November 15, 2009

Kids' Authors Share Their Stories

Fabulous Book Giveaways for Your Club


OtherSideof Blue

hold still


Kimchi and Calamari
Rose Kent

Evidence of Angels
Suza Scalora



Dear Readers,

Welcome to KidsBuzz, featuring book giveaways and behind-the-scenes stories from top kids' authors.  In this issue, you'll meet four new authors:
- Rose Kent, whose middle-grade novel is "for every kid who wonders about his or her identity"

- Valerie Patterson, who writes about hope after loss in her YA novel

- Nina LaCour, a breakthrough new voice in YA fiction whose Hold Still reveals an arresting story about starting over.

 - and Suza Scalora, whose text and exquisite photograph begs us to answer the question:  "Do we believe in angels?"

Warm wishes,
Judy Gelman and Vicki Levy Krupp

Ages 8-12 / Middle-Grade Contemporary Fiction/ HarperCollins

KImchiCalamariWin a set of autographed copies of Kimchi & Calamari for your book club!
Enter to win by emailing Rose Kent (write "KidsBookClubbing" in the subject line).

KimchiCalamariDear Reader:

"Kimchi and calamari" is a quirky food fusion - and exactly how Joseph Calderaro feels about himself. Why wouldn't a wisecracking adopted Korean middle-schooler feel like a combo platter given his face in the mirror and his proud Italian family?

I wrote Kimchi & Calamari because I'm an adoptive mom who was always looking for books that featured adopted kids. But a funny thing happened after I wrote the story and got talking to kids about Joseph, who calls himself an "ethnic sandwich." All kinds of kids told me they too feel "sandwiched" by mixed ethnicity, divorce, friend conflicts, or by pressure to be superstars.  So this story is for every kid who feels pulled in different directions and wonders about his or her identity. WondRose Kentering is a wondrous thing!

It's a joy to talk with readers, librarians and booksellers. Thanks to all the support that has put the book on several state reading lists. Please visit my website and do se
nd an email!

Here's to happy reading and tasty eating,

Rose Kent

Book Reviews for Kimchi & Calamari:

"Kent has done an excellent job of creating a likable protagonist whose confusion about his status is touching, and also funny."
-School Library Journal

 "This will have special appeal for adoptees, but the questions about family roots that Kent raises are universal."
-ALA Booklist

"I personally come from a mixed-culture family, and others with similar backgrounds will definitely be able to relate. But whether you are in a similar situation to Joseph or not, you'll love this book."
-Andie (Little Rock, AR)

Discussion Questions for Kimchi & Calamari:

1. What role does food play in this book? Why does Joseph half-jokingly describe himself as an "ethnic sandwich"?
2. Was Joseph's choice to "make up" an essay understandable, or was it deceitful? What other option could he have considered?
3. Did Joseph's teacher assign an essay that was inherently flawed for certain kids? Do such things occur regularly in school?
4. Was Joseph ready to embark on a search for his birth mother?


Visit Rose's website for more tasty info on Kimchi & Calamari as well as Rose's next book, Rocky Road, coming from Knopf Publishers in June 2010. And connect with Rose via Twitter and Facebook.
Rose Kent is happy to call-in to your club.  She can also meet with your group if you live in the upstate New York or western Massachusetts area. Email Rose to submit your request.


 Ages 12 and up / YA Fiction / Clarion

Win a set of The Other Side of Blue by Valerie O. Patterson for your book club.

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

DeaOtherSideof Bluer Reader:
long to find themselves in the novels they read and to understand where they fit in-both in their families and the broader world.  The Other Side of Blue depicts fifteen-year-old Cyan's journey to discover the truth of her father's death the year before, while vacationing on the Caribbean island the family visits every June.  More importantly, it explores the sometimes-dValeriePattersonifficult path toward reconciliation with those with whom we are closest and our need to find our own path ahead.  Ultimately, Blue is about hope.
I'd enjoy hearing what you think about Blue.  Please write to me through my website, on which I've posted a reader's guide along with photographs of Curaçao, where the book is set.  Or write to me on Facebook.  
Valerie O. Patterson

Book Reviews for The Other Side of Blue:

"In her memorable first-person voice, filled with the minute observations of a young artist, Cyan sketches out with believable detail the beautiful setting, the unspoken family tension, and her fragile recovery of hope after loss."
"There's a smoothness and a clarity here that recall Zibby Oneal or Frances O'Roark Dowell, and fans of those writers as well as readers drawn by family dramas with a bit of mystery will relish a sojourn on the island with Cyan."
-Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books
Discussion Questions for The Other Side of Blue:

1.  From the first paragraph, Curaçao is described in colorful terms, and Cyan often relates to others through use of color. For example, she describes Kammi as pink.  Yet Cyan's worldview often seems black and white.  How does Cyan's relationship to color change over time?
2.   Three mothers are portrayed in the book - Martia, Mrs. Bindas, and Cyan's mother.  For better or worse, how does each woman fulfill that role in your view?   From Cyan's viewpoint?
3.  The cave is a literary device that has been used in other novels and movies, such as Passage to India and Star Wars. What do you think does the cave symbolizes for Cyan?
4.  Do you think Cyan's views of her father change over the course of the novel?  If so, how? 
5.  Why does Cyan ultimately not tell her mother about the secret note?  Is her decision selfish?
6.  Why do you think the author chose to end the book as she did?

