Thursday, June 30, 2011

Welcome to the Freedom Giveaway Hop!

Welcome to the Freedom Giveaway Hop hosted by I Am a Reader, Not a Writer and Simply Stacie.

What better way to celebrate the Fourth of July than with free books? Over 200 participating blogs are offering a book related giveaway and we're all linked up together so you can easily hop from one giveaway to another. This all takes place from Friday, July1 through Thursday, July 7.

Vesper: A Deviants NovelNow, on to my giveaway. . . I'm giving away two young adult novels!

Vesper: A Deviants Novel by Jeff Sampson

About the book: A compelling debut novel in which a teen girl must figure out who's causing a rash of murders in her small town... and what's causing her to turn into a monster.



Unearthly
Unearthly by Cynthia Hand.

About the book:  Clara has known she was part-angel ever since she turned 14 two years ago. But now she is finally getting visions of what her Purpose-- a rite of passage for every part-angel-- is to be, and it happens to involve a gorgeous guy. Of course, there is the raging forest fire surrounding them, too. When Clara's Purpose leads her family to Wyoming, Clara finds the boy of her visions, Christian, but complicating her mission are her growing feelings for another guy, Tucker. As the day in her visions draws closer, Clara discovers that her Purpose may play into a larger struggle between angels and Black Wings--fallen angels who spread sadness and misery wherever they go. But when the fire erupts and both Christian and Tucker are in danger, who will she choose to save?

Giveaway Details: Enter to win both of these books!
**UPDATE** This giveaway has ended. A big congratulations to our winner, Library Lady, and I'm just blown away that we had over 121 entries! Thank you so much to all who entered--you guys ROCK!
To enter giveaway, please follow this blog and leave a comment below.

Optional Extra Entries:
+1 Like my Author Page at Facebook
+1 Follow me on Twitter
+1 Have a confirmed email subscription to The Book Bugz and/ or Lori's Newsletter
(please let me know in the comments about your extra entries)

Giveaway closes at midnight on Thursday, July 7 and is available to US and Canada Only.

Good luck and don't forget to visit the blogs listed below for more great giveaways!

Discover all the different ways animals move

Swing Like A MonkeyWe're all worried about getting our kids moving, so why not read Swing Like A Monkey and introduce them to all the different ways animals move?

This sturdy board book with lenticular artwork on the cover will have kids wanting to get their hands on this one.

Move, move, move!
Swing, jump, run!
There are many ways to move.
All of them are fun.


Young readers can pretend to leap like a tiger, stomp like an elephant, sprint like a leopard, and more. And the fun rhyming text makes for a fun read.

Additional Information:
Reading level: Ages 4-8
Board book: 6 pages
Publisher: Blue Apple Books; Brdbk edition (March 2, 2011)
ISBN-10: 9781609050719
ISBN-13: 978-1609050719
Source of review copy: publicist
Disclosure: Some of the books I review are received from publishers , PR agencies, and authors, but it does not sway my opinion of the book. I maintain affiliate accounts with Amazon and Barnes & Noble. If you purchase a book through one of my links, I will receive a small commission (at no cost to you). You can support this site by originating your purchase via these links and I appreciate your support of Lori Calabrese Writes!

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Time to angel up

Griffin RisingEver wonder what it would be like to be a guardian angel? Or even better, how does one become a guardian angel?

In Griffin Rising by Darby Karchut, we're introduced to Griffin, who is only thirteen and in training to become a Terrae Angeli, or what some may call a guardian angel or a first responder to mortals. However, Griffin's apprenticeship has been a nightmare under his mentor, Nicopolis who might have a sterling reputation for developing some of the best and brightest, but also has a cruel, harsh style. When Griffin is on the verge of failing, Griffin receives a new mentor, Basil, who is completely different from Nicopolis.  The two form a father-son bond, and Basil guides Griffin not only to secretly navigate life amongst humans, but prepares him for the Proelium, a final test every apprentice must pass or become mortal. But when that final test involves defeating his original mentor, Nicopolis, can Griffin put to use every skill and strategy that he's learned?

Griffin Rising is a fascinating young adult novel that delves into the world of angels. Not only do you see Griffin rise from a beaten kid to a strong willed warrior, the love of a mortal girl, Katie, gives Griffin the strength he needs to take on his evil teacher. Karchut keeps you at the edge of your seat and gives you a glimpse into each character's thoughts through their journals. Can Katie adapt to who Griffin really is, does Griffin really have the strength to defeat Nicopolis and has Basil taught Griffin everything he can? This is the perfect book for anyone who believes that guardian angels really do exist.

