Book Discussion Questons, Silent Starsong

silentstarsongforweb1. Throughout recorded history, the stars have driven scientists, artists, writers, and more to explore and wonder. People still wish upon stars. What are some stories and beliefs about stars that might have inspired the author to think about a group of people who could hear the future based on the “songs of the stars”?

 

 

2. When we first meet Kyra Starbard, she is coming home from an operation that failed to fix her hearing. Who do you know, or know about, who is deaf or has a disability? What are ways people treat others who can’t or don’t do things the way others do? How might these people feel when everyone around them expects them to “fix” their life so they better fit in?

 

 

3. Marne begins his journey in the book being sold as a slave. How does that affect his life? As Kyra becomes friends with him, it’s clear he is a “person,” and not just property. What are ways that the culture on Kyra’s planet supports the slavery of the Narratsets? How do they keep people thinking they are “property”, instead of “persons”?

 

 

4. Kyra and Marne both consider the other to be “alien.” There are definitely some things they consider “weird” about each other. What are some of these things? How do you feel about Marne’s alien differences? How do you feel about the human things Marne considers “alien”? How do Kyra and Marne overcome these differences to become friends?

 

5. Marne has telepathy, which is the power to read minds and speak directly into a person’s mind. How is this ability treated by the different people in Kyra’s family? If you had this ability, how would you use it? Would it scare people? What would you be scared of if someone you knew had this power? If you could have any alien power, what would it be and why?

 

6. When Kyra meets her grandfather and tells him of her deafness being “unfixable”, he says, “If they couldn’t fix you, perhaps you really didn’t need to be fixed.” What are some things Kyra learns because she is deaf? What are things she notices and does that others could not do? What other ways does she sense the world when she cannot hear? Why would he say that she doesn’t need to be fixed?

 

7. When Kyra decides to run away because she is certain there is no better option, Marne disagrees but goes with her anyway. When has there been a time when you’ve had a friend who needed your help with something you didn’t agree with? How did you handle that situation? Have you ever made a decision that a friend thought was foolish or dangerous? How did you work through your friendship during these times?

Read a sample of Silent Starsong here.

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Happy Book Birthday to Silent Starsong! Hear the first chapter…

silentstarsongforwebHappy Book Birthday to Silent

Starsong!

This month’s realease is Silent Starsong,  by T.J. Wooldridge, author of The Kelpie.  Like The Kelpie, Silent Starsong is a middle grade fantasy novel, but instead of taking the reader to the Scottish Highlands, Starsong soars upwards into the night sky, to far away worlds.  We are introduced to the Starbard family–a family known for their ability to foretell the future from the songs of the stars.  Eleven-year-old Kyra Starbard, however, was born deaf and will never be able to starsing. With the help of her best friend, Marne, a small alien telepath sold into slavery by his own people for being “too weak,” Kyra decides to make her own fate.

TJ Wooldridge reads from the first chapter of Silent Starsong, in which Kyra and Marne,  rejected and overlooked by their own kind, meet and form a close bond of friendship that will take them places neither ever expected to go. To hear the first chapter read by the author click here.

Interested in purchasing Silent Starsong?Order the book on  Amazon, Barnes and Noble or BAM!

Get to know the author by visiting her author page.

 

 

Cover Reveal! Little Miss Evil

LittleMissEvil-finalcoverforwebLittle Miss Evil, coming in March 2015. Click here for an advanced reader copy!

When you live in a volcano, ride to school in a helicopter, and regularly see your dad on the news with the caption “EVIL GENIUS” underneath his picture, it takes a lot to rattle you.

Until you get a message that says: We have your father. Deliver the NOVA in 24 hours or we will kill him.

What’s a NOVA, you ask? It’s a nuclear bomb capable of turning the city into a radioactive mushroom cloud, and ever since Fiona’s dad built it, it’s caused nothing but grief. But telling him to stop building weapons is like telling Michelangelo to stop painting.

And that’s why thirteen-year-old Fiona has a flamethrower strapped to her arm. After all, who’d mess with a girl who can throw fireballs?

About the authors:

Bryce and Kristy are a tag-team writing duo with way too many voices in their heads. As engineers living in Toronto, they can’t be safely contained by mere cubicle walls, and therefore must spend every other waking moment writing to keep the crazy from leaking out at the office. When not writing or working, they spend their time parachuting into volcanoes and riding polar bears while tossing dynamite at rabid kangaroos. Yup, that’s right. Sometimes they can’t even believe how awesome their lives are.

ISBN 978-1-939392-09-1 Paperback

ISBN 978-1-939392-10-7 Ebook

Release Date March 10, 2015

Formats: Paper, e-book

 

If you’d like to request an ARC, please use the reviewer form.

Find out more about the authors by visiting their author page.

 

The Story behind the Story: Our author Kell Andrews and the inspiration behind Deadwood

Deadwood by Kell Andrews

Deadwood by Kell Andrews

The Story I Found in the Woods: The Inspiration Behind Deadwood

When I’m brainstorming stories, my favorite thing to do is go for a walk in the woods. That’s how I came across the inspiration for Deadwood. I was looking for ideas, and I found a tree.

treecarvings

 

I had just read Well Witched by Frances Hardinge and Enchanted Glass by Diana Wynne Jones, and I wanted to write a book like that – about ordinary kids who stumble upon magic and danger in the real world and have to figure out how to set things right.

