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The Adventures of a Creative Kid-Hero in 'Octo-Man and the Headless Monster'

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Penguin Random House
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Sometimes kids' first brush with heroism comes from the imagination.

Just as Bill Watterson's Calvin from Calvin and Hobbes would dream of chartering unexplored galaxies as 'Spaceman Spiff,' the hero of a new children’s book series by Wisconsin writer Jane Kelley really needs outlets for his continuous creative urges.

Walter, aka Clint McCool, is the main character in Kelley's The Escapades of Clint McCool series. The first book is called Octo-Man and the Headless Monsterand in it readers find Clint’s creativity disrupting a movie set near his home.

The series is a shift to a younger audience for Kelley, who has written several well-received novels for a middle grade audience.

She explains that writing for a younger audience does present some unique challenges. "You have to tell your story more quickly. You have to get to in it and you have to get out of it-- in and out of trouble-- very quickly." 

Clint doesn't necessarily fit in, Kelley explains. "It's important for us to pay attention to those outsiders. Whether they are kids who just have a different kind of imagination, or maybe they come from a different place or have another demographic than ourselves." 

For adults trying to encourage and deal with kids like Clint, creativity is the key, she says. "If I have a mission in this book, it's that there can be too much order. I do feel like kids need outlets for their creativity. If we provide them safe outlets, then they have a chance to flourish and develop and have fun. If we don't give them those outlets, then things can start to go wrong."

Kelley will be one of many literary luminaries in Green Bay this weekend for the debut of the Untitled Town Book Festival.

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