ALBUQUERQUE–There’s a time in the Sandia Preparatory Theater on Wednesday morning when the room fills with screams — like fans in a rock concert clamoring for a guitar pick or a drum stick.
For several book-loving middle schoolers, the fictional Leven Thumps is about as close to Rock Star status as you can get.
Obert Skye, author of the Leven Thumps series of children’s books, was in the building.
Skye’s promotional Imagination Tour has been touring schools in the Northeast Heights, Belen and Moriarty for the days leading up to a book signing at Barnes and Noble on Wednesday night.
“I loved to read, but I didn’t always love to read,” Skye said, recounting days from his childhood where he was hounded by an “aggressive librarian.”
“She kept showing up with a certain book,” Skye said. “Read this book. No, I don’t want to. She’d pop in the hall. She’d come into the classroom. I finally said, ‘Whatever.’ I took the book from her and I read it and I loved it.”
The book was called “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory,” which spurred his love for Roald Dahl books. On his MySpace page, he lists Dahl, along with director Tim Burton, as people he’d most like to meet.
For those unacquainted with the now-3-year-old series, Leven Thumps falls within the same fantasy genre as Harry Potter, Chronicles of Narnia with orphaned children blessed with magical powers setting off on epic adventures.
For Leven Thumps, the land is “Foo,” said Skye, “the place between the possible and impossible.”
“I dreamt about Foo for 15 years,” he said.
His third book, “Leven Thumps and the Eyes of the Want,” was released in September, which launched his current tour.
Members of the school’s book club are wearing the Leven Thumps costume of “Wonder White” written on a white T-shirt turned inside out, so the letters are in reverse. They know the book so well, a student has created a small sculpture of one of the characters for Skye to sign. One of the young girls dives behind a stage curtain as school librarian Michelle Mals reveals to the author the student’s crush on Geth, a character that has been turned into a toothpick.
Frequently commenting that the children are “brilliant” with “fantastic” ideas, he hosts trivia games with details from his books, giving away posters and journals to participants, and Tshirts to students who hold plastic cockroaches symbolizing a fear from his childhood.
Skye’s biography is deliberately vague as to the author’s origins: Skye was born in the middle of the week during an averagelength year. He is the middle child in a family with an odd number of children. Interests include falling from great heights, devouring books, and fighting for Foo. He also likes the beach and lives in the United States in a place a bit colder than he would prefer.
He does tempt his young audience with tales of his childhood, however, describing an incident of cockroaches falling from his new bedroom’s ceiling to illustrate his themes of “Have Courage,” “Think Big,” and “Be Great.”
“Supersize your dreams,” he tells the students. “Read. Books can take you to places you might never have been able to imagine.”
“Don’t settle for being average.”
Copyright Albuquerque Journal Feb 19, 2008