Tag Archives: The Great Library Giveaway

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 

 

Vote For the Great Library Giveaway of 2012

Many of the books donated for our Great Library Giveaway of 2012.  Photo Copyright Laurie Schneider 2012. All rights reserved.

We’ve enjoyed reading the 196 nominations that came in for our Great Library Giveaway.  We wish we could supply each library with a stack of books, but since we can’t, we are grateful to our readers for helping us choose who should receive our middle-grade collection.

And today is the day you can help.  Today you can vote for which library you think needs these books the most.  But first, we’d like to introduce the finalists, chosen at random by our random generator, and share a little about each school with you.  Here they are in random order.

Nipomo Elementary School Library in Nipomo, California!

Photo property of Cathe Olson and Nipomo Elementary School. Used by permission.

Cathe Olson nominated this library.  Also the school librarian, she says of the school:

“Nipomo Elementary School is made up of almost 500 kindergarten through sixth grade students, many are low income or English learners, but all are bright, talented, and wonderful kids. Because of school budget cuts, we are not getting any funds to purchase library materials. Many of our books are old and falling apart.

“Our students love the library and love books. We need new books that will appeal to the kids and help them become lifelong readers. Reading is essential for students to be successful in school and in life. The library is where they can find that one book that will turn them on to books and help them to become lifelong readers. ”

Discovery Middle School Library in Granger, Indiana!

Photo property of Discovery Middle School. Used by permission.

This library was nominated by The Brain Lair, who is also the school’s librarian.  She says:

“Why should Discovery Middle School receive 100 middle grade books? Because we. LOVE. TO. READ! Every Friday morning we stop everything for Friday Reads. Each person; student or staff reads for 30 minutes and then spend time talking about and sharing our reads.  We also have Book Talk Tuesday – where in I entice the students with book talks on our morning news show. We also do One Book, One School – last year we read the Hunger Games then over 100 students participated in our Battle of the Book! We even had weekly trivia game shows!! We can’t get enough of reading! So, what do we need at our school? More BOOKS! Please help us get them so we can keep doing what we love!”

Gateway College Preparatory School Library in Georgetown, Texas!

Photo property of Gateway College Prep. Used by permission.

This library was nominated by a parent, Shelly.  We talked with the school’s librarian, Kara Angell, and she had this to say:

“Gateway College Preparatory is a K-12 charter school in central Texas. Although Gateway College Prep is in its fourth year of existence, the library has only been operational since February of this year. Our collection consists of donated resources, many of which were gently used and several years old when given to the school. Although these books are loved by our 820 students, they are beginning to fall apart from overuse.

“The children at Gateway are avid readers. The parents and teachers do a fantastic job of instilling a love of reading in these students. Our goal as a library program is to nurture that passion by expanding our current collection and providing them with as many opportunities as possible to make a connection to story or a character. Through this contest, our students will have the opportunity to get their hands on brand new books- something many of them have not done before while visiting the school library. One hundred books may not seem like a lot to some of the bigger, public school libraries but at Gateway it would mean the world. I can only imagine how excited the students would be to know that new books were coming, and all because people took their time to vote for the little charter school out in the cornfields. :-)”

 

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Now it’s your turn to decide. You can find the poll at the top of our left sidebar.  If you have trouble voting, please send us an email at librarygiveaway at fromthemixedupfiles dot com and we’ll manually add your vote to the tally. Please feel free to leave comments as well, but these will not be counted in the official tally.  For the official list of rules, please view our Great Library Giveaway FAQ. Polls close at 11:59pm on October 30, 2012.

 

Good luck to all three finalists, and our voters as well!

The Great Library Giveaway Nominations Due Today (and Spotlight #8)!

The nomination period for our Great Library Giveaway ends tonight at 11:59pm Pacific.  If you haven’t nominated a library yet, please do so before the deadline.  For more information about our Great Library Giveaway and how to nominate a library, please click here and follow the instructions.  We will announce our three finalists and open our voting period on Saturday, October 20th.

During the last few weeks, we’ve been spotlighting the titles in our collection, and today is no exception.  Thanks to all the authors, publishers, readers, and our own Mixed-Up contributors who have donated books for this giveaway.  We are only six books short of our 100-book goal, so if you have a title you would like to donate, please do!  More information on our donation process can be found on our Great Library Donations page.

Here are ten more titles that have been donated for this giveaway.  All descriptions are by Indiebound unless otherwise noted:

Deadwood by Kell Andrews

Description from Goodreads: There’s something evil in Deadwood Park.

Twelve-year-old Army brat Martin Cruz hates his rotten new town. Then he gets a message from a tree telling him it’s cursed — and so is he. It’s not just any tree. It’s the Spirit Tree, the ancient beech the high school football team carves to commemorate the home opener. And every year they lose.

But the curse is no game, and it gets worse. Businesses fail. Trees topple like dominos. Sinkholes open up in the streets, swallowing cars and buildings. Even people begin to fade, drained of life.

Martin teams up with know-it-all soccer star Hannah Vaughan. Together they must heal the tree, or be stuck in Deadwood Park at the mercy of the psycho who cursed it.

Double Vision by F.T. Bradley

Description from www.doublevisionbooks.com: One’s a secret agent, one’s not.

