October 15,  2010

  Kids' Authors Share Their Stories

Fabulous Book Giveaways for Your Club

secondhard charm
Girls Best Friend
The JumbeeImaginalis

Dear Readers,

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

- Julie Berry who writes about adventure, danger, fantasy and a bit of romance in SECONDHAND CHARM;

- Leslie Margolis, fan of Nancy Drew and Harriet the Spy (no wonder she wrote a mystery book!) and author of GIRL'S BEST FRIEND: A MAGGIE BROOKLYN MYSTERY;


- Pamela Keyes, who takes readers on a trip to the Carribbean in THE JUMBEE;

... and J.M. DeMatteis, who writes for everyone who believes in the power of reading in IMAGINALIS.

Warm wishes,
Judy Gelman and Vicki Levy Krupp

Block1  Ages  10-14  / Middle-grade - Teen Fiction / Published by Bloomsbury

Win a set of SECONDHAND CHARM by Julie Berry for your book club.

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

secondhard charmDear Kids' Book Club Leader,

When I was young, I dreamed of being a doctor, but fear of clammy cadavers stalled my medical school application. I dreamed of frolicking with dolphins as a marine biologist, but fear of sharks cut that dream short.

I dreamed of writing children's books, and when I discovered writing carried almost no occupational hazards, I boldly charged ahead.

In my new fantasy novel, SECONDHAND CHARM, I relive my discarded JulieBerry fantasies. Evie Pomeroy, an aspiring physician, sets out to attend University in the kingdom's capitol. But a highwayman, a shipwreck, and a palace intrigue trip her progress, while a mythic sea creature gives Evie the dolphin ride I never took, fairy-tale style.

Fantasy fans and readers who enjoyed my 2009 debut novel, THE AMARANTH ENCHANTMENT, will find adventure, danger, and a dollop of romance my second Bloomsbury novel. To win a signed book, email

Dream fearlessly,

Julie Berry

Book reviews:

"Julie's story was stunning."


"This book really blew me away. I had no idea where it would take me, and I ended up on a fantastic journey full of romance and fantasy."


"A breath of fresh air."


"Secondhand Charm was a beautiful novel written in a pleasant fairytale style that few can master. Sea monsters and dashing bandits keep you on the edge of your seat as we follow Evie into this beautiful world."


"Berry's romantic fantasy teems with action, suspense and a bit of boy-next-door romance. A cast of strong secondary characters rounds out this mix of humor, light romance and mystery. An entertaining read -- guaranteed."

-Kirkus Reviews


Discussion Questions:
1.       Evie dreams of being a physician, which fits her natural talent for healing. What are your talents? How do your talents influence your hopes and dreams for your future?

2.       The first time Evie enters the water, she discovers a side of herself she never knew existed. The second time she enters it, she discovers powers she never knew she had. Have you ever discovered a side of yourself you didn't know existed? How about discovering talents you never knew were there? How did that feel?

3.       Evie puts her goals on hold for friendship. What do you think of her choice? When is it okay and not okay to give up something in order to help a friend?

4.       Think about Evie's relationship with Grandfather. What happens when we are afraid to tell the truth to those we love?

5.       Did the end of the story surprise you? How? If you had to predict, halfway through the book, how it might go, what would your guesses be?

To find out if Julie will be in your area, to read her blog, and to get the latest news on SECONDHAND CHARM, visit the author's 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.  Email Julie to submit your request.

 Block2     Ages 9-12 / Middle-grade fiction / Published by Bloomsbury
Win a set of GIRL'S BEST FRIEND by Leslie Margolis for your book club.

Enter to win by emailing
Leslie's publisher (write KidsBookClubbing in the subject line).

Girls Best FriendDear Reader,

Girl's Best Friend, A Maggie Brooklyn Mystery, is about a twelve-year-old girl who walks a few dogs after school and stumbles upon some mysteries along the way.  I came up with the idea while walking my own scrappy mutt, Aunt Blanche, in Park Slope, Brooklyn.

Maggie Brooklyn is inspired by two of my favorite characters:  Nancy Drew and Harriet the Spy.
Leslie Margolis
Photo Credit: Jimmy Bruch

Like traditional sleuths, Maggie cares about truth and justice. But she's got plenty of regular-kid dilemmas, too: a secret crush on a cute boy, a sometimes-annoying twin brother, and an ex-best friend who's still super-mean.  Add some missing dogs to the mix, and let the adventure begin!

One of the best things about being a writer is hearing from readers, so if you do get a chance to read Girl's Best Friend, definitely let me know what you think!

Thanks so much,

Leslie Margolis

Book reviews:
"Maggie Brooklyn is a smart, funny, capable detective, and a real kid. Sequel, please." 
- Adam Rex, author of The True Meaning of Smekday
"This is my kind of book! The mystery starts on page one. Then it's surprise after surprise, with lots of twists and turns-- and chilling suspense." 
-R.L. Stine
"Leslie Margolis has found the perfect mix -- a city story, a tween story, and a mystery that truly keeps you guessing."
-Gordon Korman, author of 39 Clues Book #8 and Zoobreak
"Girl's Best Friend clips the reader onto a touching, funny story-leash that twists and turns... Margolis leaves you wanting to look twice at every familiar gesture and setting."
-Blue Balliett, author of Chasing Vermeer
"While the well-crafted mysteries are foremost, it's the relatable, witty protagonist that makes this novel stand out."
-The Horn Book

Discussion questions:

1.  When you observe suspicious behavior - like Maggie did when noticing the missing dogs - what is your first instinct? Ignore it or get to the bottom of it?
2.  If Nancy Drew, Harriet the Spy and Maggie Brooklyn were to form a detective agency, how well do you think they'd work together? What should they name the company?
3.  What would you do if you found out a friend was involved in something you knew to be wrong?
4. Who is your favorite character and why?
5.  What do you hope will happen in the next installment of The Maggie Brooklyn Mysteries?
For an excerpt from GIRL'S BEST FRIEND and so much more, visit Leslie Margolis' website.

