Tag Archives: The Great LIbrary Giveaway Spotlights

SPY ON HISTORY Book – Interview with Workman Publishing’s Editor Daniel Nayeri and a Giveaway!

Looking for an innovative way to experience history? Give this new series a try. It is AWESOME! I read the first book and loved it! Not only do you learn, but you get to solve mysteries as you read. Very interactive reading and totally fun. I’m thrilled to be able to introduce this book to you today and also give you a behind-the-scenes interview with the editor  behind this new series!


Mary Bowser and the Civil War Spy Ring introduces an exciting interactive series for middle grade readers Spy on History, where the reader gets to experience history in a whole new way.

Meet Mary Bowser, an African American spy who was able to infiltrate the Confederate leadership at the highest level. Enigma Alberti dramatizes Mary Bowser’s suspenseful story how she pretended to be illiterate, how she masterfully evaded detection, how she used her photographic memory to copy critical documents.

Using spycraft materials included in a sealed envelope inside the book, a canny reader will be able to discover and unravel clues embedded in the text and illustrations, and solve the book’s ultimate mystery: Where did Mary hide her secret diary?



What people are saying about this book:

“A gripping story that offers a window into a pivotal time in U.S. history and puts a face to a little-known figure.” — Publishers Weekly

“Alongside it being a great story, this will rise to the challenge to any curious-minded wannabe spies.” — Black Girl Nerds

“Sometimes, a very special book comes along that allows your mind, and the kids’ minds, to actively exercise and expand while tromping through a story and learning some history. Mary Bowser and the Civil War Spy Ring…is one such book.” — Geek Dad

The cool thing, or maybe I should say, the mysterious thing about this book, is that the author is unknown. This is done on purpose, to add to the intrigue of the book and also well, it’s just cool! So instead of interviewing the author, the editor of this amazing series has agreed to speak with us.

 

Meet Daniel Nayeri, Director of Children’s Books at Workman Publishing, editor, and author.

 

Daniel Nayeri was born in Iran and spent a couple of years as a refugee before immigrating to Oklahoma at age eight with his family. He is the author of How to Tell a Story, and Straw House, Wood House, Brick House, Blow, a collection of four novellas. Daniel is the director of children’s books at Workman Publishing. Before entering children’s publishing, he was a pastry chef.

 

Daniel, thanks for joining us today. We are so excited to learn about this book. Let’s jump right in!

1. How did you come up with this unique format?

Books like THE ELEVENTH HOUR by Graeme Base have always been enthralling to me. Escape Rooms, of course, are extremely popular. We wondered, what if there was a book series where a kid could read about little-known figures in history while also engaging with a larger puzzle? The puzzle could be contextually relevant to the story, using primary texts, and methods contemporary to the narrative. The only thing cooler than reading about Mary Bowser and her incredible spy craft would be employing some of your own to complete your own mission. It just seemed like the kind of book we would have all devoured as kids.

2. Why use an actual nonfiction fact as the focus point for the book?

There are so many unexplored nooks and crannies of history that are full of drama. We couldn’t imagine anything else. The series was always about these moments that read like thriller novels, but have the added import of being true.

3. How do the clues work to solve the mystery (without giving anything away of course)

Once we had the manuscript, our Art Director—Colleen AF Venable—and the illustrator, Tony Cliff, began an incredible process of layering clues and encrypting messages throughout the illustrations. There are several “threads” of clues that can lead a reader to the final solution, which is the codeword you need to decrypt Mary Bowser’s letter at the end of the book. Some of these threads are easy…they’re just a few steps…solve some Morse code here, compare it to a map there, and voila. Some are incredibly hard. My favorite—spoiler alert—is the thread that uses the language of flowers. Early in the book, Mary is told that some flowers means different things, and there is an illustration that gives the reader some examples. One flower, the snapdragon, means deceit. So on all the pages that have snapdragons on them (as border illustrations), all the clues are lies.

