Posted in Adventure, Fiction, Middle Grade, Science Fiction, Tween Reads

BOOK BLITZ! NatGeo Explorer Academy Forbidden Island

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A heart-pounding final showdown changes the life of Cruz Coronado forever in the seventh and final book in this thrilling fact-based fiction series.

Amid assignments that take the Explorer Academy recruits from the iceberg-filled waters of Antarctica to the bone-dry deserts of Argentina, Cruz Coronado is scrambling to complete the last piece of the cipher. With Nebula agents and the elusive explorer spy still out there, his opportunity to recover his mother’s world-changing formula is slipping away. But as Cruz has learned from his time aboard Orion, true explorers must never give up.

Even after completing dozens of high-risk missions and traveling to all seven continents, Cruz could never prepare himself for one ultimate surprise.

Explorer Academy features: Gripping fact-based fiction plot that inspires curiosity with new technology and innovations; amazing inventions and gadgets; a cast of diverse, relatable characters; secret clues, codes, and ciphers to track down within the text; vibrant illustrations; elements of STEAM; National Geographic explorer profiles in the "Truth Behind" section.

Check out the Explorer Academy website featuring videos, comic shorts, games, profiles of real-life National Geographic Explorers, chapter excerpts and more. 
 


Praise:

"Sure to appeal to kids who love code cracking and mysteries with cutting-edge technology."  
Booklist

"A perfect blend of adventure with real science and technology!"
New York Times #1 best-selling author Rick Riordan

"A fun, exciting, and action-packed ride that kids will love."
—J.J. Abrams, director and screenwriter of Star Wars: The Force Awakens, Lost, Alias

"Inspires the next generation of curious kids to go out into our world and discover something unexpected.”
—James Cameron, National Geographic Explorer-in-Residence and acclaimed film-maker

 

About the Author

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram

TRUDI TRUEIT has written more than 100 books for young readers, both fiction and nonfiction. Her love of writing began in fourth grade, when she wrote, directed, and starred in her first play. She went on to be a TV news reporter and weather forecaster, but she knew her calling was in writing. Trueit is a gifted storyteller for middle-grade audiences, and her fiction novels include The Sister Solution, Stealing Popular, and the Secrets of a Lab Rat series. Her expertise in kids nonfiction encompasses books on history, weather, wildlife, and earth science. She is the author of all the narratives in the Explorer Academy series, beginning with Explorer Academy: The Nebula Secret. Trueit was born and raised in the Pacific Northwest, and lives in Everett, Washington.

 


GIVEAWAY

  • Three (3) winners will receive the COMPLETE 7-book Explorer Academy series and an Explorer Academy map, showing all the places around the world that Cruz and his classmates visit over the course of the series!
  • US/Canada only
  • Ends 11/27 at 11:59pm ET
  • Enter via the Rafflecopter below

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Posted in Adventure, Fantasy, Fiction, Middle Grade, Tween Reads

Blog Tour and Giveaway! NEW NatGeoKids Explorer Academy: Dragon’s Blood!

I have been WAITING on this book! I’ve been absolutely hooked on the Explorer Academy series from book one, and finally, Dragon’s Blood is here – grab your copy!

Welcome back to the Explorer Academy! and…

The Explorer Academy: The Dragon’s Blood Blog Tour!

To celebrate the release of Explorer Academy: The Dragon’s Blood by Trudi Trueit on October 5th, blogs across the web are featuring exclusive guest posts from Trudi, as well as 5 chances to win all 6 books in the series so far! The 7th and final book in the series will be released in Fall 2022.


 

What a Character!
by Trudi Trueit

“How do you come up with interesting characters?”

It’s the question I got most often from writers. For me, it’s not a magical thing. Most of the time, characters don’t pop into my head fully formed. If you don’t base them on anyone you know (and I don’t) character building takes time. It’s like getting to know a new friend. The more time you spend together the more that person reveals to you.

I almost always start with a name. Until I have that, it’s hard to get into the writing. I tend to stay away from more common names. I also like to mix things up. I might name a villain something soothing, like Serene, or a timid boy, Rocco. Whenever I hear an interesting name, I write it down so I always have a long list to start with when I am creating a character. Once I choose a name, I start asking questions about that character to get a feel for who they are—and I ask A LOT of questions. I fill out a questionnaire for each major character. First, I cover the basics: name, age, physical description, ancestry, family details, pets, hobbies, sports. Next, I ask:

  • What’s in my character’s purse or pocket right now?
  • What’s my character’s most prized possession?
  • Describe my character’s personality in four words.

