September 15, 2017
 New Titles, Author Notes, Book Giveaways, and More


Dear Readers,    
In this issue of KidsBookClubbing, you'll meet...
...Kamzin as he undertakes a dangerous mountaineering expedition to Mount Taksha in the debut fantasy EVEN THE DARKEST STARS by Heather Fawcett.

...Norah, who's returned to seventh grade after two years of cancer treatment, and see how she manages friendships and more in the funny and heartbreaking HALFWAY NORMAL by Barbara Dee.

...and 8th graders Becca Birnbaum and "Selfie" St. Clair, "two characters, who would normally never even speak to each other" in Holly Kowitt's hilarious THE PRINCIPAL'S UNDERWEAR IS MISSING. 

Judy Gelman and Vicki Levy Krupp
Ages 12 & up / YA Fantasy / HarperCollins/Balzer+Bray

Win a copy of EVEN THE DARKEST STARS by Heather Fawcett for your book club.  Enter to win by emailing the author (write "KidsBookclubbing" in the subject line).

Dear Reader,

If you enjoy the atmospheric and romantic fantasy epics of Leigh Bardugo and Sarah J. Maas, EVEN THE DARKEST STARS may be the book for you.

Set against a backdrop of snowy mountains and dangerous glaciers, the story follows Kamzin, an aspiring explorer and mountaineer selected by the most famous explorer in the Empire, to lead his expedition to the deadly Mount Raksha.

xx Heather 

Book reviews:
"There are glimmerings of a love triangle here, but the focus remains squarely on Kamzin's brutal trek through the icy mountains, a fascinating fantastical twist on early expeditions to Mount Everest. Add in a detailed, well-realized setting, an unsettling villain that lingers just off the page, and buckets of danger to result in an utterly inventive and wholly original debut."
-Booklist (starred review)

"With a dash of romantic entanglement, a rich original mythology, and a sizzler of a twist at the end, this duology opener will appeal to fans of femalecentric fantasy by such authors as Leigh Bardugo and Sarah Maas."
-Kirkus Reviews

"Brilliantly rendering aspects of mountaineering, debut novelist Fawcett makes readers feel the constant danger and bitter cold. Readers will want to grab their chuba, or cloak, as they consult Mingma's famous map and nibble on yak cheese.... Fawcett effectively fuses magical elements with a realistic and deadly journey....Readers will connect easily with Kamzin's determination to be an explorer and eagerly await a sequel."
-Amy Cummins, Voice of Youth Advocates

"Fawcett brings snow-capped mountains--and their baleful secrets--alive in this magical, atmospheric debut."
-Evelyn Skye, NYT-bestselling author of THE CROWN'S GAME

"A deeply satisfying feast for fantasy-lovers. It has dragons, witches and ghosts as you've never seen them before, magic and thrills aplenty, and characters that you will gladly follow to the ends of the earth -- or to the summit of the tallest mountain in the world. I fell in love with this book from the earliest pages and have left the gnawed off pieces of my heart scattered across the Aryas."
-Catherine Egan, author of JULIA VANISHES and JULIA DEFIANT

"A lush adventure filled with magic, myth, and monsters. EVEN THE DARKEST STARS will sweep you off your feet, steal your heart somewhere between the mountains and sky, and leave you breathless." -Sarah Glenn Marsh, author of FEAR THE DROWNING DEEP and REIGN OF THE FALLEN

Discussion questions:

1.    Who did you relate to more: Kamzin or Lusha? 
2.    Who did you think the villain of the story is? 
3.    What did you think of the setting? Did you see the setting as a character in the story?

To keep up with Heather, follow her on Twitter, Instagram, or Facebook

Author call-in information:  Heather Fawcett is happy to call-in to or Skype with your club.  She may also be able to meet with your group if you live in the Pacific Northwest. Email the author to submit your request.
Ages 9-13 / Middle Grade Fiction / Aladdin/Simon & Schuster 
Win a copy of HALFWAY NORMAL by Barbara Dee for your book club.  Enter to win by emailing the author (write "KidsBookclubbing" in the subject line).

Dear Reader,

Delighted to share Kirkus's starred review of my new middle grade novel, HALFWAY NORMAL: "A powerful story not only about illness, but about accepting yourself for who you are -- no matter the experiences that shaped you." Just heard it's a Junior Library Guild pick, too!

As the mom of a cancer patient, I passionately believe kids need stories about resilience, both to build character and to develop empathy. HALFWAY NORMAL is about strong, smart Norah, back in seventh grade after two years of cancer treatment. How much should she tell classmates? How much will they understand? Will the study of Greek myths help explain some complex emotions? And how can she move forward with a whole new "normal"?

