Founded 30 years ago, Saddleback Educational Publishing releases a wide selection of books aimed at students in middle school and high school who have poor reading and/or learning skills. In recent years, the publisher has launched a number of fiction series with content and covers suitable for middle-grade and YA readers, yet written at elementary-grade reading levels. President Arianne McHugh is at BEA to spread word of the company’s latest series launch, Lockwood Lions.
Focusing on couples in an urban high school, the series’ novels are flip-books that offer two perspectives on the same story—one told from the point of view of a girl on the cheerleading squad and the other from the point of view of a member of the football team. “We’ve had tremendous success with urban fiction, and obviously part of that is the demographics, since urban youths tend to struggle with reading,” says McHugh of the inspiration for Lockwood Lions. “But beyond that, we know that 68% of eighth-graders nationwide read below grade level, which is a huge number. That has motivated us to find series, like this one, with quality content written at an accessible level for teens.”
The series is written by Stephanie Perry Moore, whose husband, Derrick Moore, coauthors the stories written from the male perspective. A motivational speaker and a former NFL player, he brings a great deal to the novels, notes McHugh. “Derek is an amazing man and has a lot to give to the books in terms of providing an authoritative voice on football,” she says.
Released this month, the five-book series’ inaugural installment, Always Upbeat/All That, will be followed by Keep Jumping/No Hating in July, with an additional Lockwood Lions title to be added each month.