Posts Tagged percy jackson

OH MY GODS Middle Grade Graphic Series – Stephanie Cooke

Welcome 2021, and welcome Stephanie Cooke, co-author of Oh My Gods!, (HMH Kids/ETCH) the first in a new middle-grade graphic novel series. Stephanie stops by MUF to talk about the new book, her process with her collaborators, and what other artists and writers inspire her. PLUS we’ve got a free copy of Oh My Gods! to give away; enter at the bottom of the interview! 

Mixed Up Files: Stephanie, welcome to the blog, and can you give us a little bit of your background and how you found your way into the #kidlit world?

Stephanie Cooke: Absolutely! I’m a comic book writer and editor from Toronto, Canada and I’ve been telling stories for as long as I can remember. I love books in all mediums and eventually knew I wanted to try my hand at writing my own. I’ve felt that for a number of years that the kidlit market was seriously underserved in the comics industry and wanted to help change that. Both Oh My Gods! and ParaNorthern (out in July 2021) were originally pitched for a younger teen audience, but were picked up and aged down into the middle-grade market, and I have to say that I’m so glad they were. Writing for kids has truly been such a joy and allows me to have so much fun with the story, characters, and puns (which I love beyond all reason).

Oh My Gods! by Stephanie Cooke and Insha FitzpatrickMUF: Talk to us about your new graphic novel and how it came to be. You worked on this with other collaborators. Whose idea was it? And how did you all find each other to work on this together? Are you IRL friends/coworkers, or were you new to each other at the start of this?

SC: Oh My Gods! has been a passion project for a number of years now and came into existence during a conversation between Insha Fitzpatrick and myself. Insha and I have been friends for ages – we used to run an entertainment website together and also did a podcast! We were talking about Greek Mythology excitedly and then the start of Oh My Gods! started bubbling out of our talk, and before we knew it, we were putting together notes, story ideas, character concepts, and more into shared docs. We began refining the idea and narrowing things down, and realized that it wasn’t a concept that was going away…we had to work on this! So we kept at, until it was ready for an artist.

I was hiring an artist for a short story on a completely different project and Juliana Moon sent in her portfolio to us. She wasn’t the right fit for the project I had been scouting for but I could see so much potential in her character designs in how expressive they were and how much fun she clearly had with her art. I showed her art to Insha and she loved it! We had a conversation with Juliana, and that was that. We’ve been a team ever since, but it’s truly hard to imagine a time when Juliana wasn’t there; we all get along amazingly and have the same energy that always hypes each of us up. Whitney Cogar came on board via HMH / Etch to do the colours for the story, and we’ve absolutely adored what she’s brought to the book!

MUF: What was the process like working on this? Can you explain a bit about the actual nuts and bolts of writing and illustrating? And how long from “let’s do this!” to pub date was your journey?

SC: Creating a comic book is such a fun experience. The collaboration makes it a truly unique and fantastic storytelling medium! For the writing portion of things, Insha and I spent a lot of time building up a really detailed outline together that was essentially a bullet-point version of the story. We collaborate on that until we’re happy, and then I go in and create a loose script based off of what we created (which includes the art direction for Juliana as well as placeholder dialogue). Insha refined characters and really fleshed them out, making them feel as real as we possibly could (seriously…she made them all Spotify playlists, Pinterest mood boards, and more!)

Once we’re ready to move forward with the characters and the script, we go through it and refine it. Insha is amazing with dialogue for that younger audience so she’d go in and adjust things and help it feel more unique and fitting for each character. We refined, refined, refined until we had a story that we were happy with!

Then it goes off to Juliana for the art. There’s a few different stages for that process where you have to submit thumbnails (rough art for the pages), pencils/inks (more refined art), and the final black and white line art which then goes over to Whitney to be coloured. Then of course, we have to add in the dialogue and captions which is handled by our book designer, Andrea Miller.

It’s hard to say how long it all took. We initially were going to pitch to comic book publishers to release the book in a serialized monthly format, and then I had another book picked up by HMH Kids (and my wonderful editor Lily) called ParaNorthern (which is out July 2021). That was actually the first graphic novel that I sold! I worked on that for a while, finished up writing duties on it, and then HMH asked for more of my work. We presented them with Oh My Gods! which they loved and fast-tracked for publication. So realistically from inception to publication, the turnaround specifically for Oh My Gods! was probably 4+ years!

Stephanie Cooke, author

Stephanie Cooke, author.
Photo: Tyra Sweet

MUF: How many books in the series can readers look forward to?

SC: So far we have two books coming out in the series! Insha, Juliana, and I have so many more ideas that we would love to write though, so we’re really hoping that we get an opportunity to explore those. Greek Mythology has so many interesting figures and stories, and we really want to play in that sandbox more!

MUF: Your publisher says that the book “reads as if Raina Telgemeier and Rick Riordan teamed up to write a comic.” Are you fans of those two creators? Who else inspires your work?  

