October 15, 2009

Kids' Authors Share Their Stories

Fabulous Book Giveaways for Your Club


Quest                             Once a Witch                              GorillasGillPark

Quest                                            Once a Witch                                 The Gorillas of Gill Park
by Kathleen Benner Duble               by Carolyn MacCullough                  by Amy Gordon


Dear Readers,

Welcome to KidsBuzz, featuring book giveaways and behind-the-scenes stories from top kids' authors.  In this issue, you'll meet:
- Kathleen Benner Duble, whose writing for kids and teens has graced numerous awards and summer reading lists, as she explores "how the fates of good people, all obsessed with an objective, can change as fast as ice can freeze."
-creative writing teacher Carolyn MacCullough, who writes about following your talent and seeing where it takes you.
- Amy Gordon, former drama teacher who just "gets" kids,  and whose well-reviewed fiction reflects her belief in the positive power of imagination.
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

Win a set of QUEST by Kathleen Benner Duble for your book club. 

Enter to win by emailing Kathleen Duble (write "KidsBookclubbing" in the subject line).

Dear R
While reading to my own kids while we waited for the school bus in the morning (they hated me for doing this!), I learned about Johnny Hudson, his father, Henry, and their fateful journey aboard the Discovery.  I wondered what it would have been like to sail into uncharted territory with simple navigational tools, and what it would have felt like to face a winter trapped in the ice. What would it have been like to be left at home, wondering what has happened to your loved ones when they didn't return on schedule?  And of course I hadKathleenDuble to have a strong female protagonist!  Enter Isabella - a spy for England who is sent to the Dutch East Indies Trading Company to gather information.   And no book is anything without the character who will change all their lives - Seth Syms.  Will he mutiny against Captain Hudson or will he honor his friendship with Johnny Hudson and save the day?  Read Quest and find out.

P.S.  It is the 400th anniversary of Henry Hudson discovering the Hudson River!  So why not celebrate by reading Quest!  Check out the book trailer.

And may you continue to quest for the best in yourself!

Kathleen Benner Duble

Book Reviews for Quest:

"Told in four alternating voices, each one represented by a unique typeface, this is the story of Henry Hudson's final, fatal attempt to find the Northwest Passage.  The author's skillful juxtaposition of these four narratives creates an absorbing work of historical fiction that manages to incorporate the viewpoints of explorers, investors, sailors, governments, family members, and neighbors of those who played a part in this fascinating era."
-School Library Journal

"The alternating viewpoints work well to create a multi-faceted view of Henry Hudson and his world. Duble takes known facts and blends in her own vision of what might have happened, as well as creating the intriguing character of Isabella the spy (who easily could have carried her own book). Duble expertly uses fact and fancy to create a truly intriguing work of historical fiction."
-Children's Literature

Discussion Questions for Quest

1.  Quest is told from four points of view. Discuss how this helps the story unfold. If it was to be told from only one perspective, which character's viewpoint would you have chosen and why? (This need not be one of the viewpoints used)

2.  Discuss and compare modern day explorers to those explorers of the past. How were their lives similar? How were they different?

3.  What choice would you have made had you been faced with Seth's dilemma? Would you have risked the possibility of being hanged for treason or would you have gone with the captain and hoped to make it back by shallop?

4.  Have you ever betrayed a friend before? Did the friend find out? How did you feel afterwards? Has anyone every betrayed you? How did you feel about it?

Want a fun quiz on explorers for your book group?  Read an excerpt, Q&A, check out my blog with tips for young writers, and feel free to contact me by Twitter or on my website, MySpace, or Facebook pages.

Author call-in information:  Kathleen Benner Duble is happy to call-in or Skype with your club.  She can also meet with your group if you live in the Boston area.  Email Kathleen to submit your request.


Ages 12 and up /Urban Fantasy / Clarion Books

Win a set of ONCE A WITCH by Carolyn MacCullough for your book club. 

Enter to win by emailing Carolyn MacCallough (write "KidsBookclubbing" in the subject line).

Dear OnceaWitchReaders,
I have a confession to make.  I hate to exercise.  But one April, I decided to become a runner.  So for two weeks I huffed and gasped my way through brownstone Brooklyn.  And I always noticed this one particular house that had a little gargoyle statue sitting outside of it.  He seemed to be grinning at me.  And I always wondered, what stories could he tell if only he could talk.  Wouldn't it be fun to write about a character that had the magical power to make inanimate objects talk?  But three blocks later (and they were long, tortuous blocks) I started to hear the voice of a character who didn't have any magical power, but who did have the misfortune to be born into a family who all had magical abilities. And what was worse was that she was supposed to have been the most gifted of them all.  Only her power never showed up.  Or did it...

So I ran home and started typing. That was how I discovered my main character, Tamsin Greene, of my YA urban fantasy Once a Witch.  And that was also the end of my brief stint as a writer. 

I owe it all to that little gargoyle.