Author call-in information:  Leslie Margolis is happy to call-in to - or skype with - your club.  She can also meet with your group if you live in Brooklyn or NYC area. Email Leslie's publisher to submit your request.

   Block3  Ages 12 and up / Young Adult Romantic Thriller / Published by Dial Books / Penguin Group

 Win a set of THE JUMBEE by Pamela Keyes for your book club. 

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

The JumbeeDear Reader,

A few years ago, I saw "Phantom of the Opera," and fell in love with the main characters. Shortly after that, I moved to the Caribbean. The moment I heard my first legend of a jumbee (a West Indian phantom who wants to steal your soul), I knew what I had to do. What better combination than a jumbee teamed with the most famous phantom in the world? When writing THE JUMBEE, I used themes of compassion and honor, weaving the dramas of Shakespeare and the history of the Caribbean into one of the most compelling plotlines in modern literature.pamela keyes

When Esti starts high school on Cariba Island, she's fleeing the shadow of her late father - a famous actor. But on an island rife with superstition, Esti can't escape the darkness. In the black of the theater department, an alluring voice becomes her brilliant drama tutor, while in the light of day Esti struggles to resist her attraction to the gorgeous local bad boy. When shocking accidents begin to happen at school, the islanders are sure that Esti is haunted by a jumbee. What will it cost Esti - and everyone she loves - to unmask the truth?

Enjoy and keep reading!

Pamela Keyes

Book reviews:

"Drawing on both Shakespeare...and Leroux, [The Jumbee] goes down easy and is perhaps a good way to introduce...readers to themes from the classics."
-Kirkus Reviews

 "A teenage actress falls for a mysterious stranger in this haunting romance, reminiscent of The Phantom of the Opera.... The lushly described exotic setting breathes new life into the classic star-crossed story line."

"[The Jumbee] covers the coming of age of a young girl who is searching for her own identity. It features the problems teens face from other jealous teens, the stirring of romantic interests, the difficulties of growing up....enlightens the reader about the injustice of slavery, island superstitions and crosses racial lines, without drawing notice to them.... Race is simply not an issue although it is very much a part of the book."

Discussion questions:

1.     Why is it so important for Esti to make a name for herself, without using the fame of her father?

2.     What motivates Esti to keep secrets from her mom and her friends?

3.     What is the most compelling and unusual thing about Alan?

4.     What makes Esti's relationship with Rafe different than his previous relationships?

5.     When Esti has to choose between the two people she loves, what influences her the most?

To read an excerpt and keep up with me via my blog, Twitter, and Facebook, please see my website,  To watch THE JUMBEE trailer, please see this link.

Author call-in information: 
Pamela Keyes is happy to call-in to - or skype with - your club.  She can also meet with your group if you live in the southwest near Tucson, Arizona. Visit Pamela's website to submit your request.



Block4   Ages 9 - 12 / Middle-grade fiction/ Published by Katherine Tegen Books / Harper Collins 

Win a set of IMAGINALIS by J.M. DeMatteis for your book club. 

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


ImaginalisDear Readers,

In 2007, the abrupt cancellation of my children's book series, Abadazad, hit me hard.  I believed in our cast of characters with all my heart.  And now, I thought, they're gone.  Trapped in some literary limbo, beyond my reach.  How will I-

Wait.  Characters trapped in limbo?

What a fantastic idea for a story!
J.M. Dematteis

I soon found myself writing the tale of twelve year old Mehera Crosby -- whose life is upended when her favorite book series is canceled; upended even more when she discovers that the characters she so loves are alive, trapped in a deadly limbo-and it's up to her to rescue them.

IMAGINALIS is the story of every reader who ever gave his heart to a book, every dreamer who realizes that imagination is more powerful than reality.   And who, through reading about magic, is inspired to discover magic and miracles in her own life, every single day.  

J.M. DeMatteis

Book reviews:

"A sure-footed fantasy.  Well-drawn characters, abundant action and humor, and (a) hopeful message about the power of reading and belief." 

-Publisher's Weekly

"Strongly recommended.  An epic tale...that will thrill readers of works like The Neverending Story and Inkheart." 



Discussion questions:

1.     The world of Imaginalis is sometimes more real to Mehera than reality itself and she's devastated by the cancellation of the book series.   Is it a good thing to take stories that seriously or has Mehera gone too far?  Has a book ever touched you so deeply -- and why?

2.     Rajah Merogji tells Prince Imagos that "compassion, not brutality" is the Imaginalian way.  "War and vengeance are things our people left behind centuries ago."  Do you think it's possible to solve all problems peacefully?  Is violence ever necessary?  Is peace really possible?

3.     Mehera dreams of meeting Mrs. Morice-Gilland, the author of the Imaginalis series, but, when she finally does, Mrs. Morice-Gilland isn't the person Mehera's imagined; in fact she's rude and unfriendly.  Where do you think the line is between author and story?  Artist and art?  Is it possible for someone to create a beautiful work of art and be an unpleasant person?

Click here to read a 50 page preview, see a video interview, and to read more about J.M. DeMatteis and his work, visit his website

Author call-in information:   J.M. DeMatteis is happy to call-in to, or Skype with, your club. He also does school and library visits in the New York City and Hudson Valley/Capital Region areas. Email J.M. to submit your request.


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