Jordan Sonnenblick (DRUMS, GIRLS and DANGEROUS PIE) calls HALFWAY NORMAL "a remarkable novel...lovely, heartbreaking, warm, funny, and ultimately hopeful."

Can't wait for you to read this book, so close to my heart!

Barbara Dee

Book reviews:

"The moment that really sings is when Norah realizes that there are some life experiences that change you forever, and that's not always a bad thing. Dee, whose acknowledgments hint at family experience with childhood cancer, does an exceptional job accurately depicting Norah's struggles in a way that is translatable to those with varied understanding of illness. A powerful story not only about illness, but about accepting yourself for who you are -- no matter the experiences that shaped you."
-Kirkus Reviews, Starred review

"In writing this remarkable novel, Barbara Dee has performed an amazing feat. She has traveled to places you hope you will never have to go and then drawn a lovely, heartbreaking, warm, funny, and ultimately hopeful map of the way home."
-Jordan Sonnenblick, author of DRUMS, GIRLS AND DANGEROUS PIE

"Barbara Dee has an unfailing sense of the dynamics of middle school social life. Spot-on portrayals of friends and family relationships frame a powerful main character who's determined to find her way back. HALFWAY NORMAL has a brave, kind heart -- as tender and triumphant as the main character herself."
-Karen Romano Young, author of HUNDRED PERCENT 
Discussion questions:
1.  If you were in Norah's place, do you think you'd act the same way with friends and classmates? How much would you share with them? How much would you keep private?
2.  What do you think about Norah's parents? If Norah hadn't become sick, do you think their relationship would be different? How?
3.  Many people try to help Norah. Whose help is helpful? Whose isn't? What sort of help would you want if you were in Norah's shoes?
4.  Norah is confused about her reaction to the bake sale. Why do you think she reacts the way she does? Do you think you'd have the same reaction?
5.  Norah identifies with Persephone. Is there a mythological character you identify with? Why?  

To hear the latest about HALFWAY NORMAL and upcoming titles, visit the author's website and follow her on Twitter.

Author call-in information: Barbara Dee is available to email, call-in or Skype with your book club. She can also meet in person with clubs in the New York City/Westchester area. Please email the author to submit your request. 

Ages 8-12 / Middle Grade Fiction / Macmillan Publishers

Win a copy of THE PRINCIPAL'S UNDERWEAR IS MISSING by Holly Kowitt for your book club. Enter by emailing the author (write "Kidsbookclubbing" in the subject line).
Dear Reader,

I was once a 6th grade nobody like Becca Birnbaum.

Eighth grade glamour queens like "Selfie" St. Claire ruled my school.  So I knew how terrified Becca would be if she accidentally hit the Queen Bee with a volleyball, and broke her arm. 

Like Becca, I'd have done anything to make it up to her. And maybe I, too, would have mistakenly grabbed the wrong bag from the principal's office -- one containing a very personal item.

I imagined how these two characters, who would normally never even speak to each other, might end up (a) friends, and (b) in the biggest trouble of their lives.

In this book, I've tried to combine cartoons, jokes, and a detective story.

I hope you enjoy it,


Book reviews:

"I literally laughed out loud...a hilarious romp of a tale."
-Book Review Becca (5 stars)

"I couldn't put it down!"
-Don't Judge, Read  
"In this amusing read with its Wimpy Kid-like line drawings, kids learn it's OK to associate with
someone who's different -- you might even have fun!"
- School Library Journal 

"Along with an arresting title and laughs aplenty, this caper features two middle-schoolers who aren't
quite as typecast as they seem."

"I loved this unique and funny tale...engaging, captivating and amusing, strongly recommend. I can't wait to read more from the author."
Discussion questions:  
1. Is meeting Selfie the worst thing that ever happens to Becca, or the best thing?
2. Do you think they'll be friends a year from now? Why, or why not?
3. Is Dr. Valentine a good principal?
4. Have you ever had a friend that your other friends didn't like? How did you handle it?
5. What is your favorite illustration in the book?  Could that illustration be put into words instead? What would be gained or lost?
6. At school, Selfie is known as a supercool Queen Bee. Becca is known as a shy bookworm. How are they different than those labels?

To learn more about THE PRINCIPAL'S UNDERWEAR IS MISSING and Holly Kowitt, visit her website.

Author call-in information: Holly is available to meet with your club via Skype or phone. Email Holly or call her at at 917-723-1045. 
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