Win a copy of WILLA OF THE WOOD, a mix of mystery, history and magic adventure by Robert Beatty for your book club. Enter to win by emailing his publicist
(write "KidsBookclubbing" in the subject line).
As I wrote the first three books of the Serafina series, I found myself honing in on what I most love to write. My fourth novel, WILLA OF THE WOOD
, takes place in the Great Smoky Mountains and springs from my lifelong love of forests and the wildlife they contain. My daughter Camille and I conceived many of the concepts, themes, and details of the book while exploring the tumbling rivers and hidden dells of the Smokies.
The reader experiences the story from the point-of-view of a 12-year-old girl with the ancient powers of the forest within her. Willa sees the newcomers to her realm as evil intruders. She encounters white pioneer homesteaders building their log cabins, Cherokee struggling to survive, railroaders blasting the river gorges, and industrial loggers slashing down the trees. An orphan, and one of the last of her kind, Willa must find a home in a drastically changing world.
Like the Serafina books, WILLA OF THE WOOD is filled with history, mystery and magic. I hope you enjoy meeting Willa in her first adventure.
Robert Beatty is the author of the #1 New York Times best-selling Serafina series published by Disney Hyperion, a spooky mystery-thriller about a brave and unusual girl who lives secretly in the basement of the grand Biltmore Estate. All three books in the series hit the New York Times bestseller list, received starred reviews, and are enjoyed by both young readers and adults. The Serafina books are being taught in over a thousand classrooms nationwide. Robert Beatty lives in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Asheville, North Carolina with his wife and three daughters, who help create and refine his stories. If you're a Serafina fan - or just new to Robert's work - get ready for Willa!
1. In the story, Willa refers to "the one act of kindness." What is she referring to and what was its importance in her life?
2. One of the central ideas in the story is individualism vs. collectivism. Willa belonged to a strong collective (her clan) but also had a strong sense of her own identity. What were some of the incidents, and in particular the main catalyzing event, that caused her to prioritize her own identity over that of her clan? In other words, what caused her to believe that she shouldn't just be obedient to her clan, but strive to be
than her clan?
3. The importance of our connection to the natural environment is one of the main themes of the story. How did Willa, Nathaniel, and the industrial loggers view and use the natural environment in three different ways?
4. Throughout this story, what did Willa want most? What was she most looking for in her life?
5. All her life, Willa had been trained to be a jaetter, a night-thief. But she created her own "rule of halves." What was it and what did this rule say to you about her?
Food pairings from the author:
Enjoy these regional foods with your book club as you discuss WILLA OF THE WOOD:
- Any traditional cookies (which Willa calls "lumps" because she doesn't know their name)
- Sweet corn succotash
- Honey (from honey bees in Nathaniel's hives)
- Relish of mashed up squash, apples, and honey
Win a copy of SOCIAL INTERCOURSE, the hilarious YA debut by Greg Howard for your book club. Enter to win by emailing the author
(write "KidsBookclubbing" in the subject line).
Where (and when) I grew up, coming out as anything other than one hundred percent heterosexual wasn't really an option unless you wanted to be ostracized or bullied. So, with my debut YA novel, SOCIAL INTERCOURSE, I wanted to revisit my hometown of Florence, South Carolina in the present day and explore what it might be like there now for an out and proud gay, self-proclaimed "femmy choir boy", and also for a closeted, popular jock who is bisexual.
When Beck's emotionally fragile dad starts dating the recently single (and supposedly lesbian) mom of former bully, Jaxon Parker, Beck is not having it. Jax isn't happy about the situation either, holding out hope that his moms will reunite and restore the only stable home he's ever known. Putting aside past differences, the boys plot to derail the budding romance between their parents at their conservative hometown's first-ever Rainbow Prom. Hearts will be broken, new romance will bloom, but nothing will go down the way Beck and Jax have planned.
If you're a fan of books like Simon vs. The Homo Sapiens Agenda, Will Grayson/Will Grayson, The Perks of Being a Wallflower, or just in the mood for a gut-busting good time, this is the book for you!
"Fans of Becky Albertalli's Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda who are looking for something more mature will gravitate toward this story of unrequited first love."
-School Library Journal
"The language is raunchy, the innuendo is frequent, and the energy is irrepressible. Hand this debut to readers tired of problem novels who are looking for a hilarious romp."
"A funny and satisfying love story while challenging simplistic preconceptions that people are either gay or straight or that the Bible Belt plus football equals a homophobic community."
In the book, even though Beckett embraces being gay and rises above the teasing and bullying, deep down, he's just as vulnerable as anyone when faced with hate. What was/is it like for students who come out as LGBTQ in your high school?
Religious bigotry is a big problem in Beck's hometown, especially because one church really drives their anti-LGBTQ message in very public ways. How has religion shaped the public conversation LGBTQ rights and equality, good or bad?
Even though Beck is completely comfortable with who he is and expects people to accept him as such, he's not really sympathetic through Jax's struggles with his sexual orientation. Do you ever feel less tolerant of other peoples' journeys when it's not the same as yours?
Both Beck and Jax are very fortunate to have supportive, understand parents. This is not always the case with teens coming to terms with their sexual orientation if they're not heterosexual. What kind of impact do you think parents and/or family has on a teen's decision to come out?
What would your drag queen name be?
Drink pairing from the author:
Make a gallon pitcher of iced tea and go "full Beckett" by adding two cups of sugar.
Author call-in information
: Greg Howard is available for phone or Skype calls with your club, and author visits. Email the author to submit your request.
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