Be sure to check out Griffin's Fire, part two of this intriguing series that is set for release in April 2012.

Additional Information:
Reading level: Young Adult
Paperback: 176 pages
Publisher: Paladin Timeless Books (June 15, 2011)
ISBN-10: 1606192108
ISBN-13: 978-1606192108
Source of review copy: Author
Disclosure: Some of the books I review are received from publishers , PR agencies, and authors, but it does not sway my opinion of the book. I maintain affiliate accounts with Amazon and Barnes & Noble. If you purchase a book through one of my links, I will receive a small commission (at no cost to you). You can support this site by originating your purchase via these links and I appreciate your support of Lori Calabrese Writes!

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Big hair, big confidence and big ideas

Big Bouffant (Carolrhoda Picture Books)I saw a blurb about the author of Big Bouffant (Carolrhoda Picture Books), Kate Hosford, holding a book launch party and it was so cute to see young readers sporting big bouffants of their own. I knew I had to get my hands on this book and I was not disappointed.

On the first day of school, Annabelle sighs, looks around the room shakes her head and cries...

"Ponytails and braids!
Ponytails and braids!
I don't see anything but
ponytails and braids!
"

From there, she declares that her class needs some fashion and some fun, so she'll find a hairdo to impress everyone. And as she stares at a photo of her grandmother's marvelous tower of hair, she knows just what hairstyle--a big bouffant. Annabelle, who doesn't want to look like all other girls, waltzes through the playground with a great big smile and great big hair and ends up starting a new trend. But when the others in her class show up with big hair, Annabelle realizes that her bouffant's boring and it's up to her to be the queen of fashion with her next big surprise.

Everything that I love about picture books is wrapped up in this one--beautiful rhyme, a fun story, and amazing art. Let's face it--we all worry about our hair, our looks and our individuality and Hosford delivers a story that reminds us to think for ourselves and be confident no matter what anybody says.

Additional Information:
Reading level: Ages 4-8
School & Library Binding: 32 pages
Publisher: Carolrhoda Books (April 2011)
ISBN-10: 0761354093
ISBN-13: 978-0761354093
Source of review copy: Publicist
Disclosure: Some of the books I review are received from publishers , PR agencies, and authors, but it does not sway my opinion of the book. I maintain affiliate accounts with Amazon and Barnes & Noble. If you purchase a book through one of my links, I will receive a small commission (at no cost to you). You can support this site by originating your purchase via these links and I appreciate your support of Lori Calabrese Writes!

Monday, June 27, 2011

Just the books you need to tackle middle school

I recently had the opportunity to interview Annie and David Fox about turning books into native iPad apps. It was fascinating to learn how they're transforming the Middle School Confidential Series into custom apps, but I was so intrigued, I wanted to take a look at the original books in the series. 

Annie Fox has contributed to many online projects, including as creator, designer, and writer for The InSite--a Web site for teens taking on life's challenges; and she also answers questions for the Hey Terra! feature as an online advisor for teens. Fox has said that Middle school issues come up a lot, so she decided to write a book about it and The Middle School Confidential series was born. The series follows six teens trying to figure out middle school, which is why the series is called "Middle School Confidential" because not everyone knows the things these teens have found out.

Be Confident in Who You Are (Middle School Confidential Series) (Bk. 1)Be Confident in Who You Are (Middle School Confidential Series) (Bk. 1) is the first book in the series and introduces us to Jen, Jack, Michelle, Chris, Mateo and Abby--your average, normal teens who go to Milldale Middle School. Young readers are introduced to body beefs, something we'd all like to change about ourselves; how to deal with teasing; mental movies; losing control and much more. Be Confident in Who You Are will have young readers feeling as though they're hanging out with their friends, talking about some of the issues that affect them most and how to deal with them.



Real Friends vs. the Other Kind (Middle School Confidential)
What's Up with My Family? (Middle School Confidential)Real Friends vs. the Other Kind (Middle School Confidential) is book 2 and picks up right where Be Confident in Who You Are leaves off. In addition to dealing with body beefs and teasing, another problem in middle school is friendship. "There's nothing like being with friends. But if you're like us, you've probably wondered about some friendships. Maybe you're not sure if someone is a real friend or the 'other' kind." And that's exactly what this book confronts. Get tips for making friends, dealing with peer pressure, and handling friendship dilemmas. 'Because you and each of your friends are unique, there's no single 'right' way to have a great friendship.'