Tamsin Greene comes from a long line of witches, and she was supposed to be one of thCarolynMacColloughe most Talented among them. But Tamsin's magic never showed up. Now seventeen, Tamsin attends boarding school in Manhattan, far from her family. But when a handsome young professor mistakes her for her very Talented sister, Tamsin agrees to find a lost family heirloom for him. The search- - and the stranger- will prove to be more sinister than they first appeared, ultimately sending Tamsin on a treasure hunt through time that will unlock the secret of her true identity, unearth the sins of her family, and unleash a power so vengeful that it could destroy them all.

For quizzes, facts about witches throughout the ages, an excerpt and a book trailer please visit  Also, I love to hear from readers so feel free to drop me a line or two at [email protected].

Happy reading!


Book Reviews for Once a Witch:

"[MacCullough] has created an enormously sympathetic character in Tamsin, whose itchy relationship with her family will resonate with teens struggling to define themselves. Characters, setting, conflict - all develop nicely to create a light urban fantasy that goes down easy and will have readers asking for its sequel."
-Kirkus Reviews

 "With the glut of contemporary romantic supernatural tales, this will be popular, but the action, drama, and great potential for compelling sequels set it apart from the crowd."

Discussion Questions for Once a Witch:

1. Tamsin's thoughts sometimes contradict what she says and how she acts. Do you ever find yourself thinking something very different than your actions might convey?

2. Woven through Once a Witch is the story of Tamsin's relationship with her unconventional family. While Tamsin's family is different from others in the obvious fact that they are witches, there are some more subtle differences that make Tamsin uncomfortable as well. What else, besides magic, is unconventional about Tamsin's family? IS there any such thing as a typical family? How would you describe your own family?

3. Alistair seems nice enough when he first enters the bookstore. MacCullough uses foreshadowing throughout the early chapters to make readers begin to feel a bit uneasy about him.  Locate and discuss some of these examples.

4. The witch community forbids the use of the Talent of 'traveling' through time. Why do they insist that it's a bad idea to use this Talent? If you had this Talent, would you use it? What time period would you visit, and why?

5. Why does Tamsin push Gabriel away, even though it's clear that she really likes him? Have you ever done this?


For more information about the book (and me), check out the Once a Witch Discussion guide, watch the trailer, read an excerpt, visit my website, and feel free to contact me on Twitter.

Author call-in information:  Carolyn MacCullough is happy to call-in to your club.  She can also meet with your group if you live in New York City or nearby. E-mail Carolyn to submit your request.


 Ages 9 - 12 / Fiction / Holiday House

Win a set of GILL PARK books by Amy Gordon for your book club.

Enter to win by emailing Amy Gordon (write "KidsBookclubbing" in the subject line). Tell Amy why you would like to have these books.

GorillasGillParkDear Reader,

Parks, beginning with the one in Mary Poppins, have always seemed like magical places to me. They are green spaces in cities where all sorts of pe
ople can come together. Parks are also places where trees and music, baseball and art can all flourish, and kids can run around and have adventures. People often say my characters are quirky - but do you know what? I think all people are quirky! 
In The Gorillas of Gill Park and Return to Gill Park you will meet Willy, who never thought he could be good at things, (but the Gorillas baseball team needs him)...Liesl, who is not allowed to go to school, and has a bad temper....Mitch Bloom, who lives in a treehouse...and developers who want the park land. A new story set in Gill Park is coming soon! When Aiden's father dies, she has to leave her farm and move to the city. Aiden hears of a stash of gold coins. She hopes to find the coins and keep her home. She goes looking for gold, and finds much more. The Quest for Gold Falcons (that is the working title) from Holiday House is coming this spring.

Hoping you like parks, too,

Amy Gordon

Book Reviews for The Gorillas of Gill Park:

"The protagonist's first-person narration is both humorous and insightful, enabling readers to experience his exciting summer firsthand... action-filled ...with quirky, unforgettable characters."
-School Library Journal

"...Gordon successfully weaves several unusual plot threads into a suspenseful, winning story that combines delicious words, clever dialogue, and endearing characters. Middle-graders will cheer for Willie and his friends as they triumph over bullies old and young and find joy in their own creative pursuits."

Discussion Questions The Gorillas of Gill Park:

1. What would be lost if a park were turned into a mall? Are parks or malls better? 

2. As Liesl's guardian, Otto Pettingill would not allow Liesl to go to school. He believed that schools interfere with education. What do you think of his philosophy?

3.  Listen to some of the music played into Gill Park : Pachelbel's Canon, Mozart's Sonatas, "The Marriage of Figaro,"and ragtime music. What kind of a mood are you in after you listen? What difference does music make? Relate some ways that music can change how you feel.

To read an excerpt please see October 2 entry of Amy's blog plus here's some biographical information, her publisher Holiday House's website, Amy's website - and her Facebook page!
Author call-in information:  Amy Gordon is happy to call-in to your club. She can also meet with your group if you live somewhere between Washington D.C. and Maine (and she sometimes go to California, too.)  She loves giving writing workshops.  E-mail Amy to submit your request.


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