Gotham Children’s Book teacher Sarah Deming's middle grade novel, Iris, Messenger
, reaches bookstore shelves this month. The story has quite the hook. Iris Greenwold is a bit bored by her life as a middle-schooler in the greater Philadelphia area until... she discovers that the entire pantheon of Greek gods are living all around her. Poseidon's running a clam shack, Aphrodite's doing beauty makeovers, Apollo's playing tenor sax at a club. Here’s what acclaimed children’s book author Daniel Pinkwater has to say about it: “What's this? A smart, funny, well-written kids’ novel? With Greek gods in it, yet! What is the world coming to?”
In this scene, Iris visits Daphne’s Trunk, the club where Apollo plays his saxophone:
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“Welcome to The Trunk.”
The man speaking to Iris was approximately eight feet tall. He was wearing a tank top that said “THUG” and had a small tattoo on his shoulder of the Earth. Cigarette smoke billowed around him. Iris coughed.
“Cover is $25 and that includes $10 toward your first drink. And I’ll have to see some ID. You look underage.”
“I’m 12, and I only have about seven dollars.” Iris looked around frantically for help, but the huge man blocked everything else from her view. Behind him she heard the booming of drums, the deep growl of the bass and above them both the pure, golden voice of Apollo’s saxophone. The huge man laughed.
“Twelve? What are you doing out so late? You should be home in bed.”
“Apollo is expecting me,” she lied.
“Yeah, right,” he said.
Behind him, the club filled with applause. When it subsided, a silky voice yelled out, “Yo Atlas, who’s at the door?”
The huge man held her gaze and yelled back, “Some shorty. Says you’re expecting her.”
“Let her in, then.”
Atlas shrugged. He stepped out of the way, revealing a dimly-lit, low-ceilinged room that was hazy with cigarette smoke. Candles twinkled in the center of tables, and people leaned over them to talk and kiss. Everybody was dressed up and having a fabulous time.
The stage was set back from the rest of the room. Three men were on it, and Iris knew from the power coming off him that the tall, thin one was Apollo. She realized with surprise that he was black. In fact, most of the people in the bar were black. This was a new experience for Iris, since pretty much everybody in Middleville was white. Apollo smiled at her, and she blushed. He was very, very handsome.
“Yo, Iris, the set started forty-five minutes ago!” He waved his arm to her, beckoning her up on stage. Then he turned to the audience. “Ladies and gentleman, our vocalist has finally arrived. She’s not very punctual, but – what can I say? – she’s a genius.” Iris shook her head, terrified. She could barely carry a tune.
“You’re the singer? Jeez, you shoulda told me that! Go on,” said Atlas and he led her in.
Iris tried to explain that it was a mistake, but Atlas shook his head.
“Don’t be modest, sugar. Apollo says you’re ready to sing, you’re ready. He’s not the type to flatter you, just cause you’re a girl.” He put his hand on her arm and guided her through the maze of tables. The audience members nodded to her and smiled. Iris looked up at Apollo as she climbed the stage stairs and gasped. For a moment, his skin and eyes flashed a beautiful orange-gold, and rays of light shone out from his body. His saxophone turned into a huge, golden bow and quiver of arrows.
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To learn more about Sarah and her book, Iris, Messenger
, visit: sarahdeming.com
. Find the book online at bn.com