top of page

Same book, different covers!

Awards & Honors


  • Junior Library Guild selection

  • Anne Spencer Lindbergh Prize in Children's Literature (2001/2002)

  • New York Public Library Books for the Teen Age

  • New York Public Library 100 Titles for Reading and Sharing

  • Texas Lone Star Reading List (2004-2005)

  • VOYA's Top Shelf Fiction for Middle School Readers 2003

  • 2004/2005 (Maryland) Black-Eyed Susan Book Award (grades 6 - 9)

  • 2005/2006 (Florida) Sunshine State Young Reader's Award (grades 6 - 8 division)

  • 2012 Greater Rochester Teen Read



          "Though Giannine is repeatedly (to her vast annoyance) forced to start over after being "killed,"she learns from her mistakes, survives increasingly tricky, sometimes hilarious, challenges, and wins both crown and life at the last possible moment by not only overcoming opponents, but by using newly developed diplomatic skills to win allies. It's riveting reading for experienced gamers and tyros alike."

—Kirkus, starred review

Heir Apparent 

Original cover art by Cliff Nielsen

Ages: 8-12

Publisher: Harcourt 

Book Description:

While playing a total immersion virtual reality game of kings and intrigue, 14-year-old Giannine learns that demonstrators have damaged the equipment to which she is connected, and she must win the game quickly or she will die in the real world.


Where do you GET those ideas?


Readers have asked for a sequel to many of my books, but especially Companions of the Night, Dragon's Bait, and Smart Dog.  One book that absolutely nobody ever asked for a sequel to was User Unfriendly, so--being the contrary person I am--that's the book I was most inclined to take a second look at.  I still didn't write a sequel, but sort of a companion piece.  User Unfriendly is about Arvin Rizalli and a group of his friends who are playing a virtual-reality type of game that goes wrong.  Heir Apparent is about one of Arvin's friends, Giannine Belissario, who plays a second of Rasmussem Enterprises' games.  Things, once again, go wrong.

What kind of book would it be if everything went right?

Download Teachers Guide

Related titles

User Unfriendly

Comparing Covers


Besides the original cover for Heir Apparent, Cliff Nielsen also illustrated the covers of three editions of Companions of the Night and Dragon's Bait--both paperback editions, as well as Now You See It...

Click here to see more of Cliff Nielsen's work.



At the far wall was a life-size statue of a man who most likely was Saint Bruce the Warrior Poet. What was kind of neat was that, even though his face was carved wood, his armor was real: a plate metal helmet (the visor was up, which was how I saw his face), gauntlets, shin protectors, and a surcoat of mail--thousands and thousands of interlocking circles of metal.

"Wow," I said. "Impressive."

When Feordina didn't say anything, I asked, "Uhm, what does this have to do with me and the ring?"

She waggled her finger at the statue, and my heart sank. "I hid the ring in the coat of mail." She smiled apologetically, showing little brown teeth, and I winced, not for the teeth but because I saw what was coming. "I wish I could remember where. But the rightful owner can call it forth."


"Why, by reciting poetry, of course."

Of course.

"But it has to be a poem of your own making," she said.

"Oh," I said. How hard could that be?

"Of course," Feordina said, "if Saint Bruce doesn't like your poem, he chops your head off."

bottom of page