Looking for a little excitement outside the regular newspaper fare?
Readers of all ages can soon flip to weekly installments of children's stories slated to run in the Craig Daily Press.
Starting Monday Feb. 16, students of Moffat County schools and Daily Press readers can follow along with the hair-raising adventures of twin raccoons Amanda and Philip. "Breakfast Serials," a series of stories and corresponding illustrations will appear on the paper's education page over a 14-week-period.
Readers can follow along with Philip, the ever-cautious raccoon, as he tries to keep his mischievous sister, Amanda, out of trouble after she joins up with a human thief. With the story based in Boulder, Philip recruits local animals and an old locomotive to try get Amanda back on track before she becomes a real criminal.
Each week a section of the story titled "Keep Your Eye on Amanda!" wraps up in a cliff-hanging suspense that leaves readers clamoring for more, said Avi, the book's author.
Avi is the winner of the 2003 Newberry Award, the highest honor a children's book can receive. Avi -- a name given him by his twin sister -- has published more than 50 children's books and is the brains behind the company now called Breakfast Serials, Inc.
The original serialized story concept dates back to American newspapers of the 18th century. Born in 1937 and growing up in New York, Avi remembered reading the serialized stories in the city's newspapers.
"My idea was to revive a 19th century concept," Avi said. "When I started with "Keep Your Eye on Amanda!" I was merely interested in writing a serialized story and seeing if a newspaper would publish it."
Some newspapers across the state have already jumped on the idea. About 20 Colorado papers are simultaneously launching the Breakfast Serials along with this paper Monday.
"Keep Your Eye on Amanda!" is illustrated by Timothy Bush, an award-winning author and illustrator of about 15 children's books.
"It's certainly my hope that someone who reads the first chapter is going to be caught up in the story," Bush said. "The concept is to get people who can read but don't read. I think it's really fun that whole state of Colorado is getting behind this."
Though the story is aimed at students between the third and seventh grades, families have been known to read the chapters together, Bush said.
Diana Cook, principal of East Elementary School said her third- and fourth-grade classes will be following the adventures of the raccoon siblings.
Students will read the chapters during sections of the school day already set aside for quiet reading time.
"I can remember growing up doing serials," Cook said. "You get excited, thinking 'Oh, what's going to happen next?'"
Making students wait a week for the next chapter and encouraging students make predictions on upcoming stories, are important literacy skills, she said.
"We can ask students, based on what you already know, what do you think will happen next," Cook said. "This will help with some of the people I know who read the end of book of first."
Amy Hatten can be reached at 824-7031 or firstname.lastname@example.org.