July 15, 2016
 New Titles, Author Notes, Book Giveaways, and More



Dear Readers,    
In this issue of KidsBookClubbing, you'll meet
...Graham as he navigates everday teenage situations in the laugh-out-loud novel named a Publisher's Weekly Best Books Selection, THE GEEK'S GUIDE TO UNREQUITED LOVE by Sarvenaz Tash, and 
...Serafina, the heroine who mixed mystery and history in Robert Beatty's New York Times bestselling debut from last summer, and who returns in SERAFINA AND THE TWISTED STAFF.

Happy Summer!

Judy Gelman and Vicki Levy Krupp

Ages 13 and up / YA Contemporary Fiction / Simon & Schuster BFYR
Win a set of THE GEEK'S GUIDE TO UNREQUITED LOVE by Sarvenaz Tash for your book club. Enter to win by emailing the author (write "KidsBookclubbing" in the subject line).
Dear Reader,
So I took my abiding love of John Hughes films, and my extreme nerdiness, and out came this book pitched as Pretty in Pink goes to Comic Con, far and away the most fun I've had writing anything.
From the moment I had the spark of this idea, my main character Graham's voice was in my head. He was nerdy and charming and funny and getting him to tell me all about his newfound feelings for his best friend, Roxy, was delightful -- and, at times, painful.

Writing this really made me think about what makes John Hughes's films -- movies like Pretty in Pink, Sixteen Candles, The Breakfast Club, and Ferris Bueller's Day Off -- timeless. Ultimately, I think it's the heartfelt characters and the hilarity that stems from universal, everyday teenage situations: falling in love, feeling uncool, getting detention...
This book also let me consider all of the wonderful aspects of fandom, of being immersed in fictional worlds and stories. So much of it is about understanding yourself and the real world through these other universes. And so much of it is about passion and creativity. I can't imagine two better emotions to be fueled by.
So that's where Graham's story fits in. I wanted it to be laugh-out-loud funny, but also thoughtful. Most of all, I wanted it to ring true. Because Graham felt utterly real to me and I felt I owed it to him to make you hear his voice too.
I really loved writing this book. I hope you love reading it.
Sarvenaz Tash
Book reviews:
Best Books of the Month Pick - Amazon.com
"As Tash introduces a cast of charming, goofy, and diverse characters, she uses the hopeful voice of a young man in the throes of first love to gently poke fun at fandom while celebrating the passion and camaraderie of the community."
- Publishers Weekly, *Starred Review*, Best Summer Books 2016 Selection
"Captures the joyous spirit of Comic Con and fantasy's ability to provide its devotees with a community through which to contextualize their joys and sorrows. A lighthearted and engaging romp for anyone who loves Spidey and Mary Jane's upside-down kiss in the rain."
Kirkus Reviews
"With the exacting eye of an anthropologist and the generous heart of a true geek, Sarvenaz Tash has crafted something very special with The Geek's Guide to Unrequited Love. Hilariously funny, heart-wrenchingly true and tender, this is a book of super-heroic achievement."
- Scott Snyder, New York Times bestselling author of Batman, American Vampire and Wytches
"Tash mixes just the right number of pop-culture references into her familiar teen love story, utilizing the Comic Con setting to truly set the novel apart...Tash's lighthearted romance [is] easy to get swept up in."
- Booklist
"The Geek's Guide to Unrequited Love promises romantic misadventures and pop culture references but delivers so much more. Never have I fallen in love with a group of characters so quickly. Funny, fast-paced, and full of heart, this is the kind of book you'll read in one sitting, and then be a little sad that it's over."
- Paula Stokes, author of The Art of Lainey and Girl Against the Universe
"Geeky Perfection...a sweet, hilarious, and totally epic ride about friendship, fandom, Comic Cons, self-discovery, and of course, dealing with unrequited love."
- YA Books Central
"Tash writes another bright, addictive story set against a rich, lived-in backdrop."
- Barnes & Noble Teen Blog
Discussion questions:
  1. Most of this story unfolds in almost real-time over three days at Comic Con. How does the short time frame affect the stakes of the story? How does the setting affect it?
  2. In a setting that is filled with costumes, a lot of the story also revolves around people not being exactly who they appear at first. Can you think of a character from whom you expected one thing but who then surprised you?
  3. There is one scene where Graham eats dinner at Roxy's house with her family. What is the main function of this scene as it relates to the narrative? How does it help us further know the main characters and their relationships?
  4. Graham points out that a lot of the people he sees at Comic Con -- dressed as wizards and superheroes and the like -- want to be immersed in a story instead of the chaos of real life. What do you think the appeal of fiction and storytelling is that has made it endure -- in so many forms, from cave drawings to books to movies to virtual reality -- for humankind as a whole? What is its appeal to you?
  5. From the snippets that you get from The Chronicles of Althena, what do you think its appeal is for its fandom?
  6. One of Graham's tenets as a writer is that endings should be "inevitable but unpredictable." What do you think about that writing advice in general? What do you think about it as it applies to this book? Did the ending feel that way to you?
For more information and to keep up with the latest news and books from the author, follow her on social media @SarvenazTash or visit her website.
Author call-in information: Sarvenaz Tash is available to call-in or Skype with your book club. To submit your request for a meeting, contact the author.   