Then it’s time to go deeper. The answers to these questions will determine how the character will think and act throughout the story.

  • What’s my character’s biggest flaw?
  • What’s my character’s greatest hope?
  • What’s my character’s biggest problem or fear?
  • What’s my character’s most treasured secret?

And the most important question of all:

  • What does my character want more than anything in the world?

It’s the protagonist’s goal that will drive the plot, so this is a question that must be answered.

If I get stuck in the development phase, I try writing a letter to myself from the character’s point of view. This gets me out of my head and into theirs, where it belongs. I am free to be open and truthful. Once I am, it usually unlocks the character’s true personality and motivations.

Also, you don’t need to know everything about a character when you begin writing. In fact, it’s better if you don’t. Start with a name, a problem, and a goal. Go from there. The more you write, the more your character will share—just like a friend. And yes, I think of all of my characters as real people. They are, aren’t they?

Just for fun, if you’d like to find out what Explorer Academy character you are most like, take the quiz!

As for me, I am most similar to Emmett but then I already knew that!


 

Amazon | Bookshop | Goodreads

“a fully packed high-tech adventure that offers both cool, educational facts about the planet and a diverse cast of fun characters.” —Kirkus

“This exciting, fast-paced, far-flung story is full of science facts and James Bond-like gadgets, accompanied by colored illustrations.  The ending is guaranteed to keep readers eager for the next series installment.” –Booklist

Explorer Academy is exciting and smart.” —Karen Bokram, Editor-in-Chief, Girls’ Life

An explosive revelation and a familiar face heighten the mystery for Cruz and friends in the sixth book in this adventure-packed series.

Still reeling from the life-changing discovery he found buried in the mysterious archive, Cruz Coronado grapples with an important secret as the gang heads to China in search of the second-to-last piece of the cipher. Under the watchful eye of a new adviser, life on the ship returns to almost normal…Almost.

Just as things seem to be going smoothly, a familiar face shocks Cruz back into reality, and the final piece in this life-and-death scavenger hunt veers toward a dead end.

Check out the Explorer Academy website, featuring videos, comic shorts, games, profiles of real-life National Geographic Explorers, chapter excerpts and more. 

Follow Trudi: Website | Twitter | Facebook | Youtube

TRUDI TRUEIT has written more than 100 books for young readers, both fiction and nonfiction. Her love of writing began in fourth grade, when she wrote, directed, and starred in her first play. She went on to be a TV news reporter and weather forecaster, but she knew her calling was in writing. Trueit is a gifted storyteller for middle-grade audiences, and her fiction novels include The Sister Solution, Stealing Popular, and the Secrets of a Lab Rat series. Her expertise in kids nonfiction encompasses books on history, weather, wildlife, and earth science. She is the author of all the narratives for the Explorer Academy series, beginning with Explorer Academy: The Nebula Secret. Trueit was born and raised in the Pacific Northwest, and lives in Everett, Washington.


 

 GIVEAWAY

a Rafflecopter giveaway

  • One (1) winner will receive all 6 Explorer Academy hardcovers (The Nebula Secret, The Falcon’s Feather, The Double Helix, The Star Dunes, The Tiger’s Nest, and the NEW book The Dragon’s Blood)
  • US/Canada only
  • Ends 11/1 at 11:59pm ET
  • Check out the other stops for more chances to win!

 

Blog Tour Schedule

October 18thPragmatic Mom
October 19thImagination Soup
October 20thMom Read It
October 21stAlways in the Middle
October 22ndBookHounds