Read an excerpt and learn more about the author at her website.

Valerie O. Patterson is happy to call-in to your club. She can also meet with your group if you live in the Washington, DC metro area. Email Valerie to submit your request.

Ages 12 and up / YA Fiction / Dutton

Win a set of Hold Still by Nina LaCour for your book club.

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

hold stillDear Reader,

When I was in 9th grade, one of my classmates took his life. He was not a close friend of mine, but we acted in Drama together and sat next to each other in Art One. He was friendly and talented and he often made me laugh.
Then, one morning, I learned that he had committed suicide. I remember sitting with a group of other kids, trying to make sense out of what had happened. It is still a mystery to me, and that day remains one of the saddest days of my life.
But Hold Still is more about struggle than it is about sadness. Sometimes struggle can be
Nina LaCour a good thing. In Caitlin Madison's case, she struggles against grief to discover who she is and what she loves. Struggle leads her into the homes of her new friends; it draws her out of her suburban town and onto the inspiring streets of San Francisco; it welcomes her to the darkroom to develop photographs; and finally, it enables her to push forward in her new life.
Please visit my website to learn all about Hold Still and to get in touch with me. I would love to hear from you!
All my best,

Nina LaCour

Book Reviews for Hold Still:

"LaCour makes an impressive debut with an emotionally charged young adult novel about friendship and loss."
-Publishers Weekly, Pick of the Week, starred review
"A beautifully written, gently moving account of a long goodbye that will resonate with anyone who has ever had to let go before they were ready."
-Sara Zarr, author of Story of a Girl

A few questions/answers with the author of Hold Still:

You are a high school English teacher.  Did your students influence your writing?

Actually I started writing Hold Still in graduate school, before I ever seriously considered teaching high school.  I was working on a novel for adults, but as soon as I began writing this one, it just took off.  I was 22, which felt like a perfect age to write about high school - I was distant enough to have a clear perspective of what it was like, but close enough to still remember vividly all the excitements and longings and disappointments of that time.
What were your other inspirations?

Art, specifically photography.  Right before I wrote the first pages, I visited my mom's classroom to look at her students' work (My mom is a high school photography teacher). One image still haunts me.  It is a black-and-white dramatically lit photograph of a girl with the words ugly, fat, stupid carved into her stomach.  The photograph is heartbreaking; but it is also beautiful.  I was simultaneously troubled by the image and in awe of the photographer's work.

To read an excerpt and full book group discussion guide, author bio, watch a trailer, learn about author events and more, see Penguin's Point of View Books website and the author's website.
Nina LaCour is happy to call-in to your club.  Email Penguin's marketing department to submit your request.

EvidenceofAngelsAges 12 and up / Illustrated / HarperCollins

Win a set of Evidence of Angels by Suza Scalora for your book club. 

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

EvidenceofAngelsDear Reader:

My new book, Evidence of Angels, co-written with Francesca Lia Block, is based on my own personal experience of losing a loved one.  The loss represented a dark time in my life, which caused me to lose faith and doubt the presence of angels.

My intention was to write a book, which could transport the reader to a place of hope and courage within his or her own self.  Adults grapple with this, as do teens and children since this is a universal theme.

Ultimately, the message of this book is nothing truly dies and we can still have a relationship with loved ones after they pass on, it is just a different relationship because their form is no longer here on earth with us.

Evidence of Angels is a 64-page color photographic journey into the unseen world of angels
. I believe angels are important for many reasons: they are messengers and givers of Light. They point to the existence of something larger than ourselves and I believe they speak to our deepest desire as human beings to aspire to our goodness and higher selves. Scalora

My wish is that Evidence of Angels will inspire hope, joy and conversations with readers of all ages.


Suza Scalora

Book Reviews for Evidence of Angels:

"Scalora, with Block, has crafted an alluring book for anyone who hopes angels are real. Big, glossy pages introduce such spirits as the Angel of Peace, Angel of Sorrow, and Angel of Courage, each depicted as winged, humanlike forms made abstract by lush sunbursts and vivid smudges, as if each were seen through a crystal."

"A beautifully illustrated book of poetic emotion."

Discussion Questions for Evidence of Angels:

1.  Have you ever seen an angel?
2.  Can you share experience of seeing an angel?
3.  What did the angel look like and did the angel speak to you?

For more information, see Suza's website and Facebook page.

Suza Scalora is happy to call-in to your club.  She can also meet with your group if you live in the greater New York City area.  E-mail Suza to submit your request.

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