When I found out that Brandon Mull was coming to my school, I quickly went to read his books to prepare my students. I am not a fantasy reader at all. My feet need to be on the ground. Therefore, I bypassed the book with the witch on the front and began The Candy Shop War. I finished it in two days and my appreciation of Brandon Mull and his craft began. I told everyone I knew about this book! To me, Brandon's writing was J.K. Rowling with a dose of Stephen King. The characters he created were so lovable and realistic you felt as if they were your friends. The idea of magical candy was just comical to me. What kid wouldn't do anything to have some candy with magical powers? I then moved to Fablehaven. The concept behind the book is that the magical creatures, like fairies and dragons, do exist but they are endangered and now live on wildlife preserves. There are strict rules that must be obeyed and in this way all is kept in order. Enter two children Kenrda and Seth, whose curiosity over their grandfathers property soon threatens to overturn that law of order. Wow! I am in awe of imaginations that can create entire worlds but even more in awe of the visual images that are created through Brandon's words.
Brandon is continuing an extensive New Jersey school tour promoting the fourth book of the Fablehaven series. He made an appearance at our school today and the kids went nuts! Brandon's message for kids was just as inspiring as his writing. He encouraged all of them to use their imagination. Brandon pointed out that when children watch TV or video games they are using someone else's imagination, but when they read they are using their own! He outlined two ways to make your imagination stronger. 1. Read 2. Create Simple yet powerful! Brandon also encouraged the kids to write about their lives, pointing out that they can be more descriptive when they write from what they know. Brandon explained that even in a fantasy book, such as Candy Shop Wars, the town where the story takes place was based on a real town that he lived in as a kid. It is this personal connection, he said, that allows his writing to be more descriptive and believable to his readers. I agree! Brandon also encouraged the children to value the feedback they receive from their teachers and peers. He displayed a copy of a page from Fablehaven with all of the revision marks from his editor. The children gasped! Brandon shared that it is this feedback makes him a better writer.
I was so impressed with the powerful messages he gave to our students today. I feel that his message came from his true passion for wanting children to read and create using their imagination. It was an honor to meet him at what is certainly the beginning of a long creative career.