SC: I am absolutely a fan of them both. I’ve admittedly not read the Percy Jackson books, which might be blasphemy as a big Greek Mythology fan but I have seen the Broadway play! Not that that’s the same, but I have huge respect for the franchise Riordan has built and the way he’s integrating other writers and mythology into it. That’s the dream, really! I would love to have this take off in a way that we can bring in other creators to the table to share their voices and stories. And being compared to Raina Telgemeier is beyond intimidating! I’m in awe of the career she’s built for herself and firmly believe she’s one of the best creators out there. The way she integrates feelings and real-life scenarios that kids may not know how to cope with otherwise while also telling an extraordinary story? She’s a master at what she does.

I think another inspiration would be Noelle Stevenson too. I love her sense of humour and her style; Nimona and Lumberjanes are absolute favourites for me! And then specifically for Oh My Gods!, I think that the TV show Clone High was a huge inspiration. That was done by Phil Lord, Chris Miller, and Bill Lawrence; Lord went on to write Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse as well as The LEGO Movie, which both have so much heart, wit, and cleverness imbued in them.

MUF: Can you suggest a few other new(ish) middle grade graphic novels you think readers might enjoy reading?

SC: YES!!! I live for recommendations. These are some of my faves that I’ve enjoyed over the last little bit:

ANNNND, this is a completely selfish recommendation but please also check out my upcoming graphic novel ParaNorthern which is out on July 6, 2021 with art by Mari Costa.

MUF: And since MUF is all about middle grade books, what made you decide to make your book a MG one, vs. say, for younger, early chapter reader kids or older, YA readers? What is it about this age reader that you felt fit best with your ideas and story?

SC: I think I jumped the gun a bit by mentioning this a tad earlier but initially we had pitched Oh My Gods! as a book for a slightly older audience and then we aged it down to middle-grade, and I’m so glad we did!

I just finished writing my first YA graphic novel and while I love it so much (I love all my book children!!) it’s very different to write for that audience, and I’m so happy we made Oh My Gods! for a younger audience. You’re able to include a lot more silliness with that audience, and it really does feel like the best extension of who we are as a team! We put so much of ourselves into the characters and story and this (to me) feels like a great representation of us.

MUF: How do we find you online? List any website/social media URLs you’d like us to share.  

You can find me online at stephaniecooke.ca as well as on Twitter and Instagram @hellocookie.

Enter the giveaway here! 

 

 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

10 middle grade books made into movies

With winter break coming up, and hopefully some down time in your household, get kids psyched to watch great films and read great books with these middle grade books-made-into-movies combos. 

Anne of Green Gables by  L. M. Montgomery
This beloved book, originally published over 100 years ago, features the charming and spirited Anne Shirley, an 11-year-old orphan adopted by a brother and sister who thought they were adopting a son to help them on their farm. Instead, Anne arrives, and the lives of all three are changed (for the better!). Stream it on iTunes

 

The BFG by Roald Dahl
At first BFG (Big Friendly Giant) doesn’t seem all that friendly to Sophie, not when he snatches her out of her bed one night, but soon the two are fast friends, and working together to stop the other, meaner giants from swollomping young children.
Stream it on Amazon

 

 

The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants By Ann Brashares

This lovely novel about the friendship between four girls and the introduction of a pair of magical jeans into their lives was made into a fantastic flick with now-big-name stars Amber Tamblyn, America Ferrera, Blake Lively and Alexis Bledel. Stream it on Amazon

 

 

Sounder by William H. Armstrong
Set in the Depression-era, this American classic about an African-American family dealing with racism and poverty is moving and powerful, and the film, with powerhouse actors including Cicely Tyson, Paul Winfield, will touch your entire family.
Stream it on Amazon

 

 

The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis
Four siblings + a magical wardrobe = a tale that’s been thrilling readers for almost 70 years.
Stream it on Netflix 

 

 

 

 

Holes by Louis Sachar
Sachar’s novel, which won the Newbery Medal and the National Book Award, is about a boy named Stanley Yelnats, who’s sent to Camp Green Lake, a detention center. There, he and other boys spend all their time digging holes exactly five feet wide and five feet deep, until Stanley decides to figure out just what they’re digging for… and why.
Stream it on iTunes

Diary of a Wimpy Kid by Jeff Kinney
Poor Greg, stuck in the middle of three brothers, stuck in middle school, and generally stuck. His suffering sure is hilarious for the rest of us, as evidenced by the sound of giggles that emit from kids as they read their way through Kinney’s block-buster series.
Stream it on iTunes

 

 

The Princess Bride: S. Morgenstern’s Classic Tale of True Love and High Adventure by William Goldman
Delightful and playful and all sorts of perfection. Definitely not inconceivable! Stream it on Netflix

 

 

 

Percy Jackson and the Olympians: The Lightning Thief by Rick Riordan
A modern quest story, with a twelve-year-old demigod named Percy Jackson at the center. When Percy is sent to Camp Half-Blood, he discovers that he’s half immortal, and that his father is Poseidon, the ruler of the sea.
Stream it on iTunes

 

 

 

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone by J.K. Rowling
Maybe you’ve heard of this book? A little something about a boy wizard? Read this blockbuster phenom of a novel together, then watch the films as a family. Stream it on iTunes

Stay tuned for more books into movies: next up is a film adaptation of Sherman Alexie’s amazing YA book, The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian. Cannot wait!