All I needed was a unique kind of magic that I hadn’t seen before.

On other days, I had already noticed that just about every beech tree I ever saw was carved with messages, and I always wondered about the people who put them there. Were they still alive? Did the messages of love stay true? Did KT still love JB? At the same time, carving a tree is harming a living thing. I couldn’t help feeling sorry for the trees.

But on that particular idea-hunting expedition, when I saw one of my favorite carved trees, I was already thinking about magic. What if the carvings on the tree were a kind of spell or curse? And if the tree could talk, what would it say?

I looked for a scientific underpinning that would make sense in a contemporary novel with kids that seemed like real people.

My reference manual was the 1973 alternative science bestseller, The Secret Life of Plants by Peter Tompkins and Christopher Bird, which explores the idea of plant sentience. This was the book popularized the 1970s idea that you should talk to your plants to keep them healthy. Most of the serious-sounding evidence in the book is not real science, but the David Attenborough 1995 BBC/Turner Broadcasting mini The Private Life of Plants is more scientifically rigorous and covers related territory about plant survival mechanisms.

I love stories with magic in them, and when I’m writing, I like to find an explanation that’s somewhat plausible – I want readers to feel like the events in the story could really happen. People all over the world have believed that plants have spirits, but if a real kid came face to face with a talking tree, they wouldn’t just accept it and talk back right away. It wouldn’t make sense. I wanted it to make sense in the book that became Deadwood. The story and characters emerged as I wove together logic, wonder, skepticism, faith, and yes, a little bit of magic.

For more pictures and information about tree carvings (and a bunch of pictures of trees that I think look like people!) visit my tree blog,. Treeandtwig.tumblr.com. For more about Deadwood and me, visit kellandrews.com.

Cover Reveal! Niles Wormwort, Accidental Villian

niles_final_tNiles Wormwort, Accidental Villian, coming in November 2014. Click here for an advanced reader copy!

In the science fair world of ketchup-spewing volcanoes and potato clocks, one boy, Niles Wormwart, plans to alter the history of science fairs with his time travel wristwatch based on Nicola Tesla’s work. Unfortunately, history has different plans for Niles.

After Niles blows up his school’s science wing with his project, his father, deciding his son needs to man up, make some friends, and take a break from his constant experiments, sends unsuspecting Niles off to the mysterious Camp Mayhem.

The only problem is that Niles’ father thinks it’s a role-playing camp. Well, it’s not.

Headed up by the ominous Red Czechmark, Camp Mayhem is ground zero for training the future villains of today. A place for real kids to realize the real villain inside them. Niles sharpens his focus on escaping the camp while everyone inside wants him to sharpen his focus on discovering his own dark powers. There’s a sinister plot brewing, and Niles is dead in the middle of it.
Thrust into a world he only thought existed in comic books. Niles discovers his true potential inside the walls of Camp Mayhem-the potential to become the darkest of evils or stay true to his good-hearted roots.

Find out more about the author by visiting his author page.

Pre-order the book on Amazon, Barnes and Noble or BAM!

Welcome to the team!

Screenshot 2014-01-30 22.32.43The Spencer Hill Middle Grade team is excited to announce a new team member, D.M. Cunningham, author of  Niles Wormwort, Accidental Villain.

In the science fair world of ketchup-spewing volcanoes and potato clocks, one boy, Niles Wormwart, plans to alter the history of science fairs with his time travel wristwatch based on Nicola Tesla’s work. Unfortunately, history has different plans for Niles.

After Niles blows up his school’s science wing with his project, his father, deciding his son needs to man up, make some friends, and take a break from his constant experiments, sends unsuspecting Niles off to the mysterious Camp Mayhem.

The only problem is that Niles’ father thinks it’s a role-playing camp. Well, it’s not.

Headed up by the ominous Red Czechmark, Camp Mayhem is ground zero for training the future villains of today. A place for real kids to realize the real villain inside them. Niles sharpens his focus on escaping the camp while everyone inside wants him to sharpen his focus on discovering his own dark powers. There’s a sinister plot brewing, and Niles is dead in the middle of it.
Thrust into a world he only thought existed in comic books. Niles discovers his true potential inside the walls of Camp Mayhem-the potential to become the darkest of evils or stay true to his good-hearted roots.

Get to know the author by visiting his author page.

Look for Blister Hill in November 2015!

Cover Reveal! Deadwood

Deadwood-Forweb

Deadwood, coming in July 2014. Click here for an advanced reader copy!
Sometimes a lucky ritual becomes a curse.

Seventh-grader Martin Cruz hates his rotten new town, Lower Brynwood, but with his mom fighting a war in Afghanistan, he has no other choice but to live with his crazy aunt. Then he gets a message from a tree telling him it’s cursed—and so is he.

It’s not just any tree either, it’s the Spirit Tree, an ancient beech the football team carves for good luck before the season opener. But every year they lose.

Now the Spirit Tree is dying, and the other trees in the park are toppling around it like dominoes. The town is plagued with unexplainable accidents and people begin to fade, drained of life.

Martin must team up with a know-it-all soccer star, Hannah Vaughan, if he has any chance of breaking the curse. If they fail to save the Spirit Tree, it could mean the destruction of Lower Brynwood and a permanent case of bad luck.

Get to know the author by visiting her author page.

Pre-order the book on  Amazon, Barnes and Noble or BAM!