September 15, 2009

Kids' Authors Share Their Stories

Fabulous Book Giveaways for Your Club

Surf Mules                          NoChoirboy                           RememberingMrs.
   Surf Mules                               No Choirboy                                Remembering Mrs. Rossi
   by G. Neri                                by Susan Kuklin                          by Amy Hest

Dear Readers,

We're delighted to introduce KidsBuzz, a bimonthly newsletter featuring book giveaways and behind-the-scenes stories from top kids' authors.  In this issue, you'll meet:
- G. Neri, author of evocative stories for reluctant readers (that have earned him an IRA Young Adult Choice honor, among others);
- Susan Kuklin, whose portrait of teenagers on death row has been recognized with more than 12 major awards (so far!); and
- Amy Hest, a New York Times bestselling author who writes for younger readers about the power of love after loss.

Please enter to win a set of books for your group!  And we hope you enjoy sharing these authors' stories with your book club.
You'll continue to receive Book Beat, our newsletter for youth book clubs, with book recommendations, news for your club, and occasional book giveaways; our next issue will be mailed in October.  And please let us know what your club is reading this fall.
Warm wishes,
Judy Gelman and Vicki Levy Krupp

Ages 14 and Up / Young Adult Fiction / Putnam

Win a set of Surf Mules by G
. Neri for your book club
(G. Neri is giving away
one set of books and two sets of audiobooks)

 Enter to win by emailing G. Neri (write "KidsBuzz" in the subject line).

Surf MuelsDear Reader,

One day I stumbled upon a funeral at sea for a young surfer.  I was taken by the mystery surrounding that foggy morning and the four generations of surfers on their boards spreading the young man's ashes in a deeply ritualistic ceremony. I wondered who he was and G. Nerihow he came to affect so many lives?

I started writing about it and also recalled a project I had worked on years ago about the darker side of surfing - the secret world of drug runners looking for easy cash so they could pursue the wave. This pull between the golden life and the darker forces surrounding it became a perfect metaphor for the struggle between adolescence and adulthood. Surf Mules took me for the ride of my life: an epic journey of two young surfers on the verge of graduating from high school when they become embroiled in a world of disorganized crime.

I hope readers will empathize with Logan's journey into the heart of darkness and what he needs to learn in order to survive.  Aren't these issues we all have faced in one way or another? To continue this discussion, visit my website.

And as always, thanks for reading!

Book Reviews for Surf Mules:

"Intense, funny and exciting...readers will be hooked on this fast-paced, interesting adventure. It is a definite buy."   
-School Library Journal

"The tortured but loving friendship between Logan and Z-boy proves poignant and heartbreaking. Logan's agonized wrestling with morally ambiguous choices and his flawed yet appealing family and friends should find a wide audience." 
-Publisher's Weekly

Discussion Questions for Surf Mules:

1.  What makes Logan different from Z-boy, and why does he choose to stick with a friend who will   only bring him trouble?
2.  Is Logan wrong to do what he does to help Z-boy and mother? What other choices did he have?
3.  What would have happened to Z-boy if Logan had abandoned him?
4.  Will Logan end up blaming himself for Z-boy's life?
5.  Where will Logan go from here?

Catch the video, read an excerpt, reviews, author Q&A, and connect with G. Neri via his blog, Twitter, My Space, Facebook.

Author call-in information:  G. Neri is happy to call-in to your club. He can also meet with your group if you live in Tampa-St. Petersburg, Florida.  E-mail G. Neri to submit your request. 



Ages 12 and up / Young Adult Nonfiction / Henry Holt

Win a
set of No Choirboy by Susan Kuklin for your book club

Enter to win by emailing Susan Kuklin (write "KidsBuzz" in the subject line).

