Mesa author Sharon Skinner takes Nike’s “Back to the Future” self-lacing shoes one step further in her new children’s book, “Rocket Shoes.” The main character, José, wears shoes any child would love to have, with engines and “shoe-size rockets” that can jet out into the atmosphere.
Filled with fun and fantasy, Skinner’s book takes kids on a rhyming journey of what it’s like to wear the special shoes. But as the tale unfolds, the mayor bans the shoes. As José struggles to help his neighbor who is in danger, readers examine the deeper issue of whether or not it’s OK to break the rules when it’s for the right reason.
“I think the story offers a great opportunity for parents to have a dialogue with children about sometimes questioning authority in order to do the right thing,” Skinner said. “I also tried to emphasize the value of helping others.”
Skinner knows quite a bit about the value of helping others. She enjoys teaching others about the writing craft and has been a constant presence and participant in the local literary community for several years. Skinner currently serves as the 2017 Arizona State Library Writer in Residence for Scottsdale Library, providing creative writing workshops and working with writers.
In connection with the promotion of “Rocket Shoes,” Skinner is offering an air propulsion STE(A)M activity at author appearances and school visits.
“Kids will enjoy the hands-on activity that brings the book to life,” Skinner said. “A solid foundation in STEAM is extremely important in a child’s education.”
Skinner and her husband, Bob Nelson, are well known in the Mesa literary and education community, having previously been involved in teen poetry slams and assisting with the Mesa Public Library’s teen literary magazine. Additionally, they provided budding poets and writers a place to meet and perform spoken word poetry at their Anthology Café on Main Street in Mesa, now closed. Skinner also served for eight years as the executive editor of Anthology Magazine, a small press literary magazine published in Mesa.
“I love taking an active part in the community,” Skinner said. “It’s inspiring to work with youth and meet with other authors.”
Skinner has presented and worked with writers at the Arizona State University Virginia G. Piper Center for Creative Writing, the San Diego State University Writers Conference, the Tucson Festival of Books and numerous conventions throughout the United States. Her writing skills and passion for service led her to the world of grants development where she has served on the Grant Professional Association’s National Board of Directors.
Additionally, Skinner, the author of eight books, is the regional advisor for the Arizona chapter of the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators. The idea for “Rocket Shoes” came out of a SCBWI workshop.
“The presenter had us close our eyes and ask ourselves the most basic fiction writing question there is: ‘What if?’ And I thought, What if kids had flying shoes? It took two years to develop the idea into the story.”
If you are interested in attending an author’s appearance or scheduling her for a workshop, visit http://sharonskinner.com/author-tour/. For a list of other books by Skinner, visit http://sharonskinner.com/.