4. Was editing this book the same as editing any other book or were there more challenges?

Outside of the usual challenges in editing a nonfiction narrative story, we had lots of added issues with the hidden codes. I had to become fluent in Vigenere ciphers, but Colleen had to become a downright cryptologist by the end. You could say the puzzles were like a third layer of discourse (alongside the text and imagery). We had several vetters going through to make sure the puzzles worked and weren’t too deeply embedded.

5. Why is there a secret cadre of authors writing these books? Is that part of the mystery, too?

Mysteries upon mysteries!
The nature of a secret cadre of authors is that they are like any other cadre of authors: murderous if you give up their secrets. I wish I could tell you everything.

6. Can you tell us about the next book in the series?

This, I can do. The next book is called VICTOR DOWD AND THE WORLD WAR II GHOST ARMY. It follows an amazing unit of soldiers made up of painters, composers, and other artists whose job was to create decoys to fool the Nazis. They painted inflatable tanks to look life-like and trick the German spy planes. There are moments in the story where a tiny group of sound engineers hide in a forest and project the sounds of an entire battalion marching through. If the Nazis only knew, they could have walked right into the forest and captured them.

7. Workman creates such neat and interesting books. Many of them are interactive. Can you tell us why you feel this is a great thing for your readers?

The editorial mandate I have for the group is to make “Art Objects for Great and Terrible Children.” To us, this means a great number of things. First and foremost, it means we take our work seriously enough to call it art. Of course, we’re not too precious about it. We know a good fart joke is an art form to kids. And we call them objects because we care about the “thingness” of books, the format, the interactive possibility of a book that wants to speak, but also wants to listen. In other words, a book that asks for input, a book that wants kids to learn, certainly, but also make and do. Those are all perfectly synchronous behaviors as far as we’re concerned. A book as an act of play is no less a literary endeavor than a book as a lecture. To us, the interaction is even more compelling when trying to inform a child on a nonfiction topic.

8. What future Workman titles should our middle grade readers be aware of?

We have so many exciting titles in the works. Of course, we just launched WHO WINS, which is an interactive book with 100 biographies of historical figures. We’ve also got the third book in our DOODLE ADVENTURES series, which is like a visual Mad Libs where kids draw in parts of the story. One title on the same list as SPY ON HISTORY 2 is a history of archery called THE MOST DANGEROUS BOOK: ARCHERY. It tells the history of archery in war, in battles like Agincourt, and in folklore. It shows bow designs from all over the world, and explains the physics of arrow in flight. The book also turns into an actual bow. It shoots paper ammunition (included in the book) at papercraft hay bales, and a William Tell apple (papercraft targets also included). I can’t wait to see the grown-ups’ faces when that one launches.

Sounds fantastic, Daniel! Thanks so much for joining us today and giving us a behind-the-scenes look at this awesome book.

Since we already offered a giveaway of this amazing book last week, we are offering a different book as a giveaway. Daniel mentioned it above, it is called, Who Wins and is a fantastic book for spurring discussion in the classroom.

Simply enter a comment below for a chance to win.


Jennifer Swanson is a huge nonfiction nerd and loves all things science and history. Throw in a mystery and she is hooked! You can read more about Jennifer at her website  www.JenniferSwansonBooks.com 

 

The Great Library Giveaway Spotlight #7

Thank you to everyone who has donated a book for our giveaway.  If you are interested in participating, there is still time to send books – check here for details.  And if you haven’t nominated a library, please do by entering a comment here.  We are only open for nominations open until October 16th so hurry, hurry, hurry!

Three lucky libraries will be chosen at random on October 20th.  Then you will have a chance to determine library will receive a big stack of books!  Here are ten more titles that will be included in the pile:

Bad Kitty for President by Nick Bruel

The votes are in–it’s a Bad Kitty landslide! It’s time to elect a new president of the Neighborhood Cat Coalition! Who will win the election? The candidate chosen by the kitties on the right side of the street or the candidate chosed by the kitties on the left side of the street? When election time rolls around, one candidate (guess who?) will discover that she never bothered to register to vote and the entire election will be decided by a surprise, last minute absentee ballot sent by Old Kitty.