What's Up with My Family? (Middle School Confidential) is book 3 and tackles another problem in middle school--our families. Let's admit it, every family has issues and there's just something about families that can drive a middle schooler crazy. Will you ever be able to do things on your own, without your parents hovering? What is the secret to surviving family transitions like a move or a parent's job loss? Jen, Jack, Michelle, Chris, Mateo and Abby are back and deal with issues that can come up in any family, such as sibling conflicts, disagreements with parents and battles over home responsibilities.

What I really love about these books is how they blend graphic novel with nonfiction advice.  Bottom line is that they're cool. The books are full of full-color illustrations, quotes from real teens, fun quizzes, and tips and insider tools for staying strong through the rough spots.Young readers will be able to relate to the teens in the book and will feel as though they're having a conversation with their friends. Entering middle school can be tough, which is why it's great to have a series like this that middle graders can turn to.

Additional Information:
Reading level: Young Adult
Paperback
Publisher: Free Spirit Publishing; Book 3 edition (January 15, 2010)
Source of review copy: Publisher
Disclosure: Some of the books I review are received from publishers , PR agencies, and authors, but it does not sway my opinion of the book. I maintain affiliate accounts with Amazon and Barnes & Noble. If you purchase a book through one of my links, I will receive a small commission (at no cost to you). You can support this site by originating your purchase via these links and I appreciate your support of Lori Calabrese Writes!

Friday, June 24, 2011

Fish for a Free Book: June 24

It's time to fish for a free book! 

I have to mention that today's the last day to enter my Midsummer's Eve Giveaway as part of the Midsummer's Eve Giveaway Hop hosted by I Am a Reader Not a Writer. Over 200 participating blogs are offering a book related giveaway and we're all linked up together so you can easily hop from one giveaway to another. Be sure to visit as many blogs as you can as the giveaways end tonight at midnight!

Now, onto Fish for a Free Book. . .

If you are hosting a children's book giveaway, or if you found a giveaway somewhere on the net that you just have to share, I'd love to have you share your links with us here on our weekly giveaway linky so that we can all stop by and enter.

If you're looking for more children's book giveaways, be sure to visit
Brimful Curiosities' Full to the Brim,
Winning Readings (listings of adult and children's book giveaways),
and Got Great Giveaways? (linky of adult and children's book giveaways at I Am a Reader, Not a Writer)

Please post your links however you wish. Some like to include their blog name, some just want to leave the prize and the ending date. Post it whatever way you feel like, but make sure that the prize listing and the date the giveaway ends is listed. And make sure you post a link directly to your giveaway - not just to your main blog page.

Here's an example:
Your name: Lori Calabrese Writes--Two YA Novels--6/24
Your URL: http://loricalabrese.blogspot.com/2011/06/welcome-to-midsummers-eve-giveaway-hop.html

Now it's your turn. Leave your links here...
(If you're reading this in a reader, please click through to the original post)

Fish For a Free Book Participants

1. Mymcbooks

2. Family Literacy, Carson Dellosa Learning Kit, 7/7, US/CA

3. TeachingAuthors Giveaway: WRITING YA FICTION FOR DUMMIES ends 7/16,

Powered by... Mister Linky's Magical Widgets.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Double your pleasure with You Are a Gift to the World

You Are a Gift to the WorldLaura Duksta has joined forces with Plant Trees 4 Life to encourage and empower young people to love and take care of themselves, one another and our planet with the launch of her new picture book, You Are a Gift to the World.

A father is walking with his daughter when he says, "I remember when you asked, "What's the best gift in the whole wide world?" From there, the dad runs down all of the best gifts he's ever received such as a one-of-a-kind daughter, her sweet voice, her smile, and more. But that's not all. Flip the book over and you have a whole new story, The World is a Gift to You, in which the dad runs down all the biggest gifts in the whole wide world, such as the flowers, plants, trees, oceans, and snowy mountaintops.

I love this book because of it's unique flip-book design and how the two stories wrap into one. The universal message of the love a parent has for a child is prevalent and we're reminded how the world is a gift to all of us. Told in rhyme, parents will enjoy reading this one over and over again and children will love the vibrant illustrations by Dona Turner.

