RAHWAY – You’d never guess that successful children’s book author Annette Cascone was once a reluctant reader.
She didn’t enjoy reading until she discovered Norton Juster’s The Phantom Tollbooth, a novel about a bored boy who one receives a magic tollbooth that lets him journey to another land and have adventures. Cascone found that books could be a fun gateway to adventures of her own, and now she’s hoping that the new Nickelodeon television series Deadtime Stories based on the books she co-wrote with her sister Gina will teach today’s children the same lesson.
The series, which premieres with two back-to-back episodes beginning at 8 p.m. on Thursday, Oct. 3, stars Jennifer Stone as “The Babysitter.” Each episode opens with Stone, who previously appeared in the Disney Channel’s Wizards of Waverly Place, reading to the children from her collection of creepy tales that feature eerie encounters, hauntings and supernatural occurrences.
Cascone hopes that the series, which is geared towards children ages 7 and up, will encourage reluctant readers by sharing the message that books can lead to adventures.
“I’m very proud of the show,” said Cascone, who also wrote the scripts for Deadtime Stories with her sister and is an executive producer. “I hope it is something families can enjoy together.”
Seeing her stories come to life on the screen has filled Cascone with gratitude and excitement. “It’s like winning the lottery, only without the money (yet),” joked the Trenton native and Rahway resident.
Annette and Gina Cascone co-wrote 17 Deadtime Stories books, six of which were re-released last year by Tor Books. “The stories are scary but humorous,” Annette said. “They take kids to the edge of their seats and hopefully crack them up.”
The Deadtime Stories books were written to appeal to reluctant readers, featuring short chapters that each end with a cliffhanger that encourages children to want to find out what happens next.
If not for her sister Gina, Annette may not have become an author. Although she experimented with songwriting, Annette didn’t think she had the patience to write books and said that she only started because Gina forced her into it.
“It’s been a lifetime to get here and I’m really blessed,” Annette said of her success. “I hope that everyone checks out the show on Thursday night,” she added.
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