May 1, 2010

Kids' Authors Share Their Stories

Fabulous Book Giveaways for Your Club

     This is Me from Now On                          Zen & Xander Undone                            Jekel Loves Hyde                

     This Is Me From Now On             Zen and Xander Undone            Jekel Loves Hyde
by Barbara Dee                           by Amy Kathleen Ryan               by Beth Fantaskey         


Dear Readers,

In this issue of KidsBuzz, featuring book giveaways and behind-the-scenes stories from top kids' authors, you'll meet:
-   Barbara Dee, who will have tweens laughing out loud about comfort zones and friendship in This Is Me From Now On

-   Amy Kathleen Ryan, author of the popular teen novel, Vibes, who brings us a new novel about two sisters who are truly, madly, deeply sisters, and

-   Beth Fantaskey (of Jessica's Guide to Dating on the Dark Side) as she shares a tale of following rules, breaking rules, and alter-egos

Warm wishes,
Judy Gelman and Vicki Levy Krupp

FirstBlock Ages 9 - 13 / Middle Grade Fiction / Aladdin MIX (Simon & Schuster)

Win a set of This Is Me From Now On by Barbara Dee for your book club. 

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

This is Me from Now On
Dear Reader,

This Is Me From Now On is about a tween girl whose "life needs a little jolt."  When I was in middle school, I was a lot like Evie  -- I was starting to feel restless with my best friends, so I began hanging out with a girl who jolted me out of my comfort zone.  Looking back, I think this girl taught me a lot about myself, and she definitely kept me laughing.  And even though the mischief we got in was nothing like what happens in this book, I hope I've captured the spirit of our friendship.Barbara Dee

You can read an excerpt at

All my best,

Barbara Dee

Book reviews for This Is Me From Now On:

"Poignant and hilarious, This Is Me From Now On is just like real life...only funnier."
-NYT bestselling author Lisa Papademetriou
"Hilarious and heartwarming! I loved it!"
-Lauren Barnholdt, author of the Devon Delaney series
 "(Five stars out of five.) I love Barbara Dee's writing. The characterizations are amazing. Francesca is well-written and she is very interesting....I loved THIS IS ME FROM NOW ON, and thanks to Barbara Dee for another great book!"
-Marta Morrison,

 Discussion Questions for This Is Me From Now On:

1.      Evie says that Francesca is a "good friend" but a "terrible partner." Do you agree? What's the difference between a friend and a partner?

2.     Girls and their moms: Is Evie like her mom? Is Francesca like hers? What about Nisha and her mom?

3.     What is Espee trying to tell Evie in their last conversation?

4.     Who would you rather have as a bff-Nisha or Francesca? Who would you rather have as a boyfriend-Quentin or Zane? How have Evie's standards for girl and boy-friendships changed by the end of the book?

5.     What do you think will happen in the future with Lily/Nisha/Evie/Francesca?


Want a sneak peek?  Read an excerpt.  Plus you can find out more about Barbara Dee in this Q&A or at the author's website or blog.  And you can follow Barbara via Twitter or Facebook.   Meet Barbara - see this video...

Author call-in info:  Barbara Dee is happy to Skype with your club.  She can also meet with your group if you live in the New York City area.  Email Barbara to submit your request. 

Ages 12 and up / Young Adult Fiction / Houghton Mifflin 
Win a set of Zen and Xander Undone by Amy Kathleen Ryan for your book club.

Enter to win by emailing Amy Kathleen Ryan (write "KidsBookClubbing" in the subject line).

Zen & Xander UndoneDear Book Warriors,

Writing Zen and Xander Undone felt like taking a vacation in Vermont. I lived there for five years, and I've never forgotten how Lake Champlain sparkles in the morning, or how those creaky old houses seem haunted by hopeful ghosts waiting to be acknowledged.

Vermont felt right for a story about moving on, and that's what Zen and Xander are trying to do a year after they've lost their mother. Grief changes personalities. Brilliant Xander flings herself into a self-destructive spiral, while quiet Zen becomes increasingly violent. I set these personalities free in their story to make their own mistakes and, hopefully, learn from them.Amy Kathleen Ryan

I have lots of hope for Zen and Xander, and I believe you will, too. Enjoy your vacation in Vermont while you read, but remember to say hello to your hopeful ghosts. They're haunting you for a reason.