Additional Information:
Reading level: Ages 4-8
Hardcover: 32 pages
Publisher: Sourcebooks Jabberwocky (April 1, 2011)
ISBN-10: 9781402219542
ISBN-13: 978-1402219542
Source of review copy: Publicist
Disclosure: Some of the books I review are received from publishers , PR agencies, and authors, but it does not sway my opinion of the book. I maintain affiliate accounts with Amazon and Barnes & Noble. If you purchase a book through one of my links, I will receive a small commission (at no cost to you). You can support this site by originating your purchase via these links and I appreciate your support of Lori Calabrese Writes!

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Celebrate Summer with Splat!

Splish, Splash, Splat! (Splat the Cat)
Summer is here and warm weather has finally arrived and what better way to celebrate than with everyone's favorite cat? Splat is back in another great installment, Splish, Splash, Splat! (Splat the Cat).

Splat does not want to have a playdate with Spike. Spike will break his toys and eat all of his candy fish! And he does not want to learn how to swim—water is horrible, scary, and wet! He's sure that this is going to be the worst day ever. But when the rest of their classmates rush straight into the pool, Splat and Spike find that they may have more in common than they thought. Will Splat overcome his fear of water and get into the pool? And how can he help Spike to do the same?

The illustrations are just as amazing from the previous Splat books and young readers won't get enough of Splat's hilarious facial expressions. Not to mention the illustration of Splat when he forgets to put on his swim trunks! He can try to convince everyone that he hasn't and that his trunks are black and furry, but young readers will enjoy it just the same, especially when they see Splat wearing the perfect present from Spike.

Rob Scotton has delivered another classic!

Additional Information:
Reading level: Ages 4-8
Hardcover: 40 pages
Publisher: HarperCollins (May 17, 2011)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 006197868X
ISBN-13: 978-0061978685
Source of review copy: Publisher
Disclosure: Some of the books I review are received from publishers , PR agencies, and authors, but it does not sway my opinion of the book. I maintain affiliate accounts with Amazon and Barnes & Noble. If you purchase a book through one of my links, I will receive a small commission (at no cost to you). You can support this site by originating your purchase via these links and I appreciate your support of Lori Calabrese Writes!

Monday, June 20, 2011

Welcome to the MidSummer's Eve Giveaway Hop!

I don't know about you, but there's nothing like sitting out in the summer sun and immersing yourself into a must-read novel. Well, you came to the right place--the MidSummer's Eve Giveaway Hop hosted by I Am a Reader, Not a Writer.

What better way to celebrate the arrival of summer? Over 200 participating blogs are offering a book related giveaway and we're all linked up together so you can easily hop from one giveaway to another. This all takes place from Tuesday, June 21st through Friday, June 24.

MistwoodNow on to my giveaway. I'm giving away two young adult novels just waiting to accompany you by the pool!

Mistwood by Leah Cypess

About the book: Isabel remembers nothing. Nothing before the prince rode into her forest to take her back to the castle. Nothing about who she is supposed to be, or the powers she is supposed to have.  Prince Rokan needs Isabel to be his Shifter. He needs her ability to shift to animal form, to wind, to mist. He needs her lethal speed and superhuman strength. And he needs her loyalty--because without it, she may be his greatest threat.

Isabel knows that her prince is lying to her, but she can't help wanting to protect him from the dangers and intrigues of the court...until a deadly truth shatters the bond between them. Now Isabel faces a choice that threatens her loyalty, her heart...and everything she thought she knew.

NightspellNightspell by Leah Cypess is the companion to the acclaimed Mistwood.

About the book: In this haunted kingdom, ghosts linger--not just in the deepest forests or the darkest caverns, but alongside the living, as part of a twisted palace court that revels all night and sleeps through the daylight hours.

Darri's sister was trapped in this place of fear and shadows as a child. And now Darri has a chance to save her sister...if she agrees to a betrothal with the prince of the dead. But nothing is simple in this eerie kingdom--not her sister, who has changed beyond recognition; not her plan, which will be thrown off track almost at once; and not the undead prince, who seems more alive than anyone else.

In a court seething with the desire for vengeance, Darri holds the key to the balance between life and death. Can her warrior heart withstand the most wrenching choice of all?

