5th Grade Challenge ArtworkMaking the Book Come to Life
Pictures can turn a good book into a great book. I realize that. And I’m not satisfied with the traditional style of book illustrations that look like water color paintings. No. I wanted to get something that looked like a TV show kids actually watch. I took a lot of inspiration from “Avatar: The Last Airbender” (and “Arthur” to a lesser extent). As a gift to you, the reader, I posted all the pictures from the book online for free. If you get the book, they’ll be there, whether in ebook form or paperback. “5th Grade Challenge” is an amazing book for preteens’ Christian development, so don’t deprive them of this fun story and teaching tool. I always say “God Ain’t Boring”, so I want to give your middle-grade child an entertaining story with Bible-based teachings.
You may not know this, but I’ve been sitting on this book for about 6 years. Wait, no, I take that back, 8 years. I had been working on it alone, off and on, during that time, and got distracted with other matters of life. But one thing that prevented me from going forward with the book’s release was the fact that I needed artwork for the book and its cover. In college, I was almost ready to release it (now 5 years ago), but the art for the cover fell through. Then a few months ago I decided it was time to release the book, so I contacted an artist on Fiverr (Inka Iskandar), and he did it for me for a very good price. If I couldn’t get the cover picture I needed, I would never release the book. The cover’s design is something I always had in mind. I wanted it to look like a video game case. (If you have a Wii in your house, this will seem familiar.) I wanted the book to scream ‘fun’ right from the cover, and since this story is from one of my video games, I wanted to be sure to convey that.
When you watch a kids show, how you would describe many of the adult characters? Tell me if any of these words come to mind: incompetent, oafish, reckless, stupid, out of touch. But then the kids are clever, witty, imaginative, etc. Is that really how the world works? As a parent, don’t you provide more than a roof over a child’s head and food on their table? You talk with your kids, you teach them. You do all the other stuff they need (the food, the clothes, the house), and try to do your best to help prepare them to have a better life and future than you had, right? I get that. I respect that. So why would I write a book where the child is supposed to read it alone without your input? “5th Grade Challenge” best serves its audience when it facilitates family bonding. The Reflection Questions at the end of each chapter are definitely meant to aid that family time. And when you’re answering those reflection questions, that’s an open door for sharing your life experiences. They’re going to need that, but they’re also going to need it in a safe environment where they feel like they can say anything they want, even if it’s not the “right answer”. I designed this picture to convey that you and your family would be best served by reading the story together. And I tried to phrase the questions in a way that gives the child an opening to express themselves completely.
Just like any game case, the rating tells you who the game is for. Is it for everyone (E), everyone over 10 years old (E10), teenagers and above (T), mature audiences (M)? For me, this book is rated G for Godly. I just wanted to have some fun with it and drive home the sense that this story is fun, just like a video game.
The writing in the logo is my own. I take great pride in it as it has an artistic, round style to it. But the symbol itself? Where does that come from? What does it mean? Honestly, there is no meaning to it. There never was, but I just stuck with it thinking maybe it would become its own thing and be recognizable by itself someday. I remember when I was in high school, after finishing my freshman year. I failed my computer class, so I had to take it for summer school. That morning as we were driving to a different school across town to register for the summer school class, it was raining that day. The windshield wiper whisked away the water in a way that revealed the shape of my logo. Maybe the next time it rains and you’re behind the wheel, you’ll see what I saw…
Have you ever looked at a list of names and wondered how you should pronounce them? Names like Huizenga threw me threw a loop when I first encountered them. I think I first pronounced it “Hwee-zen-ga”, but it was actually pronounced “Hi-zen-ga”. By the way, is that last part “ga” or “guh”? See how confusing that is? As an English teacher, I feel sorry for students who have to learn this language. One of the big reasons is the difficulty in spelling its words. English borrows many words from many cultures, even though those cultures use the same alphabet. It’s the reason why we spell peetsa “P-I-Z-Z-A”. Because if we go to Italy and show them that word “peetsa”, they won’t understand it. But not only do we break the rules for the borrowed words, but we’re very inconsistent with our own words. Check this out: Mouse, Mice; Louse, Lice; House, Hice??? These little inconsistencies add up to a language whose rules that aren’t worth the paper they’re printed on. I want to solve that problem. By having a phonemic chart, we can standardize every pronunciation and every sound in the language. You see this in dictionaries, but who reads dictionaries? You can see this online also, but many of these pronunciations have a British accent. Go to dictionary.com and try out a few words and see if they sound like how you talk. I made a chart for our sounds in the US, specifically the Midwest, since this accent sets the bar of Standard American English. You’re welcome to print it out and use it as you read the story.
Diamond distracts the teacher so Veronica can sneak upstairs to the classroom. They’re playing a prank on Ted.
