Friday, September 30, 2016

The Secret of Goldenrod Book Launch

Happy Friday! Congratulations to Danette Rance Lane (@DanetteRLane), who's won Jane O'Reilly's The Secret of Goldenrod. Danette, please send your address to so we can get your book in the mail.

If you're in the Twin Cities area tomorrow, we'd love to see you at Jane's launch party at the Red Balloon Bookshop in St. Paul! Jane will read from her debut middle-grade novel, The Secret of Goldenrod, and sign copies. The fun begins at 2:00 p.m.

For more events happening this month across the US featuring Lerner authors, check out the events page on our website. 

Thursday, September 29, 2016

Q&A with Penny Warner

The Code Busters Club author Penny Warner drops by the blog to talk about mysteries, Pokemon Go, and her favorite books.

How did you start writing?

I wrote my first short story in 4th grade about a witch and a haunted house. It was published in the local newspaper and I was thrilled! But I didn’t start writing seriously until after my first child was born. I had degrees in Child Development and Special Education, so I started writing books to help parents with their kids. 

What inspired the Code Busters Club series?

I was writing in two areas--child development and mysteries. I thought why not write a mystery for kids? I loved reading mysteries when I was a kid, especially Nancy Drew, and I loved learned and creating secret codes to send to my friends, so I added the code-busting element to make the books interactive and even more fun to read.

How do you think of the mysteries the Code Busters solve?

I try to imagine what might interest kids, much like what I was interested in when I was young. I loved haunted houses (obviously), but was also fascinated with Alcatraz and thought it would be an intriguing place to set a story. So I begin my story with a place, and that usually inspires the plot. For example, I set a story at the International Spy Museum in Washington, DC, and thought it would be fun to send the kids on a “code” hunt throughout the historic mall...but while they’re being followed by some kind of mysterious spy...

Have you had any real-life mysteries you’ve had to solve?

What a great question! I’ve never been asked this—and yes! When I was around fourteen years old, my friend and I found a packet of papers in an old house that had burned down. The papers turned out to be quite a mystery, full of newspaper clippings about disappearances and letters about strange happenings. We spent six months trying to track down the owners to return the papers while piecing the mystery together but they seemed to have vanished. It’s an unsolved mystery that still haunts me.

Penny visiting a school in Washington, DC
Which Code Busters Club character do you identify with most and why?

When I speak at schools, the students always ask me this. Truthfully, there’s a little bit of me in all four. Cody loves codes and likes to solve mysteries, as do I. (I just wish I had her red hair.) Plus she knows sign language, like I do. Quinn loves to play gamesI love to play games. M.E. is a fashionistaI’m not! But she’s also a bit of a chicken, just like me. And Luke is strong, brave, and athleticnothing like me! But I aspire to be more like Luke!

What are you reading now and what are your favorite books?

My favorite books are classic mysteries, from Nancy Drew to Agatha Christie to Sue Grafton. I also love Sherlock Holmes, James Bond, and Freddy the Pig (AKA Freddy the Detective). Right now I’m reading several books—A Tale for the Time Being by Ruth Ozeki (all about Japan!), The Book Scavenger, and My Big Fat Zombie Goldfish. My to-be-read pile is ginormous, filled mostly with middle-grade fiction.

When you’re not writing, you’re...

  • Visiting new settings (Boston Freedom Trail, Winchester Mystery House, Magicland, Japan) and thinking up new stories to write.
  • creating fun free stuff for the Code Busters Club members, like dossiers, trading bookmarks, handbooks, invisible ink pens, code cards (to join the club and get free stuff, go to
  • speaking at schools (I’ve done more than 50 schools and met hundreds of students, including some in Japan).
  • taking weekend trips in the RV (the redwoods, the beach, the Gold Country) for a change of scenery and new places to write.
  • and eating chocolate, playing Pokemon Go with my grandkids, riding my electric Uber Scooter, making pop-up cards and book cover necklaces, and watching Houdini and Doyle on TV.

Thanks for the great questions! 

( 4 /\/     ‘/ () (_)     ( |2 4 ( |<     + # 3     ( () |) 3      ????

Thanks, Penny! 

Pick up the Code Busters' latest mystery, The Secret of the Puzzle Box, today! And if you're having trouble with the code Penny gave us above, we recommend checking the back of the Code Busters books for the LEET Code key...

