New Book of Clues

39 Clues fan Whoopi Goldberg helps launch second book, One False Note

  • Grades: 3–5, 6–8

The Man in Black was nowhere in sight yesterday, but there were nearly 300 students in the house and about a million more watching around the world as TV personality Whoopi Goldberg and author Gordon Korman launched the second book in the 39 Clues series, One False Note.

During a live webcast at Scholastic headquarters in New York, Goldberg interviewed Korman about the new book. Kids in the auditorium, along with those watching online in countries including England, Australia, Canada, and New Zealand, also asked questions.

"Glad to see you here," Goldberg said as she took the stage. "It means you're reading." She went on to say how much she loves the 39 Clues series. "Where else can you go to get adventure and playing cards?"

The first book in the 39 Clues series, The Maze of Bones, was written by Rick Riordan and instantly became a New York Times best-seller. The series revolves around real historical figures, such as Benjamin Franklin, and in this second installment, composer Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart.

Korman said he enjoyed building on Riordan's characters. He surprised the audience when he admitted that he had the most fun writing dialogue for Jonah Wizard. He's a teenage actor, mogul, and gangsta-wannabe, someone Goldberg called "a bonehead." Korman also revealed that he identifies the most with Amy. "We are both shy," he said. "Amy has timidity on the surface but an inner strength below that fuels the energy for their quest."

He told Goldberg that after taking the online quiz at the 39 Clues Web site, he discovered he is of the Janus branch of the Cahill family. Korman said he is wary of members of the Lucian branch because they are treacherous and often spies. Korman and Goldberg then turned the tables on the audience and asked how many Lucians were in attendance.

Korman said he did a lot of research on Mozart before writing One False Note. He was particularly intrigued by the mystery that surrounded him.

kid reporter interviews whoopi goldberg
Kid Reporter Andrew Scarafile interviews Whoopi Goldberg at the Scholastic Auditorium. (Photo: Miles White/Scholastic)

"Mozart was one of the most successful composers and hardest-working men in show business of his time," Mr. Korman explained. "Yet he died penniless. It made me wonder what he spent all his money on and whether it was in pursuit of the 39 Clues. He was laid to rest in an unmarked pauper's grave, and to this day no one knows where he is buried."

Korman was also fascinated with Mozart's sister Nannerl. "Nannerl was said to have had musical gifts equal to her brother's," explained Korman. "But because she lived in a time when society did not approve of women developing their talents, we will never know what contributions she could have made to the world of music."

There are plans to bring The 39 Clues to the silver screen. DreamWorks Studios will produce the movie, which will be based on Maze of Bones. Steven Spielberg might direct the movie, but right now it is in the early stages of production.

In the final moments of the webcast, author Peter Lerangis made a surprise appearance to announce that the third installment of the 39 Clues, The Sword Thief, will hit stores on March 3, 2009.  

Neither Lerangis nor Korman would divulge who the Man in Black is. But Korman promised that careful reading of One False Note would bring readers closer to discovering his true identity.

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