Today is the pub day of my newest book child, Simon Ellis, Spelling Bee Champ, the fourth title in the Franklin School Friends chapter book series.
Simon is a very bright kid who has a wide range of intellectual and creative interests. He genuinely loves to read, and adores math, and savors playing the violin. And he shines as a speller because of his love affair with words, the longer and harder the better. But his best friend, Jackson, is getting tired of losing at everything to Simon - and when Simon tries letting Jackson win, Jackson gets even madder. Other kids start calling Simon "Super Simon" and then "Super Duper Pooper Simon." What is poor Simon to do? Hide his talents from his classmates? Pretend not to care about all the things that are dear to his heart?
His story ended up being very dear to my own heart. I wrote it during the blissful summer of 2014 when I taught at Hollins, sharing it with the students in my graduate chapter-book writing class. My son Gregory helped me come up the "longest-word-in-the-world" that Simon exults in spelling, and Gregory also served as the only ghost-writer I've ever employed, providing some language for the video gaming action in two scenes; the book is dedicated to him. And Simon is just so sweet, so eager to learn and perplexed that others don't share his affinity for the life of the mind.
So I send him out into the world with an extra-protective hug today.