I will have the privilege of interviewing Katie Davis very, very soon. Watch out for that post! For now, let me whet your kid literary appetites with this article about Ms. Davis' latest book, The Curse of Addy McMahon.
The Curse of Addy McMahon
By Katie Davis
Fairies Deserve Responsibility For Author’s Idea
Hopefully the fairies will be happy with Katie Davis for writing The Curse of Addy McMahon. You never know with fairies though. After all, New York Times reporter James F. Clarity, wrote an article in 1999, focusing on a situation in Latoon, Ireland, in which a storyteller was trying to warn local officials about potential danger. He told them if they bulldozed the white-blossomed hawthorn bush which stood in the way of a planned highway bypass, the fairies would curse the road and all who used it. The bush, it turned out, was rumored to be a fairy lair.
“I loved that article,” Ms. Davis explains. “I immediately imagined an Irish-American girl whose family lore revolved around how great-great-grandad chopped down a fairy lair back in Ireland, lo those many generations ago. It was a family joke, but what if she still had some magical thinking going on? She might blame the curse for all the crummy stuff in her life and wouldn’t take responsibility for the havoc she herself may have created.” And so The Curse of Addy McMahon was born.
As Ms. Davis says, “It actually wasn’t born that easily. At first it had a different title, and there really were fairies in the story. Luckily I have good critical readers, and when it was suggested I take all the fantasy out, I realized it should be a story of Addy’s relationships, and her struggle to learn when to take responsibility for the things she’s done, and just as importantly, to not take responsibility when things aren’t her fault.”
“But the book isn’t just a novel,” explains Greenwillow editor Steve Geck. “It’s a hybrid: part traditional novel, part graphic novel. Addy writes and illustrates her diary as a graphic novel, and that’s integrated throughout the book. Though Katie’s been working on this for so long, it’s great timing because all of a sudden, it seems everywhere you turn, there is good news about graphic novels and comic books in terms of their educational value.”
In fact, just recently the New York Times published an article supporting comic strips as “an alternative pathway to literacy.” The State Education Department in Maryland, it stated, is expanding a new comics-based literacy curriculum, and various organizations have been created that use comics to engage kids in reading and writing, such as the Comic Book Project, and the non-profit Kids Love Comics, which is helping to create seminars like “Turning Your Real-Life Experiences into Comics,” and classes for teachers and librarians such as “Comics & Literacy: Using Comics and Graphic Novels in the Classroom/Library.”
It’s no new thing for Katie Davis, though. “I’ve been conducting workshops at schools and conferences that connect illustrating and storytelling to literacy for years. Usually I’m invited to elementary schools, since my other books have been for younger audiences. I’m excited about doing different kinds of presentations with older kids, getting them to make their own autobiogra-stripsTM, like Addy does in my book.”
Davis hopes “it will help kids get excited about reading, and writing, and the whole creative process.” To get them hooked, she’s created an animated book trailer, which is available on youtube and other video sites, as well as at www.katiedavis.com/movies.