Richmond author looks for the super powers in everyone
RICHMOND — By day, Dan Sadlowski is better known as "Mr. S," the technology instructor for Richmond Consolidated School.
But when the bell rings and the classrooms empty, Mr. S transforms into Dan Sadlowski, inspirational author and creator of "Finding Brooklyn — And The Next Great Superhero."
His main character, a little yellow-haired girl named Brooklyn, appears to be an unlikely hero: Along with her light blue Alice in Wonderland-inspired jumper dress, she wears a round button pin with a big red heart on it and black knit gloves with white skeleton hands printed on them. Brooklyn gets teased by her classmates and readers learn that she has few loved ones in her life.
But, readers also discover, there is more to Brooklyn than imagined, all revealed in her colorful, fun and epic journey to better understanding her worth as a person.
"People ask whether superheroes exist. The heroes that inspire me come from truth," said Sadlowski. "In this book, no one is bit by a spider or touched by gamma rays. We come to see that she's wearing her heart on her sleeve, and that we all have skeletons beneath our gloves. So are superheroes so far from the truth? Maybe not."
Released last October, "Finding Brooklyn" has been nearly a decade in the making, starting with Sadlowski revisiting his love for comic book adventures as boy, then scratching out a few lines and scrawling a few stick figures on notebook paper, to finding his own allies to help him bring the story to life.
In addition to his family — he wrote the book with his own niece in mind — he enlisted his graphic artist friends Allison Rose and Emily Elizabeth to help create the graphic novel-inspired illustrations. Sadlowski said the character of Brooklyn is also inspired by a real person, though he did not disclose his superhero's true identity.
"This story comes from a lot of truth, and a lot of fun," he said.
For those of you already familiar with the book, Sadlowski says to go back and pay attention to the one boy in Brooklyn's class — the author's nicknamed him "The Little Lump" — who seems to be the one other kid who cares about Brooklyn. The author says, this nervous looking character is also more than meets the eye.
True to his own educator roots, the author has spent the past year visiting area classrooms and community events with his book and leads activities, from coloring to talks around the prompt of "what's your superpower?" Answers to that in the past have ranged from, "Being half James and half Batman" to "I can make friends in under 10 seconds."
The author's website and social media pages are filled with fan mail and pictures of kids and adults alike who are sharing their superpowers.
"At the end of the day, it's all about empowerment," he said.
Sadlowski has also formed an alliance with another inspiring local young woman, Madison Quinn of Pittsfield and the Strong Little Souls initiative. Together, they've teamed up to befriend and celebrate kids in Massachusetts and beyond who are coping with cancer and other chronic illnesses. In late October, they traveled together to Malden to host a superhero day for a girl named Lola. Two weekends ago, they also promoted each other's projects during a book signing and care package collection drive at Barnes & Noble bookstore in Pittsfield.
"We've just stayed in touch, I think, because we share a similar passion," Sadlowski said. A portion of the proceeds from every copy of his book sold goes to kids' play therapy programs and pediatric health care services.
The author not only promotes his book, but promotes people performing random acts of kindness and encourages them to "be their own superhero."
"I think everyone's faced some type of tough time and can in some way relate to this story," he said.
Learn more about the author and for updates on "Finding Brooklyn" events:
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