Andrea Pyros is the author of My Year of Epic Rock, a middle grade novel about friends, crushes, food allergies, and a rock band named The EpiPens.

Literary Descendants of Classic Characters + Giveaway

Throughout history, there have always been characters, fictional or otherwise, who capture our collective imaginations. Usually these characters possess supernatural powers of some sort, but sometimes they’re mere mortals, who have somehow fascinated us. In recent years, several middle-grade authors have been inspired by the gene pools of cultural icons. The most recent of these is Annabelle Fisher, whose novel The Secret Destiny of Pixie Piper, is out now from Greenwillow Books.

9780062393777Annabelle has generously donated an autographed copy of her book. Keep reading to learn how to win it and to read about other fabulous middle-grade novels about fictional descendants.

In  The Secret Destiny of Pixie Piperan ordinary fifth grader with a talent for coming up with rhymes and poems without even trying discovers she is a direct descendant of Mother Goose. Pixie’s flair for poetry sometimes leads to unexpected challenges. But, eventually, she comes to accept and appreciate her uniqueness. The novel mixes charming literary allusions with magic, humor, and issues about family and friendship.

 

9781484720974Melissa de la Cruz’s well-known Descendants Series about the offspring of Disney villains is a favorite of many middle-grade readers. The Isle of the Lost and Return to the Isle of the Lost follow the adventures of Mal, whose mother is the evil fairy, Maleficent, from Sleeping Beauty. Mal is accompanied by Evie, Jay, and Carlos, who are descended from Jafar, Cruella De Vil, and The Evil Queen. These descendants of villainous characters are coming of age on the Isle of the Lost, where their parents have been banished.

 

9780062004963It’s not just the villains who fascinate us in fairy tales. In Sleeping Beauty’s Daughters, Diane Zahler takes readers to a time where Sleeping Beauty is married with two daughters, one of whom has been cursed similarly to her mother. When Aurora begins to struggle not slip into an enchanted sleep, the sisters accept the help of a young fisherman and embark on an ocean voyage to find their good fairy aunt who might be able to reverse the magic. They encounter beasts, storms, and  other dangers, but they can’t give up. If they do, Aurora could end up taking a one-hundred-year nap.

 

9780786856299Another series based on descendants of the famous and powerful is the well-known Percy Jackson and the Olympians series, by Rick Riordan. These mega-popular books follow the exploits of Percy, who finds himself at a camp for demigods and learns he is the son of Poseidon the Greek god of the sea. His companions include Anabeth Chase, the daughter of Athena, and Luke Castellan, the son of Hermes. The series includes The Lightning Thief, The Sea of Monsters, The Titan’s Curse, The Battle of the Labyrinth, and The Last Olympian.

 

9780312602123A certain famous fictional detective has inspired a few series about his descendants. One of which is Tracy Barrett’s The Sherlock Files, which follows the adventures of Xena and Xander Holmes, who think living in London will be boring until they’re handed a cryptic note that leads them to a hidden room and a secret society. When they discover they’re related to Sherlock Holmes and inherit his unsolved casebook, life becomes more exciting. In the first installment, The 100-Year-Old Secret, the siblings set out to solve the cases their famous ancestor couldn’t, starting with the mystery of a prized painting that vanished more than a hundred years ago. Other titles in the series include: The Missing Heir, The Beast of Blackslope, and The Case That Time Forgot.

 

9780810993228Real-life brothers, Wilhelm and Jacob Grimm, who collected and published folklore in the nineteenth century, have inspired a series called The Sisters Grimm, written by Michael Buckley. In these books, orphaned siblings Sabrina and Daphne Grimm learn they are descended from the Brothers Grimm. The sisters soon find out it’s their legacy to keep a group known as the Everafters, a parallel race of magical beings, in line. Books in the series include The Fairy-Tale Detectives, The Unusual Suspects, The Problem Child, and more.

If you have any favorite novels about the descendants of famous fictional or historical characters, please tell us about them. And for a chance to win the autographed copy of Annabelle Fisher’s The Secret Destiny of Pixie Piper, share this post and let us know where you shared in the comments section. The deadline is Wednesday midnight. We’ll announce the winner on Thursday.

Dorian Cirrone has written several books for children and teens. Her recently published middle-grade novel, The First Last Day (Simon and Schuster/Aladdin) is available wherever books are sold. You can find her on Facebook and on Twitter as @DorianCirrone. She gives writing tips and does occasional giveaways on her blog at: http://doriancirrone.com/welcome/blog/