“Sophie had waited all her life to be kidnapped.”
Does that quote seem familiar to you? It’s the widely recognized first line of the book, The School For Good And Evil. Soman Chainani is the author behind the book, which is available through First Book.
If you missed out on our video from last week that includes promo codes for free books, but not just any books… an entire free box of The School For Good And Evil books, then there’s still time to take action. Soman Chainani can help you ask the question – are you a GOOD or EVIL teacher?
Soman: We didn’t have cable when I was young, so all we had was our rickety TV set and VHS tapes of every single Disney animated movie. Until age 8 or so, that was all I pretty much watched. Everything I learned about storytelling, I learned from Disney. (You can imagine what an irritating child I was.)
When I went to college, though, I read the original fairy tales and realized that my entire childhood was built on a lie! In the original stories, there’s so much more darkness and richness and real life. What I loved about them was how unsafe the characters were. You could very well end up with wedding bells and an Ever After – or you could lose your tongue or be baked into a pie. There was no ‘warmth’ built into the narrator, no expectations of a happy ending. The thrill came from vicariously trying to survive the gingerbread house, the hook-handed captain, or the apple-carrying crone at the door – and relief upon survival. Somewhere in that gap between the Disney stories and the real stories, THE SCHOOL FOR GOOD AND EVIL was born.
Q: What was your favorite fantasy book?
Soman: I love The Phantom Tollbooth, Alice in Wonderland, and Roald Dahl’s books the most — but my favorite fantasy book as a child was Last of the Really Great Whangdoodles by Julie Andrews. It’s just wildly inventive in every way.
Q: How do kids react when reading The School For Good and Evil?
Soman: The enthusiasm kids have had for the book continues to shock me every day. Kids have created all kinds of fanart, from posters, stickers, tattoos, cakes, fan fiction, fan poetry, Ever-inspired workout tapes, online Wikis to the book’s world, role playing games, Tumblr tributes, science fair projects, SGE-themed Warrior Cat games, Halloween costumes… Just typing that list made me realize how creative and amazing our growing community of Evers and Nevers has been.
Q: How can a GOOD teacher use your book to get students excited about reading?
Soman: Well a Good teacher would use the SCHOOL FOR GOOD & EVIL curriculum guide, designed by teachers for teachers, available on www.schoolforgoodandevil.com. It meets Common Core standards and gives teachers discussion questions, activity ideas, and tips on how to use the book in their classroom. A Good teacher would also tell the teachers to skip all the parts where the Evil kids, or Nevers, are plotting world domination in the most terrible ways.
Q: How can an EVIL teacher use your book to get students excited about reading?
Soman: An Evil teacher would tell students that the book has a recipe for “Children Noodle Soup,” a character that can turn anything she touches into chocolate (including people), and that in this story — unlike most other kids’ books — Evil has just as much a chance to win as Good.
Q: So… Would you consider yourself good? Or evil?
Soman: I was so compelled by this question of whether I was an Ever or a Never that I launched an interactive game on www.schoolforgoodandevil.com that helps each reader answer this question for themselves. You can log-on and take a 10-question Entrance Exam to The School for Good and Evil that sorts you into your school as an Ever or a Never. It also computes what percentage of your soul is Good and what percentage of your soul is Evil. The questions change every time (and I’ve written all of them!), so be prepared for a stern test. I, myself, have taken the quiz honestly a few times and consistently get 75% Evil, 25% Good. So it appears I’m a Never after all. Not surprising.