Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Love: The Greatest Weapon Against Terrorism

If you've ever been jealous of politicians who get to debate their views endlessly on C-Span, you need only do one thing: Post a simple statement on Facebook.

The other day, I posted this status:

The greatest weapon against terrorism is love.

It didn't take long before that status had gotten the attention of someone with whom I've debated more than a healthy amount on the social network regarding politics and principles and platforms. And, although he only asked a simple question, "Care to elaborate on that?", I knew it was asked with the readiness to pounce and debate.

But, I am a writer, and what writers do is write. And so I wrote a rather lengthy response to his question.  And he has yet to respond to this essay I wrote.

And, since I believe our writing is meant to be shared, I decided to post my elaboration on the statement here.

First, to clear any misconceptions, I’m not saying that Love is the ONLY weapon against terrorism. Hugs wouldn’t have stopped the terrorists in London, for instance, nor would a kind word keep suicide bombers at bay.

But the individual attacks of terrorists are symptoms of the problem, not the problem itself.

The motivation of terrorism is hatred and the goal of terrorism is fear. If we react to terrorism with the motivation of hatred and the goal of vengeance, we’re merely continuing the problem. In fact, unbeknownst to ourselves, we’re actually entering into a relationship of reciprocity that BENEFITS the terrorists by generating more hatred from which they can fuel further attacks.

But there is a better way.

Leave vengeance in God’s hands and, instead, follow the gentle, albeit counterintuitive, voice of scripture.

We utilize the wisdom of Proverbs 25:21-22: “If your enemy is hungry, give him food to eat; And if he is thirsty, give him water to drink; For you will heap burning coals on his head, And the Lord will reward you.”

We embrace the teaching of Jesus in Luke 6: “Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you. If someone slaps you on one cheek, turn to them the other also. If someone takes your coat, do not withhold your shirt from them. Give to everyone who asks you, and if anyone takes what belongs to you, do not demand it back. Do to others as you would have them do to you ... Then your reward will be great, and you will be children of the Most High, because he is kind to the ungrateful and wicked. Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.”

We echo the voice of Paul in Romans when he told us to “not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.” and Peter when he said to “not repay evil with evil or insult with insult. On the contrary, repay evil with blessing, because to this you were called so that you may inherit a blessing.”

And we have the promise of John’s letter that “perfect love drives out fear.”

With love, the entire goal of the terrorists is thwarted.

It doesn’t make sense to us, emotionally.
We want to strike back.
We want to feel secure and strong and like we can take care of ourselves.

But that is, at its very core, our problem. We want to believe a lie. We want to believe that our strength and our wisdom and our efforts can provide for us and protect us. But they can’t. Only God, the God who is love, can do those things for us. And when we surrender to Him and allow Him to be our defense and our mighty warrior, when we instead act in love and hope, that’s when we see a reward that’s bigger than even the goal of destroying terrorism. We’ve built His kingdom. A kingdom that is safe and secure from all harm.

Hence, Love is the greatest weapon WE CAN USE against Terrorism.

Thursday, June 1, 2017

The Johnny Cannon Cover Contest

Are you an artist? A designer? An illustrator?

Do you aspire for any of those titles?

Do you wish you could get an example of your work seen by publishers, editors, and literary agents?

Do you love kids books?

Would you like signed copies of two novels?

If you answered "yes" to any of those questions, then this is the contest for you!

I released a new short story on May 29, Johnny Cannon Goes to Washington. And when you read that story, you might notice that it's a little...well...ahem...naked.

In other words, that short story needs a cover!

And that's where you come in.

From today (June 1) through June 30, I'll be accepting submissions for the Johnny Cannon Cover Contest. The winner (chosen subjectively by myself and a few other, highly trusted judges), will have their cover attached to the short story, seen by publishers, editors, and literary agents, and will receive signed copies of the two Johnny Cannon books currently out from Simon & Schuster: The Troubles of Johnny Cannon and The Struggles of Johnny Cannon.

So, how do you enter and (more importantly) how do you win?


1. Read the short story and use it as inspiration to create a Johnny Cannon cover that will knock my socks off. Use the covers from the novels as further inspiration (Troubles and Struggles), but be creative and make this a reflection of this story and your art. Don't try to copy Sam Bosma (for oh so many reasons), be YOU!

