PHILADELPHIA - Novelist and comics writer Brad Meltzer is no stranger to heroes, having written about the likes of the Justice League, Batman and Buffy the Vampire slayer.
Now, his latest work, "Ordinary People Change the World," focuses on real-world role models like Amelia Earhart and Abraham Lincoln to help younger readers learn about and from authentic trailblazers.
The books, along with others in his planned series for Dial Books for Young Readers, an imprint of Penguin Group (USA), are about famous Americans and the challenges they faced and overcame, he says.
"If I told my daughter that Amelia Earhart flew across the Atlantic Ocean, she's not impressed. Everyone does that these days," Meltzer said.
But tell the story of how Earhart built a homemade roller coaster at the age of seven, took a wooden box with roller skating wheels on it and came flying down the rails?
"Now, Amelia Earhart is just like my daughter. She reads that and says 'Oh my gosh! Amelia Earhart is just like me!' " Meltzer said.
The first two of a planned six books, "I Am Amelia Earhart" and "I Am Abraham Lincoln," are and illustrated by artist Chris Eliopoulos.
In the story about Lincoln, Meltzer recounts how the future president, just 10 years old stood up to a crowd of older kids putting hot coals atop live turtles.
"He could have easily backed down, but he stands up to that injustice," said Meltzer. "There is a moment of the greatness that will one day come."
Meltzer said four more titles are planned with Rosa Parks, Lucille Ball and Albert Einstein as subjects.
"When you look around, we're starving for heroes," he said of his decision to write the stories. "These aren't just the stories of famous people, this is what we're all capable of on our best days."