The Dragon Whistler

The Dragon Whistler
Now available in paperback.


Help Elena's Serenade become a feature film

The award-winning book ELENA'S SERENADE by Campbell Geeslin (illustrated by Ana Juan) is a fascinating picture book about a girl glassblower in Mexico. In the more than ten years since it was published (Atheneum Books for Young Readers), it has captivated readers with its story of empowerment and magic, and its rich and glorious illustrations. Now, one of its biggest fans is trying to get it made into an animated feature film.

Sarah Wayne Callies (best known as Lori on THE WALKING DEAD) is working with FullDawa Films through a Kickstarter campaign to fund the production:

The Kickstarter campaign for “Elena’s Serenade: The Pilot“ went live on Wednesday, January 13th, to promote and support Sarah Wayne Callies’ latest creative endeavor, a screenplay adapted from Campbell Geeslin’s children’s picture book “Elena’s Serenade“. First published in 2004, it received the Parents' Choice Award the same year and was commended for the Americas Award for Children's and Young Adult Literature.  Campbell Geeslin fully backs Sarah’s wish to make his book into an animation film.
If successful, the Kickstarter funds will help to finance a pilot, which will consist of 3 to 5 minutes of the final film. This excerpt will be used as a funding tool, which can be presented to film boards and private financiers in order to get the rest of the animated feature film made.  FullDawa has already obtained complete support from the CNC, the French National Film Board, which has committed to financing a part of the pilot’s budget.
FullDawa Films EP David Atrakchi introduced the script to French animation director Guillaume Ivernel, best known for his animated film “Dragon Hunters” released in 2008. He immediately took to the story, inspired by its poetry and Mexican backdrop, and set out to create Elena’s universe and characters alongside illustrator Valérie Hadida. In addition to Ivernel, esteemed comic book author Tony Sandoval has joined the team, along with animation powerhouse Toutenkartoon, reputed stereographer Joséphine Dérobe and Les Androids Associés, who will be handling all pre-visualization techniques.  Celestial musicians Mirabai Ceiba are the project’s latest addition and have recently agreed to score the film.
The film depicts the story of Elena, a young girl who dreams of becoming a glassblower just like her father. But he wants a different life for his daughter and will not teach her his art. When tragedy strikes her family, Elena must learn to make glass in order to save them. So she sets off on her own across the Mexican desert to go to Monterrey and learn from the great glassblowers. The journey is full of new creatures and people, some who will guide the girl on her way, and some who want to steal her art and her spirit. If she can make it back home, she will not only have grown as an artist, but as a daughter, a friend, and a young woman.
The story is “so full of inspiration for my daughter’s creative spirit and her courage as a girl.  I loved it, and I read it to her almost every day for months.” says Sarah. “And then one day, I saw it as a movie in my head. It’s never happened to me that way before, but I just closed my eyes and saw the whole thing – new characters, new parts of the journey. The essence of this wonderful girl Elena I had been seeing every day on her amazing journey; this girl who made me giggle and weep and cheer for her – I wanted to introduce her to a wider audience. “
Rewards for Kickstarter donations range from the official download of the pilot and limited edition prints, to an exclusive art book created by Guillaume Ivernel and a signed copy of Sarah’s original script for the pilot. Prizes for top-tier donations include an original production visual signed by the entire team; and hand-drawn sketches of the cast of characters, by both Valérie Hadida and Tony Sandoval.


NOGGIN by John Corey Whaley

Sixteen-year-old Travis Coates had cancer. He was going to die. And then this super experimental medical treatment presented itself. Would he be willing to have his head cut off and frozen for a few years, because there just might be a procedure in the future that could reattach his head to a healthy donor body? Sure, why not?

The potential of a life, even if it's a life long after everyone he knows is gone, is a risk Travis is willing to take. And it works. He wakes up with a brand new, super fantastic, healthy body. Except it isn't 100 years later. It's only five.

Which is great because he still has his parents and his friends ... well, sort of. Everyone is five years older than him, of course. He has to go back to high school and they've already graduated. And that includes Travis's girlfriend, who has grieved him and moved on.

NOGGIN is a coming of age story unlike any other as Travis must restart his old life in a new body, adjust to his celebrity status (he's one of only a few people who have survived the re-attachment surgery), convince his girlfriend they are still meant to be together (even though she's engaged to someone else), and figure out why his best friend (who came out to him just before the beheading) apparently never told anyone else he was gay.

John Corey Whaley, author of the Printz Award/William C. Morris Award-winning WHEN THINGS COME BACK, tackles all these heavy issues with the sarcastic wit and humor of a sixteen year old boy, taking the reader on such an enjoyable ride that it's easy to suspend the disbelief of the original premise. Travis is just so darn likable you can't help but root for him, even though you know the things he wants aren't necessarily what's best for him.

Appropriate for grades 9 and up because of some language and, shall we say, typical teenage boy situations. NOGGIN will appeal to any high schoolers, but would be ideal for the reluctant male reader.


Dumplin’ by Julie Murphy

Go big or go home is the line that graces the cover of DUMPLIN’ and let’s just say the latest YA from Julie Murphy takes that advice to heart.

Willowdean Dickson is fierce and fearless, or so she seems to those around her. She’s always been comfortable as plus sized (and never insecure around either her gorgeous BF or her mother, the former Miss Teen Blue Bonnet).

But when she falls for the hot new guy at work, and he seems to like her right back, she starts having doubts like never before. When things get complicated with him, and she can’t seem to get over the death of her beloved aunt (who passed due to complications from extreme weight), Willowdean needs something to refresh her swagger.

So why not enter the local beauty pageant? You know, the one her mother won when she was younger. The one that pretty much shuts down the entire county this time every year. The one traditionally filled with contestants who have a certain kind of “look.”

Traditionally, the pageant doesn’t include girls obsessed with Dolly Parton and red suckers. Or those NOT obsessed with their dress size. And that’s what makes it perfect.

Unwittingly inspiring a group of other girls to become contestants too, Willowdean decides to embrace her role as beauty queen because, dang it, she deserves to be in that pageant as much as anyone else. Sure, she and her friends aren’t “typical,” and the whole thing might raise some eyebrows, but it might just open some minds, as well.

Willowdean is a force of nature who proves to the reader (and herself) that everyone doesn’t (and shouldn’t) fit into someone else’s preconceived parameters. And, pardon the spoiler, but don’t read this if you want a “she lost 100 pounds and lived happily ever after” resolution. Because, thank God, this isn’t about that. DUMPLIN’ gets to the heart of the matter, and while Willowdean is certainly a sympathetic character, you never once feel sorry for her. She’s in control of her destiny, comfortable in her own skin, and will no doubt be an inspiration for many readers as well.

I fell in love with Julie Murphy’s writing with her debut SIDE EFFECTS MAY VARY, and this second novel is just as good. Fans of Rainbow Rowell and John Green will feel right at home between Murphy’s pages. With the movie rights already snatched up, I'm confident Julie Murphy will be a writer you’ll be hearing about a lot -- and I look forward to seeing where she takes us next.