Dear Reader,

Susan KuklinSusan KuklinA few years ago I attended a lecture about capital punishment and learned that only eight countries, including the United States, sentenced people younger than eighteen to death.  Right then and there I knew I had to do something to bring this issue directly to you. That law has since changed.  But the issue of juvenile justice has not.
My journey took me to maximum security prisons and death row where I interviewed inmates who had been sentenced to death for crimes they committed as teenagers. In their own words, raw and uncensored, they tell you about life "inside." But for one very serious act, these teens could be your brother, your classmate, your friend or even you.  What you will learn may change the way you think about crime and punishment.
Please visit my website for details and blogs about how I wrote No Choirboy:
Best wishes,
Susan Kuklin

Book Reviews for No Choirboy:

"This powerful book should be explored and discussed in high schools all across our country."
-School Library Journal (starred review)
"A searing and provocative account that will touch teens' most fundamental beliefs and questions about violence, punishment, our legal and prison systems, and human rights."

Discussion Questions for No Choirboy:

1.  Are you the sum total of your worst act?
2.  Are we able to determine, justly, what punishment people deserve for their worst act?
3.  What obligation, if any, does society have to those who commit horrible acts?
4.  Is the death penalty ever justified?
5.  Should juveniles who commit capital crimes be tried as adults?

Read about awards and reviews as well as historical information on her website and connect with Susan via Twitter, Facebook, or her publisher.

Author call-in information: Susan Kuklin is happy to call-in to your club.  She can also meet with your group if you live in the greater NYC and DC areas, or while she's in New Orleans during the week of 11.10.09.  E-mail Susan to submit your request.


Ages 8 - 12 / Illustrated Middle Grade Fiction / Candlewick

Win a set of Remembering Mrs. Rossi by Amy Hest for
your book club

Enter to win by emailing Amy Hest (write "KidsBuzz" in the subject line).

RememberingMrs.RossiMy favorite street in New York is the wide, winding one called Riverside Drive. The Rossis live there, in a tall, brick building. I put them there, in my newest novel, Remembering Mrs. Rossi.  It is about mothers and fathers and daughters, and a teacher who dies and her students. It's about love and people who know a lot about love.

There's a picture on my desk of me (age 8) with my mother. Each day I imagined a little girl sitting beside me while I typed. She tells me her name (Annie Rossi), her age (8), and where she lives (440 Riverside Drive, Apt. 10B).
Amy Hest
In time, she tells me about her mother. Mrs. Rossi was a teacher. (My mother was a teacher, too). Her mother went to the library often. (My mother went often, too). Annie's mother died. (My mother died, too). Our stories blend.

I love to talk about my books with readers, and with their teachers, librarians and parents. You can e-mail me and I'll write back.


Amy Hest

Book Reviews for Remembering Mrs. Rossi:

"Readers of this fine novel will find the spirited, resilient Annie another character - just like her mother - well worth remembering."
-Publishers Weekly (starred review)
"This gentle story that captures one third grader's year reinforces the power of journaling in navigating through life's changes."
-School Library Journal

Discussion Suggestions for Remembering Mrs. Rossi:

1.   Encourage readers to think about the following line - "...trying my best to keep Mommy close, and let her go, and keep her close again." - and ask them to explain the ways in which Annie and her father try to keep her mother's memory alive, while also trying to build their life without her.

2.  Remembering Mrs. Rossi is also a story about the power of writing.  Annie and her father are sustained throughout the year by a book of memories about Mrs. Rossi written by her sixth grade students.  Ask your readers to write or talk about a gesture they have made that had a positive impact on someone else. 

See Amy's website for her "Hints for Writers", a teacher's guide and an article where Amy talks about New York, writing and love.

Author call-in information:  Amy Hest is happy to call-in to your club.  She can also meet with your group if you live in the greater NYC area. E-mail Amy to submit your request. 


  • A maximum of 10 books is available for each book club giveaway.

  • Contest entries are sent directly to the authors administering each contest.  Our Privacy Policy does not apply to emails sent as contest entries.  You must be 18 years or older to enter the contests.

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