Classroom Assignment Turns into a Book Deal for College Employee/Student

Dwayne Magee

Director of College Press and Printing Services

Mechanicsburg, Pa.

Children’s Tale Follows McBoo, a Galapagos Bird Trying to Fit In

A funny thing happened to Dwayne Magee, director of college press and postal services, on his way to earning an arts management degree at Messiah. The part-time sophomore student and College employee for the past six years became a published author, thanks to his in-class fictional creation–a blue footed bird named Solly McBoo. What began as a simple classroom assignment for Magee’s spring 2010 Created and Called for Community course has evolved into his first published book.

Magee’s charming children’s fictional tale “A Blue Footed Booby Named Solly McBoo”, published by Goose River Press, will be available this fall through online booksellers Barnes and Noble and Amazon. The book also will be prominently featured in Messiah’s Campus Store in the ‘Campus Authors’ section for $21.95.

Tracing the unlikely path that his story travelled from classroom assignment to the published page, Magee said, “We were assigned a Creation Day project in which we had to create an original work of some kind—music, creative writing, visual art—and I chose to write a story. Without really even thinking about it, I decided to re-tell a bedtime story I’d been telling my children for years when they were younger. My kids loved books about nature, so our story was about a real bird we all thought had a funny name—a blue footed booby—named McBoo.”

And though he had worked on the story sporadically over the years, the urgency of a required classroom assignment spurred him to complete the tale. “I’ve always been a person who needs see the whole story before I can write it. It wasn’t until I realized that I could write without knowing the ending that the words started to flow. After that, the whole story came to me in 48 hours,” he said.  Enter Solly McBoo:  a loveable, googly-eyed bird with blue webbed feet and some serious doubts about his ability to fit into the bird colony in the Galapagos Islands.

Art major Adam Arditi ‘13, whose illustrations enliven the book’s avian characters, was selected by Magee from a handful of College art students. The Collegeville, Pa. resident credits his art education at Messiah for preparing him for both the technical demands of designing, drawing and painting, as well as the discipline required to complete the project.

A lifelong fan of children’s writer Dr. Seuss, Magee intentionally directed his tale of inclusive excellence to young readers. “Children are the best audience for the message of accepting others despite their outward differences,” said Magee.  In one particularly heartening passage of his book, Magee aims a gentle message of reconciliation and acceptance to readers of all ages:

“The worth of a bird is not in its feet.  It’s not in its feathers; it’s not in its beak.  These things all have value; they’re worth every ounce. But it’s what inside of a bird that counts.”

–Peggy K. Koach

Like any self-respecting bird, Solly McBoo is now on Facebook.  Click the FB link and become Solly’s friend.


Posted in About Reconciliation, Arts, Majors & Minors, Scholarship, Studio Art | 29 Comments »

Posted on July 29th, 2011

29 Responses to “Classroom Assignment Turns into a Book Deal for College Employee/Student”

  1. Theresa Hatcher Says:

    How cool is that! Congratulations Dwayne…..I look forward to reading the entire book!

  2. Genny Says:

    This is a Cinderella story of it’s own, congratulations. I am really looking forward to reading about Solly McBoo and sharing the story with my new grand-daughter.

  3. Pete Says:

    An excellent start- I look forward to other new books in the future by Mr. Magee…

  4. Adam Daniel Arditi Says:

    Wonderful article! I am so excited for the release of this wonderful story!

  5. Michele Hainly Says:

    Congratulations on a book deal Dwyane. Sounds like a great book. Timmy loves the blue footed booby bird too. We will have to be sure to get a copy of the book. That is so awesome for you!

  6. Denise Albert Says:

    Congrats Dwayne! Can’t wait to read it to my grandkids.

  7. Yvonne Magee Says:

    Nice Story Dwayne! I’m proud of you and your creativity.

  8. Cindi Says:

    Congratulations Dwayne! This is such a great story. I’m looking forward to sharing copies with all the youngsters in my life.

  9. Dwayne Says:

    Thank you all for your kind words and well wishes! A special thank you to Adam for being a great artist and to the Messiah community, without whom this book would not have happened. (Thank you Professor Murk and Dr. Wells!)

  10. Chad Frey Says:

    Well done Dwayne! I look forward to getting a copy at the bookstore for my niece and nephew.

  11. Paul Reisser Says:

    Very nice story, Dwayne. Congratulations on your success of creating it!

  12. Jay McDermond Says:

    Well done,Dwayne! And some people still complain about Created and Called…amazing. For the win.

  13. Nancy Deimler Says:

    Congratulations!! Very imaginative and insightful. The children are the winners. Best wishes for more books in the future.

  14. Josh Says:

    Wow, what a great illustration on the cover! It reminds me of the west coast of New Zealand.

  15. Charlie Says:

    Okay, this is the best.

  16. Devin Says:

    When will the book be available online?!

  17. Cody Sherry Says:

    Congratulations to both of you! This book is going to be awesome.

  18. Dale Says:

    What an achievement! So pumped to be able to read the full story!

  19. Jennifer Wamsher Says:

    Congratulations what a great achievement. We can’t wait to read it to our grandkids! Jennifer and Bob Wamsher

  20. Genna Says:

    This is so great! I can’t wait to read it!

  21. Dwayne Says:

    Thank you all! Nancy, we have at least one more in the works!
    This book will be available from the Campus Bookstore hopefully in time for homecoming weekend here at Messiah. In the meantime, it can be pre-ordered from Goose River press.
    Eventually, it ill also be available on Amazon and at Barnes and Noble. Of course, I am recommending our purchases be made through the campus store!

  22. Celia Says:

    Way to go Dwayne! You set a goal, kept your eye on it and now here it is! Can’t wait to buy one.

  23. Joe Holtzinger Says:

    Dwayne. Very nice! Way to go.
    Good things do happen to good people!
    God Bless.

  24. Denny Shambaugh Says:

    Good job, Dwayne! I am glad I heard about this! I plan to purchase your book!

  25. Doug Says:

    Congratulations, I knew your creativity would continue to express itself.

  26. Adam Daniel Arditi Says:

    Thank you to all of you for such kind, direct, and loving words. You are all such an encouragement! Cheers.

  27. Eric Seibert Says:

    This is great, Dwayne! I am looking forward to reading this to my children. Congratulations!

  28. Jimmy Says:

    Congrats Dwayne, It’s a shame that Solly McBoo now has more facebook friends then me. lol. He’s almost up to 100.

    Somewhere on the facebook page you should put a link to order the book.
    Congrats again!

  29. alan metz Says:

    Dwayne, GREAT book!!! Don’t stop now, i see a whole series from this character. By the way, if it ever goes to the big screen, i happen to know an actor who is willing to play the part… (initials: a m) I should get your autograph now while you still remember who i am. Again, Congratulations and thanks for putting into words the wisdom we all need to hear. alan metz


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