Breakfast Serials story kicks off Monday

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The adventures of Amanda, her twin brother Philip and all the animals at a Boulder park ended each week with a cliff-hanger that had students at Ridgeview Elementary School asking Literacy Coordinator Sue Goodenow whether she had the next installment.

"They couldn't wait for the next portion of the story and wanted to know if I had it," Goodenow said.

And they weren't the only ones.

Teachers would come to her looking for extra copies of that week's installment, too.

"Keep your Eye on Amanda," written by Avi, was a 13-week "Breakfast Serials" story published by the Craig Daily Press in February. It was followed by "The Long Road Home," and on Monday, another 13-week Breakfast Serials will begin.

"Reading the Sky," is a story about Jamie, a dyslexic boy who can't read the words on a page, but who can read clouds and what he sees is as wondrous as it is unbelievable -- to others. One summer day, he sees a man in a business suit parachute from an airplane. When he tells his family and friend, Gillian, no one believes him.

But, not only are Jamie's perceptions accurate, the man is a thief who has stolen $1 million and kidnaps Gillian. When she leaves a written note that tells where's she's being taken, Jamie is in a double bind: No one thinks he's seen anything and he can't read the message.

The story is written by Avi and illustrated by Joan Sandin.

The Craig Daily Press first started printing the series on the recommendation of the Colorado Press Association but continues because feedback has been so positive, publisher Samantha Johnston said.

"A number of parents came in to collect copies to use in their own summer reading programs," Johnston said.

Each elementary school uses the series in a different way. Some teachers read it to their students, others send it home for students to read and report on.

"Some teachers use it instead of the regular reading series," Goodenow said. "It's a nice change of pace. Avi is a superb author. There's a lot of good conversation about how kids engaged with that story. I'm really excited about this."

Avi is the winner of the 2003 Newberry Award, the highest honor a children's book can receive. Avi -- a name given to 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. Growing up in New York in the 1940s, 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."

Joan Sandin's first book was one she illustrated for a story that her brother had written. He was 8 years old and she was 5.

"It was set in a cave, and all the pictures took place in the dark. Only one person bought that book -- our mother. It could only go uphill from there," Sandin said.

Sandin has been illustrating her own and others' published stories for about 35 years. She is also the author and illustrator of a number of children's books published in the United States and in Sweden, and she is the translator of about 20 Swedish children's books.

The next Breakfast Serials story will begin Monday. Special 13-week subscriptions are available to those wanting to follow the story.

Christina M. Currie can be reached at 824-7031, ext. 210, or ccurrie@craigdailypress.com.

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