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Meaningful ways to celebrate Martin Luther King Day for kids and adults

By Nicole Spector
NBC News

Here’s a look at some of the many things we can do this MLK Day (and, as Bernice King notes, beyond it) to restore our hope and honor MLK’s work…

Books galore and for all ages

Mighty Marty HayesYou’ve no shortage of books that can help impart King’s legacy and its lasting importance.

Middle-grade readers with interest in superheroes may appreciate books like “The Stupendous Adventures of Mighty Marty Hayes” by Lora L. Hyler.

“I feature American history through black spies and key figures such as Ruby Bridges and Josephine Baker, along with Dr. King,” says Hyler. “Since my novel’s March 2018 publication date I’ve enjoyed school visits, book festivals, education and library conferences all over the country. The kids’ eyes just light up when I note that Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. is part of the book.”

Read the full article…

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16 new books worth reading in 2019, including Nickolas Butler and a ‘Fonz’ murder mystery

Wisconsin Journal-Sentinel

For sheer magnitude, Milwaukee’s biggest book event in 2019 will be Michelle Obama’s March 14 appearance at the Miller High Life Theatre, 500 W. Kilbourn Ave., where the former first lady will speak about her memoir “Becoming.” Except for a few high-end seats in the $925-$1,125 range, it’s a sold-out show.

But fear not, dear readers. The first part of the year brings many promising books and local author events. In chronological order, here’s a selection of 15 forthcoming books and events that may interest you, with an emphasis on Milwaukee and Wisconsin writers.

Mighty Marty HayesThe Stupendous Adventures of Mighty Marty Hayes
Lora L. Hyler (HenschelHAUS)

In Hyler’s middle-grade novel, a multicultural class of 7th graders get involved in gene editing, spy gadgets and superpowers.

Hyler will speak 2 p.m. Jan. 12 at Nō Studios, 1037 W. McKinley Ave.

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Review: Mighty Marty Hayes Takes Readers On An Interesting Spy Adventure

Elena Reads

Mighty Marty HayesMarty Hayes has a secret. He has super powers! The only people who know about this is Marty’s family and his best friend Christopher.

In The Stupendous Adventures of  Mighty Marty Hayes, (which author Lora L. Hyler sent me to review) Christopher and Marty’s girlfriend, Aisha, are all in the same Advanced Science class. Marty thinks he’s the only one with special powers. Soon, he figures out that Aisha has powers too!

Since Marty loves anything spy related, he is super excited about this  science class.  They will be testing the CRISPR-Cas9, a gene editing tool. But everything turns upside down when the school bully, Wade, ruins the experiment. From letting loose mosquitoes to stealing Marty’s spy manual, Wade keeps sabotaging their work. But why? Marty and his friends go on a spy mission to figure out what Wade is up to and to stop him and other bad guys from stealing important data from the International Spy Museum! Who will succeed? You have to read the book to find out!

Read full review…

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Mighty Marty Hayes

Mighty Marty HayesAn African-American tween uses espionage skills and superpowers in this debut middle-grade novel.

Seventh-grader Marty Hayes is excited to work with the world-renowned CRISPR-Cas9 gene-editing kit in science class. But things go awry when insect eggs turn into mosquitoes and swarm the classroom. Miraculously, Marty reins them in. When his Granny hears what happened, she starts to worry that the world will discover that Marty has inherited superpowers that run in the family. She is in the Order of the Hannibal, a society of people with superpowers. Marty is able to materialize anything, especially with the help of his smartphone’s drawing app. For example, he attempts to impress his crush, Aisha, by conjuring a jet pack at swim practice. Meanwhile, two suspicious men who are after the CRISPR launch a drone to capture its data. Marty and his best friend, Christopher, use spy tools to figure out who is sabotaging the class’s CRISPR experiments, and eventually it’s revealed that Wade, the school bully, is somehow involved. As Granny’s anxiety over Marty’s gifts escalates, she approaches him and explains his powers. While she gives him her Order of the Hannibal Medal to control and amplify his abilities, she asks him to refrain from employing them. Relieved his secret is out, Marty agrees. But on a visit to the International Spy Museum in Washington, D.C., a crisis arises. Will Marty save the day? Despite the superhero framework, Hyler’s fast-paced tale deftly touches on scientific elements like genome study. In addition, she skillfully deals with some significant historical episodes in her narrative. For example, Granny recounts how her superpowers impacted integral events in the civil rights movement. But some threads of the story could be expanded. For instance, Aisha has superpowers and her grandmother is also in the Order, which is primarily chronicled in one chapter from the girl’s viewpoint. Additionally, details about the Order are vague. Still, this leaves plenty of material for a possible sequel. This rousing book with engaging characters should appeal to readers who enjoy adventurous superhero sagas.