Giveaway Details: Enter to win both of these books!
To enter giveaway, please follow this blog and leave a comment below.
**UPDATE** This giveaway has ended. Congratulations to our winner, Maidenveil, and thanks to everyone who entered!

Optional Extra Entries:
+1 Like my Author Page at Facebook
+1 Follow me on Twitter
+1 Have a confirmed email subscription to The Book Bugz and/ or Lori's Newsletter
(please let me know in the comments about your extra entries)

Giveaway closes at midnight on Friday, June 24 and is available to US and Canada Only.

Good luck and don't forget to visit the blogs listed below for more great giveaways!

Get captivated by the wonder of sea stars

Star of the Sea: A Day in the Life of a StarfishThere are certain authors who acquire a devout following--Jan Brett, Sandra Boynton, Mo Willems. Well, add Janet Halfmann to my list. I'm constantly amazed at not just the number of books written by Janet Halfmann, but the number of quality books written by Halfmann, ranging from nonfiction books for the Smithsonian's Backyard series to Seven Miles to Freedom: The Robert Smalls Story to beautiful bedtime stories like Good Night, Little Sea Otter.

Halfmann's latest addition is Star of the Sea: A Day in the Life of a Starfish. In this beautiful picture book, Halfmann takes a look not at the stars that blink in the night sky, but another star that clings to the rocks with hundreds of sticky tube feet-- an ochre sea star. Young readers will be fascinated as an ochre sea star hunts for her morning meal. But they'll especially appreciate how the ochre sea star's mouth is on her underside, tiny red eyespots at the tips of her rays tell her light from dark, she somersaults, and protects herself with her tough, spiny top.

What I especially love about Halfmann's books are her knack for writing a beautiful story, while weaving in interesting facts about such amazing creatures. Joan Paley's beautiful artwork adds to the story, while information about the amazing sea stars wraps it all up. For anyone captivated by the wonder of sea stars, this is a must have.

Additional Information:
Reading level: Ages 4-8
Hardcover: 32 pages
Publisher: Henry Holt and Co. (BYR); First Edition edition (May 24, 2011)
ISBN-10: 0805090738
ISBN-13: 978-0805090734
Source of review copy: Publisher
Disclosure: Some of the books I review are received from publishers , PR agencies, and authors, but it does not sway my opinion of the book. I maintain affiliate accounts with Amazon and Barnes & Noble. If you purchase a book through one of my links, I will receive a small commission (at no cost to you). You can support this site by originating your purchase via these links and I appreciate your support of Lori Calabrese Writes!

Friday, June 17, 2011

Fish for a Free Book: June 17

It's time to fish for a free book! 

If you are hosting a children's book giveaway, or if you found a giveaway somewhere on the net that you just have to share, I'd love to have you share your links with us here on our weekly giveaway linky so that we can all stop by and enter.

If you're looking for more children's book giveaways, be sure to visit
Brimful Curiosities' Full to the Brim,
Winning Readings (listings of adult and children's book giveaways),
and Got Great Giveaways? (linky of adult and children's book giveaways at I Am a Reader, Not a Writer)

Please post your links however you wish. Some like to include their blog name, some just want to leave the prize and the ending date. Post it whatever way you feel like, but make sure that the prize listing and the date the giveaway ends is listed. And make sure you post a link directly to your giveaway - not just to your main blog page.

Here's an example:
Your name: Lori Calabrese Writes--Two Children's Books--4/25
Your URL: http://loricalabrese.blogspot.com/2011/04/hoppy-easter-eggstravaganza-giveaway.html

Now it's your turn. Leave your links here...
(If you're reading this in a reader, please click through to the original post)

Weird Al's children's book transformed into an app

I don't know about you, but I'm addicted to children's book apps, which is why I was excited to hear that WHEN I GROW UP, the children's book by "Weird Al" Yankovic is now available as an interactive app for iPad, iPhone, and iPod touch.    

Not only does it have narration by Weird Al, there are multiple interactions and animations on every screen, fun and challenging games based on the story, and the ability to personalize the app! 3 interactive games give users the opportunity to try their hand at unusual career options from the story.  Never shaved a tarantula before?   Well, here’s your chance in the “Tarantula Shaver” game! Or test your job qualifications with “Extreme Snail Race” and “Gorilla Masseuse."

The WHEN I GROW UP app is available for $2.99 from the App Store on iPad, iPhone, and iPod touch, or at www.iTunes.com/AppStore.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Looking for a good mystery?