Ted put paint on Veronica’s chair and she sat in it. It seems she can’t take a joke…
Ted, Veronica, and Diamond are detained during Gym class. Mr. Gibson needs to get his suit dry-cleaned.
That paint better come out of Veronica’s clothes, or Ted’s gonna get it. (But another teacher sees everything…)
The rivalry has gotten dangerously out of control. The teachers gather the 5th graders in the auditorium to announce the tournament so they can settle their differences once and for all.
Ted’s dad had to come up to the school. Needless to say, both the teacher and his dad are unhappy with him.
Though he wanted to move to get a fresh start, nothing has changed about Ted. He’s repeating the same mistakes that got him booted out of his hometown.
Lost in her reading, she finally snaps out of it when Veronica yells her name. This is why Amber is called “Bookworm”.
Veronica’s got a plan to swing the competition in the girls’ favor. She needs Bookworm’s help, though.
James catches Amber gazing at him. But is that because she zoned out, or is it something more?
Amber wishes James good luck in the competition, but never makes eye-contact. Strange…
Now he can’t stop staring at her…
James is lovestruck, but doesn’t want to be. Even then, he’s very insecure with his appearance.
James and Amber stall for time, hoping to catch each other in a moment of privacy.
Amber threw a paper ball at James and ran away. Was something written on it?
There was a message for James on the paper ball, and it left him floored.
Veronica and Diamond share a laugh on the school bus as they head home.
Diamond looks out at her new neighborhood, but something feels… off.
Diamond realizes how hard life was for Derrick, so she embraces and encourages him.
Amber and James? Diamond and Derrick? Something doesn’t sound right to Ted… It might be a trap set by Veronica!
Ted’s got a plan to thwart Veronica. And he’s got a supercomputer to help him do it.
Ted leaves a note for Veronica to find, and as expected, she catches him at the door.
Ted is trying to make friends with Veronica, but she is clearly not having it.
Veronica immediately calls Diamond after her TedTalk. Apparently she didn’t like what Ted told her.
Veronica teases Diamond relentlessly. But it goes both ways, so Veronica’s gonna get it, too.
Amber’s been waiting for James to call, but she only gets her dad. Bummer.
“You came, you came!” Amber squeals as she finds James.
“Estupida, estupida, estupida!” Amber says when she realizes her mistake.
James explains Jewish history to Amber, and his connection with Ethiopia.
Amber can’t stop thinking about James, but James had to catch up on his studying.
Veronica’s heart and head are locked in debate. Sometimes our biggest enemies aren’t on the outside, they’re on the inside.
Matthew sees Veronica and immediately runs to give her a hug. Ted clearly isn’t pleased.
Veronica teases Ted as they walk. I won’t say what they’re talking about, though.
“I’m coming for your throat in the competition,” Veronica warns Ted.
A trick question shocks everyone in the competition.
The boys discover the truth about Amber’s reasons for getting together with James, and he is devastated.
Angry and intent on revenge, Ted and Derrick work on the blueprints for a new device. If they could avoid destroying the paper in the process.
The boys are playing the Switch when they hear the doorbell ring.
The person at the door was Diamond, but the boys don’t trust her. Is it part of Veronica’s plan?
Maybe if the moth follows her, we can hear the plan, the boys figure.
Amber and James have a tense conversation about some untold truths.
Amber greets James in the morning. Unfortunately it was in front of the entire classroom.
Diamond takes the stage for her Hobbies Day contest.
Ted’s a bit nervous during his presentation.
Ted’s moth refuses to fly near Veronica. Her response: “Smart bug.”
Veronica accuses Mr. Gibson of siding with the boys. But the teacher doesn’t seem to care who wins.
The teacher describes the importance of children learning to make decisions by themselves.
Ted tries to taunt Veronica, but she doesn’t seem to care. He then tries to figure out why her mood is so low.
James and Amber go to Archie’s for a date, and both wrote a note to the other. Rock, paper, scissors determines who reads their note first.
The note speaks for itself.
Ted and Matthew throw paper balls at each other in the living room.
Veronica spots Amber in the bathroom, and is afraid to approach her.
It turns out Diamond was also in the bathroom. Embarrassing…
Veronica taunts Ted by drawing a picture of her throwing him into a hole.
Ted taunts Veronica back by drawing a picture of him throwing her into a hole.
The school courtyard is the site of the Sports Day competition.
The students line up to compete in the water fight.
One boy hides in the bushes.
It’s a double-knockout!
Ted protects James and himself while he hooks up the water hose.
James lets loose with the water hose, only to get hit…
Ted vs Veronica for all the marbles
Veronica spins as she lobs balloon after balloon at Ted.
Veronica’s got Ted dead to rights.
The boy comes out of hiding.
James and Amber get a shoutout during the final assembly. How embarrassing…
Veronica’s final note to Ted for the day.
What do the five fingers say to the face?
The 6th graders ambush the 5th graders.
“I am SO calling off Monday.”