Because they were eighth-grade reading champions, Platte City teenagers Kelsey Jepson and Jake Adamek under ordinary circumstances would breeze through the latest novel put in their hands.
But this time, it’s a good bet the high school sophomores will absolutely rocket to Page 71.
That’s where they’ll see their names pop up.
“I really want to know what my character’s like,” Jake said Thursday when he finally got his copy of “Call the Shots” by Don Calame. “Will it resemble me? Will it be way off?”
This was the payoff Kelsey and Jake won for reading the most books during their eighth-grade year in teacher Kelly Miller’s English class: They get to see their names in Calame’s new young adult novel.
They were so honored because of all their reading and also because, as Calame said on a live-streamed connection from his home in Canada, the author has “a particularly warm spot in (his) heart for everyone in Platte City.”
The books arrived for a school assembly at Platte County High School, where Calame made his return to the campus — if only by video this time.
He met Miller’s students for real in April 2011 in reaction to email correspondence from Miller and from some of her students about how his books had been a major spark in their campaign to get reading — especially the boys.
He came to visit with students, tour their school, talk about reading and writing, and even take the school’s online test to demonstrate he had read one of his own books.
Miller already had the reading contest in full swing. The winners were going to get a big meal and treats at the local Sonic restaurant.
Calame upped the stakes. The top boy and girl would get a spot in the book he was working on at the time.
Jake finished with 86 books. Kelsey read 106.
They get bit roles — just their first names with a modifier attached that begins with the same first letter and represents something useful they would want on a deserted island. (It’s one of those icebreaker games at the start of a drama class.)
Kerosene Kelsey and Jacket Jake.
Calame adopted the Platte City class as fellow soldiers in a campaign to get more teens reading. In the book’s acknowledgments, he thanked them specifically and then thanked all the teachers, librarians and booksellers “on a mission to get boys to read more.”
Kelsey hopes the acclaim Platte City has received, and Thursday’s assembly, will keep pushing reading with teens.
“You can get good things out of it,” she said.
“People my age actually do like to read,” he said. “If you find the right book, they’ll keep reading and reading and reading.”