The Billionaire's Curse (The Archer Legacy)Just imagine all of the adventures that can take place if you were a twelve-year-old who inherited billions of dollars! Well, imagine no longer. Just pick up a copy of The Billionaire's Curse (The Archer Legacy) by Richard Newsome.

Gerald Wilkins is your average twelve-year-old, looking for a fun-filled summer with friends. However, that all changes when his parents fly him to England for his great-aunt's funeral. Despite the fact he never knew his great-aunt, he learns that he was not only named after her, but she has chosen him as the one to inherit her fortune. Gerald inherits twenty billion pounds, a Caribbean island, a yacht and three houses. But that's not all. He's also inherits a lot of trouble. His great-aunt provides him a letter from beyond the grave, stating that she was murdered and she wants Gerald to find out who did it. And the adventure begins!

This is such a fun read for anyone who loves a good mystery. Young readers will enjoy reading about Gerald's adventures because even though he's just inherited millions, he really is your average twelve-year-old. There are so many fascinating characters from his parents who take off on the yacht to a dead serious caretaker--anyone could be the murderer. But when Gerald learns that one of the world's most valuable diamonds is involved, things really heat up. I've already dived into the sequel, The Emerald Casket (The Archer Legacy) and can attest to the fact that this is one intriguing series.

Additional Information:
Reading level: Ages 9-12
Hardcover: 352 pages
Publisher: Walden Pond Press; 1 edition (May 18, 2010)
ISBN-10: 0061944904
ISBN-13: 978-0061944901
Source of review copy: Publisher
Disclosure: Some of the books I review are received from publishers , PR agencies, and authors, but it does not sway my opinion of the book. I maintain affiliate accounts with Amazon and Barnes & Noble. If you purchase a book through one of my links, I will receive a small commission (at no cost to you). You can support this site by originating your purchase via these links and I appreciate your support of Lori Calabrese Writes!

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Author Interview: David A. Kelly talks about the Ballpark Mysteries

Ballpark Mysteries #3: The L.A. Dodger (A Stepping Stone Book(TM))I recently reviewed Ballpark Mysteries #1: The Fenway Foul-up and Ballpark Mysteries #2: The Pinstripe Ghost by David A. Kelly, but I have to admit, I really can't wait for Ballpark Mysteries #3: The L.A. Dodger (A Stepping Stone Book(TM)) which will be released at the end of July. I'm so fascinated by this series, I couldn't wait to find out more, so I was fortunate enough to interview Kelly about his inspiration behind the series, what readers can expect, and the amount of research he puts into each one. . .

What inspired the Ballpark Mysteries series?
The Ballpark Mysteries were inspired by my love of reading and the level of excitement my two sons found from playing baseball. When I was younger, I used to love mystery stories—from the Hardy Boys to Encyclopedia Brown, and even to the Partridge Family mystery stories (try to find those now!). As I was reading books to my boys, the excitement and fun of mysteries came back to me. But my sons, like lots of boys and girls, were interested in sports and physical activities. They were so interested in playing baseball or watching baseball games that it opened my eyes to the power of sports and activities like baseball to fire the imagination of boys and girls. At the time, I was writing technical and business papers, so the opportunity to explore more creative writing and to focus on baseball and children was a real pleasure. I looked around for children’s books that featured both sports and mysteries, but didn’t find many that fit the bill. That's when I realized that there was something missing in the market—adventure/mysteries that were set in the dozens of really cool cities and ballparks around North America.

What can readers expect from the series?
In each Ballpark Mysteries book, boys and girls can expect to discover something new (did you know that astronaut's don't eat pizza or that there's a hidden message in Fenway Park's scoreboard?) as well as be absorbed by an interesting whodunit that takes the main characters, Mike and Kate, into some interesting situations. The Ballpark Mysteries are simply mystery and adventure books set in baseball stadiums.

Each Ballpark Mysteries book is set in a different major league ballpark and while it usually involves a baseball game (book five is set during the Home Run Derby and All-Star Game!), baseball is more of a backdrop to the action, adventure, and mystery that drives each story forward.

Readers certainly don’t have to know anything about baseball (or other sports) to enjoy them. And because each baseball park and team is so unique, there are great opportunities for even the biggest sports fan to learn something new. In each book, Mike and Kate visit a ballpark to take a tour or see a game, but lots of the action may also happen outside the ballpark. In the third book (due out in July, 2011), they visit a number of interesting landmarks around Los Angeles, while in the fourth book (set in Houston, and due out in Spring, 2012), they get to visit NASA and try on space suits.

