Los Alamos native and Los Alamos High School graduate Phil Rink is a writer and publisher whose book made the ‘Best Books Of 2015’ list.
“Kirkus Reviews is a big deal,” Rink said. “And we’re very pleased that they selected Jimi & Isaac 5a: The Brain Injury for their list of the “Best Books of 2015.”
Every year the influential literary review company Kirkus singles out a tiny fraction of the books that they review for the prestigious “Best Books” designation. The starred Kirkus Review of Jimi & Isaac 5a: The Brain Injury can be found at www.kirkusreviews.com.
“Rink (Jimi& Isaac 4a: Solar Powered, 2011, etc.) paints a visceral, moving portrait of a young boy whose life is thrown into chaos when his father unexpectedly falls from the roof and receives a potentially life-threatening head injury…Highly recommended for both its quality of writing and its superb handling of difficult subject matter.”
Jimi and Isaac Books use a new approach to modern storytelling, but the books will feel familiar to older readers.
Jimi & Isaac 5a: The Brain Injury book jacket. Courtesy image
“Our books are full of short sentences, short pages, short chapters, and really big ideas,” Rink said. “These were once called ‘Boy’s Books,’ but the industry is now allergic to that category. Jimi & Isaac Books use familiar settings and characters to tell exceptional stories, instead of using mystical settings and characters to tell familiar stories. We give our readers a comfortable place to stand while they create themselves and find their place in the world. Our books read quickly and are about stuff. We meet the kids where they are, then teach and provoke to make them interested and curious. We work hard to be bold.”
So far there are five Jimi & Isaac Books. The first (School Soccer) starts with the early days of middle school and deals with the nature of competition, and the second (Keystone Species) takes the boys on a bizarre trip to the open ocean to save something or other. The third (Mars Mission) and fourth (Solar Power) books deal with science and inventing and engineering and business. The fifth book (The Brain Injury) confronts uncertainty and disaster head-on: Isaac can’t get what he wants. That’s never happened to Isaac before.
“The Best Books award is especially important for independently published books like ours,” Rink said. “We’re in over 200 libraries throughout the United States, but many libraries and most bookstores won’t even consider carrying Jimi & Isaac Books or other ‘indie’ books. We rely heavily on word-of-mouth and referral, so recognition by an industry leader like Kirkus means a lot.”
“I’ll write more books,” Rink said. “But we need to figure out how to get books to kids. Ultimately, we need to get into Scholastic Book fairs.” Until then, Jimi & Isaac Books are available at www.jimiandisaacbooks.com, many libraries nationwide (including as e-books), and at Amazon.com.
Phil Rink wanted a water ski when he was 15 years old, so he bought a mahogany plank and built one. Later, at his first engineering job, dissatisfied with the performance of a water treatment cell, Rink built several prototypes in his garage. His innovations were patented and eventually became the basis for an entire water sanitation industry. Rink’s ability to build, as well as think, led to a successful problem solving career and 11 patents, so far.
When he and his family couldn’t find accessible but substantial books about inventing and science for kids, and especially boys, Rink decided to write his own. Even though he drew on his own on-going adolescence and extensive coaching experience, writing and bringing the books to market turned out to be more challenging than building his engineering career.
Over time, Rink has become more convinced of the need for relevant, updated stories to help boys find their place in the world. Classic myth and modern fantasy are useful to discuss values, but they don’t clearly relate to the practical issues of growing up in a quickly changing world where boys may not follow their father’s career, play their father’s sport, or readily apply their father’s life lessons (if they even have a father or father figure). His books help boys understand and accommodate accelerating change, but also give them a stable place to stand while they write the stories of their own lives.