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Elmhurst author to expand books with app

Published: Friday, July 5, 2013 5:30 a.m. CST • Updated: Tuesday, July 29, 2014 9:57 p.m. CST
Caption
(Photo provided.)
Elmhurst resident and author, Christopher Helwink poses during one of his recent school visits where he explained how to write a book.

ELMHURST – For the past six years, students have been reading Kid Combat books, but soon, the author hopes his project will be more than words on a page.

Christopher Helwink wants to create a Kid Combat app that would allow his third- through sixth-grade readers an opportunity to explore the characters and setting of Elmcrest.

“I came up with the idea because books are changing,” Helwink said.

The latest book in the adventure series is available strictly as an e-book. As a network architect, Helwink knows the effects of technology. He also sees kids reading on their e-readers and tablets all the time.

“It seems like a lost opportunity, though, because it’s still just words on their tablet,” Helwink said. “It seems like there should be more to it.”

With teachers for a mother, sister and wife, Helwink has seen his young adult books implemented in classrooms. When his mother began sharing lesson plans that she created to compliment the books online with her colleagues, Helwink imagined how an app could assist teachers by providing tailored lesson plans and tools to supplement their students’ reading. Helwink began searching for a developer and working with illustrator Khafre Liggens to expand his stories into an interactive app for kids and teachers.

After finding developer Alan Savage, Helwink believes the app could be ready in three months, but the project needs funding. The author posted a detailed project description and outline on crowd-funding website Kickstarter in search of backers for his newest dream. Until Aug. 5, anyone can donate to the project. A link to the Kickstarter page is available at www.kidcombat.com.

Kid Combat lives in a town modeled closely after Helwink’s native Elmhurst, but with one villain trying to take over the city. Kid Combat and his friends take action to save their way of life while adults follow the evil Phillip Arthur Jones without question.

“I started to use Elmhurst, because that’s all I really knew,” Helwink said.

Growing up, Helwink never considered a career as an author, but his mind was full of Kid Combat ideas since childhood. He began writing them down, but never expected his thoughts would produce not just one book, but an ongoing series.

“I thought it would be a short story, because I thought there was no way I could write a book,” Helwink said.

Now he’s working to bring his stories to life. In the app, readers could explore Elmcrest, including visiting the library to read the books and even choose their own adventures. Kids also can visit the arcade to play games, Kid Combat’s secret base to learn about the characters or Jones Mansion to read the villain’s diaries.

Kid Combat goes to Lincoln school in the books just like Helwink did as a kid. In the app, teachers can visit the school and use lesson plans and supplemental materials as students read the books.

“I think it’s an easy way to further their adventure in books and keep [kids] reading as opposed to always playing games on their tablets,” Helwink said.

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