Onsite Reviews & Interviews



Ballerina Detective and the Missing Jeweled Tiara by Karen Rita Rautenberg is a suspenseful mystery where Kayla and her friends try to find Amber’s prized possession: a jeweled tiara that mysteriously went missing during a ballet class.

Kayla has to put her full detective face on to solve this mystery. Buying fingerprinting kits, eavesdropping on suspects and interviewing possible witnesses, this is definitely not a boring read.

This book doesn’t only deal with a theft, it also focuses on other stressful parts of Kayla’s life-going to the movies with her crush, dealing with mean girls and spraining her ankle. Whether Kayla is flirting with Jason or doing her plies in ballet, this enthralling book will leave you wanting more.

Does Kayla find the tiara? Will she remember all of her lines in her play? Hit up your local bookstore or library to find out.

By: Julia Fine


Category: Mystery/Thriller
Age Recommendation: Grades 6+
Release Date: 6/1/09
Publisher: DNA Press
Reviewed by: JenJen
Rating: 4 Stars

Amber brings her mom’s tiara to ballet class that she plans on wearing in the ballet of The Nutcracker to show to her friends. During class she leaves it in her bag in the locker room, and it goes missing!

Super-sleuth Kayla is on the case! Kayla and Vicky begin taking notes, interviewing classmates, and collecting clues, but in the meantime Kayla’s life is in for a few exciting moments of its own.

She lands the leading role in the school play, which she is very excited about, but discovers she has stage fright and is having problems remembering her lines. Not to mention that huge crush she has on Jason!

The girls rush to solve the case of the missing tiara in time for the big day and discover things are not always as black and white as they seem.

BALLERINA DETECTIVE AND THE MISSING JEWELED TIARA was a quick, fun read of a group of teen kids just beginning to realize their dreams and that it takes hard work to accomplish them. Recommended for girls ages nine through thirteen.



Friday, February 19, 2010

Interviews with Authors and Illustrators

Karen Rita Rautenberg

Let’s get some of the typical interview questions out of the way first. When did you first know that you wanted to be a writer?

I started really wanting to write a book when I was in college. I considered writing a self-help book. Then I started thinking about different mystery plots and even thrillers for an adult audience. When I became an elementary school teacher, I started thinking about writing children’s books.

Can you tell us a little bit about your road to publishing?

When I started writing a picture book, I learned all about the different publishing companies for children. Then when I wrote my first novel, Lady Lucy’s Gallant Knight, I sent it to many publishing companies until I found the right publisher for it.

Tell us a little bit about either your latest or upcoming release. If you could only tell your readers one thing about the story that had to convince us to buy the book, what would it be?

My new book, Ballerina Detective and the Missing Jeweled Tiara, is an exciting mystery with lots of adventure and fun.

What, or who, has been the greatest inspiration for your stories?

Nancy Drew mysteries and Disney movies.

Let’s hear about your family, who I’m sure are thrilled to have a published author among them!

Many of my family members are thrilled about my being an author and enjoy reading the books.

Now for some fun facts. What’s your greatest comfort food?


What are the first three things you do when you wake up in the morning?

I listen to the radio in my bedroom for the weather and important events, I eat breakfast, and then I look out my big picture window in my living room to see what’s going on outside.

If I came to your house and looked in your closet/attic/basement, what’s the one thing that would surprise me the most?

It’s pretty neat.

Everyone asks the question about “if you could be a tree, which tree would you be?” so I want to know: If you could be a color, which color would it be, and why?

Well I don’t want to be green like Kermit so I’d like to be yellow like the sun, and also it’s a very cheerful color.

Who is your favorite cartoon character?

Casper the Friendly Ghost.

Which cartoon character is most like you?

I’m a little like Sleeping Beauty.

If you could beam yourself to anywhere in the world (“Beam me up, Scotty!”), during any time in history, where and when would it be-and why?

I’d like to go back to the Middle Ages where they had knights in shining armor and banquets in gigantic castles.

So what’s your favorite type of music to listen to? Favorite musical artists?

I like show music, disco, and soft rock. Some of my favorite artists are the Beatles, the Four Seasons, Carrie Underwood, Bon Jovi, Martina McBride, Kenny Chesney, and Taylor Swift.

