July 1, 2013

  Kids' Authors Share Their Stories

Fabulous Book Giveaways for Your Club

Flame in the Mist          The After Girls     Playing Tyler



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


- Jemma and her magical golden rats (yes, rats!) as she connects with her powers in THE FLAME IN THE MIST


- Ella and Sydney as they work to understand their best friend's suicide in THE AFTER GIRLS


- Tyler MacCandless, who's obsessed with video games and begins to wonder if a game can be more than a game, in PLAYING TYLER


Warm wishes,


Judy Gelman and Vicki Levy Krupp

Ages 9-13 (middle grade) / Middle-grade Fantasy / Delacorte Press


Win a set of THE FLAME IN THE MIST by Kit Grindstaff for your book club.  Enter to win by emailing the author (write "KidsBookclubbing" in the subject line).

Flame in the Mist Dear Reader,

I've been a songwriter for years, and was dying to switch gears and write children's books. Two series in particular inspired me to get going: Harry Potter, and The Golden Compass. Their magical worlds captivated me -- and both are set in England, where I'm from. So I decided my book would be, too.

The setup for The Flame in the Mist leapt onto the page all at once: 13-year-old girl...captive in remote castle...surrounded by sinister Mist...kidnapped as a baby because she has powers her kidnappers want to steal...I was hooked! I just had to write the rest. Kit Grindstaff

From the start, I loved Jemma and her magical golden rats, Noodle and Pie. And Marsh, Digby, Drudge...I'm thrilled that readers seem to love them too (especially the rats). All the characters were fun to create, even the Agromonds, Jemma's evil abductors.
Jemma's an ordinary girl in many ways, though she has special powers and a Destiny she's initially unaware of. To overcome the Agromonds and the Mist, she must escape from the castle, discover her true identity, and connect with her powers. I hope her story will inspire you -- and give you a fun, fantastical, adventurous read!

Kit Grindstaff
Book reviews:

"Richly atmospheric, this first novel paints a vivid picture of a heroine strong in her convictions and determination in the face of a centuries-old adversarial power."

"This is a book any middle grade reader can fall in to...and any adult with a love for fantasy."
-Demitria Lunetta, author of In the After

Discussion questions:

1.  In Jemma's time, there was no electricity and no running water coming into people's homes. How did they get heat and light? What other modern amenities did they not have? How would it feel to you to live without those things?

2.  Name a few secrets the Agromonds kept from Jemma. Why did they do this? What other secrets does Jemma discover throughout the book? Which one do you think affects her the most, and why?

3.  Jemma has a lot of friends and allies: Name a few -- human, and non-human. In what ways do each of them show their loyalty to her and her mission? If you could be one of them, which would you be, and why?

For more about THE FLAME IN THE MIST, to read an excerpt and see the trailer-and also to keep up with Kit via Facebook, Twitter, or her blog, please visit the author's website.

AUTHOR CALL-IN INFORMATION:  Kit Grindstaff is happy to call-in to or Skype with your club.  She can also meet with your group if you live between Northeast Philadelphia, Pennsylavia and Flemington, New Jersey. Email Kit to submit your request.


Ages 12 and up / Young Adult Contemporary / Merit Press

Win a set of THE AFTER GIRLS by Leah Konen for your book club.  Enter to win by emailing the author (write "KidsBookclubbing" in the subject line).

Dear Reader, The After Girls

I had no idea how much THE AFTER GIRLS would mean to me when I began writing. It started as a story of friendship, loss-and haunting love-as I followed teens Ella and Sydney as they tried to understand their best friend, Astrid's, mysterious suicide. Lean Konen

I was halfway through when I learned a college friend had passed away at just 26. I spent the weekend of her funeral crying, laughing and getting sunburned on the beach as we mourned her, and celebrated her. Loss became more real to me than ever before, but in a weird way, so did friendship, love-and even hope. I knew THE AFTER GIRLS had to be true to that, and I think you'll enjoy reading it as much as I enjoyed writing it.

Happy reading,

Leah Konen

Book reviews:

"A sensitive look at the wake of a friend's suicide, infused with genuine emotion, hope, and just enough well-placed romance."