You're also the author of Babe Ruth and the Baseball Curse. Did you find it more difficult writing a series?
What a great question. Writing a series is a lot different from writing a single book—at least from the conceptual perspective. When it comes down to putting words on paper and things like sentence length and construction, it's very similar. But when I'm thinking about the plot, characters, settings, and other elements of the stories, it's very different.

Ballpark Mysteries #2: The Pinstripe Ghost (A Stepping Stone Book(TM))The things that happen in one book, in the plot or to the characters, can have consequences in future (or past) books, so as a writer, I have to spend more time thinking my characters, their actions, the stories, and the settings through. I also need to make sure I lay the right groundwork for future books, or don't shoot myself in the foot by closing a door in an early book that I might need open later. For example, because the Ballpark Mysteries are a series, I had to learn a lot more about the characters before I started the second and third books. I needed to figure out who their families were, and how they might figure into future stories. I needed to uncover character traits that would be consistent across multiple books, but not boring. I needed to find ways to put the characters into the same setting (a baseball stadium), but have each story be unique, interesting, and engaging without seeming repetitive. It's definitely more of a challenge to write a series like the Ballpark Mysteries, but it's also very rewarding. For example, in book three, The L.A. Dodger, Mike and Kate visit Los Angeles, and I was able to let them do a number of interesting things that they hadn't done in the Boston or New York City book.

What was your reaction when you saw the illustrations for the Ballpark Mysteries series by Mark Meyers?
Ballpark Mysteries #1: The Fenway Foul-up (A Stepping Stone Book(TM))When I first saw the illustrations for the Fenway Foul-Up, the first book in the Ballpark Mysteries series, I had to think about it for a little while. My first book, Babe Ruth and the Baseball Curse, was a non-fiction book that tells the story of Babe Ruth, his years on the Red Sox, what happened when he was traded to the Yankees, and the heroic victory of the 2004 Red Sox in the playoffs and World Series. The illustrations for that book were very realistic—they look almost like photographs that have been artistically rendered. In my mind, when I was thinking about illustrations for the Ballpark Mysteries series, I was picturing the images from Babe Ruth and the Baseball Curse.

But that's not how the Ballpark Mysteries are illustrated. Since the Ballpark Mysteries are fiction, the goal was to create illustrations that accentuated the scenes, made them seem interesting and inviting, and portrayed movement and energy. Mark Meyer's illustrations do just that. In fact, they're really perfect for the series. He's captured the way that Mike thinks and jumps into action, and the way that Kate observes and hypothesizes solutions. Now that I've spent some time with them, I really enjoy how they convey all the action and interesting settings.

How do you go about researching all of the different ballparks featured in the series?
Researching baseball parks is a tough job, but someone's got to do it! After spending lots of years sitting behind a desk writing, it's great to be able to get out and explore different cities, ballparks, and sites.

While I would never complain, the research for the books is hard work. For each book, I've been flying (or driving) to the city where the ballpark is located and researching for anywhere from two to six days. In addition to taking tours of the ballpark and catching a game (if the team is in town), I spend a lot of time visiting sites around the area, trying to a feel for the people, the environment, the weather, and other local aspects. I start with a list of sites or places to visit that I've found through previous online and book research. There are an amazing number of books about baseball stadiums and teams, many (but certainly not all) of which I have on my bookcase now.

While the "on-the-ground" research may sound like fun, it's actually a lot of work because I usually have picked out too many sites to see or things to try, so I have to be very efficient and move from one location to another quickly, one after the other. Again, I'm not complaining—it's fun, but it can be exhausting.

The other challenge that I have with researching is that I usually don’t know what the book is about at that point in the process, so that means I have to take notes and pictures of everything I'm doing, in a city or at a ballpark, because I don’t know exactly what piece of information I'll need when I go to write the book. Will I need to know what the press box looks like, or where the stairway is near the main entrance to the stadium? That's why I come home with huge number of pictures and pages of notes from each trip. But don’t worry—it's not all work. I usually make sure there's time to sit down and have a hot dog, an ice cream cone or some popcorn. After all—it's research!

A big thanks to David A. Kelly for sharing some of the stories behind the Ballpark Mysteries. To learn more, please visit the official website