Peter Lerangis may be a bestselling author with more than 160 books under his belt, but he’s still ecstatic about being a writer, especially one for children. “I can’t contain how enthusiastic I am about working on books for kids,” he says. Lerangis, who contributed to Scholastic’s 39 Clues series, particularly loves making history come alive for young readers. “With the 39 Clues, we were making history jump out of the page for the readers, so they don’t know they’re learning,” he says. “The kids can’t put the books down—it’s so exciting.”

His fans are just as enthusiastic about reading his books as Lerangis is about writing them. Case in point: on his way to a school in San Diego, he got a call from the school telling him to drive around for a bit and go to the lower parking lot. When he complied, he got quite a surprise. “As the car drove in, the lot was completely lined with screaming kids,” he recalls. “I didn’t know that kind of reception was possible. Some teachers make it like you’re a rock star.”

It’s not only in person that the author connects with fans. “When I set up my Web site, I made a guestbook so kids can write to me there, and that’s become one of the most popular parts of the site,” he says. “I love hearing from them, because it’s not because a teacher told them they have to write a letter to an author and it has to be a certain length. It’s just kids who love your books, and kids who want to be writers.”

The New York City resident is at BEA promoting Lost in Babylon, the second book in the Seven Wonders series (HarperCollins, Oct.). Among book conferences, BEA is special for Lerangis because it’s home. “Since I know where things are, I like being the big brother who knows stuff,” he says. “I like helping other writers who don’t know what to do or where to go in New York.” Lerangis signs galleys of Lost in Babylon today, 11 a.m.–noon, at Table 9 in the Autographing Area.