My second novel Circle has taken an interesting turn. It is finding a home in education because of the sea change in that system this year.
The idea to create curriculum from the novel came from a teacher who found her students didn’t want to stop reading the book in class. In the backdrop of chase drones, attack helicopters and fighter jets, the gripping adventure captivated even the most reticent student. She found that all types loved Circle. Tracy Tokunaga developed the course because it was a combo of literacy and science, which fit in well with the new educational edicts.
Schools have only one year left to change over to new curriculum that incorporates Common Core into every subject. And STEM is also a big push. STEM means Science, Technology, Engineering and Math. Since our country has discovered a deficit in professionals in these fields and these fields offer better paying jobs, everyone is interested in encouraging students to dig into STEM.
Circle introduces genetic engineering, conservation, consumption, climate, astronomy and petroleum during the fast ride. Circle is about a 14-year-old boy who discovers an extraterrestrial girl, Mandy, hiding out in his house ever since the jet she stowed away on crashed in the desert behind his home. When the pilot is captured by the Air Force, Mandy is left lost and alone. She asks Spencer to risk everything to rescue the pilot from Edwards Air Force Base and help them get back home with the one thing their civilization needs to survive. As they’re on the run from the military, Spencer and his family fall into crisis when they find out what it is that Mandy and the pilot have really come to Earth for.
We will launch the curriculum nationally this month. You can see what the students are saying about the book here. In a time when students are proud to say they hate reading (I’ve heard that over and over when I give talks at schools) it makes us very happy to have a book that easily engages them and serves so many purposes. I believe there is nothing more important for the educational system to do than inspire kids to read. As I tell the kids: if you can read, you can learn to do anything! The wisdom of humanity is all contained in books, which are available to everyone! How awesome is that?
But I do know what an uphill battle it is to get kids to read when they have so many choices that may be more alluring. That’s why I thought making a trailer for the book would grab their attention. It’s fun to play in the visual medium and since I had experience as a producer, this was something I could do. The trailer accomplished its purpose of making young viewers curious about what happens in Circle. With almost 18,000 viewers, the trailer is reaching a large scope. Now comes the task of trying to convince the curious to pick up a book.
I know older generations grew up in a different world, where books provided much more interesting fare than the three TV channels on VHF. But times have changed and kids can play games during class on their cell phones. They have billions of choices of entertainment on their laptops and they can hardly even find a quite spot that isn’t full of attention-grabbing media blaring interesting offerings every second. Though the publishing industry has been slow to adapt a marketing strategy that includes live-action trailers, I think it’s essential. Why wouldn’t we utilize this avenue? I think book trailers that are strings of words with static pictures are arcane. Cheap, yes, but hardly in line with what is possible and competitive with every other entertainment industry on earth.
The next thing I hope to figure out is how to tell adults about Circle since young and old enjoy it. It has crossover appeal and a sweet coming-of-age love story. As one male reader wrote: “Reading Circle brought me back to my childhood! It was wonderful. I didn't want to put it down. Normally I'm very analytical and rational, but Syd brought me back to a world of possibility, idealism, and excitement!”
Can you imagine if your first kiss was with an ET? Mandy’s heart is wide open and it’s fun to see how she interacts with our world. To me, she makes it all worth it – this journey of launching a book in a crowded world of endless entertainment. I just keep thinking I want to be Mandy – to walk up to strangers and give them her standard greeting. I hope my eyes can find a bit of the innocent wonder she sees in Earth.
|Student Art Based on Circle.|
|Circle Booth at STEM Convention|
The Circle trailer:
FlyGirl e-book on sale:
Circle e-book on sale:
PJ Nunn 972.825.1171