A thrilling tale with series potential that highlights science, spying, black history, and the importance of family.

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Meet the author of “The Stupendous Adventures of Mighty Marty Hayes”

Mighty Marty Hayes

Valerie Biel Blog

In just a few short days (March 6 to be precise) a wonderful middle-grade novel hits the shelves with the release of The Stupendous Adventures of Mighty Marty Hayes. It was a treat to read this book in advance. It’s a fast-paced adventure about kids who have a love for science, a fascination for all things spy related, and are just realizing that they have inherited some special talents. Smartly written, not only with the inclusion of science, the book also delights with a diverse cast of characters and well-placed references to civil rights’ history and more. This could be an excellent jumping off point for some nonfiction reading about Harriet Tubman, the Tuskegee Airmen, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and Ruby Bridges. I highly recommend this read not only for its intended middle-grade audience. I thoroughly enjoyed it as well and think it’d be a great read for older kids or for parent/child paired reading. Read more…


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Glendale author’s “Mighty Marty Hayes” combines Black Panther with Harry Potter

Mighty Marty Hayes

Milwaukee Independent

“Smartly written, not only with the inclusion of science, the book also delights with a diverse cast of characters and well-placed references to civil rights history and more. This could be an excellent jumping off point for some nonfiction reading about Harriet Tubman, the Tuskegee Airmen, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and Ruby Bridges. I highly recommend this read.” – Valerie Biel, author of Circle of Nine series, Lost Lake Press

Milwaukee-based HenschelHAUS Publishing released the debut middle grade novel by Lora Hyler on March 6, in time for it to be showcased at the Children’s Book Fair in Bologna, Italy later this month.

While Young Adult (YA) novels are targeted at ages 12 to 18, the core audience for Middle Grade books are 8 to 12-year-olds. Hyler stated she was thrilled at the book’s advance praise.

“I’ve had an opportunity to share it with teachers and educators around the country, students and fellow authors, as well as readers abroad,” said Hyler. “The themes of superheroes, science and spy gadgets, with a sprinkling of American History seems to have Universal appeal.”

In The Stupendous Adventures of Mighty Marty Hayes, the multicultural superhero story revolves around the 7th grade students of Windsor Middle School, who are starting the new school year in their Advanced Science class.

The group has the opportunity to work on CRISPR-Cas9, a genome editing tool that has been creating a buzz in the science world because it enables medical researchers to alter sections of the DNA sequence.

The main character Marty, a 12-year-old African-American boy, shares a passion for science and all things spy-related with his best friend, Christopher. The two witness strange incidents involving their abilities and soon begin testing their new found super powers with classmate Aisha.

In the process, they awaken similar powers in the school bully, Wade, who is manipulated by international criminals to steal valuable CRISPR-Cas9 data.

Constantly monitored by a stealth high-tech drone, Marty, Christopher, and Aisha band together to form the multicultural superhero team of “Advanced Science 303” and stop the theft at their beloved International Spy Museum in Washington, DC.