Do you have any favorite T.V. shows? Movies you watch over and over again?

American Idol, Dancing with the Stars, National Geographic, Top Chef and Project Runway; Disney Movies, Harry Potter; and Where the Wild Things Are.

You have the chance to give one piece of advice to your teen readers. What would it be?

My advice for preteens and teens is to try to develop your creative writing abilities by writing about anything that appeals to you. I think that you should try to write a short story about three times a week.

One last question. What stories can we look forward to from you in the future?

I’m starting to write a new mystery and adventure chapter book.

Again, thanks so much for joining us at TeensReadToo.com!

Posted by Jen Wardrip at 2:11 PM


The Fiction Shelf

Ballerina Detective and the Missing Jeweled Tiara
Karen Rita Rautenberg
DNA Press
c/o SoCal Public Relations
8130 La Mesa Boulevard., Suite 137, La Mesa, CA 91942
9781933255477, $9.95 www.amazon.com

“Ballerina Detective and the Missing Jeweled Tiara” is an engrossing 192-page mystery for children ages 8-13 which presents a humorous portrait of 12- year old Kayla, amateur sleuth and would-be ballerina, who attempts to solve the mystery of the stolen jeweled tiara along with her friend Vicky. Readers will be drawn into the life issues and obstacles experienced by the plucky heroine, and they will identify with her self doubts and stage fright issues which must not overcome her ambition to succeed on stage in her class play. A thriller and a gripper, plus a vigorous dose of adolescent angst along with brain teasers and clues to help solve the mystery, all these make “Ballerina Detective” a great page turning experience for young adult readers.”


Though billed as being for boys and girls, I think the latter will like Ballerina Detective and the Missing Jeweled Tiara by Karen Rita Rautenberg ($9.95, DNA Press, softcover) for ages 8 to 13. When Amber’s tiara is stolen, 12-year-old Kayla and her friend Vicky decide to solve the mystery. It’s a hoot as she decides whether to take toe-dancing lessons to pursue her dream of becoming a ballerina while also developing a crush on Jason, and engaging in a variety of adventures typical of a contemporary American girl. Filled with humor, this will provide plenty of entertainment for a young reader.

Talk Radio – Interview Highlights with Karen Rita Rautenberg

SUSANNE MARANTZ: So we’re going to talk today about your book, Ballerina Detective and the Missing Jeweled Tiara but before we get into the book itself, I’d like you to tell listeners a little bit about your background and how you actually got into writing for kids.

KAREN RITA RAUTENBERG: I started really loving to write and I thought of writing books when I actually was in high school and then I became very seriously… when I started taking writing classes at different colleges. And then I started writing some nonfiction books and then I started writing picture books. But I’m not an illustrator but I did write some very nice picture books where I would have to get an illustrator to do the illustrations, which often happens. Not all authors who do pictures books do their own illustrations. So I really… and I was very inspired to write because I always loved writing about people and adventures. I always had a love for that. I always loved English, that was my favorite subject.

SUSANNE MARANTZ: [T]his one, the Ballerina Detective is actually your second novel is that right? The first one was Lady Lucy’s Gallant Knight?


SUSANNE MARANTZ: Yeah, gosh and like I said you got to a lot research first but after that then the writing is where you really bring that history to life, so it’s kind of fun. Well then you decided to switch gears in Ballerina Detective so tell us a little bit about that story.

KAREN RITA RAUTENBERG: It just came out it’s a new book and it’s about a girl named Amber who brings in her real gold jeweled tiara to school because she wants to use it in the Nutcracker Ballet, because she’s the star of the Nutcracker Ballet and unfortunately it gets stolen and she asks her friend Kayla if she would help her find it because she knows that Kayla loves to solve mysteries. So Kayla hesitantly agreed because she really wasn’t that comfortable with being a detective. But she and her girlfriend Vicki who both take ballet lessons with Amber became amateur detectives in order to try to find out who stole the tiara and they wanted very much to get it back in time for Amber to wear it for the Nutcracker Ballet.

SUSANNE MARANTZ: So Kayla is actually the main character of this novel?


SUSANNE MARANTZ: …but Amber is the one who loses the tiara.

