July 15,  2010

Kids' Authors Share Their Stories

Fabulous Book Giveaways for Your Club

Susan Kuklin
Susan Kuklin
Susan Kuklin
Lives of Pirates

Dear Readers,

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

- Rhonda Hayter, who works as a story analyst for a famous movie producer and whose first novel, THE WITCHY WORRIES OF ABBIE ADAMS, is getting great reviews.

- Amy Hest as she brings us a story about love and people who know a lot about love in REMEMBERING MRS. ROSSI, her multi-starred review middle-grade novel now out in paperback.

- Sandra Alonzo ... and her main character Yancy (who's been compared to Arnold Spirit from Sherman Alexie's New York Times Notable book THE ABSOLUTELY TRUE DIARY OF A PART-TIME INDIAN - pretty good for a debut author!)

- and the author of more than 30 books for children of all ages, Kathleen Krull; her latest book in THE LIVES OF series focuses on pirates!

Warm wishes,
Judy Gelman and Vicki Levy Krupp

FirstBlock Ages 8-12 / Middle-Grade Comic Fantasy / Dial Books for Young Readers

Win a set of THE WITCHY WORRIES OF ABBIE ADAMS by Rhonda Hayter for your book club. 

Enter to win by emailing the author (write "Kidsbookclubbing" in the subject line).

Witchy WorriesDear Reader:

May I introduce you to Abbie Adams?  She's a normal fifth grader with problems like a strict teacher (Miss Linegar- rhymes with vinegar.) She's got tons of homework, and a little brother issues. 

But Abbie comes from a family of witches, so these problems get complicated by things like Susan Kuklinher little brother melting down, turning into a werewolf and trying to eat his teacher. Still, magic allows Abbie to do cool stuff too, like meeting a famous person from history who's been enchanted by an evil witch and needs to find a way back to his own time.

More magic for everyone!

Rhonda Hayter

Book reviews:

"This frothy debut novel delivers plenty of entertainment to the elementary and middle-grade audience... nice characterizations ground the novel, even as plenty of comedy combines with some suspense. Light as cotton candy and just as tasty."
-Kirkus Reviews

 "Abbie's breezy, personable narrative incorporates droll asides and references... to famous literature... Her colorfully drawn family...adds humor and depth. Whether facing familiar issues (fitting in, sibling challenges) or fantastical ones, such as developing and using her magic responsibly, Abbie is an appealing, peppy protagonist who finds that there are 'all kinds of magic in the world . . . with or without witchcraft.'"

Discussion questions:

1.     What do you think Abbie learns from her experience with the boy who's been enchanted?

2.     Abbie and her family keep the fact that they are witches a secret from the rest of the world. What do you think might happen if people found out about it?

3.     Do you think Abbie's life is easier or harder because she's got magical powers?

4.     If you could travel back in time to witness an event from history, which event would you choose?

5.     How would you describe Abbie's relationship with Munch?

To watch a video trailer and learn more about Rhonda Hayter and her book, see her website.
Author call-in information:  Rhonda Hayter is happy to call-in to, or skype with your club.  She can also meet with your group if you live in the Los Angeles area.  Email Rhonda to submit your request. 

Ages 8 - 12 / Illustrated Middle Grade Fiction / Candlewick

Win a set of REMEMBERING MRS. ROSSI by Amy Hest for your book club.

Enter to win by emailing Amy's publisher (write "KidsBookclubbing" in the subject line).

Susan KuklinDear Reader,

My favorite street in New York is the wide, winding one called Riverside Drive. The Rossis live there, in a tall, brick building. I put them there, in my newest novel, Remembering Mrs. Rossi.  It is about mothers and fathers and daughters, and a teacher who dies and her students. It's about love and people who know a lot about love.

There's a picture on my desk of me (age 8) with my mother. Each day I imagined a little girl sitting beside me while I typed. She tells me her name (Annie Rossi), her age (8), and where she lives (440 Riverside Drive, Apt. 10B).

In time, she tells me about her mother. Mrs. Rossi was a teacher. (My mother was a teacher, too). Her mother went to the library often. (My mother went often, too). Annie's mother died. (My mother Susan Kuklindied, too). Our stories blend.

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


Amy Hest

Book reviews: 

★ "Readers of this fine novel will find the spirited, resilient Annie another character - just like her mother - well worth remembering."
-Publishers Weekly (starred review)
"This gentle story that captures one third grader's year reinforces the power of journaling in navigating through life's changes."
-School Library Journal

Discussion and writing suggestions:

1.     REMEMBERING MRS. ROSSI is also a story about the power of writing.  Annie and her father are sustained throughout the year by a book of memories about Mrs. Rossi written by her sixth grade students.  Write or talk about a gesture you've made that had a positive impact on someone else.
2.     Traditions:  Annie Rossi has several favorite traditions.  She goes on "night walks" with her father. On snowy days, she is the first one in the park making tracks in new snow, and each summer her family rents the same cottage at the beach.  Write or tell about a favorite tradition in your own family.

