August 16,  2010

Kids' Authors Share Their Stories

Fabulous Book Giveaways for Your Club

This Means War
Splurch AcademyRae

Dear Readers,

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

Printz Honor Award winner Ellen Wittlinger as she broaches the topic of war in THIS MEANS WAR!, a work of fiction for middle-graders

- debut writer Inara Scott who mixes superpowers and friendships in a boarding school setting in her teen novel DELCROIX ACADEMY, BOOK ONE: THE CANDIDATES

 - Julie Berry, author of THE SPLURCH ACADEMY BOOKS, a new comic novel series for reluctant readers and disruptive kids (do you know any of those?!)

...and Chelsea Rae Swiggett who shares her un-put-downable and brave teen memoir, RAE:  MY TRUE STORY OF FEAR, ANXIETY, AND SOCIAL PHOBIA

Warm wishes,
Judy Gelman and Vicki Levy Krupp

FirstBlock  Ages 9-14 / Middle-grade fiction / Published by Simon & Schuster Children's Publishing

Win a set of THIS MEANS WAR! by Ellen Wittlinger for your book club.

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

Dear ReThisMeansWarader,

Living in a small town near an air base during the Cuban Missile Crisis was a frightening experience for me and I'm glad I found a way to write about it that includes humor. EllenWittlinger

In This Means War!, the Missile Crisis is the background for a neighborhood war -- one between the boys and the girls to prove which group is stronger, faster, braver. As with the larger crisis, the neighborhood war soon gets out of hand, progressing from foot races and Twist contests to dangerous challenges.  Where is the line between bravery and foolishness? What makes you a hero?


Ellen Wittlinger

Book reviews:

"... Wittlinger conveys a sober knowingness that shadows and deepens the seemingly bland innocence of 1960s girlhood.( 'I wanted to watch Mister Ed with Mom,' [Juliet] said, and then the tears began to trickle down her cheeks. It suddenly seemed as if President Kennedy and the Russians and the newscasters had all stolen something precious from her that she could never get back'), and her prose has the same bracing good sense and down-to-earth humor of her main character. A fine addition to the growing shelf of novels set during the Cuban Missile Crisis."
--Horn Book magazine

"Wittlinger latches on to a poignant metaphor for war in this lively and readable tale set against the backdrop of the 1962 Cuban missile crisis. Fifth-grader Juliet lives near a growing military base which has brought in an influx of new kids, including the rowdy Patsy. It's a good thing, too, because Juliet's longtime pal Lowell has abandoned her to hang out with boys, including the overgrown bully, Bruce. This division turns into an all-out battle of the sexes when Bruce devises a nine-day competition that tests the strength and bravery of girls versus boys. These increasingly dangerous tests (entering a dog pen, shoplifting) bring most of the children closer together, though for Patsy and Bruce, they only escalate the conflict. It's a clever concept that keeps the proceedings fun even as the darker drama of potential world collapse provides a weighty element; young readers will be shocked to learn of Juliet's daily prayers, including 'Dear God, please don't let the world end today.' A warm way to introduce the cold war."           

Discussion questions:

1.     Lowell says, "Girls have to play with girls and boys have to play with boys." Is that true? Can boys and girls be friends? Are there some sports only boys do well? Some only girls can do?
2.     How has life changed since 1962? What are the large and small differences between Juliet's life and yours?
3.     Bruce challenges the others to shoplift which most of them don't want to do, but they're afraid to say no. Have you ever been in a situation where there was that kind of peer pressure? How did you handle it?
4.     Why do Juliet's parents argue so much? Are they really mad at each other or at something else?  Juliet asks God to figure out a way for everybody to have enough money. Do you think she's right that that would solve a lot of the world's problems.
5.     Juliet says bravery is always part stupidity and it really just means, "I have no choice." Is this true? Have you ever wanted to be a hero? Have you ever known anyone you thought was

A more complete discussion guide can be found on the author's website, as well as guides for many of her other books. Or you can keep up with her via Facebook.
Author call-in information: Ellen is happy to call-in to your club. She also does school and library visits. Details on her website.  Send an email to Ellen to submit your request.


