March 15, 2010

Kids' Authors Share Their Stories

Fabulous Book Giveaways for Your Club


          Young Samurai                           MyLifewithLincolns                              TheAgency

         Young Samurai                            My Life with the Lincolns                 The Agency: A Spy
by Chris Bradford                        by Gayle Brandeis                          in the House
by Y.S. Lee

Dear Readers,

In this issue of KidsBuzz, featuring book giveaways and behind-the-scenes stories from top kids' authors, you'll meet:

- Gayle Brandeis, who "seamlessly intersperses serious topics with laugh-out loud humor" (School Library Journal) in her middle-grade historical novel, My Life with the Lincolns.
-Chris Bradford as he talks about martial arts, special powers, and his 17th-century action-adventure series Young Samurai.

- and Y.S. Lee, who reimagines Victorian England with her smart teenage heroine Mary Quinn in The Agency: A Spy in the House.


Warm wishes,
Judy Gelman and Vicki Levy Krupp

FirstBlockAges 10 and up / Middle Grade Fiction / Disney-Hyperion

Win a set of Young Samurai: The Way of the Sword for your book club. 

Enter to win by emailing Disney-Hyperion (write "KidsBookclubbing" in the subject line).

Young SamuraiDear Reader:

I started martial arts at eight years old. I now have a black belt in taijutsu, the secret fighting art of the ninja. This was my inspiration for the Young Samurai series.

Most heroes have special powers. Jack Fletcher only has himself to rely on.

Shipwrecked and his father murdered by ninja, Jack Fletcher is rescued by the legendary swordmaster Masamoto Takeshi and taken to his samurai school in Kyoto, Japan. Hunted by the ninja Dragon Eye, Jack's only hope is to become a samurai warrior. And so his training begins . . .

The Way of the Sword is the second installment of this action-adventure series set in the 17th century.  With the help of a beautiful Japanese girl called Akiko, Jack must now conquer the Circle of Three, an ancient ritual that tests a samurai's courage, skill and spirit to the limit!

Follow Jack and Akiko's thrilling adventures at

Sayonara (Bye!)

Chris Bradford

Book Reviews for Young Samurai:

"This book earns the literary equivalent of a black belt."
-Publishers Weekly (starred review)

-School Library Journal

Nominated for 10 Book Awards in 2009 alone.

Discussion Questions for Young Samurai:
1.      Chapter 1 starts with Jack and his sister Jess playing Knucklebones. Can you think of any other games that children or adults play today that have been about for many centuries? Do you know the rules of any of these games and the country where they originated from?

2.      Kazuki forms the Scorpion Gang. Are there any benefits of being in a gang? What are the negative effects of gangs? Why do gangs often cause problems?

3.      Jack is training to be a samurai warrior. Would you want to be a samurai? Would you prefer to be a ninja? Give your reasons.

4.      Akiko is a female samurai. Do you think she has to train harder than the others to prove herself? Why is that? Is the role of women different in Japan than it is in your country?

Check out Chris' YOUNG SAMURAI tour to the States and his blog and keep up with him on Facebook.

Ages 10 and up / Historical Fiction /  Henry Holt Books for Young Readers

Win a set of My Life with the Lincolns for your book club.

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

Dear Reader,

I've always felt a connection to Abraham Lincoln; I grew up in the Land of Lincoln, went to Lincoln Elementary School, and was born on the anniversary of the day Lincoln was shot (which still makes me sad.)  I also used to think my dad was Abraham Lincoln reincarnated, and decided to write a story in which the main character thought her dad used to be Abraham Lincoln, as well. I also wanted to make sure the book dealt with issues of civil rights and social change, so I set it in my home town of Chicago in 1966 when Martin Luther King, Jr. came to the city to lead marches for fair housing.
My character, twelve-year-old Mina, not only thinks her dad used to be Abe; she also thinks her whole family used to be the Lincoln family and it's her job to save them from their fate. She and her dad end up getting deeply involved in the civil rights movement, with consequences for the entire family.

I hope you'll enjoy this quirky story, and will enjoy discussing it with your book group!

All the very best,

Gayle Brandeis

Book Reviews for My Life with the Lincolns:

"Gayle Brandeis expertly marries a humorous manner to serious matter in My Life with the Lincolns, an original and timely Civil Rights Era novel about a young girl learning to take part in a cause greater than herself. It's a winner."
-Lauren Baratz-Logsted, author of Crazy Beautiful
"An informative, clear, personal and passionate novel."

Discussion Questions for My Life with the Lincolns:

1.      On an emotional level, why do you think Mina believed her family was the Lincoln family reincarnated? Did she have anything to gain from this belief?

2.      How have things changed since 1966? How have they not changed?

3.      Do you believe in reincarnation? If so, who do you think you might have been in a previous life?

4.     The Chicago Freedom Movement was started to create positive social change. What needs to be done to make the world a better place today?

Hear an audio book excerpt, read a Q&A with the author, and follow her blog or friend her on Facebook.

Author call-in information:  Gayle Brandeis is happy to call-in to or skype with your club.  She can also meet with your group if you live in Southern California. E-mail Gayle Brandeis to submit your request.

Ages 12 and up / Young Adult Historical Fiction / Candlewick Press

Win a set of The Agency: A Spy in the House by Y. S. Lee for your book club.

Enter to win by emailing Y. S. Lee (write "KidsBookclubbing" in the subject line).M

AgencyDear Reader,

I adore smart heroines, Victorian England, and lively banter. So when I wrote my debut novel, A Spy in the House, I aimed to bring these elements to a twisty, fast-paced mystery plot. The heroine is 17-year-old Mary Quinn: ex-thief, escaped convict, and newest member of the Agency, an elite, all-female intelligence force. The setting is Victorian London, in all its grimy glory. And Mary's partner in banter is James Easton, an arrogant young engineer, her rival, and her love interest.YingLee
Victorian England was hard on clever, unconventional women. If you weren't a good little girl, and you didn't have a lot of money, what on earth happened to you? The odds were terrible. Creating the Agency is my way of re-imagining the past, and writing an alternative history for the fate that would otherwise swallow a girl like Mary Quinn.
Happy reading!

Y. S. Lee

Book Reviews for The Agency: A Spy in the House:

"Set in the richly described underbelly of Victorian London, Lee's debut novel launching the Agency trilogy introduces feisty Mary Quinn... Mary's lively escapades... will hold readers' attention and whet their interest for the next installment."
-Publisher's Weekly

"A fine whodunit, with clues carefully rationed out as the story evolves, it also holds some great surprises likely to catch even the sharpest readers off guard... A Spy in the House is entirely true to the genre, full of thrills and danger and wonderfully sharp writing... Long live The Agency!"


Discussion Questions for The Agency: A Spy in the House:

1.      If you could time-travel, would you visit 1850s London? Why or why not?

2.      How would you describe Mary's character? How do you think it affects her performance as a spy-in-training?

3.      Did you guess the villain? Why or why not?

Read the first chapter (downloadable pdf) and an additional excerpt, plus check out a Q&A and interviews with the author.

Author call-in information:  Y. S. Lee is happy to skype with your club.  She can also meet with your group if you live in Eastern Ontario. E-mail Y. S. Lee to make your request.

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