3.     Storytelling:  Kids love to hear stories about when they were little.  Annie has a story about the "tiny scar on her chin" that she loves to tell; the story always starts "Once upon a time when I was little."  Tell or write your own "Once upon a time when I was little" story.

4.     School Days:  Write or tell about your WORST DAY (ever!) in school.  Write or tell about your BEST DAY (ever!) in school.

See Amy's website for her "Hints for Writers," a teacher's guide and an article where Amy talks about New York, writing and love.  Plus you can listen to an excerpt of Amy reading the first chapter of REMEMBERING MRS. ROSSI, too.

Author call-in information:  Amy Hest is happy to call-in to your club.  She can also meet with your group if you live in the greater NYC area. E-mail Amy to submit your request.

   ThirdBlockAges 12 and up / YA Fiction / Hyperion

Win a set of RIDING INVISIBLE by Sandra Alonzo for your book club. 

Enter to win by emailing Sandra's publisher (write "KidsBookclubbing - Riding Invisible" in the subject line).

Riding InvisibleDear Reader,

Running away is pretty scary, but what if you're doing it on horseback? 

Miles from home, broke, exhausted and desperate, fifteen-year-old Yancy wonders if he and his horse, Shy, are going to survive.  They can't turn around and head for home. Will, Yancy's highly disturbed brother is there, and Will has already harmed Shy twice. 
RIDING INVISIBLE is Yancy's journal. In it, he draws character sketches and comic panels, documents his adventures and fears, and writes about Christi, girl of his dreams.

"DAY FIVE -- morning -- near the tracksAlonzo

I'm still alive.  I now measure my success in terms of survival."

This is the day Yancy is forced to take a chance.  He pulls a crumpled paper out of his pocket, and dials the number of a stranger.  It's his only choice. He can't do this on his own. Yancy has a horse to feed.

Sandra Alonzo

Book reviews: 

"Alonzo's first novel features the sort of likable, embattled narrator that brings to mind Arnold Spirit from Sherman Alexie's THE ABSOLUTELY TRUE DIARY OF A PART-TIME INDIAN."

"Yancy's friendship with a Mexican ranch worker and his family's genuine desperation give the book emotional resonance."
-Publishers Weekly

Discussion questions:

1.     What are the major obstacles that Yancy faces in the first two days of his journey? Which do you think are the most dangerous?

2.     How does Yancy use his intuition to judge the intentions of people he meets on this journey? How do you decide whom to trust and whom to avoid?

3.     Childhood mental illnesses are a frightening reality for many families. How can families cope with the special demands that they face? How can schools and other agencies support these families?

Visit  the publisher's website to read an excerpt or discussion guide, read biographies of the author and illustrator and more.

Author call-in information:  Sandra Alonzo is happy to call-in to your club.  Email her publisher to submit your request.


 FourthBlock Ages 9 - 12 / Nonfiction / Houghton Mifflin Harcourt

Win a set of LIVES OF THE PIRATES by Kathleen Krull for your book club. 

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

Lives of PiratesAhoy Readers,
Thank you so much for your appreciation of our six "LIVES OF" books over the years.  One of my very favorite things is when a reader mentions a new interest in history-- and credits this series.
Now, after 12 years, I'm delighted to present LIVES OF THE PIRATES, the new addition to the still widely read books featuring MUSICIANS, WRITERS, ARTISTS, ATHLETES, PRESIDENTS, and EXTRAORDINARY WOMEN.
Who ISN'T obsessed with pirates?  More than $1 billion has been earned by the "Pirates of the Caribbean" movies -- which are pure fiction. My book separates the myths from reality while dishing the juicy details about 20 famous pirates, from scary Blackbeard to the even more frightening Madame Cheng, from Black Bart to Grace O¹Malley to Sir Francis Drake.  All of them fascinating, Kathleen Krulland together, presented chronologically, providing an unusually colorful way of looking at world history.
My hope is that LIVES OF THE PIRATES will satisfy all those obsessed with pirate lore -- and will lure a new generation of readers on to the other books.
Your fan,
Kathleen Krull

Book reviews for the LIVES OF series:

 "Unstuffs a host of shirts."

★ "Living, breathing anecdotes-the stuff of which the best biography is made."
-Publishers Weekly, starred review
"An entertaining survey, of interest to adults as well as children."
-The New York Times Book Review

★ "An irresistible package."
-School Library Journal, starred review

Discussion questions:

1.     Pirates have inspired countless stories, songs, and movies. Why do you think pirates-essentially outlaws and criminals-hold such allure?

2.     What are some well-known symbols and stories surrounding pirates?

3.     Were you familiar with any famous pirates before reading LIVES OF THE PIRATES? Was the information in the book consistent with what you'd heard about them before?

4.     Were there any characters in LIVES OF THE PIRATES whose stories surprised you? Anyone you were surprised to see called "pirate"? If so, why?

5.     After reading LIVES OF THE PIRATES, how do you think pirates and their actions have helped shape history? Can you think of any modern day examples of pirates?

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

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