TODAY   |  May 27, 2010

Author takes readers ‘Inside the Shadow City’

Kirsten Miller, author of "Kiki Strike: Inside the Shadow City," fields questions about her story from the young readers of Al Roker’s book club.

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This content comes from a Full-Text Transcript of the program.

And now on AL'S BOOK CLUB FOR KIDS, "Kiki Strike: Inside the Shadow City ." Imagine waking up to see a huge sinkhole on your street, only to discover a secret underground shadow city beneath it filled with rats, treasures and a few dangerous criminals. Seventh grader Ananka Fishbein enlists the help of the mysterious Kiki Strike and some newfound friends to start exploring. Kirsten Miller is the author of " Kiki Strike ." And with the help from our

friends at Scholastic Book Clubs, we've got a new group of kid critics: Miles Nouzi, Sabrina Fernandez, Spencer Carl Otto and Eva Thornton. And from Texas , our guest critic, Josef Schmidt . So good morning to everybody. Hey, Josef .

Mr. JOSEF SCHMIDT (Katy, Texas): Hey.

ROKER: Hey. Good to see everybody. So Kirsten , let's start. How did you get this inspiration to start an idea about a whole underground city ?

Ms. KIRSTEN MILLER: Well, one day I was watching the news and there was actually a sinkhole that opened up in the middle of New York City .

ROKER: Mm-hmm.

Ms. MILLER: And they sent a camera down beneath and it was a room.

ROKER: Mm-hmm.

Ms. MILLER: Completely preserved.

ROKER: Ooh .

Ms. MILLER: And so that got me thinking about what else might be underground.

ROKER: Mm-hmm.

Ms. MILLER: And I did a little reading and I found out there is a whole bunch of stuff down there.

ROKER: All right. Well, we want to get our kid club critics into this. So first of all, Miles , you're 11. Mr. MILES NOUZI; Yeah.

ROKER: You've got a question for us.

Mr. NOUZI: Kirsten , which character do you think in particular reflects you the most?

Ms. MILLER: Oh.

ROKER: Mm.

Ms. MILLER: I would love to say Kiki Strike , but unfortunately I am much more like Ananka Fishbein . I'm a little bit of a -- of a geek, a book lover, and I always liked to think that was my special power, so.

ROKER: And who is Kiki ?

Ms. MILLER: Kiki is a girl mastermind. She's a mystery.

ROKER: Mm-hmm.

Ms. MILLER: Who she is, where she comes from and why she's leading all of these girls into this underground adventure.

ROKER: All right. Sabrina , what's your question?

Miss SABRINA FERNANDEZ: Kirsten , I would like to ask how did you come up with the name The Irregulars ?

Ms. MILLER: That's actually a good story because when I was a kid I used to love Sherlock Holmes , and he had a group of kids that he used to send out to do errands and they were called the Bank Street Irregulars .

ROKER: Baker Street.

Ms. MILLER: Baker Street Irregulars.

ROKER: Yes.

Ms. MILLER: Mine are the Bank Street Irregulars . And I was always upset that there weren't any girls. So when Kiki started her own little club, she called them The Irregulars after that.

ROKER: Very cool. I used to love Sherlock Holmes when I was -- that was one of the first mysteries I ever read.

Ms. MILLER: Oh, I love them, too.

ROKER: Very cool. All right. Let's bring in Josef . He's joining us via Skype . And he's been reading along with the group. So Josef , what's your question for Kirsten ?

Mr. SCHMIDT: What do you think would be like the most exciting part in your book? Because mine was when they got attacked by those mutant rats.

Ms. MILLER: Oh.

ROKER: Ooh .

Ms. MILLER: Yes, for anyone who doesn't know, there are mutant man-eating rats in the book.

ROKER: Mm.

Ms. MILLER: I would say that was pretty exciting, but I also think when Ananka first meets Kiki Strike it's pretty exciting, too. That's my favorite part.

ROKER: All right. Now we're going to go back to Spencer . And your question for Kirsten ?

Mr. SPENCER CARL OTTO: Kirsten , why did you pick the name Kiki Strike ?

ROKER: Hm.

Ms. MILLER: Well, here's my little secret: My nickname in college was Kiki .

ROKER: Ah.

Ms. MILLER: I had a friend who thought that was really funny. She's probably watching now. And I wanted a name that sort of balanced it out because Kiki 's a little girly so I wanted something that was powerful. So I stole the last name of my best friend in sixth grade, her last name was Strike , and that's how I came up with the name.

ROKER: Very cool. See, that's what I love about the book club because we get to find out these things we never would know. All right. And then Eva , what's your question?

Miss EVA THORNTON: The end of most of the chapters you offer how-to advice.

Ms. MILLER: Mm-hmm.

Miss THORNTON: Like how to be a good detective, how to make good disguises. Did you, like, make those up or did you do research or did they come from your imagination?

Ms. MILLER: I'm afraid the authorities have told me I'm not allowed to tell you where I learned all those secrets.

ROKER: Ah.

Ms. MILLER: No, I -- books, magazines, television, all over the place . Just whenever I heard a good tip on, you know, how to, you know, be a master of disguise or how to pick locks, I would sort of -- I would stow it away and use it later, so.

ROKER: Are you a master of disguise?

Ms. MILLER: Yes, I am.

ROKER: Oh.

Ms. MILLER: In fact -- no.

ROKER: All right. Let's see how our kids -- our kid critics rated the book on a sale of one to five stars, five being the highest. " Kiki Strike " gets four and a half stars. Kirsten Miller , way to go.

Ms. MILLER: Woo!