     Ages 12 and up / YA fiction / Published by Hyperion

Win a set of DELCROIX ACADEMY, BOOK ONE: THE CANDIDATES by Inara Scott for your book club.

Enter to win by
emailing her publisher (write "KidsBookclubbing - Delcroix Academy" in the subject line).
Dear ReaDelcroixder,

I can't believe it's finally time to welcome you to Delcroix Academy, and book one of my new series, Delcroix Academy, Book One: The Candidates. There's so much here I want to show you!

First, there's Delcroix itself, with its massive gates and air of secrecy. Then there's DanSusan Kuklincia, a tough, independent heroine who is determined to keep the world safe from her dangerous psychic powers -- no matter the cost. Dancia's troubled friend, Jack, may have a tattoo and an attitude as big as Mt. Rainier, but he's guaranteed to steal your heart. And what about Cam, the junior class president and hottest guy in the school. He seems interested in Dancia, but as Jack says, what does he really want? And why?

Pass though the iron gates surrounding Delcroix and you'll find romance, mystery, tough choices, and extraordinary powers.

Come on in. You've been recruited...


Book reviews: 

"A potent blend of superpowers, friendships, and boarding-school intrigue makes DELCROIX ACADEMY a delightful debut.  I can't wait for the next installment."
--Diana Peterfreund, author of RAMPANT

"Take one part Gossip Girls, one part Harry Potter, mix with two parts top-notch storytelling, and you've created the next big thing:  Inara Scott's DELCROIX ACADEMY series, beginning with her page-turning debut, THE CANDIDATES.  Scott has mastered the art of the slow reveal, and I couldn't stop reading until I learned all the secrets of the DELCROIX ACADEMY.  Vampires, be gone!  I can't want to see this series on the big screen."
--Lynda Sandoval, award-winning author of WHO'S YOUR DADDY? and  FATHER KNOWS BEST

Discussion questions:

1.    The character of Dancia Lewis is immediately established as a bit of an outsider, due to her paranormal abilities and special talents.  How do you think teens and readers of all ages can relate to Dancia's struggle to fit in amongst the crowd?

2.     Without giving anything away, we will say that there is a very compelling love story that takes shape in this story, between Dencia and two boys in her class, Cam and Jack.  Talk a bit about the appeal of romance in the YA supernatural genre, and how this aspect of the story adds to Dancia's growth as a character throughout.

3.     What are some of Dancia's supernatural powers as established in the story, and in what ways have these powers both proven beneficial to her and damaging to her in her relationships over the course of the book (and her life)?

To read an excerpt, see the publisher's website and to learn more about Inara and how to contact her, see her website.

Author call-in information: Inara is happy to call-in to your club. She also does school and library visits. Details on her website.  Send an email to her publisher to submit your request.

   ThirdBlock  Ages 8 - 12 / Hybrid novel - comic book / Published by Grosset & Dunlap / Penguin Books for Young Readers

Win a set of
the first two SPLURCH ACADEMY books by Julie Gardner Berry and Sally Faye Gardner for your book club.

Enter to win by emailing Julie (write Kidsbookclubbing in the subject line).
Dear Ki
Splurchds' Book Club Leader,

Have any disruptive readers in your book club?

Splurch Academy for Disruptive Boys is accepting applications. Dr. Archibald Farley, Headmaster, Psychopath, Mad Scientist, and Vampire, would love to sink his teeth into reforming your readers.
Comic book fans, reluctant readers, and disruptive boys and girls alike will be held captive -- literally? -- by my sister Sally Faye Gardner's outrageous comic illustrations in our goofy, spooky new series from Grosset & Dunlap.

Our first two titles, THE RAT BRAIN FIASCO and CURSE OF THE BIZARRO BEETLE, release together in August.  Watch for THE COLOSSAL FOSSIL FREAKOUT and more soon after. We hope readers have as much fun visiting Splurch Academy as we do.

We'd be delighted to Skype into your book club, supply bookmarks and washable tattoos as reading prizes, or visit in person (location permitting).  Just visit the Splurch Academy website to enter.

