wild, funny, and honest. Like a proper hero, she would come from humble origins, and pass through a series of amazing adventures to eventually save the world. But she would also be a real person, not a fairy tale character or a Hollywood product. I’ve never been interested in writing about characters who don’t feel like actual human beings.

Last but not least, she does all this at fifteen. That isn’t so strange – in medieval times, the sons of lords led armies before they had begun to grow beards; Joan of Arc was sixteen when she first put on armour and rode to war. In fact, young people are both more fearless and more idealistic than adults. If the world is poor in adventure nowadays, it’s at least partly because we shut our teenagers away in schools.

That is Sandra Newman on writing her novel, THE COUNTRY OF ICE CREAM STAR (Ecco/HarperCollins), out now and gathering fantastic reviews. Jason Sheehan for NPR says, “Please, read this one. Hang with Ice Cream as she and her people flee before armies, before invaders and death.”

Newman’s richly imagined novel shows us a world where disease kills off young people just as they are emerging into adulthood, and the fifteen-year-old protagonist, Ice Cream Star, seeks to find a cure with unparalleled verve.

The book was blurbed by Kate Atkinson (“an astonishing achievement…breathtakingly ambitious”) and received starred reviews from Publishers Weekly and Booklist.

In a WSJ profile of Newman, she talks about Ice Cream Star:

“Instead of agonizing over kissing a boy, she just has sex. Instead of killing people with her archery skills, she has an assault rifle. I also think she’s a lot smarter and funnier than Katniss Everdeen, but clearly I’m biased.”

NPR agrees she’s a heroine like no other:

“[Ice Cream Star] is ten times the heroine of those found in any of the tales whose bones this one steals — and, thus, ten times as complex and ten times as real. She would shame Tris Prior to her knees in a heartbeat. Would spank Harry Potter, steal his wand and send him on his way in tears.”

And in Chris Bohjalian’s review of the book for The Washington Post, he wrote:

“But what makes the novel so fascinating — and yes, so challenging — is the language Newman has created for Ice Cream and the way we see this disease-ravaged world through her eyes . . . I worried about Ice Cream, and I rooted for Ice Cream. And when I was done with her story, I was very glad that I had gotten my flu shot.”

For updates on the book, visit Sandra’s website, and be sure to follow her on Twitter. On her site, you can read the first page of the novel, and a scene that was cut from the final version.




Introducing Gretchen Rubin’s Podcast

rubin podcast

We’re very excited to share the news that Gretchen Rubin is launching a podcast with the Panoply network. In Happier, Gretchen brings her practical, manageable advice about happiness and good habits to this lively and thought-provoking podcast. Gretchen’s co-host and guinea pig is her younger sister, Elizabeth Craft, a TV writer and producer living in Los Angeles, who (lovingly) refers to Gretchen as her happiness bully. You can listen to the first episode and subscribe to the podcast here.

Today, Jacob Weisberg, chairman of The Slate Group, announced the launch of the Panoply network, which holds 12 commitments for a total of 18 shows, including Gretchen Rubin’s, from media outlets and organizations, including programming from: The New York Times Magazine; HBO Documentary Films,  New York magazine/Vulture and more.

Listeners can access Panoply on iTunes as well as on Stitcher, SoundCloud, and on all major podcast apps. A Panoply app will be forthcoming but isn’t available as of yet.

The following podcasts, among others, will be offered through Panoply:

  • Slate’s podcasts: The Gist, Whistlestop with John Dickerson, Political Gabfest, Culture Gabfest and 12 others
  • The official insider podcast for FX’s critically-acclaimed spy drama The Americans
  • Four podcasts from HuffPost
  • Four podcasts from Real Simple
  • HBO Documentary Films
  • Our National Conversation About Conversations About Race with Baratunde Thurston, Raquel Cepeda, and Tanner Colby
  • The Ethicists from the New York Times Magazine
  • The Vulture TV Podcast and a podcast on sex from New York magazine
  • The National Constitution Center’s We the People
  • Popular Science’s FutureCast
  • Inc. Uncensored
  • Burnt Toast from Food52
  • WBUR’s The Checkup

Read an Excerpt from THE OPPOSITE OF SPOILED in NYT

You can catch an early glimpse at Ron Lieber‘s  forthcoming book, THE OPPOSITE OF SPOILED: Raising Kids Who Are Grounded, Generous, and Smart About Money (Harper, February 3rd) in the New York Times today. The piece will run in the print edition this Sunday, but is already available online. Share the article with parents, family, teachers, colleagues and friends! “Why You Should Tell Your Kids How Much Money You Make” by Ron Lieber.

