September 1,  2010

Kids' Authors Share Their Stories

Fabulous Book Giveaways for Your Club


                                      Saving Sky                           Playing Time                             


Dear Readers,

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

Diane Stanley, author of over 60 books for kids and teens, as she takes us to New Mexico and introduces us to a character who sets out to change the world, and
- 17-year-old-author Quinn Cotter as he shares a behind-the-scenes view of kids' sports.

Warm wishes,
Judy Gelman and Vicki Levy Krupp

FirstBlockAges 10 and up / Middle-grade fiction / Published by Harper Collins

Win a set of SAVING SKY by Diane Stanley for your book club.

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

Saving Sky Dear Reader,
I moved to New Mexico a few years ago and instantly fell in love with the life here.  People are tuned into nature in a special way and sometimes they choose to live very simply -- out in the country, raising chickens and goats and growing their own food.  I remember the first time I met someone who heated his house with a wood stove (and believe me, it gets very cold up here in the mountains).  I thought, what a fascinating setting for a book for kids.  Later, that thought got mixed up with something else that was on my mind: the way our country changed after 9/11, and the rights and freedoms we were losing in the name of safety.  I turned up the heat a notch in my head, made the terrorists stronger.
In SAVING SKY, the country is at war. Terrorists strike at random, widespread rationing is in effect, and the power is down all over the country. But thirteen-year-old Sky Brightman is remarkably untouched by it all. She lives in a peaceful haven, off the grid on sixty beautiful acres of New Mexico ranch land, with a loving family, three horses, and an elderly dog who gives her gifts. No TV or internet brings disturbing news into their little adobe home.Diane Stanley
Then a string of mysterious arrests begin and her new friend Kareem becomes a target. Sky is finally forced to confront the world in all its complexity. Summoning her considerable courage and ingenuity, she takes a stand against injustice. With humor, hope, and fierce determination, she sets out to change the world.
SAVING SKY is different from anything I've written before.  It may be my favorite book, and Sky my most remarkable character.   I am very proud of SAVING SKY.  It might make you cry.  It will certainly make you think.
Thanks for reading,

Diane Stanley

Book reviews:

"In this provocative title, award-winning author Stanley asks young readers to consider what courage might look like in an America under psychological and physical siege . . . To categorize this novel as science fiction would be wishful thinking, and parallels to our contemporary times appear on every page . . . Readers will have much to discuss . . . beautifully written." 
- Booklist (starred review)
"This page-turner subtly builds an all-too-believable near future, sowing just enough clues to keep readers informed and rarely descending into blunt exposition. It skillfully captures the irrational fear of a public under siege while giving kids a modern-day, almost-just-like-them female hero who champions hope. Inspiring."
- Kirkus Reviews

Discussion questions:

1.     Why do you think Sky's family lives the way they do-off the grid, out in the country?  Why wouldn't they choose to live in town, with electricity, and central heating, and a television, and other modern conveniences?  Do you think it's because they feel safer out in the country?  Or do they like being close to nature?  What about their customs and lifestyle has helped Sky and Mouse cope with frightening events? 

2.    Why do you think did the people in Home Depot acted the way they did?  How far should a country go to keep its people safe?

3.    Was it right for Sky's family to break the law by hiding Kareem?

4.    What do you think happened after Sky gave her speech? Do you think you could have done what she did?

5.    Sky's mother tells her to find an injustice, something she could manage, and try to make it right.  Can you think of someone you can help, or some way you can make the world a little better?

To read more about SAVING SKY and learn about Diane's other books, see her website.
Author call-in information:  Diane Stanley is happy to call-in to your club.  Email Diane to submit your request.


Ages 8 and up / Nonfiction / Teen memoir / Published by Apprentice House
Win a set of PLAYING TIME: WHAT KIDS REALLY THINK ABOUT KIDS' SPORTS by Quinn Cotter for your book club.

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

Playing TimeDear Reader,

I'm 17, a student-athlete and the author of PLAYING TIME: WHAT KIDS REALLY THINK ABOUT KIDS' SPORTS.  By age 13, 73% of kids drop out of sports. Quinn Cotter
I've ridden the bench so the coach's klutzy kid could play and I've been a star... I've gotten home after practice at 9:30 and had to face 4 hours of homework. I've been abandoned by jealous friends. I've been cheered for my accomplishments and cursed out by coaches. Kids may be inexperienced in sports and life, but we're not stupid. PLAYING TIME will help kids play better, play longer and smile more.

Happy Reading,

Quinn Cotter

Book reviews:

"I truly hope you will all enjoy PLAYING TIME as much as I did. In the game of baseball, there is a phrase "Leave it all on the field." That is exactly what precocious Quinn Cotter has done in this book. Though a teenager, Quinn will teach you, humor you, provoke you, challenge you and guide you to become a better parent, coach or teammate -- even a sports fan -- all through the experiences and reflections of a student athlete. Please savor this worthwhile journey."
- Jim Palmer, Hall of Fame MLB pitcher, and baseball commentator
"PLAYING TIME captures the very essence of youth sports. Any parent, coach, fan or participant in youth sports should have this in their library. Quinn Cotter's real life experiences establish the foundation from which every youth sports program should be evaluated."
- Bob Bowlsby, Athletic Director, Stanford University

Discussion questions:

1.      In your opinion, why do 73% of kids drop out of kids' sports by the time they are 13?

2.     "To be honest with you, whenever I rode the bench, I would secretly hope for the kid playing my position to mess up big time.  I'm not proud or ashamed that I felt this way, I just did." (page 53)  How do the themes of PLAYING TIME: excellence, humility, sportsmanship and respect, crash, head-on, in this quote?  Have you ever experienced conflicting feelings?

3.    Quinn says that a parent's job is to organize but not control kids' sports. Can you give an example of "organizing" and an example of "controlling?"  What is the difference?

4.     Quinn has respect for parent's conflicts too. "My father and I were looking at baseball bats, and I liked one that cost $225.  The salesman showed us another bat for $300. He said the $300 bats were "flying out of here." ...He kind of implied that if my dad didn't get me that bat, he wasn't a good dad." (page 77)  Identify some issues that parents have to cope with on the sidelines.

5.    Writing note cards and storing them in a private shoebox was a way for Quinn to get "things off his chest." What are some ways you relieve stress?

6.    How has Quinn matured from the time he wrote the book (age 15) to the time he wrote the Afterword (age 17)?

To read a discussion guide, find out more about youth sports, and follow Quinn on Twitter, see his website.
Author call-in Info:  Quinn Cotter is happy to call-in to your book club. Email Quinn to submit your request.

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