Amy Kathleen Ryan

Book Reviews for Zen and Xander Undone:

"Although the "dead mother" plot has been done and done again, Ryan's approach asks not "How do we mourn?" but "Who are we now?" .... Vivid emotions and unexpected events keep the reader engaged as the characters grow and find a way back to themselves."
-Heather Booth, Booklist 

"Zen's frank narration - full of longing and hard-won insight - draws readers in and won't let go."
-Kirkus Reviews 

Discussion Questions for Zen and Xander Undone:

1. Zen and Xander's relationship is complicated, to say the least. How do you think Zen and Xander are good for each other? How are they bad for each other?

2. The story of the baby bird that Zen, Xander and Adam found when they were kids reveals things about the character of these three people. What do you think this story says about them? What do you think the bird symbolizes?

3. Zen and Paul have a discussion about the afterlife, and God. How did this discussion affect the way you think about these things?

4. Zen and Xander crave the letters from their mother, but the letters also hurt. What does this say about their relationship with her? What does it say about how they grieve?

5. Zen and Xander find out some pretty disturbing things about their mother's past. How did this change the way they think about her? Did solving the mystery in their mother's past resolve any issues for them, or make things worse?

Find out more about Amy and her books at her website or follow her on Twitter.

Author call-in information:  Amy Kathleen Ryan is happy to call-in to your club.  Email Amy to submit your request. 

Ages 14 and up / Young Adult Fiction / Houghton Mifflin

Win a set of Jekel Loves Hyde by Beth Fantaskey for your book club.

Enter to win by emailing Beth Fantaskey (write "KidsBookClubbing" in the subject line).

Jekel Loves HydeReaders:

What if you could be REALLY bad - then blame it on somebody else?  Enjoy all the "perks" of being evil - the stuff you stole, the revenge you wanted - then walk away, without guilt? Because it wasn't really YOU who did wrong...

That's the premise of my new novel, Jekel Loves Hyde.  It's about a good girl who tastes an old chemical formula that liberates her darkest nature.  Jill Jekel doesn't even realize the bad stuff she's doing, until it might be too late.  

As a shy, "good girl," myself, I had fun living vicariously through Jill as she starts Beth Fantaskeybreaking some serious rules.  I hope you enjoy reading about her out-of-control alter ego, too.  

You can check out a preview and fan-made video trailers at  And feel free to drop me a line at  I'm available to Skype, IM or otherwise "meet" with book clubs, and I love to hear from readers!

Beth Fantaskey

Book Reviews for Jekel Loves Hyde:

"Filled with compelling plot devices. . . . Fans of the genre won't be able to resist this slick genre update."
"Fantaskey's (Jessica's Guide to Dating on the Dark Side) premise is creative, and there are plenty of twists to keep readers engaged - right through the fiery final face-off. "
-Publishers Weekly
"A complete page turner... filled with many twists that will shock and amaze. This is one book that I did not want to put down."
-Neverending Shelf


Discussion Questions for Jekel Loves Hyde:

1.      Jekel Loves Hyde is a fast-paced story of secrets and hidden identity. In what way do secrets drive the plot? What do you think are the most important secrets, and why?

2.     What does Jekel Loves Hyde say about the nature of identity? About self-confidence?

3.     At the close of the novel, how are Jill and Tristen's characters changed by their experiences?

4.     Does the formula create a whole new "evil" Jill, or does it simply allow her to given in to desires she already harbored? Does Jill exhibit any "bad girl" behavior prior to drinking the formula?

5.     Jill's best friend, Becca, appears to be a friend only in the loosest sense of the word. Is Jill an innocent victim, or does she have her own use for Becca?

6.     What role do Jill and Tristen's parents play in their story?

7.     In what ways does Jekel Love Hyde draw on Robert Louis Stevenson's classic story, The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde?


For more information about Beth, see her website; you'll find her blog there too. Plus you can keep up with her on MySpace or Facebook.

Author call-in information:  Beth Fantaskey is happy to call-in, Skype or IM with your club. Email Beth to submit your request. 

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