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Meet a Lerner: Katharine Seggerman

Meet Katharine Seggerman, one of our new digital interns!

1.      What brings you to Lerner?
After spending some post-college years working in a field related to publishing, I decided I wanted to be where the action is. I’ve always loved reading and writing, and I’m very interested in the power of books to positively influence behavior and wellbeing throughout and beyond childhood. It’s a huge bonus that Lerner, one of the country’s top children’s publishers, happens to be in Minneapolis and happens to have a robust digital program. I already have some experience in editing, so I’m eager to learn the ins and outs of digital publishing.

2.      Describe a day in the life of a Digital intern.
I’m afraid I don’t have a whole lot to report on my first day! Besides setting up my computer and meeting Lerners across departments, I have started working on a project converting the audio from the Interactive Books and Audisee eBooks with audio to create Lerner's new collection of audio books to be released this coming spring. I’m learning some new software, and I’m excited about all the technical skills I’ll be working on during my time here.

3.      What are you reading now?
Fates and Furies by Lauren Groff, a novel from last year about the twists and turns in a young New York couple’s relationship, especially as it relates to the male protagonist’s artistic career.

4.      What’s your best source for finding new book recommendations?
I like to browse e-newsletters from independent bookstores and see which titles keep popping up. Other times I’ll get recommendations from friends and family.

5.      Top 5 (or so) favorite books. Go!
Night Film by Marisha Pessl is one of those books I almost regret having read because I wish I could read it for the first time over and over again. I’m not really into thrillers in general but that one is so odd and charming. Other favorites are all over the map and include Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales, Open Veins of Latin America by Eduardo Galeano, and Nox by Anne Carson. My favorite children’s series, the one that still tugs at my heartstrings to this day, is The Book of Three/The Prydain Chronicles by Lloyd Alexander.

6.      Who do you admire, living or dead, and why?
Quite a lot of people! In general I admire artists and others who defy expectations and continue to improve themselves. I’m a huge music fan, so someone who comes to mind is the producer and singer Grimes, who directs all of her output (including music videos) and who does unexpected things like releasing a highly catchy pop album as a follow-up to a critically favored, darker, more ambient one. I think challenging yourself to move in different directions, inside or outside of art, is very cool.

7.      If you could live anywhere in the world, where would you live and why?
You know, I think Minneapolis is pretty great. If anything I wish I could relocate all my loved ones to this city because it runs at a good pace, the scenery and parks are beautiful, and the overall quality of life can be really top-notch here. 

Friday, September 23, 2016

Middle-Grade Giveaway

Happy Friday! Congratulations to Bumba Books™ winners Tonya Fletcher (@tonya_nc), Denise Thomas (@wildcatslibrary), and Maureen Tumenas. Please send your addresses to so we can get your series in the mail.

We've got a middle-grade giveaway on the docket today: Jane O'Reilly's debut, The Secret of Goldenrod. 

When Trina and her father move into an abandoned mansion, she's convinced it's haunted. Especially after she finds a tiny porcelain doll that talks. Is it possible that the doll is trying to tell her an important secret? 

For editor Alix Reid's post on acquiring and editing Goldenrod, click here

If you're interested in meeting Jane and happen to be in the Twin Cities area on October 1, come to her launch party at the Red Balloon Bookshop! Details here

Here are three ways you can enter for a chance to win: 
  • leave a comment on this post that includes your first and last name 
  • send an email to that includes your first and last name
  • tweet this line: Tweet for a chance to win THE SECRET OF GOLDENROD by @janeheleno from @LernerBooks! 
US entries only, please. We'll announce the winner on the blog on Friday, September 30. Good luck!

Thursday, September 22, 2016

It’s Here!

Happy Autumn Equinox to our wonderful Lerner blog readers! I’m so grateful to each and every one of you for checking into our little space here on the web. I’m also grateful that today marks the start of my very favorite season. In true Lerner fashion, I’m celebrating all this awesomeness by sharing some of my most-loved Lerner fall-themed books. (I must admit a special attachment to Fall Fun for Kit, as this Fall Superfan was lucky enough to get the amazing opportunity to write that one.) Enjoy! And thank you again, so much, for being here.

9780761313427fc_Large      9780761345862fc_Large
9780761350620fc_Large   9780822519911fc_Large    9781512414097fc_Large 9781467711654fc_Large[11]