2. Make sure the image is the right size (a 1:5 ratio, preferably 3000 pixels by 4500 pixels) and that the file is a .jpg. Name the file "[YOUR NAME] Johnny Cannon Cover.jpg"

3. E-mail the file by June 30 to isaiah@isaiahcampbell.com with this subject line: 
SUBMISSION - Johnny Cannon Cover Contest
Make sure your name and mailing address are in the body of the email.

4. The winner of the contest will be chosen and contacted by July 7 and announced publicly on July 10. After that, the winner will receive signed copies of the two Johnny Cannon books and the winning cover will become the cover for the short story in all future distributions. That means that YOUR COVER will be seen by publishers, editors, and agents!

(Please Note: By entering this competition, you agree to allow your cover design to be used freely, with proper credit given, by Isaiah Campbell for the short story, Johnny Cannon Goes to Washington, and any promotions for this contest and any future contests, as well as promotion for Isaiah Campbell and Johnny Cannon.)

So...What are you waiting for?!?!? Get to designing!


Isaiah Campbell

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

The Rolling Hunter of Guernsey: It Begins

I don’t know what the Nazis were expecting when they landed on Guernsey, but I’ll bet you a ripe tomato it wasn’t this.

They dropped bombs on our harbor before they came, but all they took out were the boats the farmers were loading to send goods to England. The King had pulled his soldiers off our island long before. Took our kids too. Took my daughters to where it was safe.

They left me here, though. Preserve the future and abandon the present seemed to be the official strategy for the Channel Islands.

When the Nazis finally marched down our streets, we didn’t fight them. We didn’t cheer them, either, but we didn’t fight. Wouldn’t have been prudent. They had guns. We didn’t.

All we had was tomatoes.

And that’s when I got this bird-brained idea.

I went to my oldest daughter’s bedroom and fetched her roller skates. Went to my youngest’s and took one of her baby-doll’s dresses. Then I went out to the barn and loaded up a burlap sack with the rottenest tomatoes I had. Cut eye holes in the dress and pulled it over my head, strapped the skates to my boots. I figured it was like Nan and Su were with me.

Then I took off back to Main Street.

I rolled along the alleyway, watching through the gaps in the buildings as the Nazis marched in strict columns down the cobblestone street. I wheeled up through the shadow next to the movie-house and waited until the second-to-last row of soldiers was passing by. Then I wound up and pitched the juiciest missile I could at the shorter solider closest to me.

Hit him right in the face.

By the time he and the others reacted, I was already speeding away.

I got around to the tavern where I could see them all running toward the theater. I lobbed another tomato at a soldier’s back. It popped between his shoulder blades and made the uniform look how all Nazi uniform’s ought to look.

That really drove them crazy.

As I sped down the alley, looking for my next perch, I nearly ran right into old Farmer Locke. He grabbed me by the elbow and pulled me into a shed. Didn’t say a word, just took three of the tomatoes from me and went on his way.

The last place I wanted to get my shots in was at the church. I crept up along side of it and took aim at the Nazi in command. I wound up to make my throw, but one of the soldiers must have seen me moving. He and four others started heading my way.

If this was how I was going to go, then I was going to get one last shot in.

The Nazi-in-Command’s hat flew off his head and tomato juice covered his face.

The tomato was still in my hand.

Old Farmer Locke stepped out of the shadows next to the bakery and lobbed another tomato at the soldiers. Every one of those Nazis ran to grab him and get a hit in. As he sank beneath their blows, he yelled so I could hear, “Now Grendel and I are called together, and I’ve come.”

I felt my face grow pale, but I ran away as fast as I could. All the way back home, where I fished out a book I hadn’t read in years. The book Farmer Locke had quoted.


“They have seen my strength for themselves,
Have watched me rise from the darkness of war,
Dripping with my enemies' blood. I drove
Five great giants into chains, chased
All of that race from the earth. I swam
In the blackness of night, hunting monsters
Out of the ocean, and killing them one
By one; death was my errand and the fate
They had earned. Now Grendel and I are called
Together, and I've come.”

A sat, shivering, on the floor of my room, realizing that Farmer Locke had seen something in the tomatoes I hadn’t. I thought I was being a nuisance, letting my anger fly in the moment of my rage.

