Author: Kevin Scott Collier
Genre: Juvenile Fiction
Reviewer: Dian Moore
Ten-year old Jordan Mink accidentally receives an email from Bartholomew Pennington (Bart), an Angel who lives on Cloud 9. Jordan writes back, and Bart is in deep trouble for breaking the confidentiality of Heaven. To avoid exposure he agrees to correspond with Jordan, and the story unfolds, told entirely in emails.
I recommend that people of all ages read this small book with a big message. Better yet, all ages should read this book together, as a family, with friends, and in school. Yes, in a public school.
Without preaching, Collier has created a masterpiece of communication full of vivid details, which appear in the readerís mind through short, web-ese emails.
By the end of the story, I was amazed, and touched, to realize I had finished a story of remarkable dimensions. Though written for the middle-school-aged child (tweener), BARTHPENN@HEAVEN.ORG strikes a chord in the adult heart as well.
Kindness, good deeds and learning the importance of empathy are explored, and Collier shows readers, through this story, how our actions cause ripples in the ocean of human life, affecting ourselves and the people we come to know. The importance of love and friendships without judging one another are illustrated as Jordan interacts with his family, schoolmates and an angel who also has a lesson to learn.
February 2005 News about email@example.com
"BART" WINS CRAIGíS CHOICE AWARD
"barthpenn @heaven.org" has been chosen as the February 2005 book of the month by Craig Hartís ChristianLit magazine website. The first place award recognition notes: "(It) is the first juvenile fiction book chosen for the Craig's Choice Award."
Collier also writes and illustrates two online stories on www.tweenertime.com, The Adventures of Tommy Tweener" and "Estherís Channel." He designs all the graphics and illustrations.
Interview with Kevin Scott Collier, author of BARTHPENN@HEAVEN.ORG
Interviewed by Dian Moore for FaithWritersí Magazine
FWM: What was your inspiration for a book written entirely in e-mail form?
KEVIN: It just came to me, from a joke I told a child. He asked me if I prayed to God, and I responded, "No, I email him instead!" Then, the wheels in my head started turning. I started seeing the entire concept in my head, of a book that is both inspirational, and tech oriented for children.
FWM: What is your ultimate dream Ė your hopes from the publication of this book?
KEVIN: To inspire children. To reach out and make people think, both young and old. Iím not in it for fame or fortune, Iím on a pathway my creator has put me on. This is about using my gifts for a spiritual purpose.
FWM: When did you begin to write, and what types of things did you write?
KEVIN: I actually began as an artist, at age 5. But, with the creation of characters, stories had to be told, so writing was a natural companion to illustration. I mainly created, wrote, and illustrated Super Heroes, and
made my own comic books which I sold to neighborhood kids. I pretty much had my own humble little publishing company by age 13.
FWM: Tell us a little of your background - where you grew up, family composition, hobbies and current life.
KEVIN: I was born and raised in Muskegon, Michigan in 1957. It was a foundry town, my dad worked as an automotive pattern maker, and mom was a full time mother raising us five kids; I have 3 brothers, 1 sister. I was really into art as a kid, cartooning in particular, and still am today. I have a lot of strange and dangerous hobbies, like Parasailing and Sand Boarding to name a few. My family has a cottage on a lake, we pull a parachute behind our powerboat, and go sailing up to 500 feet in the air. I have a few surfboards I surf down huge sand dunes with too, some hills as high as 10 stories. Iíve had a few mishaps there! I love to ride my mountain bike everywhere too, and average 1,500 - 2,800 miles a year recreational biking.
FWM: Will there be a sequel to Barthpenn?
KEVIN: The ending of the book is set up to lead to a sequel, and my publisher, Baker Trittin Press has opened the door for one. Weíre just going to see how much impact it has before I begin a second one. And, I have many other books for them in the works, so Iíd like to get out new things before revisiting something Iíve done.
FWM: How about a book for adults, in the same format - would you do one? If so, why, and if no, why not?
KEVIN: Actually, "firstname.lastname@example.org", and all of my upcoming titles, are for parents, too. My publisher is aware of this, and supports the concept. Itís a way to reach and touch kids and adults for more of a blanket audience. My next book, "Estherís Channel", on the surface, looks like a little tale about a turtle and her friends, but itís really about adult behavior that unites and divides us.
FWM: When determining what type of job an angel might hold, how did you come up with the "workforce?"
KEVIN: It all sort of fell into place. Heaven was going to be shaken up with a breach in security, and thus there has to be an angelic food chain as well, different levels all trying to manage a crisis. Itís whimsical! I think the funniest part is Bart the angelís superiors (St. Andrew and St. Hawthorne) trying to keep the "misguided email" sent to Jordon Mink a secret of sorts from God Almighty. Yeah, right! God knew this all was going to happen before any of it did!
FWM: Who is the inspiration for Jordan's character?
KEVIN: Itís me, but I didnít do it intentionally. My wife says I drew so much on my past that Jordon became me. I did have a situation when I was 16, where I had a burst appendix, and spent a month in the hospital. I almost died, and I was very spiritual, and felt I had a guardian angel there watching over me.
FWM: Feel free to talk at length about anything you would like readers of this book to know.
KEVIN: There are a lot of messages in BART (as I call the book), but perhaps the best message is to never make negative assumptions. There are so many situations in the book where assumptions are made about others that turn out to be totally wrong. Get to KNOW others. Negative assumptions caused Jordon to misjudge Mr. Baxter, the elderly man with Alzheimerís disease, and a misjudgment of Brandonís character (Jordonís friend) nearly cost the two their friendship. It isnít until we get to know others, and use compassion and wisdom and hope as our guide, do others begin to unfold for us in our lives. You really begin to see what life is all about when your heart becomes your eyes. And, we all affect one another, and influence others. Itís like they book says, "by the end of our lives we become a collection of everyone who ever loved us." You will miss out on many good people by misjudging them or making assumptions.
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Pictures supplied by Kevin Scott Collier.
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