Twelve year-old Linc is a troublemaker with a dilemma. His antics on a recent field trip went way overboard, landing his already poor family with a serious lawsuit. So when two secret agents show up at his house, Linc is eager to take them up on their offer to make the lawsuit disappear. They just need one tiny favor…

Turns out Linc looks just like one of their top kid agents–an agent who’s gone missing during a vitally important mission. But no briefing can prepare Linc for how dangerous the mission really is. It’s too bad he isn’t a black belt, a math genius, or a distance runner like his agent double. He’ll need all those skills and more if he hopes to make it out of this mission alive…

The Farwalker’s Quest by Joni Sensel

Description: Ariel has always been curious, but when she and her best friend Zeke stumble upon a mysterious old telling dart she feels an unexplained pull toward the dart, and to figuring out what it means. Magically flying great distances and only revealing their messages to the intended recipient, telling darts haven’t been used for years, and no one knows how they work. So when two strangers show up looking for the dart, Ariel and Zeke realize that their discovery is not only interesting, but very dangerous. The telling dart, and the strangers, leads them to a journey more perilous and encompassing than either can imagine, and in the process both Zeke and Ariel find their true calling.

The Jaguar Stones, Book One Middleworld by J+P Voelkel

Description: Fourteen-year-old Max Murphy is looking forward to a family vacation. But his parents, both archaeologists and Maya experts, announce a change in plan. They must leave immediately for a dig in the tiny Central American country of San Xavier. Max will go to summer camp. Max is furious. When he’s mysteriously summoned to San Xavier, he thinks they’ve had a change of heart.

Upon his arrival, Max’s wild adventure in the tropical rainforests of San Xavier begins. During his journey, he will unlock ancient secrets and meet strangers who are connected to him in ways he could never have imagined. For fate has delivered a challenge of epic proportions to this pampered teenager. Can Max rescue his parents from the Maya Underworld and save the world from the Lords of Death, who now control the power of the Jaguar Stones in their villainous hands? The scene is set for a roller-coaster ride of suspense and terror, as the good guys and the bad guys face off against a background of haunted temples, zombie armies, and even human sacrifice!

Jungle Crossing by Sydney Salter

Description:  On a summer vaction to Mexico, popularity-obsessed Kat ends up on a teen adventure tour where she meets Nando, a young Mayan guide (who happens to be quite a cutie). As they travel to different Mayan ruins each day, Nando tells Kat his original legend of Muluc, a girl who lived in the time of the ancient Maya. The dangerous, dramatic world in which Muluc lived is as full of rivalry, betrayal, and sacrifice as Kat’s world at middle school. And as she makes new friends and discovers treasures in Mexico, Kat begins to question her values and those of her friends back at home.

The Night Fairy by Laura Amy Schlitz

Description: What would happen to a fairy if she lost her wings and could no longer fly? Flory, a young night fairy no taller than an acorn and still becoming accustomed to her wings — wings as beautiful as those of a luna moth — is about to find out. What she discovers is that the world is very big and very dangerous. But Flory is fierce and willing to do whatever it takes to survive. If that means telling others what to do — like Skuggle, a squirrel ruled by his stomach — so be it. Not every creature, however, is as willing
to bend to Flory’s demands. Newbery Medal winner Laura Amy Schlitz and world-renowned illustrator and miniaturist Angela Barrett venture into the realm of the illustrated classic — a classic entirely and exquisitely of their making, and a magnificent adventure.

The Other Felix by Keir Graff

Description: Felix has nightmares. Every night when he falls asleep he goes to the land of monsters, and when he wakes up he’s back in his bed with mud on his feet and torn pajamas. One night Felix meets a boy who knows how to fight the monsters, a boy who looks just like him and is also named Felix.

The Other Felix is a fantastical, psychological story of growing up for kids who have graduated from Where the Wild Things Are but are still fascinated by the world of dreams.

The Strange Case of Origami Yoda by Tom Angleberger

Description: In this funny, uncannily wise portrait of the dynamics of a sixth-grade class and of the greatness that sometimes comes in unlikely packages, Dwight, a loser, talks to his classmates via an origami finger puppet of Yoda. If that weren’t strange enough, the puppet is uncannily wise and prescient. Origami Yoda predicts the date of a pop quiz, guesses who stole the classroom Shakespeare bust, and saves a classmate from popularity-crushing embarrassment with some well-timed advice. Dwight’s classmate Tommy wonders how Yoda can be so smart when Dwight himself is so clueless. With contributions from his puzzled classmates, he assembles the case file that forms this novel.

The Winter Pony by Iain Lawrence

Description: In the forests of Siberia, in the first years of the 20th century, a white pony runs free with his herd. But his life changes forever when he’s captured by men. Years of hard work and cruelty wear him out. When he’s chosen to be one of 20 ponies to accompany the Englishman Robert Falcon Scott on his quest to become the first to reach the South Pole, he doesn’t know what to expect. But the men of Scott’s expedition show him kindness, something he’s never known before. They also give him a name—James Pigg. As Scott’s team hunkers down in Antarctica, James Pigg finds himself caught up in one of the greatest races of all time. The Norwegian explorer Roald Amundsen has suddenly announced that he too means to be first to the Pole. But only one team can triumph, and not everyone can survive—not even the animals.

With a Name Like Love by Tess Hilmo

Description: When Ollie’s daddy, the Reverend Everlasting Love, pulls their travel trailer into Binder to lead a three-day revival, Ollie knows that this town will be like all the others they visit— it is exactly the kind of nothing Ollie has come to expect. But on their first day in town, Ollie meets Jimmy Koppel, whose mother is in jail for murdering his father. Jimmy insists that his mother is innocent, and Ollie believes him. Still, even if Ollie convinces her daddy to stay in town, how can two kids free a grown woman who has signed a confession?  Ollie’s longing for a friend and her daddy’s penchant for searching out lost souls prove to be a formidable force in this tiny town where everyone seems bent on judging and jailing without a trial.