October 1, 2009

Kids' Authors Share Their Stories

Fabulous Book Giveaways for Your Club


Charles & Emma                             front and center                               Almost Astronauts
 Charles and Emma                        Front and Center                              Almost Astronauts
 by Deborah Heiligman                    by Catherine Gilbert                          by Tanya Lee Stone


Dear Readers,

Welcome to our second KidsBuzz newsletter, featuring book giveaways and behind-the-scenes stories from top kids' authors.  In this issue, you'll meet:
- Deborah Heiligman, whose thought-provoking and personal account of the man behind evolutionary theory has been named a New York Times Editors' Choice, a Booklist Top 10 Romance Book and a Booklinks 10 Top Biography, among others.
- Catherine Gilbert Murdock, author of the extremely popular teen Dairy Queen books, who serves up a hilarious and moving conclusion to the mega-award-winning trilogy; and
- Tanya Lee Stone, whose story of 13 true pioneers of the space age - women who defied the prejudices of the time and blazed a trail for generations of women to follow - received a Boston Globe-Horn Book Honor award.
Please enter to win books for your group!  We hope you enjoy sharing these authors' stories with your book club.  And please take a moment to let us know which titles your club is reading this fall.
Warm wishes,
Judy Gelman and Vicki Levy Krupp

Ages 12 and up / Nonfiction / Henry Holt

Win a set of Charles and Emma by Deborah Heiligman for your book club. 

Enter to win by emailing Deborah Heiligman.   Write "KidsBookclubbing" in the subject line,  and tell Deborah why your group should have copies of Charles and Emma.  Deadline: October 24 2009.

Charles & EmmaDear Reader,

I fell in love with a dead person. Two, actually. Of course I had heard of Charles Darwin, father of evolution. But I knew very little about him as a man. When I learned that and his wife Emma had a close, loving marriage and that Emma was religious and scared they would be separated for all eternity, fireworks exploded inside of me. I knew I had a book to write. I was a religious studiesdeborah heiligman major in college, and my husband writes about science.  What I didn't know was how much I would fall in love with both Charles and Emma as I read their letters and journals, and wrote the story of their life together. And I have been thrilled to get letters from readers-from age eleven to eight seven-saying they also fell in love with the Darwins. I hope you do, too. Please let me know.

I would like to offer a set of signed copies of Charles and Emma: The Darwins' Leap of Faith. Please e-mail me and tell me why you should have one. Deadline: October 24, 2009, one month before the anniversary of The Origin of Species.

Happy Reading,

Deborah Heiligman

Book Reviews for Charles and Emma:

"Suppose you, the reader, are 12 or so and don't know if you care about the history of science or whether British naturalist Charles Darwin, author of The Origin of Species, was controversial in his time or in ours. In Charles and Emma, Deborah Heiligman will make you care.... Great for young readers to watch scientific work as a personal project: no lab assignments given, no deadlines other than self-imposed."
-Chicago Tribune

"With great empathy and humor, Heiligman's lively narrative examines the life and legacy of Darwin through the unique lens of his domestic life, an inspired choice that helps us understand that for all the impact his theory would have on the world, nowhere did its consequences resonate so loudly as within the walls of his own home. Here is a timely, relevant book that works on several levels: as a history of science, as a biography, and, last but not least, as a romance. A bibliography, an index, and notes are appended."
-Horn Book Magazine (starred review)

Discussion Questions for Charles and Emma:

1.   What does it say about Charles's character that he made a pro/con list to decide whether he should get married or not?
2.   What effect do you think the fact Dr. Darwin allowed his children freedom of thought regarding religion had on Charles's professional life?
3.   Why did Emma help to edit Charles's sketch of his species theory? (see page 123)

Watch the trailer, learn how the author did her research, listen to an NPR radio interview, and discover more at Deborah Heiligman's website.

Author call-in information:  Deborah Heiligman is happy to call-in to your club.  She can also meet with your group if you live in the greater NYC area.  Email Deborah to submit your request.


Ages 12 and up / Teen fiction / Houghton Mifflin Books for Children

Win a
set of Front and Center by Catherine Gilbert Murdock for your book club. 

Enter to win by emailing Houghton Mifflin (write "KidsBookclubbing" in the subject line).

