ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WROC) — A journey of magical caves, adventures, and friendship set in the scene of a summer camp for animals are all promises Rochester author Jonathan Schnapp says you can expect in his new book, ‘Order of the Night Jay: The Forest Beckons.’
The graphic novel for middle schoolers has themes that Schnapp says will help kids better understand the world around them.
“I always wanted to write a book that would appeal to me as a kid. Things with mystery, with puzzles, with humor, with some heart and sensitivity to it, things that I wish I’d gotten,” Schnapp said.
Schnapp explains while his book is one of adventure and investigation, it’s also a story about friendship and prevailing against prejudice. Both lessons the main character Frank learns over the three-book series.
Schnapp said these are the same sort of lessons he was forced to learn later on in life, inspiring him to write this story so kids know they’re not alone.
“Growing up, I was bullied, I was picked on, I felt excluded a lot like Frank did. And I wanted a story that would make me feel like it was okay. It’s okay to be me, it’s okay to be different. There’s still a place for me in this world. And if I keep growing, things will get better,” Schnapp said.
Schnapp said while he hopes his book will help kids develop an interest in nature and explore the world around them, he also hopes it will get kids thinking about diversity and inclusion.
“I cannot pretend like I understand anybody else’s experiences. But I know what it felt like for me to be excluded. And I tried to kind of incorporate that in,” Schnapp said, “I wanted to showcase that, we’re all going through stuff and everybody’s journey is different, but it’s okay. And it’s okay to struggle and be scared. And hopefully, we can get people to actually talk and share these stories, because I think that’s the most important part,” Schnapp said.
The graphic novel is geared toward kids in middle school, and as a new dad, Schnapp says he can’t wait to share the story with his son.
“He was actually born well after I finished writing this book,” Schnapp said. “Now I think, ‘Yeah, I’m glad that I get to, on the one hand, show that it’s possible to do something cool and get your book published, but also that there are stories in the world? Stories that I didn’t have, but I can make sure he [my son] has them.’”