Posted in Adventure, Fiction, Middle Grade, Tween Reads

Tales from the TBR: NatGeo’s Explorer Academy – Star Dunes

Explorer Academy: The Star Dunes (Book 4), by Trudi Trueit, (March 2020, National Geographic), $16.99, ISBN: 9781426336812
Ages 8-12
I am WAY behind on my Explorer Academy reading; Book 6 is coming out in October and I’ve only just finished Book 4, which came out in hardcover last year, and in softcover in January of this year. But do NOT be me: this middle grade adventure series has been one of the best I’ve read over the last few years; I’ve given it to my nephew, who’s devoured each book, and I talk it up to my library kids, who love all the cool James Bond-type intrigue and gadgets, along with the piece-by-piece solving of a mystery that takes Cruz Coronado, our main character, and his friends, all over the world. In this fourth installment, Cruz and Company take on poachers and heal mountain gorillas in Africa as they continue on their hunt for Cruz’s mother’s next clue. Meanwhile, not all is well at the Explorer Academy as Cruz gets some unsettling news and discovers that one of his classmates is increasingly hostile to him, calling him a “hero hog”. On the up side, a new student at Explorer Academy will satisfy longtime readers who were probably wondering when that particular development would finally happen (I know I did!). The cast we’ve all grown to know is here, and even first-time Explorer Academy readers will find themselves comfortable in this fourth volume – but really, to know the whole story, you should read the first three, too. Color illustrations and an introduction to the scientists that inspire the adventures in the book make this a great middle grade series. Hand this to all your action adventure readers – it’s science fiction that’s closer and closer to realistic fiction every day.
Posted in Uncategorized

The latest Explorer Academy installment, and a code-breaking adventure!

One of my absolute favorite middle grade series to emerge in the last couple of years has been, without a doubt, the Explorer Academy series from NatGeo Kids by Trudi Trueit. I’ve been waiting on every book in the series with the same anticipation, excitement, and – when the book is done – pins and needles feeling, knowing I have to wait for another book in the series. I’ve gotten my nephew hooked on the series, too: when I get my hello hug from him, he’ll say, “Did you get the next Explorer Academy book yet?” I’ve just ordered the first three books for my library, too, so I’m going to start booktalking this to my I Survived readers… which is to say, all my readers. So let’s talk about that third book, shall we?

Explorer Academy: The Double Helix, by Trudi Trueit, (Sept. 2019, National Geographic Kids), $16.99, ISBN: 9781426334580

Ages 8-13

Things are heating up with the third book in the Explorer Academy series! In the last book, The Falcon’s Feather, Cruz Coronado and his friends narrowly escaped a scary situation, only to discover that Cruz’s dad has disappeared. The shadowy Nebula group is getting braver in their pursuit of Cruz and the pieces of his mother’s ciphers. Cruz needs to stay one step ahead of them while trying to track down his father, and find the next cipher. The closer Cruz gets to his 13th birthday, the higher the stakes. What happens when Cruz turns 13? WE NEED TO KNOW!

While the main plot continues to be Cruz vs. the Nebula group, we get some great subplots, including a look at space archaeology, where scientists use satellites to look for signs of looting at ancient burial sites. There’s great technology, too: this time around, the kids get to work with a PANDA: a Portable Artifact and Data Analyzer, that scans items and identifies the origins of bones, fossils, pottery, and includes a holographic image of the artifact being scanned.

Illustrated throughout, the latest installment is white-knuckle reading that adventure fans will refuse to put down from start to finish. The characters have become old friends at this point, so readers can jump in, reacquaint themselves, and get down to the business of conservation, preservation, and solving mysteries. The Truth Behind the Fiction highlights a space archaeologist and Egyptologist. Don’t miss this one.

 

Explorer Academy: Code-Breaking Activity Adventure, by National Geographic Kids, (May 2019, National Geographic Kids), $12.99, ISBN: 978-1-4263-3307-1

Ages 8-12

Who loves secret codes? This book, written like a handbook for Explorer Academy students, teaches readers secret codes while sending them on codebreaking missions throughout the book. Hubbard, the adorable Westie who shows up in the Explorer Academy series, appears throughout the book with helpful hints if you get stuck. Readers and codebreakers will learn about acrostic messages, morse code, semaphore, pigpen ciphers, and more, all while learning about different areas in the Explorer Academy: The Library, the CAVE, and the Museum, for starters. A certificate of achievement is ready for readers who finish their missions.

