OWTK KidLit + Comics

Going Into Colorado’s Magical Longwoods With Arlo Finch

Arlo Finch in the Valley of Fire Photo Shoot

It’s not hyperbolic to say that books are pure magic.

Within a chapter, a page, a single well-constructed sentence even, it is possible to be transported out of your town, home, warm comfy bed into a brand new world; swept away in a carriage to the historical past, teleported off into an imagined future, or shot out of a cannon into the deep woods of a mystical present.

Our Colorado family vacation isn’t until June but we have been doing a bit of traveling west in advance of it, with some new pals, to Colorado’s ‘Longwoods’ specifically, courtesy of Arlo Finch In The Valley Of Fire, the first book in a new middle grade fantasy series from acclaimed screenwriter John August (Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Big Fish, Frankenweenie, 2019’s live action Disney Aladdin).

Arlo Finch in the Valley of Fire Photo Shoot

There’s this book I read a lot, a personal memoir told through a love of literature.

I pick it up, open to any chapter and give a few pages a flip whenever I’m in need a literary adrenaline rush to push better sentences out of my fingertips. If I ever meet the author, Peter Orner, he has a hug coming his way.

John August, through Arlo Finch In The Valley Of Fire, has done something similar for my daughters.

The story of a Boy Scouts-like Ranger, of the Longwoods, of Colorado, of magic has inspired them to new creative heights.

Arlo Finch in the Valley of Fire Photo Shoot

August & Arlo inspired two kids to make a film.

After lovingly blitzing the book in a 24-hour stretch, my 10-year-old selected the chapter and the passage, and worked tirelessly with mom on storyboarding the scene we’d film.

Arlo Finch in the Valley of Fire Photo Shoot

The teen and I got to crafting, cutting and gluing, to manufacture the Wes Anderson-esque portion of our otherwise live action short film.

Arlo Finch in the Valley of Fire Photo Shoot

This is why we read, to not only be sent somewhere but to have something new pulled out of us.

To have both of those experiences together, as a family, with your kids, well…that’s a magical spell every dad would like to conjure.

Arlo Finch In The Valley Of Fire has done just that for us.

John August’s text to begin his series has proven capable of more than just entertaining two voracious readers, it has shifted the balance that I so desperately try to strike between consumption and creation.

I read Peter Orner’s Am I Alone Here? for the literary flame I can’t always kept lit on my own. My girls have read John August and their creative sparks set our world ablaze.

Arlo Finch In The Valley Of Fire is not just a book, not just the start of a series, not just an escape into magical woods, it is a literary springboard to become a better, fuller, more realized version of your creative self, whether you’re 10, nearly 14, 38 or recently 42.

Isn’t that kind of magic worth $14?

Arlo Finch Rangers Vow

OWTK has partnered with Macmillan Publishing for this story. All opinions expressed above are honest and unbiased, as always. We each read and adored Arlo Finch, and used the book as a springboard into a kind of creativity we always knew we had in us but never truly attempted.

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