Dear Book Clubs,

front and center I love laughing out loud when I'm reading books - not at jokes per se, but a funny turn of phrase or humorous incident, especially if it's completely incongruous and laughter helps relieve the tension. When I'm writing, I always try to put in material that will make my husband laugh. It's such a thrill to hear him chuckling as he reads the first draft. A lot of dialog in Front and Center was created just for him - and you know what? It worked!
  Susan Kuklin
D.J. Schwenk is once more in the halls of Red Bend High School and just wants to fade into the background again. No such luck. The pressures of love, family and school all collide during basketball season, when D.J. is forced to make some life-changing decisions. Her friendship with Beaner turns into something more, but her ex, Brian Nelson, lingers in the back of her mind. Win and her dad are on D.J. about verballing to Big Ten schools, while Coach K has scouts sitting in the bleachers to watch her lead the team and call the shots, literally. The stress and chaos leave her doubting herself - can she really handle Big Ten ball?

I'll be chatting with fans on Facebook on October 19th at 7PM EST, so be sure to become a Fan and join the conversation!

Catherine Gilbert Murdock

Book Reviews for Front and Center:

"Her fans won't be disappointed.... Murdock successfully integrates fresh trials and pressures, well-developed primary and likable peripheral characters, and amusing introspection into the backstory.....D.J. is ultimately a responsible, realistically flawed, funny, endearing, and strong heroine worth rooting for whether on the court or on the page."
-School Library Journal

"Ohhhhh DJ Schwenk, how I love thee....So, in case you weren't aware, the third DJ Schwenk book comes out in October. MARK YOUR CALENDAR. Because if you love DJ like I do, you won't want to miss it.DJ Schwenk is one of the most unique and interesting protagonists in YA literature. I love that she's a real girl. She freezes up under pressure. She's not always witty with a quick, sarcastic comeback. She's a little more like the rest of us, thinking of smart responses three days after the argument is over."
- Abby (the) Librarian (blog)

Discussion Questions for Front and Center:

1.  D. J. Schwenk isn't like a lot of heroines in teen fiction these days. In what ways is she different? Do you find any similarities between D.J. and yourself? Your friends?
2.  How does "coaching" her teammate help D. J. become a better player herself? A better friend?
3.  Did you want D. J. to end up with Brian? With Beaner? Why?

Read an excerpt and a Q&A with the author at Catherine Gilbert Murdock's website.

Author call-in information:  Catherine Gilbert Murdock is happy to call-in to your club after October 12, 2009.  She might even be able to meet with your group if you live in the Philadelphia area. E-mail Houghton Mifflin to submit your request."


Ages 10 and up / Nonfiction / Candlewick Press

Win a set of Almost Astronauts by Tanya Lee Stone for your book club. 

Enter to win by emailing Tanya Lee Stone (write "KidsBookclubbing" in the subject line).

Almost AstronautsDear Reader,

What if I told you there are 13 women you've probably never heard of who tried to be astronauts in 1961 - almost 20 years before women were let into NASA's space program? Would you believe me? Well, it's true. I hadn't heard of them either - until I stumbled across one little sentence. Then I was on a mission to find out everything I could.tanya stone

I discovered an amazing story of gutsy, record-breaking female fliers who took all the same tests our first male astronauts did to answer one burning question - are women just as qualified as men to be astronauts?

The answer was YES. But NASA said NO. Think that's the end of the story? Not even close. Go to my website to find out more, and get Almost Astronauts, awarded the Boston Globe-Horn Book Honor, to find out the whole scoop. But beware - this book contains some beloved American heroes behaving badly.
I look forward to hearing from you!

Tanya Lee Stone

Book Reviews for Almost Astronauts:

"...fascinating, dramatic story... empowering, impassioned story will leave readers inspired."
-Kirkus (starred review)

"...meticulously researched and thrillingly told."
-Horn Book (starred review)

"I want the movie!...the book is for everyone...Get your hands on a copy!" 
-Booklist, Cindy Dobrez

Discussion Questions for Almost Astronauts:

1.  Why did women feel compelled to be quiet about any feminist views in their jobs and life? What consequences did they face if they showed any feminist leanings? Are there views today that are still that unpopular?

2.  How does the book show people who are considered classic American heroes in a new light? Do you think their views were representative of most men at the time? Do you think most of them have changed their minds about women and minorities or have just become more discreet with stating their opinions?

Read the complete discussion guide and awards and reviews,  hear Tanya discussing Almost Astronauts on CSPAN-BOOKTV, check out a bonus poetry tribute to the Almost Astronauts women, keep up with Tanya via her website, on her blog and via Facebook.
Author call-in information:  Tanya Lee Stone is happy to call-in to your club.  She can also meet with your group if you live in Vermont. E-mail Tanya to submit your request.


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

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