Feathers by Jacqueline Woodson

“Hope is the thing with feathers” starts the poem Frannie is reading in school. Frannie hasn’t thought much about hope. There are so many other things to think about. Each day, her friend Samantha seems a bit more “holy.” There is a new boy in class everyone is calling the Jesus Boy. And although the new boy looks like a white kid, he says he’s not white. Who is he?

During a winter full of surprises, good and bad, Frannie starts seeing a lot of things in a new light—her brother Sean’s deafness, her mother’s fear, the class bully’s anger, her best friend’s faith and her own desire for “the thing with feathers.”

Imitate the Tiger by Jan Cheripko

Chris Serbo loves to play football. “I’ve played football so many years, it’s instinct to me. . . . I know the rules and I know the chaos. . . . There is nothing more satisfying than hitting someone with all your force. . . . When all else fails, I “know “how to play football.” But Chris Serbo has some problems–and one of them is that he drinks to hide from the other problems. In this powerful story of a high school senior trying to find some hope and meaning in his life, author Jan Cheripko gives us a look at the personal struggles of Chris Serbo as he battles against those trying most to help him: his aunt, his coach, his history teacher, his friends, and even a few enemies.

Louisiana’s Song by Kerry Madden

Livy Two is happy that Daddy is finally out of his coma, but the befuddled man who comes home is not the daddy the Weems family once knew. He forgets their names, he wanders off—he won’t even touch his beloved banjo. Set in Appalachia in 1963, this heartwarming, and heart-wrenching, follow-up to Gentle’s Holler is narrated by the irrepressible Livy Two, and traces the ups and downs of her large mountain family. Shy and awkward 11-year-old Louise (Louisiana) becomes the reluctant hero as she develops a talent for painting, takes care of Daddy, and shows a surprised Livy Two that sometimes the quietest sibling turns out to be the strongest.

Love Puppies and Corner Kicks by R.W. Krech

What?s a girl to do when Mom and Dad announce that the whole family is moving to Scotland for a yearlong teacher exchange? Can you spell d-i-s-a-s-t-e-r? When Andrea gets there, she finds she and her family are living with the principal and she is being pestered by the ultraweird Jasmin. But then she finds an amazing girls? soccer league and a cute boy named Stewart. Will Andrea?s new tough soccer girls accept that she is crushing on a boy from a rival team and not totally devoted to winning a championship? Perfect for fans of Lauren Myracle.

Neversink by Barry Wolverton

Along the Arctic Circle lies a small island called Neversink, whose jagged cliffs and ice-gouged rocks are home to a colony of odd-looking seabirds called auks, including one Lockley J. Puffin. With their oceanfront views and plentiful supply of fish, the auks have few concerns–few, save for Lockley’s two best friends, Egbert and Ruby, a know-it-all walrus and a sharp-tongued hummingbird.

But all of this is about to change. Rozbell, the newly crowned king of the Owl Parliament, is dealing with a famine on the mainland of Tytonia–and he has long had his scheming eyes on the small colony to the north. Now Neversink’s independence hangs in the balance. An insurgence of owls will inevitably destroy life as the auks know it–unless Lockley can do something about it.

Palace Beautiful by Sarah DeFord Williams

When sisters Sadie and Zuzu Brooks move to Salt Lake City, they discover a secret room in the attic of their new house, with a sign that reads ?Palace Beautiful? and containing an old journal. Along with their neighbor, dramatic Belladonna Desolation (real name: Kristin Smith), they take turns reading the story of a girl named Helen living during the flu epidemic of 1918. The journal ends with a tragedy that has a scary parallel to Sadie and Zuzu?s lives, and the girls become obsessed with finding out what happened to Helen after the journal ends. Did she survive the flu? Is she still alive somewhere? Or could her ghost be lurking in the nearby graveyard?