Disruptively yours,

Julie Berry

Book reviews:

"My 9 year-old daughter read Splurch twice in one week. Shared it with her 10 year-old friend who also raced through the book-twice. If my daughter and her friends are any indication, Splurch is a surefire hit."
--Belmont, MA parent

 "Ms. Berry knows boys.  I couldn't put this book down and my cheeks hurt from smiling the whole time.  Even the acknowledgments entertain.  The artwork couldn't be better and is integrated with the text in cartoon-style.  LOVE THIS BOOK!"
--Wellesley, MA parent

"Here's a barn burner of a first book!"
--Kathi Appelt, Newbery Honor-winning author of The Underneath

Discussion questions:

1.    Have you ever had a teacher, coach, or librarian that you think might be a monster in disguise? If so, what kind of monster does he/she transform into at night? [Optional: Can you draw a picture of the monster?]

2.    If you were Cody Mack, could you think up a surefire way to escape from Splurch Academy?  How would you make sure Headmaster Farley and his gang of monster teachers didn't catch you?

3.    Think of the time when Cody called home using Dr. Farley's telephone. Why didn't his mom believe what Cody told her about Splurch Academy? Have you ever tried to tell parents or other grown-ups something important, and they wouldn't believe you?  What did you do?

4.    If your parents ever decided to send you to Splurch Academy, what would their reason be?  What's your most disruptive habit?

5.    Dr. Farley likes to invent things that help him carry out his dastardly plans. Carlos is an inventor, too. Do you have any ideas for inventions he could develop that would help the boys fight back against the evil teachers?  What cool name would you give your invention? [Optional: Can you design an advertisement for your invention? Or try filming it with a video camera.]

To find out more about the Splurch Academy books and keep up with the author via Twitter or Facebook, visit the Splurch Academy website.

Author call-in information: Julie is happy to call-in to or Skype with your club or visit if you live in the New England area.  Send an email to Julie to submit your request


FourthBlock     Ages 12 and up / Young Adult Memoir / Published by HCI Books

Win a set of RAE: MY TRUE STORY OF FEAR, ANXIETY AND SOCIAL PHOBIA by Chelsea Rae Swiggett for your book club.

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

Dear ReadeRaer,

I wrote RAE for one reason . . . you. I hope you can relate ChelseaRaeSwiggettto someone your age, whether it's through anxiety or self-consciousness or fear. RAE is basically just a story about being a teenager; and every unspeakable thing that entails. I talk about life and death and religion and family -- things most teenagers don't bring up in Geometry class. RAE is a peek into my mind (and what a scary place that is!) -- a place where you can see that I'm actually a lot like you. I have an anxiety disorder -- and you may or (more probably) may not -- but fear is something everyone feels.

Read on,

Chelsea Rae Swiggett

Discussion Questions:

1.     Most teens feel anxious or awkward at some point in their lives. What makes Rae's anxiety different from typical teen angst?

2.     Have you ever been worried that something was seriously wrong with you, but you were too afraid to talk to someone about it or ask for help because you weren't sure you wanted to know the truth? If so, did you ever get the help you needed? What was the outcome of the situation?

3.     Rae uses a lot of metaphors and vivid imagery in her writing. How do you think her creative use of language impacts her storytelling and brings it to life?

4.     Rae spends a lot of time fearing life itself. What kind of things do you fear that keep you up at night? Are they rational or irrational fears? How do you deal with your fears?

5.     Do you think today's teens have more anxiety disorder than in generations past? If so, why? Do you believe life for teenagers is more stressful today than it was ten, twenty, or thirty years ago? Why or why not?
To read an excerpt, view a trailer and keep up with Chelsea via her blog, Twitter, and Facebook, please see her website; to find out about other young adult memoirs from HCI books, see the publishers' LOUDER THAN WORDS books site.

Author call-in information: Chelsea Rae Swiggett is happy to call-in or skype with your club. She can also meet with your group if you live near Cleveland, Ohio.  Email Chelsea Rae Swiggett to submit your request.

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