April 15,  2011  

  Kids' Authors Share Their Stories

Fabulous Book Giveaways for Your Club

Okay for Now
Where the Mountain Meets the Moon
Can i see your idPrisoners in the Palace

Dear Readers,


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

you'll meet:


- two time Newbery Honor winner Gary Schmidt, author of OKAY FOR NOW, called "his best novel yet" by Kirkus Reviews 


- master storyteller Grace Lin as she talks about her Newbery Honor winning novel, WHERE THE MOUNTAIN MEETS THE MOON, now available in paperback


- Chris Barton (who won a Sibert Award for excellence in nonfiction) as he delves into the subject of false identities in CAN I SEE YOUR I.D.? 


- and Michaela MacColl who spins a compelling historical fiction story in PRISONERS IN THE PALACE, about a princess who's prisoner in her own home.

Warm wishes,
Judy Gelman and Vicki Levy Krupp 


Block1Ages 10 - 14 / Middle-grade fiction / Clarion, an imprint of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt


Win a set of OKAY FOR NOW by Gary Schmidt for your book club. Enter to win by emailing the author (write "KidsBookclubbing" in the subject line).


Okay for Now

Dear Reader,


Not all quests are about swords and mythical lands and mystical rings. Some are right at home, and when Doug Swieteck - beat up, alone with a broken family - comes upon a beautiful book whose pictures are being sold one by one, he decides that he and he alone will try to bring back all those pages. He will make one thing in his life whole and perfect.


And maybe he will. But there's a whole lot more that needs to be brought back, and his quest is going to be a lot harder and stranger than he had Schmidt author photoimagined. He's in a new school, in a new town, and the wars at home and abroad will reach close, very close.


A year has passed since THE WEDNESDAY WARS, and now it's Doug's turn. He's got a lot to face, and he'll need some companions along the way.


You're invited.


Gary Schmidt

Book reviews:   


"This is Schmidt's best novel yet - darker than THE WEDNESDAY WARS and written with more restraint, but with the same expert attention to voice, character and big ideas."

- Kirkus Reviews, starred review


"Schmidt manages a hard balance of relatable youth-is-hard humor and nuanced family trauma, though the mix of antics and realism is a bit Shakespearean. Readers will miss Doug and his world when they're done, and will feel richer for having experienced his engaging, tough, and endearing story.

- School Library Journal, starred review


Discussion questions:    


1.     If Doug is on a quest, what is he questing for?    


2.     Each of the chapters is about a bird shown in one of Audubon's plates. How are these birds connected to what Doug is going through in his life?


3.     The year of the novel is 1968-1969. What similarities do you see to our own time, when we are once again at war?   


4.     Lil calls Doug a skinny thug when she meets him. How does her attitude toward Doug change? Who else has an attitude change about Doug? Why?  


5.     Why does Mr. Ferris think the moon landing is so important? Is it? Would Mr. Ferris say we should be heading to the moon again? Why?


To read the first chapter, see an interview with the two-time Newbery Honor winning author, learn where you can see him during his national tour, or sign up for a webcast with Gary Schmidt on May 9th, visit his website.


Block3Ages 8 - 12 / Fantasy / Adventure / Little, Brown Books for Young Readers


Win a set of WHERE THE MOUNTAIN MEETS THE MOON by Grace Lin.  Enter to win by emailing the publisher (write "Kidsbookclubbing - Where The Mountain Meets the Moon" in the subject line).


Where the Mountain Meets the MoonDear Reader,


Kids often ask me which book is my favorite of all the books I've written and illustrated. This causes me a bit of a dilemma (it's like choosing your favorite child!) but in the end, I usually say WHERE THE MOUNTAIN MEETS THE MOON.


Most assume that I choose that book because it won the Newbery Honor and it got me on the Today Show, but that is not the reason (though I did enjoy those perks very much!).  The reason why WHERE THE MOUNTAIN MEETS THE MOON is my favorite is because it is my only novel printed in full color.  Since I write and illustrate both picture books and novels, WHERE THE MOUNTAIN MEETS THE MOON gave me the opportunity to write a layered story with as many words as I wished and illustrate it with paintings with as many colors as I wished, as well.  So, in WHERE THE MOUNTAIN MEETS THE MOON I was able to do all the things I like best in book making, which is why it is my favorite book!


