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Inside Practically Paradise

“” Patrick Carman How does he do this?

Patrick Carman captured my interest with The Dark Hills Divide (Book 1 in The Land of Elyon series). Knowing he first spun that tale while reading to his two young daughters adds a sweetness to his mystique. How did this adorable and gracious man spin so many diverse tales in such a short time?

Patrick proved to me he understood diverse reading interests by incorporating soccer with squirrels in The Walnut Cup – Book 3 in the series of Elliot’s Park (Shirley, did you see? … Squirrels! I love squirrels. I even know 3 squirrel fingerplays for preschoolers.)

Patrick moved on to the groundbreaking Skeleton Creek series told in episodes alternating between chapters in the books and online videos. I was skeptical when I held Skeleton Creek in my hand at the bookfair and challenged my students to prove this format would keep their interest enough for me to purchase a set. (Yes, I am diabolical in my attempts to get kids to read!)

The students surprised me with the intensity of their response. Immediately the next day students were in raving about the creepiness and super scare factor of the videos. It was an instant hit and they couldn’t stop sharing the news with their friends.

Patrick kept trying new twists on integrating multiplatform publishing with the Trackers series which captured my reluctant readers. His Atherton series satisfied my older readers because Patrick is more than using gimmicks to extend interest in reading and experiencing a tale. He is meeting the changing needs of our readers and their desire for multimedia incorporation.

Patrick Carman has two new releases in September 2011. One is FLOORS, a chapter book incorporating magical floors and hotel rooms in the style of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. This is a great middle grade reader fourth grade up that races through several mysteries and leaves you wanting more at the end. From wild rooms with life-size pinball action to talkative robots capable of 10,000 vocabulary words in an hour, this creative titles will appeal to boys as an entry into modern fantasy.

But with the other release of 3:15 we catch the sweet vulnerability that makes Patrick Carman so enchanting an author. While at ALA Ken, Lucky, and I were fortunate to dine with librarians, publishers, media folks and Patrick Carman. (Please excuse my glee – not bragging, I would have taken all of you readers if I could.)

He chatted with us about the new series 3:15 Season One Things That Go Bump in the Night. This series most fully incorporates multimedia with a mix of 3 styles: listening to sound effect and spoken introductions, watching video online to culminate, and reading. Each tale takes about fifteen minutes or less to read. There are ten tales in a book.

Patrick seemed concerned that it might be pushing beyond the boundaries of multimedia integration in schools. How sweet of him to be worried, but he needs to relax! This series will be an instant hit for middle readers through eighth grade. I found this format very timely. It will incorporate well with the surge of iPad and smartphone purchases. I even tried out the Android apps and weblinks on the new HTC EVO 4G in our house. Finally, finally, I have a perfect title to give students requesting scary stories.

There are some excellent interviews with Patrick Carman and reviews already out for this series, including Lauren Barack’s SLJ review. You can view Patrick’s presentation to educators about 21st Century literacy for TEDx NYED. The presentation touches on some of the reasons why he writes both traditional and multimedia books.

Whether my students discover the hardcover books this fall from Scholastic or follow the web apps to the tale, they won’t be disappointed with Patrick Carman’s latest efforts. I can’t wait to see what innovations his PC Studio will undertake next.

He does have some YA titles including Thirteen Days to Midnight and the new Dark Eden project. As I said in the beginning, “How did this adorable and gracious man spin so many diverse tales in such a short time?”

Enough of my gushing, listen to part of an essay Patrick wrote in Reimagining Books in Publishers Weekly (February 8, 2010):

Today’s teens and preteens have an overwhelming need to stay connected, and we do have to live with it. My wife and I face this reality on a daily basis with our 14- and 12-year-old daughters. We’ve surrounded them with books, read to them endlessly over the years, and encouraged quiet time away from their friends and the consuming force of the computer. Yet it’s a challenge to keep them engaged by the written page. You begin to see the need for a lifeline.


  1. Author is humbled. And smiling. Thank you! Made my week. PC

  2. Shannon Stanton says:

    I love Patrick Carman!
    Great article.