Farmer Locke saw something else. He saw behind the doll-dress mask, the undersized skates, and the rotten tomatoes. He saw in me what I hadn’t.

He saw a Monster Hunter.

And, as I looked in the mirror, I saw it, too.

This was the start of my adventure.

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

The magic of AbrakaPOW

The release week for AbrakaPOW was AMAZING!
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AbrakaPOW is here!

Hi isaiah15.lexisaunh@blogger.com,

AbrakaPOW came out on Tuesday, Nov 8, and WHAT AN AMAZING WEEK it has been! If you are one of the many who picked up a copy last week, thank you! And if you haven't gotten your copy yet, no worries! You can pick it up on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, or through your favorite local bookstore (my preferred option, to be sure!). And don't forget to go review it on Goodreads or Amazon once you've read it.

I had so much fun this last week presenting to students in Ohio and Pennsylvania and being one of the authors at the Lititz Kid-Lit Book Festival.

Presenting to students is one of my passions, and with AbrakaPOW, I get to use magic to teach storytelling and history. What a dream come true!

The crowd at Lititz was amazing and super engaged.

I love these two optical illusions which help me show how magic tricks work. Are you sure about what you are seeing? Is it a rabbit or a duck? Good or evil?

And, of course, bringing the magic is my all time favorite thing. This magic trick helps me tell the story of the POW escape in Texas. It's a lot of fun to do!

Besides getting to meet so many amazing new friends, I also got to see AbrakaPOW really find an audience, and that has made me happiest of all. I hope you have a chance to read AbrakaPOW!

By the way, if you are a teacher or librarian and you think your students would enjoy a presentation chock full of magic, history, story-telling, humor, and some weird guy who thinks comic books are a high form of art, let me know! I'd love to come visit you.


Isaiah Campbell

Copyright © 2016 Isaiah Campbell, All rights reserved.
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Wednesday, November 9, 2016


Hey everyone!

As you hopefully know by now, AbrakaPOW is AVAILABLE wherever books are sold. So you can run to your local bookstore (look it up on IndieBound to make sure they have it!) or the nearest Barnes & Noble (order it online if you want to save the trip), get it on Amazon, or buy the ebook on Google Play or iBooks. Once you've read it, please go review it on Goodreads and Amazon! To find out more about the book, check out my interview on BookPage and watch the promo video on my YouTube. And don't forget to contact me on twitter or by email and let me know what you think!

Have a great day everyone!


Wednesday, October 26, 2016

It's My Privilege

This article was originally posted on the Children's Book Council Diversity Blog in 2015.

“I remember the day that I became colored,” Zora Neale Hurston wrote in How it Feels to be Colored Me. In that essay, she related how she’d never thought much about her own skin color until she turned fourteen and moved to Jacksonville, Florida, where she encountered discrimination that transformed her from “Zora of Orange County” to “the little colored girl.”

I first read that essay when I was in college, and it blew my mind out of my ears and onto the pile of pizza boxes in the corner of my dorm room. I’d never imagined that experience for anyone. What was it like to have your identity redefined into a category you never knew existed? What was it like to go from just being a girl to being “just a girl”? To go from being one of the guys to being “one of those guys”? To realize that, no matter your achievements or accomplishments, people would first notice the color of your skin?

Years later, I would understand that the very fact I’d only just then been exposed to those feelings was, in itself, a similarly defining revelation. Having the freedom to live without such discrimination and restriction is the essence of Privilege, as is being blissfully unaware of what the heck Privilege is and how it affects life (you might recognize that state of being from its proliferation on Twitter, Tumblr, Reddit, and Facebook).

When I decided to write The Troubles of Johnny Cannon, I hoped to open the eyes of middle-school readers to the reality I didn’t see until I was an adult. I had been thinking about the “default protagonist” in literature, i.e. the Straight-White-Male character that we often imagine until a rogue character description informs us otherwise. And when that darn character description tells us the character is not straight, or not white, or not male, we expect the story to be about what it’s like to not be the default character.

In other words, Diverse Characters often teach the reader what it’s like to be different, while Straight-White Characters get to go on any adventure they want and happily ignore their own state of being.

And so, like Kristoff when he almost told Olaf what happens to snowmen in summer, I felt compelled to clue the little white guy in on how the world really works.

