Above "Average"

Mondovi writer launches four books in new series for young readers

Haley Wright, photos by Jake Avery

WRITE ON. Mondovi author Julie Bowe.
WRITE ON. Mondovi author Julie Bowe.

Julie Bowe of Mondovi, author of the tremendously successful Friends for Keeps series, has a new series out called Victoria Torres, Unfortunately Average. The first four books in the series, published by Minnesota-based Capstone, made their debut in August. Bowe anticipates four additional books will be published in the series by 2017.

Bowe says prior to having children, she worked in youth ministry and loved working with elementary-level students. “When my daughter was born 25 years ago, I wanted to stay at home as much as possible,” she says. “I already had a lot of experience with kids and felt it was natural to go from working with them to writing for them.” Bowe started writing Christian education curriculum for Augsburg Fortress publishing. She wrote curriculum for 15 years.

As her daughter got older and a son came along, Bowe started thinking about writing books for kids. She says writing for and about the third- through fifth-grade level appealed to her because she feels that it is a transitional level, a time when children start asking questions about the world and start realizing the world isn’t always a nice place. “I enjoy exploring how children at this level handle their emotions and different situations, such as changing family dynamics as a result of divorce and conflict with friends at school,” she says.

Ida, the protagonist of the Friends series, was inspired by her daughter at that age. “I listened very carefully to my daughter and her friends when they were around to learn about what worried them, what made them mad, what made them laugh, and how they spoke to one another,” she says.

So what inspired Victoria Torres, the protagonist of her new series? Bowe says the series came about after she presented at a Young Writer’s Conference in Mankato, Minn. “One of the chaperones for the event was an editor from Capstone attending with her own child,” she says. “She liked me, my Friends series, and my workshop.”

Capstone approached Bowe with the general idea of the series, including the name of the main character, Victoria; her age (12) and grade in school (sixth); and her family dynamics, including that she is Hispanic and comes from a supportive, intact family. As the series’ title implies, Victoria feels average in every way, but in each book she tries to find an activity – from cheerleading to math team – in which to shine, and in the quest to be successful in that activity, she learns she is already shining from the inside out.

Bowe says one of the most interesting parts of writing this series is learning about and incorporating the Hispanic culture and the traditions of the family, and she says she also incorporates a little bit of Spanish in each book. “Readers often contact me on my website and approach me at school visits and ask me about why a character does this or that, offering their own take on a story,” she says. Bowe hopes Latina girls will approach her if she hasn’t gotten things right. She says she likes this feedback and feels it gives the reader a position of power over the writer.

To learn more Bowe and her books, visit www.juliebowe.com. The books in her new series, Victoria Torres, Unfortunately Average, are available at bookstores and online via capstonepub.com and other retailers.

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