By Sue Botos
When Todd Zverloff asked his daughter Kendal to help him write his first book, the 7-year-old knew exactly what it should be about.
“She’s really into superheroes,” Zverloff said at a recent Rocky River book signing. “I told her to give me the ideas and I’ll write the book.”
That collaboration resulted in “Super Steph Book 1: Beginnings and Bullies,” which Kendal assured their visitors at Yogurt Plus in Beachcliff Market Square will become a series. She added that since there weren’t many girl superheroes around, she decided that the stories would feature Super Steph, an average fourth-grader who acquired superpowers after drinking some “energy juice.”
The book signing was a real family affair as Zverloff teamed with fellow author and brother-in-law Eric Van Raepenbush, who was signing copies of his “Three Ghost Friends” series in which a trio of friendly spirits teach young children about concepts such as opposites, shapes and ABCs. Zverloff said he credits Van Raepenbush, a former elementary school teacher, with supporting his fledgling writing career and providing feedback.
Kendal, a second-grader at DeWitt Elementary School in Cuyahoga Heights, was attired in her “Super Steph” cape as she signed books with her dad, while mom Kelly snapped pictures of the event. She said that Dan Stinker, the bully who torments the students of Sycamore Elementary School, was actually based on a real-life “fifth-grader bully” at her school.
Zverloff, a high school English teacher for Ohio Virtual Academy, said that he had majored in creative writing in college. “It’s something I’ve dabbled with since I was 15 or 16. But this is the first time I followed through,” he said of the self-published work.
Althoug Zverloff refined the illustrations (he noted that his grandfather was a folk artists and that his uncle paints), Kendal’s original work is featured at the end of the book.
Noting that Kendal had started writing short stories and illustrating them with a friend at school, Zverloff decided to ask for her assistance with creating his characters. “She gave me the ideas, and I did the adult part,” he recalled. Kendal added that it was fun helping out her dad, and promised more to come.
“I am extremely proud of this book and I really hope that it is just the first in a long line of publications,” Zverloff said.