13 August

The Looney Experiment

Dear Blink Readers,

On my first day of fifth grade, I sat still and wondered as my new teacher, Mr. Looney, climbed on top of his desk chair while wielding our spelling textbook in one hand.

“You are all familiar with the school’s spelling textbook program, yes?”

We all nodded glumly. We were used to doing endless worksheets from this spelling book series.

Then Mr. Looney shocked us. While still on his chair, he tossed the textbook across the room and into the garbage. “This year will be a little different,” he said with a wonderfully warm and wise smile.

Instead of doing endless textbook exercises, we wrote in Mr. Looney’s self-designed FLAIR program. We wrote and wrote and wrote.

As a seventh-grade teacher myself now, I continue to be a big believer in “doing” education differently.

And as a writer, I am a big believer in creating stories that show different avenues of living—stories that make us laugh, wonder, and hope that there are more ways to be ourselves than the scant options we sometimes feel are offered.

Thus, The Looney Experiment. This novel follows eighth-grader Atticus Hobart as he struggles to overcome his fear of speaking in class, as he tries to deal with a bully who calls him “Atticus Fatticus,” as his parents are separating, and as he learns from a long-term, older-than-dirt substitute teacher named Mr. Looney.

Atticus’s journey is both hilarious and heartening. He must figure out how to use his own voice, and in the process he discovers that living only in his imagination isn’t nearly as powerful as courageously trying to make his imagination reality.

I wrote this novel with all my heart and mind and soul, and my hope is that, through it, readers will laugh deeply, wonder wildly, and find the courage inside their own hearts.

—Luke Reynolds