Samantha Hansen Has Rocks in Her Head by Nancy Viau

Ten-year-old Samantha Hansen is a mad scientist. But not the crazy kind—she doesn’t blow stuff up or mix potions or dissect bugs. She just loves science—especially rocks—and figuring out how the world around her works. But there are some things there just isn’t a scientific answer for. Like, why can’t her bossy big sister keep her hands off Sam’s rock collection? And why can’t Sam control her temper? There are some bigger questions, too, like why did her father have to die? And why won’t her mom talk about him anymore?

When Sam’s mom announces a family trip to the Grand Canyon, it’s a dream come true. But it’s also a challenge: If Sam can’t learn to calm down and ignore her irritating sister, she’s going to miss her chance to see one of the world’s biggest rocks and maybe find the answers to some of her questions.

The Crossroads by Chris Grabenstein

Zack, his dad, and new stepmother have just moved back to his father’s hometown, not knowing that their new house has a dark history. Fifty years ago, a crazed killer caused an accident at the nearby crossroads that took 40 innocent lives. He died when his car hit a tree in a fiery crash, and his malevolent spirit has inhabited the tree ever since. During a huge storm, lightning hits the tree, releasing the spirit, who decides his evil spree isn’t over . . . and Zack is directly in his sights.

The Lucky Place by Zu Vincent

Cassie finds her inner strength through experiencing heartbreaking events. “The Lucky Place “begins at a horse racetrack, where Cassie, age three, and her brother Jamie, age five, accompany their father on a drinking and betting spree. As she goes with him to make yet another bet, her hand slips out of his and she loses him. When Cassie has been delivered safely home, Cassie’s mother is angry and Cassie vows never to lose Daddy again. But before long, Mama has had enough of Cassie’s father. She introduces Cassie and Jamie to Ellis. Cassie’s father slowly exits from her life as Ellis enters it, eventually becoming her stepfather. Her father continues to pop in and out of her life unexpectedly, while Ellis provides a stable, loving home. Just when life seems pretty wonderful, Ellis is diagnosed with cancer. He takes the family on a summer-long camping trip where he spends time with Cassie. From early childhood to early adolescence, her experiences with both fathers generate conflict and loss and help Cassie discover that her true lucky place is within herself.

*All summaries are from IndieBound

 

The Great Library Giveaway Spotlight #6

Just one week left to donate books and nominate a library for this year’s Great Library Giveaway!  Thanks to all of you who have already contributed.  Here’s a list of ten more titles that will be gracing the shelves of our lucky winner:

Almost Astronauts: 13 Women Who Dared to Dream
by Tanya Lee Stone
What does it take to be an astronaut? Excellence at flying, courage, intelligence, resistance to stress, top physical shape — any checklist would include these. But when America created NASA in 1958, there was another unspoken rule: you had to be a man. Here is the tale of thirteen women who proved that they were not only as tough as the toughest man but also brave enough to challenge the government. They were blocked by prejudice, jealousy, and the scrawled note of one of the most powerful men in Washington. But even though the Mercury 13 women did not make it into space, they did not lose, for their example empowered young women to take their place in the sky, piloting jets and commanding space capsules. ALMOST ASTRONAUTS is the story of thirteen true pioneers of the space age.

Around the World by Matt Phelan

Phelan’s Around the World, though fiction, is grounded in historical fact and quotes from primary sources, proving an exciting base for history lessons or a path to the exploration of nonfiction. Three famous individuals are presented, each of whom circumnavigated in the world in his or her own way: Thomas Steves by bicycle, Nellie Bly by ship and rail, and Joshua Slocum by sail boat. The pacing and speed of each journey is captured by the graphic novel layout, which combines text, image, maps, and other materials, each adding a layer to the reader’s understanding. Sprightly line drawings and colorful washes capture the emotion and drive of each character, bringing a rush of thrilling speed to each adventure.

 

Breakaway by Andrea Montalbano

Twelve-year-old LJ knows her place in the world is on the soccer field. When she’s out there scoring goals, everything’s right. But lately her competitive spirit has been getting the best of her, and she begins to alienate all her friends. Popular girl Tabitha, who spends most of her time on the bench, would give anything for LJ’s confidence and ability on the soccer field. Meanwhile, LJ secretly admires Tabitha’s world of money and friends. So when it’s LJ on the bench instead of Tabitha, she figures out a few things she never expected, and realizes that sometimes it takes more skill to make others look good instead of yourself.

