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Cover Revealed For Octavia Spencer's 1st Novel - 'Randi Rhodes, Ninja Detective'

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by Tambay A. Obenson
January 17, 2013 11:28 AM
14 Comments
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The cover for Octavia Spencer's upcoming first novel has surfaced, and is embedded below, as the award-winning actress expands her name brand, from actress, to author.

As first reported in October, Spencer signed a deal with Simon & Schuster for Young Readers, an imprint of Simon & Schuster Children's Publishing, to publish Randi Rhodes, Ninja Detective, a two-book middle-grade series.

The first title in the series, Randi Rhodes, Ninja Detective: The Case of the Time-Capsule Bandit will be published in Fall 2013, and is the author's first novel.

Synopsis:

Randi Rhodes isn't your average twelve-year-old. She's a Brooklyn vigilante with a Tae Kwon Do black belt. But circumstances take a turn for the worse when Randi's mother passes away and her father decides to move to the small and sleepy town of Deer Creek, Tennessee. Randi couldn't be more unhappy—until a mystery arises: the town's two-hundred-year-old time capsule, which is rumored to contain hidden treasure, inexplicably disappears. Randi must solve the case, as the town's fate hangs in the balance.

The press release says that an index at the end of the book will provide fun activities and a website, for what it calls a truly interactive experience.

"I want to take young readers on a sleuthing adventure," says Octavia Spencer. "Growing up I was a huge fan of mysteries like Nancy Drew and Encyclopedia Brown, and my biggest hope is that after meeting these young detectives, kids will experience the same sense of magic I felt when solving my first mystery."

And given Hollywood's infatuation with adapting YA novels right now, I'm sure Spencer wouldn't mind if that trend continues and Randi Rhodes eventually gets the big screen treatment. I guess it partly depends on how successful the novel is.

We'll see.

Here's the cover:

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14 Comments

  • Bondgirl | January 18, 2013 10:47 AMReply

    I hear everything you said, and agree with some of it. However, we don't know if Octavia is taking a page from the Shonda Rhimes/Steve McQueen play book by using a white lead to gain currency in the literary world. She can't very well put this strategy in her press release, can she? So, I'm willing to give her a shot, buy the books for my nephew, and see if her sophomore project puts a black character in front. Btw, my mother only bought books with black characters like A Snowy Day, yet the author was white and received a ton of undue criticism from the black community. I didn't even know Ezra Jack Keats was Jewish until I was grown.

  • Bondgirl | January 18, 2013 10:48 AM

    My response is to Michelle.

  • artbizzy | January 18, 2013 7:35 AMReply

    I'm more concerned with why these kids look so plastic. Their faces actually kind of all look alike, too, like a template was used except the black boys nose was made a wee bit wider. Does anybody draw by hand anymore? This looks like a still image from a Pixar movie. I guess that's the look nowadays if you want to get your animated film made. That said it kinda looks cute and I wish Octavia much success with her venture but I do agree with a lot of what you've written here, Michele. Images do matter. We are so used to seeing white folks on book covers that we almost come to just accept it. The same way we are becoming more and more used to characters in movies, especially, looking like plastic dolls devoid of nuance and character ready to occupy the toy store shelves. sigh...

  • michele | January 18, 2013 10:24 AM

    thanks artbizzy. It just boggles my mind when we have the opportunity to give opportunities to OURSELVES. And we won't take them? And also, I still draw by hand, lol.

  • Humming Loon | January 18, 2013 4:20 AMReply

    She's not obligated to write about black characters because she's black, but it would have been good to see the pecking order of the characters on the cover reversed. As a graphic novel fanatic, do you know how EXCITED I get when I see a non-white character as lead?! I buy it, no matter how expensive it is, and they are really expensive here in Europe. Really, this book, you can find this stuff ANYWHERE. So give us a diverse lead character with a representative life ALREADY! I wouldn't buy her book for any of the kids in my family.