“My son, William, was the inspiration. As he grew, I watched his interaction with his multicultural friends and the easy, joking chatter of boys,” said Hyler. “I wanted a novel to appeal to a lot of kids, and began toying with the idea of superheroes, science, spy gadgets, with a little history added for good measure. After a visit to the International Spy Museum, I was hooked.” Read more…

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Loro Hyler featured on KidLit 411

Mighty Marty Hayes

KidLit 411

About your book & what inspired it: My son, William was my inspiration for the novel. I’ve always loved adventure stories. I combined multicultural superheroes, with a love of science and spy gadgets, added a dash of American Civil Rights and spy history, and voila! THE STUPENDOUS ADVENTURES OF MIGHTY MARTY HAYES was born.
Favorite classic MG: My two favorite childhood books were PIPPI LONGSTOCKING by Astrid Lindgren, and CHARLIE AND THE CHOCOLATE FACTORY by Roald Dahl.
Favorite recent MG: I walked into an indie bookstore in Madison, Wis. to buy T.H.U.G., and a young store clerk steered me to THE GIRL WHO DRANK THE MOON by Kelly Barnhill. It turned out to be a great selection. I loved it and Barnhill just won the 2017 Newbery Medal.
One thing most people don’t know about you: I’m planning to visit the world through artist and writer residencies. To date, I’ve been selected for the Noepe Center for the Literary Arts, Martha’s Vineyard, Mass. (twice); CAMAC Centre d’Art, Marnay-sur-Seine, France; Write on Door County, Sturgeon Bay, Wis.; and Cassis Artist Residency in Cassis, France.
Where to find you online: Website:, Facebook: lora.hyler.5 Twitter: @HylerPR
Lora Hyler began her career as a journalist, and corporate communications manager, and in 2001, founded her own public relations and marketing company. She’s thrilled to debut her first middle grade novel, the first in a three-part series, and plans to get the books in the hands of children of all colors.
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Electric Eighteen Interview #36: Lora Hyler

Mighty Marty Hayes

Happy Wednesday, my Electric friends! This week’s interview features two authors with books for younger readers coming out in less than a month, ahhh! Let’s dive right into their spacey, super-powered adventures.

Author-Illustrator Jonathan Roth is a public elementary school art teacher who lives in Rockville, Maryland, with his wife, two kitties and three (or more) bicycles. Though Jonathan has never left Earth himself, he has met four of the astronauts who have gone to the moon. Beep and Bob is his first series.

BEEP AND BOB, out March 18 from S&S/Aladdin, is a funny and action packed chapter book series about the new kid at space school and the devoted little alien who won’t leave his side. In book one, Too Much Space!, Bob, with his new buddy Beep, finds himself having to navigate such galactic hazards as icy dwarf planets, massive black holes and a crush on a smart, cool girl. In book two, Party Crashers, Beep and Bob get a much needed break while attending their friend Lani’s birthday party…aboard the Starship Titanic!Lora Hyler lives in Wisconsin, and has visited many distant lands both in person, and in her imagination. She has an uncanny love of artist and writer residencies. To date, she’s spent time writing on Martha’s Vineyard, Mass. (twice) and in Marnay-sur-Seine, France, a village of 240. Her next scheduled residency is in February 2019 in Cassis, located in the south of France. She’s the owner of a 16-year-old public relations and marketing company.


THE STUPENDOUS ADVENTURES OF MIGHTY MARTY HAYES debuts March 6 from HenschelHAUS Publishing. The novel, the first in a three-part series, features multicultural superheroes who work on the CRISPR-Cas9 gene editing technology in their 7th grade classroom. They also love spy gadgets. When international goons threaten the technology, the battle is on at the International Spy Museum in Washington, D.C. Who will win? International goons or the nerds of Advanced Science 303?
Follow Lora:
Twitter: @HylerPR


Jonathan: How did you come up with the idea for your novel?

Lora: My son, William, was the inspiration. As he grew, I watched his interaction with his multicultural friends and the easy, joking chatter of boys. I wanted a novel to appeal to a lot of kids, and began toying with the idea of superheroes, science, spy gadgets, with a little history added for good measure. After a visit to the International Spy Museum, I was hooked.

Lora: How did you come up with the premise of your book and the character’s?

Jonathan: The idea for an average and easily terrified kid being mistakenly chosen to go to school in space, and only getting by with the help of an even more lost little alien, came to me surprisingly formed. But that was after a dozen or more years of writing picture books, middle grades novels, having a first agent, having almost sales in big places, etc. By putting in the thousands of hours, remaining open, and letting go of expectations (part of me really wanted to give up by this point), I was in the space to be able to reel this one in as it floated by.

