Memphis, TN (PRWEB) November 03, 2011
When Blue Hartley isn’t in the thick of things supporting our troops in Iraq, he’s a long distance dad. One of the ways he relaxes beneath unfriendly skies is by working on children’s stories that keep him firmly, if whimsically, grounded in the USA.
2011 marks Hartley’s sixth year in Iraq. Aerial and ground attacks are always a possibility for US troops in Iraq, so his life is far from serene. To compensate and find palpable ways to encourage his children, Rachel, and Shawn, (now in their teens) in the United States, to be creative, Hartley writes children’s books that incorporate their names in the stories.
It didn’t take long for renown New York illustrator, Valerie Bouthyette, and savvy U.S. publisher, Cheryl Haynes, founder of Futureword, to recognize the broader implications when they read Hartley’s manuscripts—all eleven of them. The number of Hartley's trademarked series has grown. Bouthyette had already completed two picture books when she introduced Haynes to Blue Hartley. Then, as Hartley's ideas became more focused and after a few changes in the project, a new series was born.
“Blue Hartley’s READ ALONG OR READ ALONE™ stories have sparked a huge debate from the experts who have read them,” Haynes said recently. "There is no right or wrong about the books. There was a debate as to whether or not to alter them to teach children how to write screenplays or show them a book that would spark their interest in theatrical books books and interest for role playing at the same time.
“The first was a picture book and middle grade version which were sent to publicists who also made recommendations to Hartley. One publicist told Haynes that the books were forwarded to an acclaimed, Emmy-winning screenplay writer for upgrading to a screenplay,” Haynes noted.
Character parts in the picture books are color-coded to cue designated young readers that it’s their turn to read. The picture books are an introduction to a series which appeals to small children initially, but has a big brother or sister middle grade/YA version to go with it.
Haynes explains,"There are Read Aloud books with CD's to play while reading a book aloud. This series doesn't work that way. You either read it alone or with a group. I am taking a risk since there is nothing else like this on the market. But it’s a calculated risk. Many tests were done to check its effects on older and younger readers. Some changes were made to satisfy experts who had objective criticisms, but most aspects were left unchanged because of their positive responses from local libraries and bookstores."
Hartley’s first, but certainly not only offering, Rachel's Adventures with Her Friends of the Forest, is fun, funny and educational. Adding to the story is award-winning artist Valerie Bouthyette’s whimsical color illustrations of the action. In Rachel’s world, the animals she meets form a group who share a love for books and stories. Rachel and Shawn characters encourage young readers to use their imaginations with the books.
The six stories included in the first volume of the Rachel series describe national parks, such as the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Cradle Mountain-Lake St. Clair National Park in Tasmania, Australia. Another book includes locales in third world countries such as in Africa and Russia. In those versions, the characters continue, as in the first volume, to collect new team members and ride inside an enchanted cloud, waiting for a coded message. Mother Nature translates the message that lets them know who has been injured and where they are so Rachel and her team will understand when the cloud suddenly makes a U-turn. True facts about history and nature intersperse with fantasy.
Rachel’s middle grade version is Rachel’s Adventures with Mother Nature’s Rescue Squad. Both versions of the series shows how friends work together to resolve problems. But the Rachel stories are only one part of the series. Shawn Michael Discovers the Secrets of Dog Leg Island (picture book) and its middle grade/YA sequel, Shawn Michael Discovers the Secrets of Dog Leg Island (The Dream Begins), debuts alongside the Rachel series. Shawn's are a collection of Shawn's dream adventures.
The Shawn series also includes Shawn Michael's Adventures in the Wild, Wild West. Shawn book readers will enjoy action-adventure stories mixed with plenty of fantasy and unabashedly moral values. Since role playing is promoted in these series, Shawn demonstrates his share. He has a horse named “Country” in The Wild, Wild West and Country plays a role in telling the story.Sounds comical? Readers will role on the floor.
Each story of the Rachel and Shawn READ ALONG OR READ ALONE™ series begins for the youngest reader with a picture book for Rachel and her brother, Shawn, centering the plot, around an introduction to the main characters, then graduates into YA versions. The allegory, as with Rachel's series, involve teaching readers to work out solutions within the framework of good moral advice. Elbow-in-the-rib humor dots every page of Shawn's collection of stories. Readers of book series will gain an appreciation for nature, wildlife, and the environment, as well as plant ideas for creativity and reach out to people of other countries.
"Hartley doesn't run out of stories. He is a walking children's storybook,“ says Haynes.
The elementary picture books measures 8.5 by 11 inches, perfect bound, and each has about 44-50 pages. The Rachel middle grade contains 160 pages and is 6 x 9. Shawn's YA versions are sold separately as individual stories. The prices range from "6.99 for the YA books to $12.95 for the picture books. All books will be perfect bound. Amazon.com will have them available first, followed by Barnes and Noble.com, and all online bookstores.
A trailer preview may be seen at http://www.futureword.net/New-Release.html.
Futureword Publishing publishes award-worthy fiction, non-fiction and children’s books. Find out more at http://www.FutureWordbooks.com or http://www.FutureWord.net. 901-217-8514