TeachingBooks Virtual Book Tour

The TeachingBooks Virtual Book Tour is your opportunity to learn from and build personal connections with extraordinary book creators and their brand-new titles. Included in all Virtual Book Tour posts are original interviews with authors and illustrators, lesson plans, an activity designed for young people, and much more!

Welcome James Ponti

James Ponti on Forbidden City

In this post, we feature author James Ponti, whose previous, award-winning titles include Framed and the popular books in the City Spies series. You can hear him speak about his new novel, Forbidden City, the third book in the City Spies series, and try his “invitation to imagine” activity. You’ll also find other resources to explore. Thanks for joining us, and let us know what you think in the comments below!


James Ponti and the cover of Forbidden City.

Forbidden City

  • Written by James Ponti
  • Published by Aladdin, an imprint of Simon & Schuster Children’s Publishing
  • Release date: February 1, 2022

After taking down a mole within their organization, the City Spies are ready for their next mission—once again using their unique ability to infiltrate places that adults can’t. This third installment of the popular series follows the international teen spies around the globe, from a daring break-in at one of London’s most exclusive homes to a desperate search and rescue operation on the streets of Beijing. Can they stop a sinister organization from recruiting a nuclear physicist and endangering the whole world? The City Spies have their work cut out for them on their most dangerous mission yet.

From Forbidden City, by James Ponti

One of the key things to being undercover was not lying when it wasn’t necessary.

Read a longer passage from Forbidden City, by James Ponti

Explore Forbidden City

Listen to James Ponti talking with TeachingBooks about creating Forbidden City. You can click the player below or experience the recording on TeachingBooks, where you can read along as you listen, and also translate the text to another language.


Invitation to Imagine

TeachingBooks asks each author or illustrator on our Virtual Book Tour to share a writing prompt, a drawing exercise, or just an interesting question to spark curiosity and creativity. Enjoy the following activity contributed by James Ponti.

Imagination Activity with James Ponti

You are a spy about to go undercover at a party at the Russian Embassy in Paris. Create a cover story, known in the spy business as a legend, that you can tell to explain who you are and why you are there. Have fun and create a fake but real-sounding name and give yourself a special skill or occupation that’s interesting, but doesn’t let on that you’re a spy.


Finish This Sentence . . . with James Ponti

As part of our Virtual Book Tour, TeachingBooks asks authors and illustrators to complete short sentence prompts. Enjoy James Ponti’s response.

“You may not know that before I wrote books…”

You may not know that before I wrote books, I was a television writer who worked for Nickelodeon, Disney Channel, and PBS.

“Where I work is…”

Here is where I write.

Author James Ponti's study.
Author James Ponti's study.

And here is my co-author, Lucy.

Author James Ponti's dog, Lucy.

Thank you!

To wrap up this Virtual Book Tour, we thank James Ponti for signing a book for all of us.

The title page of Forbidden City, signed by the author, James Ponti, with the message, "Happy Reading!"

More Connections to James Ponti and Forbidden City


Explore all of the titles featured in the TeachingBooks Virtual Book Tour: one link with author interviews, lesson plans, activities, and more!

All text and images are courtesy of James Ponti and Simon & Schuster and may not be used without expressed written consent.

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One Response to James Ponti on Forbidden City

  1. Karyn McGinley March 24, 2022 at 6:07 pm #

    Thank you James Ponti for the back story of Forbidden City. It’s so much fun to hear how stories were created and also to learn about the huge amount of work it takes to make a story seem so real. I love the City Spies series snd look forward to the next one. I hope it doesn’t end for a long time!

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