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Classmates’ Names to Appear in New Tim Green Novel

Nickell-BellIt’s not every day students get the chance to have their names appear in a best-selling author’s book. But it’s even less common for the names of two classmates to appear in a novel alongside each other.

On July 9, as the community mourned the recent death of CAC seventh grader Megan Nickell, children’s author Tim Green launched a Facebook contest to collect potential names for a character in his new book. Nickell’s name was submitted and within a few days received a surge of 8,950 votes to sweep the contest. At the end of the voting period, Green announced that Nickell, along with the second place winner, would appear in the book due out in the fall of 2016. Nickell, Green said, will be, “the pretty girl everyone loves.”

What many may not know is that the same book gleaned inspiration from another CAC seventh grader and one of Nickell’s former classmates. Last May, Brett Bell sat down for an interview with the author, who was conducting research for his new book about a student-athlete with cochlear implants — an idea Brett’s mother, Kristi Bell, suggested to Green last year.

Kristi met the author and former NFL player when he came to speak at CAC in 2012. Then, in January of last year, she sent him a message recommending he write a book about an athlete with hearing loss. “He always tells stories about underdogs and people who go against the odds,” Kristi said. “There are very few children’s books I know of where others can read and learn about being hearing-impaired.” Kristi said her hope was that a story like this would help people realize that kids with hearing loss are capable of doing the same things as anyone else. Green ran with the idea and contacted Kristi to schedule an interview with Brett.

Brett was born deaf in his left ear and hard of hearing in his right ear. He has worn a hearing aid since he was eight months old and received a cochlear implant in first grade. In his Skype interview with Green, Brett was asked about the obstacles he has faced and his experience playing baseball. At the end of the interview, Green asked if he could talk with Brett again as the story develops and if he would be interested in having a supporting character named after him.

Brett and Nickell will not be the first members of the CAC family to appear in one of Green’s stories. CAC teacher Angie Diles, who organized Green’s visit to CAC, was a lawyer in Green’s book Lost Boy.

 Brett said he felt multiple emotions before his session with Green. “I felt excited and nervous because he’s a best-selling author and he wanted to interview me.” Brett said at the end of the day, he just hopes the book will help kids learn to live out Luke 6:31 by always treating those with cochlear implants as they would like to be treated.