 

Guys Read: The Sports Pages by John Scieszka

A lineman with something to prove

A vendetta against a baseball legend

The rise of a real-life NHL all-star

The luckiest grapefruit in sports history

Open up “The Sports Pages,” the third volume in the Guys Read Library of Great Reading, and you’re in for all of this and more. From fiction to nonfiction, from baseball to mixed martial arts and everything in between, these are ten stories about the rush of victory and the crush of defeat on and off the field. Compiled by kid-lit all-star Jon Scieszka, “Guys Read: The Sports Pages” is a thrilling collection of brand-new short stories from some of your favorite authors and athletes.

 

Northward to the Moon by Polly Horvath

When Jane’s stepfather gets fired from his job as a French teacher—turns out he doesn’t speak French—Jane feels the warm glow of possibility. Soon, the family is on the road, driving through the night, on the cusp of an adventure that will take them across the continent. Wise, moving, and filled with humor, this Parents’ Choice Gold Award-winning follow-up to the acclaimed My One Hundred Adventures by a National Book Award winner illuminates the strange and complicated ways in which people become families.

 

Small Medium at Large (Joanne Levy)

After she’s hit by lightning at a wedding, twelve-year-old Lilah Bloom develops a new talent: she can hear dead people. Among them, there’s her overopinionated Bubby Dora; a prissy fashion designer; and an approval-seeking clown who livens up a séance. With Bubby Dora leading the way, these and other sweetly imperfect ghosts haunt Lilah through seventh grade, and help her face her one big fear: talking to-and possibly going to the seventh-grade dance with-her crush, Andrew Finkel.

 

Sprinkles and Secrets by Lisa Schroeder

Twelve-year-old Sophie has always dreamed of becoming an actress and being in front of the camera. So when she’s offered an opportunity to audition for a TV commercial spot—and a chance to make her dreams come true—she’s over-the-moon happy. But then she finds out what exactly she’ll be advertising: the scrumptious, ever-popular brownies from Beatrice’s Brownies. And there’s just one problem with Beatrice’s Brownies….the brand is the number one competitor to It’s Raining Cupcakes, the shop owned by her best friend Isabel’s family.

Sophie has a tough choice to make: Follow her dreams or betray her best friend. What’s a girl to do?

 

The Boy Who Dared by Susan Campbell Bartoletti

Bartoletti has taken one episode from her Newbery Honor Book, HITLER YOUTH, and fleshed it out into thought-provoking novel. When 16-year-old Helmut Hubner listens to the BBC news on an illegal short-wave radio, he quickly discovers Germany is lying to the people. But when he tries to expose the truth with leaflets, he’s tried for treason. Sentenced to death and waiting in a jail cell, Helmut’s story emerges in a series of flashbacks that show his growth from a naive child caught up in the patriotism of the times , to a sensitive and mature young man who thinks for himself.

 

The Shocking Truth About Electricity by Jennifer Swanson

What do you call a power failure? A current event! Get it? If you don’t get this joke, you need this book! It’ll teach you everything you need to know about the power that powers your world. The answers might shock you!

 

 

 

Trouble in the Trees by Yolanda Ridge

Eleven-year-old Bree is happiest when she’s climbing the trees at Cedar Grove, her urban townhouse complex. She’s the best climber around, even better than an older boy, Tyler, who drives her crazy with his competitiveness. When Ethan, a younger boy, falls from a tree and hurts his elbow, the neighborhood council bans all tree-climbing in Cedar Grove. If Bree chooses to ignore the bylaw, her family could be kicked out of their home, so she vows to change the rule instead. After giving a presentation to the Neighborhood Council, she realizes this is not a battle she can win on her own, but rallying the Cedar Grove troops is more difficult than she imagined.

*All summaries are from IndieBound