By Peter Lerangis, for The Children’s Book Review
Published: August 18, 2010
Welcome to the 7th stop of The 39 Clues blog tour. We are thrilled to host Peter Lerangis! Be sure to enter the giveaway for your chance to win books 1-7 of this exciting and groundbreaking series.
I braced myself. Behind her, hundreds of excited kids were filing in to the gym. They sat in sections based on the colors of their shirts: red, blue, green, gold, representing the four branches of the Cahill family. Most were dressed as 39 Clues characters. Jonah Wizard (with his bling) and Nellie Gomez (with her punk attire) were very popular — but also a set of twins dressed as fish (Saladin’s red snapper), a girl in a three-piece suit (Jonah’s dad), and a guy dressed as Nellie.
They seemed happy and engaged. So what had gone wrong?
I knew the school had chosen The 39 Clues as the theme for that year’s curriculum. Makes sense — the series is a worldwide search (geography) for Clues left by the most influential people of all time (history, science), involving twisty plots and strong emotional character connections (language arts) among colorful locales (visual art) and requiring the decoding of cryptic clues (mathematics, logic).
Hmm. Was the teacher disturbed by the intensity? It was kind of extreme …
That morning, the school had warned us to call ahead. As we got close, we were told to drive around the block and hide. When we finally got the OK to approach, our jaws hit the floor. The students were pouring out of the building, screaming, crowding against a line of traffic cones that stretched along the school. Another lane of cones had been set up for us to drive through. When I left the car and began high-fiving the kids, cones shmones — they mobbed me. On a video of the incident, you can hear a teacher saying, “Somebody get him before they kill him.” I had to pinch myself to make sure I wasn’t Justin Bieber.
So maybe this teacher was worried — the way teachers in my elementary school had worried about our Beatles obsession. I felt a vague urge to apologize. “So, um … what did happen to your class?” I asked.
“Well, we just finished Book Two, and they have become obsessed … ” She met my eyes with a bewildered look. “ … with Mozart!”
I was speechless — not surprised, because if anyone could make an oddball eighteenth-century composer and his sister exciting, it’s Gordon Korman — but speechless.
“And I panicked,” she continued. “I didn’t know a thing about Mozart!” She finally smiled, and when she glanced at her kids again, it was with great pride. “So I had to get CDs and other materials. We’ve been listening to his music, studying Vienna — and we’re learning so much! Now, with The Sword Thief, they’re starting to get hooked on Japanese culture. I can’t wait!”
I couldn’t either.
Touring to promote The Sword Thief was one eye-opening experience after another. Part of the fun was that I was in the process of writing Book 7, The Viper’s Nest. I learned which characters the kids connected to best, which aspects of the hunt excited them the most. They became my guides. Until then I had been worried about writing a story involving historical figures relatively unknown to American kids (Shaka Zulu and Winston Churchill), in a locale fraught with a tortured historical legacy (South Africa).
But looking at this teacher, and at the throng of kids so excited about a book — not a movie or a song or a game or the latest app, but a book — I took courage. If they could bond with Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, well, anything was possible!
About the author: Peter Lerangis is the acclaimed author of the New York Times bestseller The 39 Clues Book Three: The Sword Thief, as well as many other popular books for children, including Spy X, Antarctica, and the Watchers series. He lives with his family in New York City.
Reading level: Ages 8-12
Series overview: The 39 Clues is a groundbreaking, multi-media adventure series for children ages 8-12 that spans 10 adrenaline-charged books, hundreds of collectible cards, and an online game that allows readers to play a part in the story and compete for prizes.
The series centers around the Cahills—the most powerful family the world has ever known. But the source of the family’s power has been lost. Grace Cahill, the last matriarch of the Cahills, changed her will minutes before she died, leaving her descendants an impossible decision: receive a million dollars or a clue. The first Cahill to assemble all 39 clues hidden around the world will discover what makes the family so powerful—a reward beyond measure. It’s Cahill versus Cahill in a race to the finish, with readers hot on the heels of the main characters, fourteen-year-old Amy Cahill and her eleven-year-old brother, Dan. The series highlights famous historical figures kicking off with Benjamin Franklin in The Maze of Bones, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart in One False Note, Toyotomi Hideyoshi in The Sword Thief, Howard Carter in Beyond the Grave, Anastasia Romanov in The Black Circle, and Amelia Earhart in In Too Deep.
The series launched on September 9, 2008, with Book 1: The Maze of Bones by Rick Riordan, which debuted at #1 on the New York Times bestseller list. On December 2, 2008, Book 2: One False Note by Gordon Korman was released and also debuted at #1 on the New York Times bestseller list. Since then, the series, including Book 3: The Sword Thief by Peter Lerangis, Book 4: Beyond the Grave by Jude Watson, Book 5: The Black Circle by Patrick Carman, and Book 6: In Too Deep by Jude Watson, have appeared on the New York Times, USA Today, Publishers Weekly, and Wall Street Journal bestseller lists.
The complete list of authors and publication dates for all 10 books in The 39 Clues series is as follows:
Book 1: The Maze of Bones (September 9, 2008) by Rick Riordan
Book 2:One False Note (December 2, 2008) by Gordon Korman
Book 3: The Sword Thief (March 3, 2009) by Peter Lerangis
Book 4: Beyond the Grave (June 2, 2009) by Jude Watson
Book 5: The Black Circle (August 11, 2009) by Patrick Carman
Book 6: In Too Deep (November 3, 2009) by Jude Watson
Book 7: The Viper’s Nest (February 2, 2010) by Peter Lerangis
Book 8: The Emperor’s Code (April 6, 2010) by Gordon Korman
Book 9: Storm Warning (May 25, 2010) by Linda Sue Park
Book 10: Into the Gauntlet (August 31, 2010) by Margaret Peterson Haddix
Movie rights for The 39 Clues have been acquired by DreamWorks Studios with Steven Spielberg eyeing to direct. Deborah Forte, President of Scholastic Media, will produce. The script is being penned by Jeff Nathanson whose credits include “Catch Me If You Can” and “Rush Hour 2.”
39 Clues Online Game: Create an account, discover which branch of the Cahill family YOU belong to, and start exploring the website to see if you can be the first to find the Clues. Get the latest intelligence on the authors, upcoming books, answers to your questions, and more. Plus, talk strategy and share secrets with other Cahills on the 39 Clues message boards.
The 39 Clues has been licensed in 22 languages to date.
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