KAREN RITA RAUTENBERG: Exactly, and Vicky who is her friend in ballet school, she is one of the very nice characters, Kayla has a lot of very nice friends. But Kayla definitely is the main heroine here. You’ll find her in all the chapters because the book is full of adventure and mystery, it’s not just a mystery where you go from chapter to chapter and it’s all mystery. Adventures and… many kind of… activities that contemporary twelve year old girls do, her going to school, her going skiing, her ice skating adventures. That’s all kind of enmeshed into the book also. But the thread of the mystery is ongoing, throughout the book.

SUSANNE MARANTZ: Okay, so how did you get the idea for this? Did you take ballet, were you a dancer?

KAREN RITA RAUTENBERG: I took some ballet lessons and I’ve gone to many, many ballets since I was in college and I live in New York City. So I really do go to the American Ballet and the New York Ballet. I’ve always been enchanted and loved ballet, as most girls do.


KAREN RITA RAUTENBERG: Right, well yeah and the other thing too is, if you do a book and you don’t do your research and you make a mistake, boy people are going to pounce on you for that, for finding that’s true to life or not really write or… you’ve got the wrong information or that kind of thing. I’m always a little leery of what when I do an historical novel, it’s like oh man, I hope I’ve got all my facts right. You know you just try as best you can. So it sounds like this Ballerina Detective could become a series, is that what you have in mind?

KAREN RITA RAUTENBERG: No, I don’t have that in mind. I just wanted to write the best book possible and really have children learn and experience becoming an adolescent from the book and young children reading it. I wanted it to just be a very meaningful book that children can remember and actually… I was just hoping to write another mystery book, that was my hope, another adventure mystery book with new characters. That’s what I hope to do. However, if a publisher said to me would you write a sequel to this book, I would be thrilled. Otherwise I’m just going to write another mystery adventure book and it will be different. It will be different characters, there are different settings, but it will be a mystery, another mystery.

SUSANNE MARANTZ: You know the thing, when you mentioned how young girls love ballet and all that though, I’m thinking, oh wow, when you get a series going and if young girls love the first one, then it’s really an easier sell with the second, third book, because the kids already know the characters and they’re sort of lining up, ready to find out what this character’s going be up to next so…

KAREN RITA RAUTENBERG: I agree with you, I feel that many of the girls I sold the book to already in some of my book signings, they were just so… I couldn’t… they were so excited. They were so excited about the book and the girl, Kayla and I do agree with you that a lot of girls would like a second book of this.

SUSANNE MARANTZ: Great, great so tell us a little bit about the process of writing this book. Once you got the idea and you started writing, what was a typical writing day like? Did you just sit down and work on it until you finished or did it take you a few months, years, how long did it take?

KAREN RITA RAUTENBERG: Well… most of it took about three and a half years, most of it, but then all the revisions and everything added up to five years. And when I say the other authors and people oh gee it look me so long. They say well it took me eleven, twelve years. So when I speak to other authors, I’m finding that it takes… many authors it takes years to write a book. I mean I’m sure there are some authors that take much shorter then that. But for the most part I think authors take a long time on a novel. So I took a very long time on it and I revised it several times.

SUSANNE MARANTZ: Wow, so what have found to be the most difficult part of… not just the wiring but everything, the whole process of writing, revising, working with a publishers, finding a publisher, promoting the work? What’s the most difficult part of being children’s author?

KAREN RITA RAUTENBERG: Well it’s very… I found… to be honest with you I really found creating a wonderful story and plot line was a major challenge and it took me a tremendous amount of time to come up with a wonderful story and a wonderful plot and wonderful chapters. That was a found the hardest as far as the writing part, coming up with wonderful stories. As far as creating characters I just love creating and developing characters and that comes pretty naturally, I am a social worker for many years and I’ve worked with people and families for years and… even though it’s not easy for me to develop characters, it was more of a natural thing. But I really had to put a tremendous amount of time into thinking about good plots and creating suspense.

SUSANNE MARANTZ: Right, oh yeah I think mysteries are hard to write because in a mystery when you revise one thing, that usually has a domino effect and you’ve got the change a whole lot of other stuff too.

KAREN RITA RAUTENBERG: That’s definitely true, definitely… I get extremely exciting about creating characters and they’re coming to life. I feel they come to life and I do… I feel the challenge of making a real person. So I… try to make my characters real-life.