In WHERE THE MOUNTAIN MEETS THE MOON you'll meet Minli who is on a journey to find the Old Man of the Moon to change her fortune.  As her journey progresses she meets a cast of Grace Lincharacters who each tell her a story and, unknown to her, affects her journey.


I hope you enjoy the book and it becomes your favorite too!


To celebrate the paperback edition of WHERE THE MOUNTAIN MEETS THE MOON, I'm giving away a FREE PRINT OF YOUR CHOICE from my etsy shop to 8 random book clubs. To enter, just email me with the title of your favorite print!




Grace Lin


Book reviews and awards:


A Newbery Honor Winner

A Today Show Al Roker Kids Book Club Pick

A Booklist Top 10 Science Fiction/Fantasy Book for Youth


"Children will embrace this accessible, timeless story about the evil of greed and the joy of gratitude."

- Booklist (starred review)   


"Minli emerges a stalwart female role model who learns the important of family, friendship, and faith during her amazing journey."

- Kirkus Reviews (starred review)


"The author's writing is elegant, and her full-color illustrations are stunning... compelling and thoroughly human."

- School Library Journal (starred review)


Discussion questions:


1.     Stories are an important part of Minli's life. What does Ma think about stories? Why do you think she feels this way?


2.     The author uses a writing technique that involves changing perspectives between chapters. Why do you think the author chose to do this? How does it help the reader draw connections between and among characters? How does it add suspense to the story?


3.     As Ma and Ba think about whether or not they should let Minli try to change their fortune, Ba says it is like trying to find the paper of happiness. In the story he tells, the secret of happiness is shared, but it is lost. What do you think was written on the missing paper? What one word might be the secret to happiness? Why do you think this?


4.     Minli is faced with a difficult decision when she reaches the Old Man of the Moon. She can only ask one question. What question does she ask? Why does she ask that question? What details in the story help you understand her decision?


5.     Ma said stories were worthless, but stories play an important role throughout Minli's adventure. Using examples from the book, how did stories help Minli and others reach their goals? How did stories help characters change and develop throughout the book? Do you think stories are important?


To see Grace Lin on the "Today" Show talking about the book, hear her read an audio excerpt, learn the "story behind the story," read a curriculum guide, view the book trailer, and keep up with her via her blog, visit Grace's website.   



Ages 12+ / YA Nonfiction / Dial Books for Young Readers


Win a set of CAN I SEE YOUR I.D? TRUE STORIES OF FALSE IDENTITIES by Chris Barton for your book club. Enter to win by emailing the author (write "KidsBookclubbing" in the subject line).


Can i see your idDear Reader,


What would make you pretend to be someone else?


For my subjects in CAN I SEE YOUR I.D.? TRUE STORIES OF FALSE IDENTITIES, the reasons were many: They wanted to make it in Hollywood. They didn't want to be killed by Nazis. They wanted to escape from slavery. They didn't want to go broke. They really wanted to drive a subway train. And so on.


I wrote this book because I wanted to understand what it's like to masquerade Chris Bartonas another person. And to give you, the reader, a feel for that experience, I wrote CAN I SEE YOUR I.D.? in a way that puts you in each subject's shoes: "If all goes well, they'll never know that you're sixteen... You are a fibber. A confabulator. A liar." 


Are you - yes, you - up for that?


Yours (truly!),




Book reviews:


"[I]mpeccably crafted ... The use of second-person narration is very effective, allowing readers to assume the identities of each individual. Barton's prose captures the daring, ingenuity, and quick thinking required of each imposter."

- Publishers Weekly (starred review)


 "Barton's use of the second-person point of view gives these stories dramatic tension and a sense of immediacy. Hoppe's graphic panels enhance this effect. ... Teens in the thick of creating identities themselves will find this riveting."

- Kirkus Reviews


"[T]hrilling ... exciting."

- Ingram Library Services


"Quick, short chapters will make this another hit with reluctant readers."

- Teri Lesesne, Professor of YA Literature at Sam Houston State University, Member of the 2010 Printz Medal Committee


"Written with wit and urgency, Barton makes you wonder what YOU might be capable of doing!"

