May 15, 2010

Kids' Authors Share Their Stories

Fabulous Book Giveaways for Your Club

Jemma Hartman




Jemma Hartman, Camper Extraordinaire
by Brenda Ferber

The Demon's Lexicon
by Sarah Rees Brennan



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:

-Brenda Ferber as she writes about summer camp and long-lasting friendships in Jemma Hartman, Camper Extraordinaire

-Amy Gordon who brings us a tween novel full of adventure and mystery, Twenty Gold Falcons

-Debbie Levy as she shares a personal and incredibly moving Holocaust story about friendship, family and farewells in The Year of Goodbyes

-and Sarah Rees Brennan who brings teen readers the latest in her highly praised series, The Demon's Lexicon.

Warm wishes,
Judy Gelman and Vicki Levy Krupp

Ages 8-12 / Middle-Grade Fiction/ Farrar Straus & Giroux

Win a set of Jemma Hartman, Camper Extraordinaire by
Brenda Ferber
for your book club

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

Dear R
Jemma Hartmaneader:

My favorite place on earth is a small summer camp in northern Wisconsin called Birch Knoll. I learned to w
ater-ski and sail on its pristine lake, turned friends into sisters, and created memories so sweet and powerful that I still dream about camp thirty years later. It's no surprise I set my novel, JEMMA HARTMAN, CAMPER EXTRAORDINAIRE, at such a camp.

When kids curl up with JEMMA, I hope they'll feel the wind in their hair as they sail across a cool lake on a hot summery day, the thrill of getting up on water-skis for the first time, BrendaFerberthe loneliness of seeing their best friend drift away, and the joy of watching a new friendship bloom.

I love to talk about my books with readers, teachers, librarians, and parents. You can email me at, and I'll write back.


Brenda Ferber

Book Reviews for Jemma Hartman, Camper Extraordinaire:

 "For all the tweens who believe in BFF but find out, to their great disappointment, that it isn't for everyone, this is the book for them."
-Kirkus Reviews

"This will make a sunny summertime outing for readers."
-The Bulletin for the Center of Children's Books

"Ferber has drawn a realistic main character... The plot moves along swiftly, and Jemma's first-person narrative rings true, as do the issues and the camp experience."
-School Library Journal

Discussion Questions for Jemma Hartman, Camper Extraordinaire:

1.  Jemma wonders if it's possible to make new friends and keep the old, like the song says. What do you think? What are the challenges in doing that?

2. Why is it so important for Jemma to be a camper extraordinaire? What do you think it means to be a camper extraordinaire?

3. Why does Tammy spend so much time with Brooke? Could she have handled the situation differently? What would you have done?

4. How is Delaney able to be herself so completely, even when her cabin mates think she's odd or different? Does she have any insecurities? If so, how does she handle them?

Visit the author's website for more information about Brenda and Jemma Hartman, Camper Extraordinaire.  And to watch a video of Brenda talking with librarians at ALA about the book, see her publisher's website.
Author call-in information: Brenda Ferber is happy to call-in or Skype with your book club. She can also meet with your group in person if you live in the Chicagoland area. Email Brenda to submit your request.

Ages 10 and up / MIddle Grade Nonfiction / Disney-Hyperion

Win a set of The Year of Goodbyes by Debbie Levy for your book club.

Enter to win by emailing Debbie (write "KidsBookclubbing" in the subject line


In 1938, when my mother was a young Jewish girl living in Hamburg, Germany, she got a brand-new poesiealbum.  That's poesie + album = poetry album.  Think:  autograph album. 

That poesiealbum is at the heart of THE YEAR OF GOODBYES, the stDebbieLevyory of my mother's last year in Nazi Germany.  That year -- 1938 -- was filled with fear, but also with friends.  Friends who filled the album with thoughts that my mother carried across an ocean to a new life. . . .

Now I'm inviting readers to continue the tradition in an online Year of Goodbyes Poesiealbum Project.  Please click here for details.  I hope to hear from you, and your readers.

Best regards,

Debbie Levy

Book reviews for The Year of Goodbyes:

"Artfully weaving together her mother's poesiealbum (autograph/poetry album), diary, and her own verse, Levy crafts a poignant portrait of her Jewish mother's life in 1938 Nazi Germany that crackles with adolescent vitality."
-Publishers Weekly (starred review)

"An outstanding and emotionally taut read."
-School Library Journal (starred review)

"An immensely powerful experience."
-Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

Discussion Questions for The Year of Goodbyes:

1.     Describe what a poesiealbum was used for in the 1930s in Europe. How were the pages filled? Who would you ask to write in yours? What would you hope they might include? Is this a tradition that girls today would enjoy? Why or why not?

2.     Why do you think the author decided to tell the story in free verse? Which poem in the book is your favorite? Why? What can you apply to your own writing?

3.     Reconstruct the events that led the Salzbergs to seek asylum in America. Which events would convince you to leave your family and fortune behind? Why was it so difficult for Jewish families to leave Germany?

Watch a video and learn more about the author and the materials she used to research this book by visiting her website and her blog.
Debbie Levy is happy to call-in and talk with your club.  Email Debbie to submit your request. request. 