The Opposite of Spoiled

Next week, Ron will kick off his book tour, and you can see him first at Brooklyn by the Book on Monday, February 2nd, in conversation with Jennifer Senior. Tickets are going fast right here (get $3 off if you’re a Brooklyn Public Library card holder!). Special bonus at this event: they will be serving two world premiere Ample Hills Creamery ice cream flavors, Want and Need. ‘Nuff said.. 

Visit his speaking page to see his stops all across the country. If you’re interested in having Ron speak in your community, please send a note

Finally– don’t forget about the pre-order partnership with! For every book you buy, you’ll get a $27 gift card that you can use with your family to pick out classroom projects to support, the online charity that helps public school teachers raise money to fund classroom projects.

Happy Publication Day, ELLA!

Sometimes self-awareness gets turned into pitch perfect satire like Portlandia, and sometimes it gets sculpted into a witty and wonderful parody like Mallory Kasdan’s new children’s book, ELLA. ELLA is a re-imagining of Kay Thompson’s Eloise, this time with the smart, highly evolved and lovable six-year-old urban girl living in a place she calls The Local Hotel. It’s a place, Ella tells us, that has a door “with no obvious signage.”

Today you can finally meet the ELLA: “the amazingly illustrated, totally hilarious, very modern parody of Eloise.” by Mallory Kasdan and illustrated by Marcos Chin. Bustle says, “Share it with your favorite hip parents. Keep it for yourself. Whatever you do, just get it.”

She has a nanny called Manny. He has tattoos for sleeves and he might go in with some guys to buy a grilled cheese truck. Sometimes Ella weaves purses out of Ziploc bags and reclaimed twine. (She is artsy of course.)

She has a dog named Stacie and a fish named Rasta and a scooter which is important for getting everywhere she needs to be.

Altogether she has been to 62 events including that Hillary Clinton fundraiser. She is NEVER bored. If Ella and Kay Thompson’s Eloise got together for a play date, they would have a very good time indeed.

9dbc0680-4b3f-0132-0b1f-0eae5eefacd9On Sunday, January 25th from 3:00-5:00 you can catch ELLA’s book launch at Powerhouse Arena in DUMBO!



“Start right away.” — That’s Gretchen Rubin’s advice for creating new habits, as quoted in “Turning a New Year’s Resolution Into Action With the Facts” in this past weekend’s New York Times. We’ve blogged a bit about Gretchen’s new book, BETTER THAN BEFORE: Mastering the Habits of Our Everyday Lives, and are really thrilled to share Shelf Awareness “Maximum Shelf” today, which profiles Gretchen and her new book.

Check out Shelf Awareness for more on the Better Than Before, a great Q&A with Gretchen, and a chance to get a free ARC of the book ahead of its publication date, March 17, 2015.

In a world where we are constantly reminded of the good habits we should follow, yet simultaneously bombarded with temptations to do the opposite, Rubin’s latest brainchild serves as a refreshingly sane touchstone. Smart, supportive and breezily honest about her own flaws, Rubin encourages us to get in touch with what we truly value, not impose challenging regimens in pursuit of unrealistic ideals.–Jaclyn Fulwood

“In Better Than Before, Gretchen identifies the many strategies that we can use to change our habits. The funniest strategy? Loophole-spotting. The trickiest strategy? Reward. The most familiar strategy? Hmmmm….probably Accountability. The most funstrategy? Treats! Definitely, Treats.”

If you visit pre-order the book by February 17th (or already have), you are eligible for Gretchen’s great pre-order gift package (visit her site to learn more):

  • A Better Than Before cell-phone case (for the iPhone 5 or 6, or Samsung 5)
  • A wallet card with the Habits Manifesto
  • A bookplate signed by Gretchen


Gretchen also has habits downloads for working, exercising, and reading Better Than Before, and BTB images you can share on Pinterest, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.


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