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Cover Revealed For Octavia Spencer’s 1st Novel – ‘Randi Rhodes, Ninja Detective’

Cover Revealed For Octavia Spencer's 1st Novel - 'Randi Rhodes, Ninja Detective'

The cover for Octavia Spencer’s upcoming first novel has surfaced, and is embedded below, as the award-winning actress expands her name brand, from actress, to author.

As first reported in October, Spencer signed a deal with Simon & Schuster for Young Readers, an imprint of Simon & Schuster Children’s Publishing, to publish Randi Rhodes, Ninja Detective, a two-book middle-grade series.

The first title in the series, Randi Rhodes, Ninja Detective: The Case of the Time-Capsule Bandit will be published in Fall 2013, and is the author’s first novel.


Randi Rhodes isn’t your average twelve-year-old. She’s a Brooklyn vigilante with a Tae Kwon Do black belt. But circumstances take a turn for the worse when Randi’s mother passes away and her father decides to move to the small and sleepy town of Deer Creek, Tennessee. Randi couldn’t be more unhappy—until a mystery arises: the town’s two-hundred-year-old time capsule, which is rumored to contain hidden treasure, inexplicably disappears. Randi must solve the case, as the town’s fate hangs in the balance.

The press release says that an index at the end of the book will provide fun activities and a website, for what it calls a truly interactive experience.

I want to take young readers on a sleuthing adventure,” says Octavia Spencer. “Growing up I was a huge fan of mysteries like Nancy Drew and Encyclopedia Brown, and my biggest hope is that after meeting these young detectives, kids will experience the same sense of magic I felt when solving my first mystery.

And given Hollywood’s infatuation with adapting YA novels right now, I’m sure Spencer wouldn’t mind if that trend continues and Randi Rhodes eventually gets the big screen treatment. I guess it partly depends on how successful the novel is.

We’ll see.

Here’s the cover:

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I hear everything you said, and agree with some of it. However, we don't know if Octavia is taking a page from the Shonda Rhimes/Steve McQueen play book by using a white lead to gain currency in the literary world. She can't very well put this strategy in her press release, can she? So, I'm willing to give her a shot, buy the books for my nephew, and see if her sophomore project puts a black character in front. Btw, my mother only bought books with black characters like A Snowy Day, yet the author was white and received a ton of undue criticism from the black community. I didn't even know Ezra Jack Keats was Jewish until I was grown.


I'm more concerned with why these kids look so plastic. Their faces actually kind of all look alike, too, like a template was used except the black boys nose was made a wee bit wider. Does anybody draw by hand anymore? This looks like a still image from a Pixar movie. I guess that's the look nowadays if you want to get your animated film made. That said it kinda looks cute and I wish Octavia much success with her venture but I do agree with a lot of what you've written here, Michele. Images do matter. We are so used to seeing white folks on book covers that we almost come to just accept it. The same way we are becoming more and more used to characters in movies, especially, looking like plastic dolls devoid of nuance and character ready to occupy the toy store shelves. sigh…

Humming Loon

She's not obligated to write about black characters because she's black, but it would have been good to see the pecking order of the characters on the cover reversed. As a graphic novel fanatic, do you know how EXCITED I get when I see a non-white character as lead?! I buy it, no matter how expensive it is, and they are really expensive here in Europe. Really, this book, you can find this stuff ANYWHERE. So give us a diverse lead character with a representative life ALREADY! I wouldn't buy her book for any of the kids in my family.


A major criticism often mentioned is that producers and writers don't broaden the vision enough to have lead characters portrayed by actors of color. Octavia and Viola Davis frequently spoke about this when promoting the movie The Help. Basically they said they took the roles in The Help because they were among the rare roles offered to them of fully-realized characters. By not having a person of color as the main character in her novels, Ms. Spencer is contributing to the very problem she laments in interviews. If her book is ever made into a movie, minority actors will again be relegated to supporting parts.


ok, why is the main character white?

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