 Ages 8-12 / Middle Grade Fiction / Holiday House

Win a set of Twenty Gold Falcons by Amy Gordon for your book club.

Enter to win (and tell Amy about a park you love and why) by emailing the author (write "KidsBookclubbing" in the subject line).

20FalconsDear Reader,

I have seen many young people sadly and unexpectedly lose a parent. In some cases, they have had to completely change their lives. This was the spark that inspired the story of Aiden whose father dies and then she and her mother must leave their farm and move to a city. I hope Aiden's journey AmyGordon
will bring hope and comfort to others.

Aiden has to adapt to living in her uncle's tiny apartment and to a new school. She learns about a stash of valuable coins called Gold Falcons hidden in the huge Ingle Building. Hoping to rescue her farm, she goes looking for gold with the help of two cats, school-smart Adam, feisty Liesl, Rosie, the elevator-operator, and Charles, the opera-loving mouse. Aiden discovers some family secrets along the way and is forced to make some important choices. If you are familiar with The Gorillas of Gill Park and Return to Gill Park, you will recognize the city Aiden moves to.


Amy Gordon

Book reviews for Twenty Gold Falcons:

"The characters were so believable I felt like I was in the story with them hunting for the gold.  Amy Gordon is a master story teller.  She drew her characters so well that you could not help but dislike Marisa and Quentin.  You felt the evil exuding from Grip.  You wanted to sit in the elevator with Rosie and listen for hours to her tell the stories of the old building."
-Sandra Stiles,

". . .the cast of warm, eccentric characters are the story's greatest strength, while the artistic allusions and puzzle-like clues will appeal to fans of Blue Balliett's Chasing Vermeer..."
-Gillian Engberg, Booklist
"This mystery novel provides middle-grade readers with an appealing mix of intrigue, humor, and adventure....A bright and vivacious heroine sweetens the pot to make Twenty Gold Falcons a highly satisfying read."
-Yana V. Rodgers, Rutgers University Project on Economics and Children

Discussion Questions for Twenty Gold Falcons:

1.     What are some of things Aiden finds in her quest for gold?

2.     If you found twenty Gold Falcons, what would you do?

3.     What do you think of the choices Aiden finally makes?

Read a Q&A, learn more about Amy, and subscribe to her blog via her website.

Amy Gordon is happy to call-in to your club. She also loves to give workshops. Please e-mail Amy if you are interested.

EvidenceofAngelsAges 12 and up / YA fiction / Simon & Schuster

Win a set of The Demon's Lexicon by Sarah Rees Brennan for your book club.

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

DemonsLexicoinDear Reader:

Family takes center stage. And the bad guy takes the microphone.

They say a bad boy can be good for a girl. From Mr. Rather Aloof At Parties Darcy to vampires, they do seem to have an enduring fascination.

In the Demon's Lexicon series, I wanted to get inside the SarahBrennanhead of a boy like that, rather than regarding him from the outside, being able to see all his anger and how close he was to the edge. Meet Nick Ryves and his brother Alan, who is bookish, adorable, shoots to kill - and who is the only thing that really matters to Nick at all.

I also wanted to have a girl who could really stand up to Nick: who wouldn't put up with awful behavior and had problems of her own, like rescuing her own brother from demons. Meet Mae Crawford.
A boy with a secret. A girl with a plan.

Pen is mightier than the sword,

Sarah Rees Brennan

P.S.  I'm very excited because the next book in the series - The Demon's Covenant - comes out in 3 days! 

Book Reviews for The Demon's Lexicon:

"From the pitch-perfect opening paragraph to the heartbreaking final pages, the narrative peels back layers of revelation, deftly ratcheting up the tension and horror to a series of shattering climaxes. Delicious."
-Kirkus Reviews, (starred review)

"Give this to fantasy and horror fans alike, but don't give away the ending."
-Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books (starred review)

"Even teens who don't consider themselves genre buffs will appreciate the solid writing, fast-paced plot, and sense of authenticity that Brennan gives to the shadowy world between ordinary, modern-day London and the otherworld of demons and magicians... Readers will no doubt clamor for the next book in this planned urban fantasy trilogy."
-School Library Journal, (starred review)

Discussion questions for The Demon's Lexicon:

1. Family is a central theme of the Demon's Lexicon series: what does the word "family" mean to you, and how is family handled in The Demon's Lexicon? Are Nick and Alan family?

2. At the Goblin Market, you can buy many magical objects. If you could buy any magical object, what would it be and why?

3. The magicians pay for power by letting demons kill people. In return they can be beautiful, or famous, have perfect lives or anything they want. Would you be tempted - even a little?

4. The end of the book is a twist ending, as in mysteries where we find out who dunnit, movies like The Sixth Sense or other novels which just happen to have twists, like Megan Whalen Turner's The Thief. There should always be clues to the twist throughout the narrative, so it is possible to guess what happens - do you agree with that? Did you guess the twist?

5.  Words are seen as an essential part of humanity in these books: through knowing the words, you can communicate with and express affection to other humans. But communication is never perfect, and words can hurt those you love. Can you think of a time from the book where better communication would have helped the characters?

To watch the book trailer and find out more about the series and the author, visit Sarah's website.

Sarah Rees Brennan is happy to Skype or IM with your club.  Email Sarah to submit your request.

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