This book is just too much fun, and nicely incorporates the Explorer Academy into the activities. This book would be beat up in circulation in my library, but for Explorer Academy fans, this is a great gift. And for kids who love the spy activities I have at my library, this will be a fun group of exercises to emulate. I had a fun Spy Week during Summer Reading a few years ago; bringing some secret coding adventures back may be fun to explore. Since I have the Explorer Academy books arriving at my library soon, it may be time for an Explorer Academy adventure, with some codebreaking and scavenger hunts around the children’s room… hmmm…

Posted in Adventure, Espionage, Fiction, Middle Grade, Tween Reads

New NatGeo Explorer Academy: The Falcon’s Feather

Explorer Academy: The Falcon’s Feather, by Trudi Treueit/Illustrated by Scott Plumbe (interior) and Antonio Javier Caparo (cover), (March 2019, National Geographic), $16.99, ISBN: 9781426333040

Ages 9-13

The second Explorer Academy adventure picks up shortly after the first adventure, The Nebula Secret, concludes, and the action kicks in pretty quickly. Cruz Coronado is back, and he’s on a mission to get the remaining ciphers that his mother hid around the world before her untimely death. His best friends, Emmett and Sailor, are right in the thick of it with him, and his Aunt Marisol is, too. The evil Nebula group is still trying to get Cruz out of the way, and now, there’s something new afoot; something only hinted at: they want Cruz done away with before his 13th birthday. Could it be something to do with that unusual DNA-shaped birthmark on his arm? We’ll have to keep reading to find out, because that’s all you’re going to get here.

In addition to the globe-hopping mystery, The Falcon’s Feather also talks conservation and preservation; this time, Cruz and his friends save a pod of whales entangled in nets, and, while visiting the Svalbard Global Seed Vault in Norway, have a discussion about biodiversity. NatGeo is committed to educating readers about world issues, and this is a great way to do it: put kids in the middle of an adventure and let them experience it! There are all sorts of new gadgets and gizmos in this volume, and Mell, our favorite robot bee, is back. One scientist creates a communication device that allows Cruz to communicate with the endangered whales, and it’s an outstanding moment in the book; Cruz’s world opens up when he not only hears the whales’ songs, but connects them to human understanding. This installment ends on a tense note, assuring that readers (like me!) will be waiting for the next book. The Truth Behind the Fiction section introduces us to the real-life scientists who inspire some of the book’s characters, including a deep-sea submersible pilot, an explorer studying ecosystems and biodiversity, and a geoscientist researching climate change. Color illustrations throughout the book are just gorgeous and will keep readers turning pages. Maps at the beginning of some chapters help place readers when the characters find themselves in a new location.

This series is a no-brainer. Get it on your shelves for your burgeoning explorers/conservationists/secret agents, or just readers who love a good, tight suspense read.

 

Posted in Adventure, Fantasy, Fiction, Fiction, Middle Grade, Tween Reads

Join NatGeo’s Explorer Academy!

Explorer Academy: The Nebula Secret, by Trudi Trueit, (Sept. 2018, National Geographic), $16.99, ISBN: 9781426331596

Ages 9-13

Twelve year-old Cruz Coronado has lived with his dad in Hawaii ever since his mom died in a work-related accident when he was little. Now that Cruz is 12, though, he’s got a big future: he’s been accepted into the prestigious Explorer Academy, which will take him to Washington, DC. The Explorer Academy is no joke: they accept only 24 kids from around the world every year; the students train to become the next generation of great explorers. But someone doesn’t want Cruz at the Academy: there’s an attempt on his life before he even leaves for the school! When he arrives at the Academy, he learns that his mother’s history is tied into his – and this could endanger his life, and the lives of his new friends. But who’s out to get Cruz?

Explorer Academy: The Nebula Secret is the first in a new NatGeo adventure series, and I loved it. It’s action-packed, fast-paced, and features a good cast of diverse, interesting characters with loads of cool tech and devices, like Mell, Cruz’s honeybee drone. There are copious tech and nature facts and information found throughout the story, with scientist and technology profiles in a “Truth Behind the Fiction” section at the end of the book. Color illustrations and maps throughout the book make this a solid hit for tweens and early teens. I’m looking forward to The Falcon’s Feather – the second book in the series – in March. Cruz is a likable hero who has a talent for code-breaking and a good relationship with his dad and his aunt, who also happens to be a professor at the Academy. Cruz’s best friend, Lani, isn’t a student at the Academy (yet), and serves as an anchor to home for Cruz. She, and Cruz’s friend and Academy roommate, Emmett, are the gadget masters here: the Q of the series, for you James Bond fans. Talk them up to your STEM/STEAM kids!

Display and booktalk with the Nick and Tesla series from Quirk; the HowToons comic series, and the Book Scavenger series by Jennifer Chambliss Berman. And talk up the Explorer Academy website! There are character profiles, book trailers, a chapter excerpt, gadget talk, and a crack the code challenge. It’s a good series to wrap a program around… just sayin’.