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Meet Leah Lodevico of The Adventures of SuperCaptainBraveMan in Topanga

Today we’d like to introduce you to Leah Lodevico.

Leah, let’s start with your story. We’d love to hear how you got started and how the journey has been so far.
I’ve known the creative team behind The Adventures of SuperCaptainBraveMan Children’s book series for quite some time before I was approached to write for them. I am lucky to be one of the nurses assigned to take care of Kyle Norman, the inspiration behind the series. Jennifer Norman, the writer for the first three books, is Kyle’s mother. Paul Norman, co-author of the first and fourth books, is Kyle’s father. And Victor Lodevico, the illustrator, is my brother.

Like my brother, I am an LVN here in Los Angeles and have the pleasure of being a part of the SuperCaptainBraveFam. Watching Kyle go through life with the strength he has is honestly one of the most rewarding and humbling experiences of my life.

When I was asked to craft a story for the SuperCaptainBraveMan companion e-book series, A Kyle Adventure, I was more than happy to do so. I’ve written short stories for most of my life and as a mother myself, I saw this as an opportunity to combine three things that are extremely important to me: compassion, inclusivity, and writing.

My first foray into the world of SuperCaptainBraveMan was the e-book, A Kyle Adventure Book 2: Signs of the Season. In it, Kyle meets a deaf student named David and he learns that there are more ways to talk to each other than he ever dreamed. In February 2019, I was approached by Paul Norman to co-author The Adventures of SuperCaptainBraveMan Book 4: Down on Safari! Unlike the previous books, this one features a child with special needs directly inspired by a real person alongside Kyle. The book introduces Mia Armstrong, a friend of Kyle’s who has Down Syndrome.

We’re always bombarded by how great it is to pursue your passion, etc – but we’ve spoken with enough people to know that it’s not always easy. Overall, would you say things have been easy for you?
Writing for The Adventures of SuperCaptainBraveMan is very different than the writing I’ve done for most of my life. Firstly, I’ve had to really edit my work. Writing for children is much different than writing stories meant for older readers. I quickly realized that my normal approach wouldn’t work as well for 3-9-year-olds. I had to look at a scene I wanted to describe and think of new ways to write in order to engage a young reader. At least I had a built-in focus group at home: my eight-year-old daughter, Remy. She’d quickly tell me when my work would become “too boring” or “way too long, Mama!”

The task of creating stories designed to entertain as well as inform was at times challenging. By nature, The Adventures of SuperCaptainBraveMan Children’s books tackle sensitive topics like diversity appreciation and awareness of differently-abled people.

With the latest installment in the series, although I am a nurse, I am by no means an expert on Down Syndrome. Luckily, I had the help and feedback of Mia’s mother, Cara Armstrong, throughout the writing process. Together with Paul Norman, we all wrote a story that we felt was a real adventure that just so happens to star children who have Down Syndrome.

We’d love to hear more about your work.
The Adventures of SuperCaptainBraveMan Children’s book series and companion e-book series, A Kyle Adventure, seek to spread awareness and open dialogue between children and their parents about compassion, inclusivity, and awareness of those who are differently-abled.

Many times as a pediatric nurse, I’ve witnessed parents and children who are at a loss when it comes to interacting with those who require medical aid to simply go about their day. Our goal is to create an open and caring environment through our stories, where children can feel comfortable asking questions with kindness and perhaps make new friends along the way.

One of the proudest moments for me is something Cara Armstong told me about after we debuted Book 4: Down on Safari! She mentioned that every Saturday over the summer, she would take her children to a local public swimming pool. There, her children would swim and play, but a few kids would hesitate before interacting with her daughter Mia. After the book launch, Cara gifted a few of the parents with the book. The next Saturday, one of the boys who would normally hang back, came forward and started a conversation with Mia and played with her for the rest of the afternoon. Stories like that are why we started this book series.

How were you growing up?
I am a Los Angeleno, born and raised. Growing up, everyone would agree that I was a book worm. While other kids were playing kickball, I was on the sidelines reading Nancy Drew. Reading and writing became a lifelong love that I have yet to tire of. My “to be read” pile was always about six books high and little has changed over the years.

Besides reading, music has been a large part of my life. I started playing the violin in 3rd grade and switched over to the viola in 7th grade. I continued playing throughout high school and even got to perform with my school orchestra at Six Flags Magic Mountain in my junior year and at Disneyland in my senior year. Last year, I bought myself a new viola and have started playing again. Just in time for my daughter to join me with her own instrument.

I’m also an avid singer. Besides church choirs, I joined the college choir at Glendale Community College for a few semesters. There is never a day where a song isn’t sung in our house.

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Image Credit:

Illustrations by Victor Lodevico

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