SVUE Writing Contest

Before I start this week’s blog post, there’s some very important business I need to take care of …Alayna, Aaliyah, Gabby, Dez, Jose, Lariah, and Elliana, here is the official “shout out” I promised on Thursday.

The kids pictured above are all fifth and sixth grade students at South View Upper Elementary School in Danville, Illinois. Last fall, these students and their peers read Super Penguin, and were given a couple of options for a contest. They could write a book review, or write an alternate ending to the story. The seven students listed were seven of the eight winners (Freedom, if you’re reading this, I’m sorry you weren’t able to be there!)

Jose, Lariah and Freedom each wrote the three winning book reviews. Each one of them was very well written, and had very good insight in to what they liked about the story.

Dez wrote an alternate ending that took place a year later. There was an attack on Paul’s workplace. While trying to escape, Paul has guns pointed at him, and a mysterious, yet familiar, voice says “You didn’t think this was over yet, did you Mr. Frost?” Was it Talon? Dr. Pigg? It was even more suspenseful and cliffhangery than my ending!

Aaliyah’s ending involved the Dragon Corp robots capturing Super Penguin, and threatening to erase his memory if he didn’t help them take over Eagle City! I love that as a concept for a sequel! The hero was invited to join the bad guy’s plan in Book One, he declines, and in Book Two he’s forced into it!

Elliana expanded the world these characters lived in with new locations called “Newt Jersey” and “New Orca”. The main characters were headed by plane to New Orca, but their flight was attacked by Dragon Corp robots! And a penguin in a Mech Suit…that was Paul’s dad! The plane had to make an emergency landing in Newt Jersey! I loved those city names so much, I’m going to try to work these cities into future stories!

Gabi wrote a very dark, brooding ending that involved Talon escaping prison, and defeating the heroes! Personally, I’m a big fan of movies and stories that DON’T have a happy ending (No Country For Old Men being my favorite example). So I loved seeing the ending completely turned upside down from what I wrote! Gabi has some very strong writing skills, and I think a future author!

And last but certainly not least, Alayna introduced a new character, Leo, Sam’s evil-doing twin brother who had some nefarious plans! Lyla returned and a love triangle was revealed between Sam, Leo and Lyla. I always thought of Lyla as someone who just used Sam, but maybe there was something there! Leo was mean, but also had some funny lines. My favorite was both brother’s referring to themselves as the “better looking brother”. I literally laughed out loud when I read that line! Alayna told us at lunch that she is working on her own book and already has over 150 pages written! I can’t wait to read her book some day!

This day was so much fun! I’ve had conversations with many adults about how their kids enjoyed the book, but getting to hear it from the kids was even better! I loved hearing their insights and questions. The group was very divided on wanting to know what happens next. Some begged for spoilers, while others begged me not to tell them anything. So, I compromised and gave a spoiler-free teaser for SP2. The kids had lots of great questions: “Why is the hero a penguin?” “How long did it take to write the book?” plus some questions about growing up in Danville. I was prepared for all those questions. But my absolute favorite question was one that I was NOT prepared for, and it came from Gabi. After we took our group picture, Gabi came up to me and asked. “What would Talon eat at Tina’s?” I panicked, and gave a lame answer. I said “Well, he’s a meat eater, and in this world, they eat fish, so he probably had a big plate of fish.” The best questions are the ones you have to think about for a long time. And Gabi’s question was one that after I answered, I kept thinking about for the rest of the day. So, Gabi, if you’re reading this, I have a different answer now. General Talon is a bad, bad guy. I don’t think he would ever eat at Tina’s because it’s a happy, jovial place and I think Talon would be very uncomfortable eating with regular, happy people. I also think being a bad, bad guy, Talon might even partake in some illegal foods, like other animals! Maybe even penguin!!! (Now I’m wrestling with how he would get those “foods” and creating a black market food supply for the carnivores)

Without a doubt, this was absolutely one of the most fun days I’ve had as a writer. That’s not hyperbole either! I’m so thankful I had the opportunity! If you’re a teacher, parent, principal, or other person who works with kids and want to partner with me, please, please PLEASE send me a message on the contact page and let’s get something set up!

On Tuesday, I’ll be at Schlarman Academy reading some of my favorite books to Mrs. Lukas’s kindergarten class! I can’t wait!

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