Countdown: 1 Week. We’re counting down to the release the first book in my new children’s series. Each week, I’ve brought out sketches, character introductions, and explanations of the adventure ahead. Today, I’m unveiling the game that’s woven through the series.
The Byways books take you on a cross-country road trip. You’ll follow each of the brothers as they race across Liberty. But the series isn’t just a story. This is one long game, and you can play. Hide and seek! Search and find! Each Byways book is tied to one of the USA’s fifty states. Many of the people, places, and things in each story are from its assigned state. Our game goes in order, according to when they were added to the union. And the first state to be ratified was Delaware.
So what does the game look like? Honestly, it looks a whole lot like a story. Let me give you a brief example with this excerpt from Book 1: On Your Marks …
While he looked like his father, Ewan was actually more like his mother. Frederica Johns had been quiet, serious, and thoughtful. Even though she died when he was small, Ewan had good memories. Like the sweet smell of magnolias from Mother’s perfume and the purple ribbons she always wore in her hair. Ewan’s winter cloak was lined with purple silk in memory of her.
Two details in this little paragraph are tied to Delaware. Both Frederica and Magnolia are in the long list of Cities, Towns, and Villages from the state. People, places, and landmarks are “hidden” in this way. For instance, did you know that Delaware is the only state with a rounded state boundary? Twelve Mile Circle led to the creation of the Johns family’s hometown, Circle City. Delaware’s state tree, state bird, state flower, and state fruit are included. So is their motto, nicknames, capital, and star.
Are you starting to get the idea? Readers can enjoy On Your Marks at face value. The story is an adventure unto itself. But when kids reach the end of the book, they’ll find a list of state facts, and the game begins. One that will encourage careful re-reading and subtly teach a thing or two about our country … state by state.
This week, I added the Byways: State by State page to this site. It’s located under the Byways tab. Check it out, and see which brother will be visiting your state!
Byways, Book #1: On Your Marks
releases July 4, 2014
Taking sibling rivalry to brand new lengths…
Series Summary: Ian Johns is the founder of the postal system in the land of Liberty. Twice widowed, he has three sons, all half-brothers, and the boys don’t get along. In order to help them bond, Ian plans a tour of the country in the hopes that travel will bring them closer together. But somehow, the plan is twisted around, and the trip becomes a race.
Age Range: These books are geared for young readers who are ready for their very first chapter books (K-2).