"The Writing King of Difficult Subjects has to be John Green. After reading The After Girls, I would definitely put Ms. Konen in his court."
-Ink and Page

"A striking debut and an eerily good book... THE AFTER GIRLS is a vivid portrayal of interrupted lives and enduring friendships. It is as much about the known as the unknown and as much about healing as loss."
-Michael Northrop, author of TRAPPED and GENTLEMEN

Discussion questions:

1. How do Ella and Sydney grieve for Astrid differently? Is one way better or healthier than the other? Is there a right way to grieve for a friend or loved one? Do you relate to the way Ella or Sydney grieves more?

2. Music plays a large role in THE AFTER GIRLS, through Sydney's band and Ella's interactions with Jake. How do Sydney and Ella use music to cope with Astrid's death? How does it affect their relationships with the other characters and each other? 

3. Much of THE AFTER GIRLS is filled with messages, texts and calls that are seemingly from Astrid. After reading the ending, what do you make of these messages? Do you think there is one right way to interpret the end of the book, or has Leah Konen left room for debate?

4. THE AFTER GIRLS is filled with lots of romantic entanglements: Ella and Ben, Ella and Jake, Sydney and Max, and Sydney and Carter. Which relationship or couple do you relate to most? Which is the healthiest? The most destructive? The most romantic? Do any mirror the kind of relationship you'd like to have yourself?

5. A story about suicide is undeniably sad and tragic. What did you find uplifting or positive about the book? How did it leave you feeling after finishing it? Hopeful? Distressed? A little bit of both?


Visit the author's website to read a snippet of THE AFTER GIRLS, check out the book trailer and read her blog. You can also keep up with her on Facebook, Twitter, and Tumblr.

AUTHOR CALL-IN INFORMATION: Leah Konen is happy to call-in, Skype or Google Hangout with your book club.  She can also meet with your group in-person if you live in Northern California. Email Leah to submit your request.



Block3Ages 12 and up / YA Fiction / Strange Chemistry Books

Win a set of PLAYING TYLER by T L Costa for your book club.  Enter to win by emailing the author (write "KidsBookclubbing" in the subject line).

Playing Tyler Dear Reader,


I love video games.  I could have had the worst day ever but once I pick up a controller, I become a god, an assassin, a rock star. 


But what if the game was more than just a game?


Tyler MacCandless is a kid everyone writes off: he's got ADHD, his brother's addicted to heroin and the only thing he really likes to do is TL Costa play video games.  Watching his own chances at college slowly slipping away, he jumps on the opportunity to beta-test a drone piloting game to try his hand at winning a spot in a new flight school.  But things about the game seem a little too real. He teams up with the game's designer to figure out what's really going on, questioning everything he knows about morality, family and fighting for first love in a world at war.


T L Costa

Book reviews:

"Costa updates War Games for the 21st century, asking teens to consider the ethics of private contractors, drone warfare, and collateral damage."
 -Publisher's Weekly

"A must-read for anyone who loves conspiracy theories, action with a side of romance, or voice and character-driven contemporary YA."
-A.G. Howard, author of SPLINTERED

"Katniss Everdeen, Harry Potter, Ponyboy Curtis...add another name to the list of unforgettable teenage heroes: Tyler MacCandless. Ty will break your heart and make your cheer on this fast and furious thrill-ride."
-Kristan Higgins, New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of The Best Man

Discussion questions:

1.  Tyler has ADHD, but he can't take his medication because his brother steals it.  Would things have been different if Tyler had been able to take his medications?  To what extent does having a "label" affect his life? Does it change how other kids see him?

2.  Ani is a strong young woman trying to find her way in a world traditionally dominated by men.  How does that shape your opinion of her?  How does it shape her opinion of herself?  Do you think things will be different for her once she graduates?

3.  During the course of the book, Tyler and Ani have to stand up to authority figures for they feel is right.  How would the story have been different if they weren't willing to fight?  What would you have done?

4.  Do you see drones as a permanent part of our future?  How so?

To learn more about the author and the book, visit her website and follow T L Costa on Twitter and Facebook.

AUTHOR CALL-IN INFORMATION: T L Costa is happy to call-in to or Skype with your club.  Email the author to submit your request.

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