Thursday, August 14, 2008

CRYPTIDS and the value of wonder.

Two years ago, Darby Creek Publishing released TALES OF THE CRYPTIDS, a nonfiction look at the evidence for and the evidence against mysterious animals that may or may not be real. From Bigfoot to the Loch Ness Monster, dozens of urban legends are explored journalistically for kids 9 to 12 years old.

It was a book we all loved. I wrote the lion's share of the text, Rick illustrated and contributed many, many creative ideas, and Roxyanne Young was crucial when it came to constructing the cryptidictionary at the back of the book -- one of the most popular features.

Most good books sell briskly the first year they're available, then settle into a quiet place on the backlist. CRYPTIDS has been different. It hasn't slowed down, not even for a minute. More than 18,000 copies have been sold, it's in its third or fourth reprinting, and publicity has been on the slow but steady rise.

SECRET SATURDAYS, a new Cartoon Network series about a cryptid hunting family that will debut this fall, used the book as one of its research tools. They even interviewed Rick for a promotional trailer that will be in movie theaters across the nation in September. And when two Georgia men claimed they had found a Bigfoot carcuss -- press conference tomorrow, watch for it -- the Atlanta Journal Constitution called Rick for the straight story. The article should be syndicated in Knight-Rider papers all over the country.

Simply put, CRYPTIDS is a book with a life of its own. WHY?

Because we understood something about kids, and even people who used to be kids when we put it together. We understood that all people yearn for moments of wonder. And no subject should be off limits, even animals that might not be real. As long as the approach is honest, and responsible -- journalistic -- even high interest topics can be educationally valuable and FUN.

If I could make one point clear to my partners in crime -- teachers & librarians devoted to reaching out to kids -- it would be that one. Fun and education CAN go hand-in-hand, if we cling to our spirits of curiosity, if we never forget to wonder.

Thanks to all the readers who have made CRYPTIDS such a magical experience. Here's hoping it's follow-up, ALIEN ENCOUNTERS will be just as interesting and fun.

For more about the alleged Bigfoot discovery, follow this link:
For more about SECRET SATURDAYS, click here, and go to "New Shows," then "Secret Saturdays," then "Sizzle Reel":
Kelly Milner Halls

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