Jonathan: Was there ever a point you felt like giving up? How did you push through?

Lora: I’m a resilient person and hate to fail. At some point, when you start telling people you are writing a book, they keep asking when it’s going to come out. I kept those voices in my head when I thought of giving up. I was also excited about reaching the finish line.

Lora: How do you juggle writing with your duties as an elementary art teacher?

Jonathan: Teaching 600+ enthusiastic young kids a week, and all that goes along with it, is rewarding but also very exhausting. Though I have worked on my books in the evening, my most productive writing and illustrating times are on weekends, holidays and breaks, notably summer, glorious summer. I write for the kids I teach, though, so I appreciate the overlap and at least know I know how to entertain the elementary crowd.

Jonathan: You have a cool, dynamic cover. Did you have any say in it, and what were your thoughts upon seeing it completed?

Lora: Thank you. I love my cover! I actually found the illustrator in Barbados via the Internet. He is supremely talented. We hired him and I worked with him throughout. This is a great benefit of landing a small publisher (HenschelHAUS Publishing, Inc.) I had strong feelings about how I wanted to depict my team of superheroes.

Lora: What’s been the best part of this journey so far? What about the hardest?

Jonathan: The best part of my journey has been finally feeling like I’m a contributing member of a community I’ve been part of for many years, first as an SCBWI conference attendee, and now as someone who can somehow be called “author”. The hardest is knowing just about everything about how my books are received, promoted, sold, etc. are far beyond my control. How about for you?

Lora: I’m a marketer, so as you might imagine, I’m thrilled to bring my skills to bear in getting my own books out into the world. The initial response to advance copies from teachers, educators, fellow authors, and reviewers has been awesome. The hardest part has been the little birdie who sits on my shoulder whispering, “Enjoy this. But, you know it’s time to work on book two.”

Jonathan: With your publication date near, what are your thoughts about finally getting your characters out into the world?

Lora: I can’t wait, March 6 is days away! I have many school visits, conferences and book festivals on the calendar already. And as a member of the Society of Children’s Book Writers, I’m happy to share a Book Birthday with Baptiste Paul and Tomi Adeyemi, to name a couple of fellow authors. It’s thrilling. What about you?

Jonathan: The best part of knowing that my characters will soon be out there is also the most terrifying: kids will soon be reading it. Best because that’s who I wrote them for! But terrifying because kids are also honest and fickle and they don’t care what School Library Journal or my editor or my principal said, the books have to touch them directly. And, hey, I’m confident they will! (Unless, of course, they don’t). But they will! (But…)

*********Lighting round*********

What’s your favorite non-writing/reading hobby or interest?

Jonathan: Cycling and walking.

Lora: I love to travel. My artist and writer residencies have scratched this itch, in a big way. I plan to continue to discover distant lands. It should be no surprise that one of my favorite childhood books was Pippi Longstocking by Astrid Lindgren.

What’s something about you that people might be surprised to find out?

Jonathan: Most of what I read is aimed at kids, but I very rarely watch kids’ movies or TV.

Lora: I love music, dating back to the 1930s and prior. I am exploring song lyrics and liner notes, along with poetry by African-American artists, and have been selected for an April national conference presentation on the subject. I plan to bring a record player!

Where is your favorite spot to write?

Jonathan: Home, at my desk.

Lora: A quiet spot in my home with music playing. A coffee shop. A library. A writing studio at a residency location.

What’s the oddest thing you’ve learned in life that helps you in writing?

Jonathan: My creative brain needs lots of body movement (walks, bike rides, house cleaning) to stay primed.

Lora: We have the brain cells to learn anything. We have to put in the work. Trust our imaginations and trust the process of creating fiction. For children of all colors, I love being able to create a better world for them to experience, to know that anything is possible.


Thanks so much, Lora and Jonathan!

If you, too, would like to nerd out with your very own Electric buddy, you can! Just fill out this form on Google docs and a facilitator will be in touch when it’s your turn. The sweet spot for these interviews seems to be around 800-1,500 words for both people combined, so it’s relatively painless. If you have any questions, feel free to ask us at < >.

Go forth and be Electric!

Warmly yours,

The Electric Eighteen Interview Facilitators