Tuesday, March 19, 2024

Book Tour + #Giveaway: KidVenture: Through The Maize by Steve Searfoss @KidVentureBook @RABTBookTours

KidVenture Vol. 3

Middle Grade Fiction

Date Published: 03-30-2023



Chance, Addie and Sophie launch a new venture when they get lost in the country and stumble on the idea of starting a corn maze business. They quickly discover that while it’s easy to rush into a maze, finding your way out is hard. They will need to convince an investor to fund the venture, persuade a reluctant farmer to let them build their maze on his corn field, and figure out a way to work with his headstrong nephew. Along the way they will realize just how little they know about planting corn, designing mazes and writing business plans. Through many twists and turns —and dead ends— they will learn how to keep a partnership together and what the true job of a leader is. There’s only one thing harder than finding your way out of a maze: creating a maze people want to get lost in.

Interview with Steve Searfoss

What were your goals and intentions in this book?

Through The Maize is the third volume in the KidVenture series. In each KidVenture book, the main characters have specific challenges they have to overcome as they learn about running a business. In the first book, Twelve Weeks To Midnight Blue, the young entrepreneurs had to learn about price discovery and how to figure out what to charge for their pool cleaning service. In the second book, There’s No Plan Like No Plan, Chance, Addie and Sophie had to learn to flexible and deal with uncertainty as they had to adjust what they thought was a “perfect plan” for their snow shoveling business.

In this third book, the kids partner with a nearby farmer to start a corn maize business. They have to work closely with the farmer’s nephew, Cody, who proves difficult to work with. For starters, Cody insists on his own share of any profit. And he has very specific ideas as to how corn should be grown, where mazes should and should not be built, how to create a maze map, and on and on. The key challenge in this book is learning how to work with a partner who feels more like an adversary.

What was your hardest scene to write?

All of the scenes with Cody were challenging. Cody needs to come across —from the point of view of Chance, the main character he locks horns with— as intransigent and apparently unreasonable. And he does. But as the story unfolds, there also need to be enough clues in those interactions for the careful reader to notice that Cody’s positions are actually quite reasonable from a farmer’s perspective, so that when Chance starts to realize the way he talks to Cody and brings negative assumptions into every conversation is making things worse, the reader sees it to.

Hopefully the reader is able to go on the same journey Chance does, initially opposed to Cody and then gradually being open to Cody’s point of view. It’s not that Cody is suddenly an easygoing and agreeable partner. Cody doesn’t change much. But Chance’s understanding of the situation changes, and he begins to realize he himself needs to take a different approach if the venture is going to be successful.

By the time you get to the last chapter, I hope my readers have tremendous empathy for both Chance and Cody. They came very close to blowing up the nascent business but finally found a way to work together. There were times they were unlikable. Both made mistakes. And yet they pulled it off. Chance learned to swallow his pride when needed. More importantly, he learned how to stop competing with Cody and instead give him the leadership he craved.

I’m very proud of the last scene, where Chance goes to say goodbye to Cody and he’s able to see him in a different light now that the jostling and jockeying is done.

What inspired you to write KidVenture: Through The Maize?

Years ago when my son was about 4 or 5 we went to a corn maze on a school field trip. After a while it occurred to me to hand him the map and have him lead us. I got to show him how to interpret the map, decide which way to turn, and how to look for landmarks. And —this was the best part— I let him get lost, and helped him figure out how to know when you’re lost and how to get find your way back to a spot you recognize. It was such a sweet memory, an almost perfect vision of what fatherhood is like. And then later I realized, as wonderful as that day was, being a father is much more challenging. The maze has a right way and a wrong way. Life is messier, way more complicated. That thought always stuck with me, the contrast between that day inside the maze and every day outside it. I didn’t know what to do with that idea, until I got a burst of inspiration and decided to write a new KidVenture book based on a corn maze business.

We used to live in a suburban neighborhood that had only recently been built and it abutted farm land. I used to love harvesting season and driving by the fields and seeing stacks of alfalfa. But slowly the farmland got bought up and stores, restaurants and banks sprouted in place of the alfalfa. That’s what gave me the idea of a farmer who’s a holdout and won’t sell his land, even though he’s under tremendous pressure to do so. He’s therefore intrigued when a group of kids show up and pitch him on turning one of his fields into a corn maze.

Do you want each book to stand on its own, or are you trying to build a body of work with connections between each book?
Both. Each KidVenture book can definitely be read as a stand-alone business adventure. In every volume in the series the kids start a new business with a whole new cast of customers, vendors, partners and neighbors who may or may not be supportive of their venture. But for fans of earlier KidVenture books, I do have some recurring characters make an appearance and every once in a while the protagonists reference something they learned in a prior business. My hope is that someone can pick up any book in the series, enjoy it and learn from it, and then want to read other books because they’ve grown to like the characters as much as I have and want to spend more time with them.

About the Author

KidVenture stories are business adventures where kids figure out how to market their company, understand risk, and negotiate. Each chapter ends with a challenge, including business decisions, ethical dilemmas and interpersonal conflict for young readers to wrestle with. As the story progresses, the characters track revenue, costs, profit margin, and other key metrics which are explained in simple, fun ways that tie into the story.



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Nancy P said...

Sounds fab

Michael Law said...

This looks like a great series. Thanks for sharing.