Posts Tagged With: The Devil’s Backbone

Author Visits For Schools And How to Approach The Reluctant Reader Creature

When it comes to school visits, I like to do things a little different. If you look at the picture below, which was taken  at Fulbright Junior High in Bentonville, Arkansas, you will notice some things are missing.

A Stage. A Microphone. A Huge Assembly of Students.

While working with small groups, 100 or less, requires me to repeat the same session 3-5 times each author visit, it’s worth the extra effort. I connect with students more effectively in this manner, allowing direct interaction. Kids are much less intimidated by their fellow students in small groups, allowing them to ask questions freely and join discussions. It gives kids the feeling of being included in the process instead of simply watching a show up on the stage.



Thinking back on my memories of being a young reluctant reader, I must warn you about something. There are certain students who require a different approach.

Some reluctant readers are mysterious creatures. Approach carefully, stealthily, or they will dash to the door!

I was one of those.

My only advice would be this. Do not come at them with books in your hands, offering something to read. This is the equivalent of Superman’s kryptonite. They will immediately make a speedy exit or simply push away each book you offer. Instead, pull out your bag of tricks and get your reluctant readers to help you. Kids want to feel important and be treated like adults. Give them that opportunity by asking for their advice. The next time you need to buy a gift for your niece/nephew/child, find one of your reluctant readers and ask what is one of their favorite movies or games for the purpose of choosing a gift for your family member. Use that information to search for a related book and then ask for their advice again, saying you would like to give your friend/family member a book as part of the gift. Since the reluctant reader suggested the movie or game, ask if they would read some of the book and give their opinion on your choice. It sounds like a lot of work but this is how you can help young students discover their specific combination of story requirements that may ultimately get them hooked on reading. At the very least, you have directly involved them in the process of choosing a book and made them feel important.


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Foreman School Visit

James visited Foreman recently and was delighted with how excited the students were about his books. It was a school visit that he will not forget. James was invited to eat with a few of the leaders of the reading counts program and enjoyed the meal and discussions.

“Foreman was great to me and I want to thank them for everything.” Lunch with the Author - Foreman

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Family Finds Todd’s Treasure!

“I want this treasure hunt to get kids out of the house and involved in history.”       __________Author James Babb

The treasure hunt is doing exactly that!


Family Solves Clues And Are First to Find Todd’s Treasure


Readers of Arkansas author James Babb’s historical fiction trilogy, THE DEVIL’S BACKBONE, THE DEVIL’S TRAP and THE DEVIL’S DEN, recently had the opportunity to go on a modern-day treasure hunt using clues from the story set near Fort Smith in 1881. The first to find the treasure could keep the items inside and sign the log, leaving the box for others to find. The little boy in THE DEVIL’S TRAP had hidden marbles, a necklace his father had worn, an arrowhead, a quartz crystal and several other items inside.

Bob Walter, from Batesville, and his granddaughter Ashlyn Latus, a first grader at Sequoyah Elementary in Russellville, used the clues from the books to successfully find the hidden treasure. According to Walters, he went through the books and marked everything he thought was a clue to the treasure location. Then he spent about a week researching Fort Smith and looking at old maps and historical accounts, trying to match clues to the ground. He said total research time was about two weeks.

Once in Fort Smith, the four generations of family – Walter’s mom, wife Kathy, daughter Sarah and her husband Robert Latus, and grandchildren Ashlyn and Zoey – spent several hours scouting out possible locations for the treasure. Once they had eliminated all areas but one, they spent about an hour searching for a particular match to an important clue. Walter said his granddaughter Ashlyn figured out the clue, and a short time later began to scream, “We found it! We found it!” In addition to the items from the story, Ashlyn Latus wins free autographed books, a free author visit from James Babb to her school, and a pizza party.

“I will always remember Ashlyn’s expression when she opened the box. It was a mixture of excitement, joy and happiness. She will not forget this experience, ever.”        ___________Bob Walter


Bob’s family will receive the prizes for being the first to find the treasure but the hunt is not over. Take your family on an adventure they will not soon forget. Go look for Todd’s Treasure.




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The Arkansas Association of School Librarians Conference 2016


James will be speaking at the Arkansas School Librarians Conference in Little Rock, Friday July 22nd.