Ages 9 and up / Middle Grade Fiction / Disney/Hyperion
Win a set of SERAFINA AND THE TWISTED STAFF for your book club. Enter to win by emailing author Robert Beatty (write "Kidsbookclubbing" in the subject line).
Dear Reader,
Looking for the next page turner for your kids? The bestselling heroine who mixes mystery and history is back.  When I started, my goal was to write a story for my daughters about an unusual but heroic young girl who forges a lasting friendship with a boy very different from herself. It was a dream come true when Disney/Hyperion -- thanks to your help -- asked me to continue Serafina's and Braeden's story from the bestselling SERAFINA AND THE BLACK CLOAK with two more books.
Serafina's defeat of the Man in the Black Cloak in the first book has now brought her into the daylight realm of the Biltmore Estate; yet every night she visits her mother in the forest and finds herself caught between two worlds.
There Serafina encounters a strange and terrifying power and is attacked by the vicious wolfhounds that seem to be under his control. Plus, she's convinced the stranger has sent his accomplice into Biltmore in disguise because someone is wreaking havoc at the estate. A mysterious series of attacks tests Serafina's role as Biltmore's protector, culminating in a tragedy that tears her best friend and ally, Braeden Vanderbilt, from her side.
All the humans and creatures of the Blue Ridge Mountains are in terrible danger. For Serafina to defeat this evil before it engulfs her home, she must search deep inside herself and embrace the destiny that has always awaited her.
Will she?
Robert Beatty

SERAFINA AND THE BLACK CLOAK, the first book in the series, spent over 20 weeks on the New York Times Bestseller List; was a Publishers Weekly, USA TODAY, Barnes & Noble, Independent Booksellers and Amazon Bestseller; was selected as an Okra Pick for representing "the best in Southern Literature" by the Southern Independent Booksellers Association; was a Finalist for the 2016 SIBA Pat Conroy Book Prize; and was named the #1 Middle Grade Novel of 2015 on Goodreads.com.
"Even better than its predecessor, a sequel that delivers nonstop thrills from beginning to end." 
 -Kirkus Reviews, Starred Review
"A story about growing up and really coming into one's power as an individual....I highly recommend both books."
- Geekdad
Discussion questions:
  1. Serafina is faced with an important decision about what path she's going to take in her life. What are her options and which one (or ones) does she choose?
  2. What is the difference in the way Rowena views animals and the way Braeden views animals?
  3. What are the various reasons that compelled Serafina to run away from Biltmore in the middle of the book? And what are the various reasons that compelled her to come back?
  4. What role does Essie play in Serafina's life?
  5. What interesting perspective does Mr. Olmsted add to Serafina's life?
  6. Does Mr. Vanderbilt like and trust Serafina in the story? Or does he mistrust her? What is your evidence, either way?
To keep up with author Robert Beatty and learn news about SERAFINA AND THE TWISTED STAFF and SERAFINA AND THE BLACK CLOAK (now out in paperback!) and to check out the book trailer, visit the author's website, like him on Facebook and follow him on Twitter
Author call-in information: Robert Beatty is available to call-in or Skype with your book club or meet with your group in person if you live in the Asheville, North Carolina area. To arrange a meeting, contact Robert Beatty to submit your request.

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