When Johnny’s story begins, he has it pretty bad. He lives in poverty. He’s in a single parent home. His father is disabled. He doesn’t fit in at school, doesn’t know how to talk to his dream girl, and can’t stay out of trouble to save his life (hence the name of the book, right?).  If you told Johnny that he was privileged, he’d laugh in your face. “If I’m privileged,” he’d probably say, “then whoever ain’t privileged is better off dead and buried.”

But everything changes when he is forced to befriend his African American neighbor, Willie Parkins, and realizes there’s a difference between privilege and prosperity.

As a minister’s son with both parents, Willie ought to be better off than Johnny, but he’s not, and it doesn’t make sense. Johnny is as poor as Job’s turkey, but he can go into any place of business even if he can’t afford anything. Johnny has to hunt for his food, but at least the community trusts him with a gun.  Johnny gets into fights at school, but when they’re over he doesn’t have to hear about how violent his kind of people are.

The unexplainable disparity between them helps Johnny finally see the world he’s in for what it is. Like it or not, this is a world in which the cards are stacked in favor of Straight-White-Male characters.

And so, in the midst of all his other troubles, Johnny encounters one he can’t fix, and that’s kind of the point. The story isn’t about turning Johnny into a Civil Rights Messiah, swooping in and making the world better for minorities. That would be counterproductive. Instead, the point of the story is to help Johnny, and hopefully the reader, learn empathy. In middle-school.

Empathetic middle-school students. What will the world think of next?

Special thanks to the Children's Book Council for the opportunity to write a guest blog.

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Reviews of AbrakaPOW!

Hey guys!

Some great reviews have come out for AbrakaPOW, and I'd like to share them with you guys. First up, the review from Kirkus Reviews:

An aspiring young magician relocates to a camp for German prisoners of war in Abilene, Texas, in 1944 and inadvertently becomes part of a prisoner escape.
A native New Yorker, 11-year-old Max, her mother, and her ferret, Houdini, move to Camp Barkeley, where Max’s father’s in charge of captured German soldiers. White, Jewish Max doesn’t understand why her father’s “babysitting the Nazis.” Max muses to herself that “finding a kindred spirit here in cowboy land would be a magic trick even I wouldn’t believe.” Her smart mouth and superior attitude alienate classmates until the Gremlins, a group of misfits, adopt her. A prisoner named Felix convinces Max’s father to let her entertain prisoners with a magic show, and she accepts Felix’s offer to be in the final, vanishing act. When Felix disappears and other prisoners escape through a tunnel, Max feels responsible and participates in a series of dangerous plots to capture the escapees. Based on a real prisoner escape at the historic Camp Barkeley, this fictionalized version teems with kid pranks, friendly enemies, deceptive friends, and wartime xenophobia, all held together by a pushy heroine who “brings the magic.” 
Illustrated magic tricks add hands-on entertainment.
All the excitement, surprises, and tricks of a magic show.
Next up, the review from the Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books:

Orders are orders, and even the best of Maxine’s magic tricks can’t disappear the commands from the U.S. government that have her family moving to Texas so her father, Major Larousse, can oversee a Nazi POW camp. Even at eleven, Maxine’s a pretty darn good illusionist, and her skills with sleight of hand garner attention from two surprising places. A misfit group called the Gremlins wants Max to prank the school’s golden girl, but even more intriguing—and somewhat frightening—is the notice by Felix, a German inmate who shares Max’s affinity for magic tricks. When her dad asks her to perform a magic show for the prisoners, she and the Gremlins pull out all the stops, but it’s Felix’s vanishing act—and that of eleven other prisoners—that steals the spotlight. Escaped Nazis aren’t usually fodder for comedy, but Campbell manages a deft balancing act, with a third-person narration that moves from droll wit to a more serious tone. Spunky Maxine and her friends are kids of their time, with Maxine referring to her Japanese-American friend as an “Oriental cowboy” and another girl referencing “devil-worshipping Jews.” Contemporary youngsters will nonetheless sympathize with her school dilemma, and she’s a relatable character. Maxine’s father and Felix are well drawn supporting roles, each recognizing a fellow soldier in the other. The rosy ending requires more than smoke and mirrors to be realistic, but it’s nonetheless satisfying. For aspiring Houdinis, comic-strip-formatted instructions for various magic tricks are interspersed throughout the chapters.
I'll update this post as more reviews become available.