At 9:15AM in the Hobby room you will hear James discuss writing, reluctant readers, and how kids are connecting with the Brody Martin series. If you have a question for the Q&A after his session, please send it to him at his Twitter or Facebook. Or email SilverinkBooks at


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Plum Street Acquires Third Book in James Babb’s Brody Martin series

The Devil’s Den has been picked up by a fine publisher Plum Street Publishers ! The new release date will be sometime in the spring of 2017. See press release below.


James Babb, author of The Devil’s Backbone and The Devil’s Trap, has signed with Plum Street Publishers, Inc. to publish the next book in his popular Brody Martin series. Devil’s Den, which takes Brody and other familiar characters into Indian Territory in the 1880s, is scheduled for publication in the spring of 2017.

Babb is originally from Pleasant Plains, Arkansas. He moved to Conway to attend college, where he met and married the love of his life. She transplanted him to De Queen a few years later so they could raise their two daughters close to extended family. During this time he developed a strange affliction known as Closet Writing, wherein story ideas are born but shelved in the mental closet. In 2008, a battle with cancer left him with much down time but no off switch for his imagination, and he began to take story crafting seriously.

Babb’s first historical adventure novel, The Devil’s Backbone, was released in 2013. A self-confessed “reluctant reader” in adolescence, Babb wrote for those same readers, who have embraced his vivid characters and taut narrative style. The Devil’s Backbone won a coveted national IPPY Award in juvenile fiction and was also selected by the Arkansas Historical Association as a winner of the Susannah DeBlack Award awarded to books for young readers.

The second book in the series, The Devil’s Trap, released in 2015, received recognition, along with The Devil’s Backbone, at the Next Generation Indie Book Awards. Babb continues to create stories as the inspiration strikes and his laptop battery remains charged.

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Trip to NYC And The Devil’s Backbone Wins Indie Award

New York City was awesome!


The streets were crowded but everyone was NICE


And getting awards for The Devil’s Backbone and The Devil’s Trap was the best feeling in the world!

James NGIndie book Award

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Never Give Up! Cancer Does Not Rule You. National Cancer Survivors Day

No matter what, stay positive and never give up. 


A few years ago I was at the number one cancer hospital in the United States. I was to be placed on an experimental drug but after running some test, they removed me from the study and informed my wife and I that my cancer was back.

The study drug specialist looked at the scans and said my cancer had returned, this time in my throat.

My doctor examined the results and ran a scope down my throat and confirmed the cancer was present.

My surgeon followed next with the same results.

Later in the day, we met with the radiologists and he agreed with the others. The news was grim. It was inoperable and would need extensive treatments.

We were sent home to make arrangements for a stay in Houston. My family and friends got behind me with plenty of prayer and support. A few days later, we returned to the hospital and I was to have my wisdom teeth removed, preparing me for radiation. It was during this procedure that the doctors would do multiple biopsies to determine the extent and type of cancer.

When I woke from the surgery I noticed my doctor had a surprised look on her face. “You don’t have cancer,” she said.

Had the experts at the best cancer hospital in the United States been wrong? I doubt it.

Never Give Up. Stay Positive!

My story is included in an anthology coming out this year by Nancy Kennedy.

UnknownBook cover with IPPY AwardAnd be sure to check out my award-winning novel, The Devil’s Backbone

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Bright Field Middle School Makes A Book Trailer For The Devil’s Backbone

I think they did a fine job!

If your school would like to make its version of a trailer for the book, I’d love to post it here for everyone to see.

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Author James Babb Visits Vilonia Schools

Arkansas author James Babb visited students at Vilonia Middle School and Vilonia Elementary School Monday introducing them to his novel The Devil’s Backbone. The book, he said, appeals to most readers especially those who prefer…                   CLICK photo for story by Linda Hicks

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Author James Babb Invited to the AAIM Conference!

Author James Babb Invited to the AAIM Conference!

He will be presenting his novel, The Devil’s Backbone and coming sequel, The Devil’s Trap. It’s an amazing coincidence that the conference is being held in Fort Smith, AR this year–The same town The Devil’s Backbone is set in!


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