Jessie Mattis is a Jesus-loving wife, homeschooling mom, and award-winning writer. Her latest book is Power Up (Elk Lake): Eleven-year-old Lexi has learned all there is to know about God—or so she thinks until Miss Kate arrives and shakes up Kids’ Church with her new ideas. In this interview, the author talks about the book, what makes her 11-year-old protagonist special, and what she hopes readers take away after reading Power Up…
No spoilers, Jessie, but what can you tell us about Power Up?
Power Up tells the story of eleven-year-old Lexi. She’s been a “church kid” all her life and doesn’t think there could possibly be anything new to learn about God—until Miss Kate arrives and shakes up Kids’ Church with her new ideas about the Holy Spirit.
This teacher even gives unusual homework assignments, which means Lexi is putting her new knowledge of the Holy Spirit to work in real life situations throughout the weeks. Through the pressure of a difficult school situation and a family crisis, Lexi has to decide whether to listen to the Holy Spirit and believe that God is good, or throw up her hands and be done with it all.
What about 11-year-old Lexi made you want to tell her story?
Lexi represents what I would guess to be the majority of grade-school aged children who are raised in the church. These kids go to church, have accepted Jesus as their Savior, and that’s where it more or less stops. Unfortunately, a lot of Christian adults don’t give kids enough credit to be able to develop their own active, personal relationship with God through the Holy Spirit. Or maybe they just don’t know how.
Because of this, children are taught Bible stories and facts about God, and it often doesn’t go any deeper. I wanted to tell Lexi’s story because her initial “ho-hum” attitude about church is all too relatable. In Lexi, middle grade readers will find a character they can connect with and trust to lead them through an entertaining story, which may also inspire them to take the reins of their faith.
How does your faith impact how you approach storytelling?
My faith is central to who I am. While I know there is value in fiction that simply entertains, I can’t help but purposefully attempt to lead people closer to Jesus through my writing. Writing takes countless hours of hard work, and working toward a goal of inspiring others in their walks with Christ is what keeps me passionate. Otherwise, I would have given up long ago!
That being said, my personal faith in a loving, forgiving, active God is what guided the entire story of Power Up. Without it, there would be no story to tell.
Who are the ideal readers for Power Up?
Ideal readers for Power Up are children ages 8 and up, who are already familiar with the church. I’m sure girls will be the primary readers, since the main character is a girl, but I did try to keep the book from getting too girly so that boys might find the appeal as well. I also attempted to make it accessible for not-yet-Christian children, making sure to cover the basics of the faith as the story moves along.
Somewhat surprisingly, I’ve had quite a few adults read and really enjoy it, telling me it opened their eyes to some new spiritual ideas as well! One parent said it was a powerful reminder for him to stay on top of encouraging his kids to make their faith their own.
What do you hope readers will take away after reading Power Up?
I don’t want children to settle for simply being “church kids,” and I don’t want Christian parents to let them. Through Lexi’s story, I want to inspire church kids to become Spirit-led Jesus kids!
My prayer is for children to be inspired and empowered to say “Oh hey, if Lexi can do that, I can do it too!” I want to help them realize that, even at a young age, they are empowered by God himself to be filled with the Holy Spirit and spend their life (childhood included) listening to and following the loving guidance of the Holy Spirit.
As for not-yet-Christian kids, I want to introduce them to a loving, powerful, exciting God and open their eyes to the possibilities and adventures that the life of a Spirit-filled Christian provides. My prayer with this book is that lives will be impacted on an eternal level. And, of course, I want them to be entertained. J
Visit Jessie Mattis’ author page:
Elk Lake Publishing
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