  • MICHELE | January 18, 2013 10:36 AM

    Really, this book, you can find this stuff ANYWHERE --
    EXACTLY. I wonder if there are Any black female characters in the book, and how much of a role does the black male on the cover play? I wonder how Octavia felt writing this book and then looking at that cover. Is this really what's hot? Erasing ourselves to placate to the all important mainstream?

  • rhiannon | January 17, 2013 4:39 PMReply

    A major criticism often mentioned is that producers and writers don't broaden the vision enough to have lead characters portrayed by actors of color. Octavia and Viola Davis frequently spoke about this when promoting the movie The Help. Basically they said they took the roles in The Help because they were among the rare roles offered to them of fully-realized characters. By not having a person of color as the main character in her novels, Ms. Spencer is contributing to the very problem she laments in interviews. If her book is ever made into a movie, minority actors will again be relegated to supporting parts.

  • Michele | January 17, 2013 9:25 PM

    By not having a person of color as the main character in her novels, Ms. Spencer is contributing to the very problem she laments in interviews---

    THANK YOU. It saddens and frustrates me, I also remember a few months back shadow and act posted another black creator who created a comic starring a white girl. It's like - if black creators don't care enough to put us forward, and white ones certainly don't - how can we complain about a stagnant place in hollywood/ the media and stereotypical images.

  • michele | January 17, 2013 1:34 PMReply

    ok, why is the main character white?

  • michele | January 17, 2013 9:28 PM

    The inspirations she mentions are all white. She not being white still found them interesting, so why not flip that when she got her shot? --- Charles, its so frustrating to see these things. These IMAGES are so important.

  • Charles Judson | January 17, 2013 5:17 PM

    It's a fair question. The inspirations she mentions are all white. She not being white still found them interesting, so why not flip that when she got her shot? Especially if this takes off on any level and gets made into a show or a film. On the flipside, the other characters on the cover aren't white and they're both male. I would want to read the books before passing judgement. @Geneva Girl As a former book buyer and bookstore manager, I often found it difficult to get black parents to consider books that didn't have a black protagonist. Every week some mother would be impressed I had been a reader from such a young age, and still was, and I would say it was all my mom. She was a reader and she took me and my sister to the library nearly every week. They would then want suggestions for their sons (and sometimes daughters, but mostly sons). I would then suggest some books that got me started and when they learned the main character(s) were all white they'd hand the books back. At those ages, I've found that giving kids books that reinforce their interests (science, adventure, growing up, etc.) was more important to engagement than anything else. There should be more books with main characters of color, however, at that age, a space ship in the background, a magnifying glass in hand, was what made me pick up a book. Most kids I know at that age are the same. I remember one kid being disappointed when his mom put back one of the books I suggested. The real impact I think is more in the shows and films that have characters of color. Because books allow you to use your imagination, I think it's easier to forget the race of the character you're reading about and insert a version of yourself in their place. Not as easy to do the same when watching Disney or Nickelodeon around 5 pm on a weekday, which is again, why think the original question is still relevant. Someone at Simon & Schuster has probably already shopped that book around at the studios or to producers.

  • michele | January 17, 2013 4:01 PM

    erik w. the reason that I posed this question is because I assumed Octavia as a black woman would understand how important it is for little black girls to see positive images of themselves in the media.
    Geneva, I get it. But fear doesn't lead to change.

  • Geneva Girl | January 17, 2013 3:02 PM

    I have a middle-school aged reader and I actively seek out books with heroines that look like my daughter. I, too, am disappointed that the main character is not black. It may be, however, publishing reality that Spencer will gain a wider audience with a white lead character. Sad, but true. The book Liar, for example, written by Justine Larbelestier, had a black protagonist, but a white girl was put on the cover. Only with public outcry was the cover changed. Still, I will give this a look.

  • Erik W | January 17, 2013 1:42 PM

    You're right. Since she's black her main character automatically needs to be black. Got it. I forgot, we are not allowed to have main characters of a different race. Thanks for reminding us.

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