- Kathryn Fredrickson, Rolling Meadows (IL) Library, Member of the 2010 Sibert Medal Committee


 "Libraries, be prepared! This book will have students clamoring for materials from the extensive BIBLIOGRAPHY, even students you least expect. I myself could hardly put it down. Fascinating!"

- Carol Hampton Rasco, President, Reading Is Fundamental


Discussion questions:


1.     Which of the ten people profiled had the most admirable motivations? Which ones had the least? And which are the hardest to categorize one way or the other?


2.     CAN I SEE YOUR I.D.? is narrated in second person ("you"), rather than in the more traditional first person ("I") or third ("she" or "he"). What are some advantages of this approach? What downside(s) do you see? Are there profiles where this approach is more or less effective than it is in others?


3.     Which of these pretenders, impostors, and masqueraders would you most likely have fooled by if you'd met them? Which false identities do you think you would have seen through?


You can keep up with Chris monthly (See "Get On Board" at, weekly, or a lot more often than that.  

Author call-in information:  For a limited time, Chris can call in to or Skype with your club to discuss CAN I SEE YOUR I.D.? He can also meet with your group if you live in Central Texas. Email Chris to submit your request.



Block412 and up/ Historical Fiction / Chronicle Books 


Win a set of PRISONERS IN THE PALACE by Michaela MacColl for your book club. Enter to win by emailing the author  (write "KidsBookclubbing" in the subject line).


Prisoners in the PalaceDear Reader,   


My first novel, PRISONERS IN THE PALACE, tells the story of an unlikely friendship between a lady turned maid and a princess who is a prisoner in her own home. The Princess grows up to be Queen Victoria. I enjoy writing about the adolescence of famous people - what happened when they were kids that made them famous later? Throw in some royal settings, intrigue, romance Michaela McColland a thief who lives inside the palace walls... and I hope I've given you a page-turner. By the end of the novel, I hope you'll have learned a lot about Victorian England without even noticing!


Michaela MacColl


Book reviews:   


"Through the eyes of her maid, Liza, readers get to know Princess Victoria during the year before she becomes queen. Liza initially thinks only of ways to gain favor and influence, and, ultimately, money, from Victoria, but she gradually comes to feel compassion for the lonely and ill-treated 17-year-old. The emotional growth of both young women is the heart of the story, and it unfolds naturally because of a riveting plot full of conspiracy, sexual abuse of servants, treachery, and a great love story. A great read."

- School Library Journal (starred review)


 "In this debut, MacColl offers a whip-smart, spunky protagonist and a worthy heroine to root for - Liza's prospects may have plummeted, but her spirits never do. And though Princess Victoria can be spoiled and distressingly unaware of how her whims can make or break someone's livelihood, MacColl weaves enough goodness into Victoria that she never becomes a caricature. Court intrigue abounds as Victoria's advisers scheme to usurp her power upon the king's death, and Liza fights for Victoria's rights as much as for her own station. Enter Will Fulton as a dashing romantic interest for Liza, and this delightful story is complete."

- Publishers Weekly


Discussion questions:


1.     At the start of PRISONERS IN THE PALACE, Liza is looking for someone to save her. How does she change over the course of the story?


2.     "Don't be familiar with the servants," the Baroness Lehzen warns Victoria. Why can't the Princess make friends with servants? What happens when she does?


3.     Inside Boy lives between the walls of Kensington Palace and has no established place in society. Liza envies him his freedom, but he tells her not to romanticize his life. Which character in Prisoners in the Palace has the most freedom to determine his or her own destiny?


4.     Sir John is the villain of the story, but there are two sides to every story. Put yourself in his shoes, how would you justify his actions and behavior?


5.     Liza feels connected to disgraced maid Annie Mason. What does Liza do to put herself on a different path than Annie?


To read an excerpt and keep up with Michaela via her blog, Twitter, Facebook or MySpace, please see the author's website. On the Librarians/Teachers page there is a discussion guide you can download.


Author call-in information:  Michaela MacColl is happy to call-in to or skype with your club.  She can also meet with your group if you live in the New York metro area. Email Michaela to submit your request.  


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