January 18, 2011

  Kids' Authors Share Their Stories

Fabulous Book Giveaways for Your Club


Dear Readers,

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

Shari Maurer, who'll have readers thinking about life, health and taking both for granted in her teen novel, Change of Heart 

- and Monika Schröder as she takes readers to New Delhi to meet a 12-year-old runaway boy with a gift for math in Saraswati's Way.

Warm wishes,
Judy Gelman and Vicki Levy Krupp

Age 13 and up / YA Contemporary Realistic / Published by WestSide Books

Win a set of Change of Heart by Shari Maurer for your book club.  Enter to win by

emailing the author (write "KidsBookclubbing" in the subject line).

Dear Reader,

A few years ago I was watching a television program on heart transplants. My husband, a cardiologist, and one of his patients were featured on the show. But I also noticed a young girl who was waiting for a heart. She was wheeled into the operating room, her face a mixture of fear, excitement and worry-not knowing if this was a new beginning or if she would die.

This girl haunted me. I started to wonder what it would be like if she was a teen. And an athlete. I couldn't stop thinking about it and thus, Emmi and Change of Heart were born.

Emmi's great life is interrupted when she gets sick and finds she needs a new heart. How do you liveShari Floral waiting for the phone call that will save your life and still try to keep up with your friendships, schoolwork and life in high school?

And how do you hope for someone to die, so you can live?   

Readers have come away from Change of Heart feeling a renewed sense of gratitude-for their health, their friends and their lives. I didn't intend that when I wrote it, but I love that this is what people are taking from it.  

I hope you enjoy Change of Heart

Shari Maurer

Book reviews:

 "Tenderly told, this story is aptly written for teens. It's poignant, informative and bathed in all kinds of emotions. The author succinctly describes the transplant process with detailed medical accuracy and compassion, while clinging to the tyranny of just being sixteen. Captivating, touching tale!"

- Sacramento Book Review

"Shari Maurer does a brilliant job of taking the reader through this emotional journey with Emmi, her friends, and family.  I found myself laughing one minute and on the brink of tears the next.  The story felt well researched and I could imagine the pain and frustration the characters dealt with daily.  I also thought the story sent a message to readers about life.  My interpretation left me with a reminder of how precious each day of our lives is and not to take anything, especially your health for granted."

- Ellz Readz blog


Discussion questions:

1.     What do many teens take for granted? How does society encourage this kind of thinking?

2.     Why do teens think they are immortal or invincible? What events give them different insight?

3.     Is there a difference between a reason and an excuse for a behavior? Does it matter? When is it okay to betray a friend? Are stress or alcohol acceptable reasons?

4.     Why do teens judge themselves and others on appearance?

5.     What coping skills allow teens to face adversity?

To learn more about Shari, find out if she's doing events in your area, follow her on Twitter and Facebook, register to become an organ donor, and read her blog, visit the author's website.

Author call-in information:  Shari Maurer is available to call into (or visit in person in the greater NYC area) your book club/group.  Email the author to submit your request. 

Ages 10-14 / Middle Grade Fiction / Published by Frances Foster Books / Farrar Straus Giroux

Win a set of SARASWATI'S WAY by Monika Schröder for your book club. Enter to win by emailing the author (write "KidsBookclubbing" in the subject line).


Saraswati's WayDear Reader:

By the time I started SARASWATI'S WAY I had already lived in New Delhi for six years, and often, when arriving at or leaving from the New Delhi train station, I had seen street kids, barefoot and dressed in shabby clothes, scavenging for food. I wondered what would cause a child to run away from home and end up living in the train station. I contacted a charitable organization that works with these children and listened to some of their horrific stories. While writing the book I wanted to explore how a young Indian boy can find the strength to Monikaovercome such circumstances in pursuit of something he desperately wants.

 SARASWATI'S WAY is about a 12-year old Indian boy, Akash, with a gift for math, who runs away from his home in rural India to find a better life. He ends up at the New Delhi train station, where he joins a gang of street kids. Hoping for a short cut to quick money, Akash makes a dangerous choice. Will the gods help him to fulfill his dream? Read SARASWATI'S WAY to find out.


Monika Schröder  

Book reviews:


"This rare combination of math and culture is a boon for discussions and makes this stand out."
- Kirkus Reviews

"With skillfully integrated cultural details (further explained in an appended glossary and author's note) and a fully realized child's story, Schröder presents a view, sobering and inspiring, of remarkably resilient young people surviving poverty without losing themselves."
- Booklist

Discussion Questions

Have you ever wanted something so badly that you would have done anything to get it? What was it that you wanted? How does your wish compare to Akash's?

Akash shows a lot of courage in the story. What do you think is his most courageous act? Why?

Akash prays to the two Hindu gods, Ganesh and Saraswati. How is his form of worship different from your own?  How is it similar?

In Chapter 21, Akash explains the "vertically and crosswise" rule of Vedic math to Rohit. Can you find the product of two numbers by using this rule? 
To stay in touch with Monika, please follow her on Facebook or leave a comment on her blog on her website.  

Author call-in information: 
Monika Schröder is available to call in or Skype with your reading group -- if the time difference between your geographic area and India allows. Please e-mail her to submit your request.

  • A maximum of 10 books is available for each book club giveaway.

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