September 15, 2014
 A New Title, Author Note, and Book Giveaway


Dear Readers,     


In this issue of KidsBookClubbing, you'll meet Ned, Áine, Sister Witch, speaking stones, a friendly wolf, and a spoiled young king, in THE WITCH'S BOY, a novel (that's received three starred reviews!) about good and evil, love and hate, magic, and the power of friendship.               

Warm wishes, 


Judy Gelman and Vicki Levy Krupp 



Ages 9 and up / Middle Grade Fiction - Fantasy / Algonquin Young Readers 


Enter for a chance to win a set of The Witch's Boy by Kelly Barnhill for your book club.

Email the author (write "KidsBookclubbing" in the subject line); all entries must be received by 9/22/14.


Dear Readers,   

I started this story in the forest. Not a magical forest or a dangerous forest or even a deadly forest (though, in truth, most forests have a bit of magic hiding in their roots, and all have their share of dangers), but a regular forest on a regular mountain with a regular boy -- my son, Leo. We were hiking our way up to the top of a high ridge and he was tired. So I told him a story.  

And the story grew wild. It traveled every which way -- across the plains and over an ocean. It scaled mountains and followed rivers and even hooked over the edge of the world.  


When I write stories, I don't ever know what is going to happen. They are all for me like deep dark forests -- there are shadows and pitfalls. There are false trails. There are mysterious objects and strange noises and a pair of glowing eyes in the undergrowth. And sometimes there are giants. This is why I like stories. They are dangerous. They can be traveled, but they cannot be tamed. They can be loved, but they cannot always be trusted. They are completely wild.  

I hope you enjoy your next wild adventure. And I hope it inspires you to write wild stories of your own.


Magically yours,


Kelly Barnhill


Book Reviews:


"The classic fantasy elements are all there, richly reimagined, with a vivid setting, a page-turning adventure of a plot, and compelling, timeless themes."

-Kirkus, starred review

"In a story of an unexpected hero, a thief's daughter, and some very tricky magic, Barnhill weaves a powerful narrative . . . [She] elegantly joins the story's diverse threads in a complex tale whose poignancy never turns sentimental."
-Publishers Weekly, starred review 

 "A classic origin-quest tale . . . brimming with a well-drawn, colorful supporting cast, a strong sense of place, and an enchanted forest with a personality to rival some of the best depictions of magical woods."

-School Library Journal, starred review



Discussion questions:      

  1. Ned is always compared to his brother and referred to as "the wrong boy" by everybody around him. Even Áine's mother, who never meets Ned, calls him this on her deathbed. Have you ever felt unfairly compared to another person? Have you ever compared one person to another, perhaps unfairly?
  2. While Áine is a very practical girl, Ned is timid and clumsy. How do their personalities complement one another on their journey? Did you identify with either Áine or Ned as you were reading?
  3. Many characters, such as Sister Witch, the Queen, and the Bandit King, are never called by their actual names. Why do you think Kelly Barnhill chose to name her characters this way? Can you think of people in your life or in other stories who aren't often referred to by their given names?
  4. Consider the pros and cons of Sister Witch's small portion of magic. Would you ever want to possess this kind of magic in your day-to-day life? Why or why not?
  5. Ned's and Áine's parents feature heavily in The Witch's Boy. How are Ned's parents similar to Áine's? How are they different? Where do you see each parent's influences in Ned and Áine's adventure?
  6. Kelly Barnhill used many elements from classic fairy tales in The Witch's Boy, such as beginning with "Once upon a time." What else makes this book similar to a fairy tale? What makes it different? In the end, would you consider The Witch's Boy a fairy tale?

To find out more about Kelly Barnhill and her other books, please visit her website and follow her on Twitter. 


Author Call-In Information: Kelly Barnhill is happy to call in to (or Skype with) your club. She may be able to meet with your group if you live in the Minneapolis area. You can contact her at her website. 

  • A maximum of 10 books is available for each book club giveaway.
  • Contest entries are sent directly to the authors administering each contest.  Our Privacy Policy does not apply to emails sent as contest entries.  You must be 18 years or older to enter the contests.

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