If cleanliness is next to godliness, then school janitors are the holy keepers of sanctity. No one knows this better than newly published author and Logan resident, Tyler Whitesides.While attending Utah State University, Whitesides took on a part-time job as a janitor at a local middle school.”I was looking for a flexible job that would work with my school schedule. Cleaning bathrooms did not sound like an exciting job,” Whitesides said, “but my dad told me that you never know what opportunities might come out of this; it might just be the chance to get a foot in the toilet.”Little did Whitesides know that in two years he’d have a signed book deal for a five-book series all about janitors.”My time as a janitor showed me that janitors are the unsung heroes of the school. Besides cleaning, they fix broken things and they’re on call during events, creating a good atmosphere for the kids,” Whitesides said. “I wanted to show kids that janitors are really involved in schools and it could be more of an exciting job than just vacuuming and sweeping floors.”While taking out 300 garbage cans a day, and later being promoted to cleaner of the floors, Whitesides brainstormed how he could write a book to do just that. While he did not want to see most messes that the students made, Whitesides said the experience gave him a view of what the life of a janitor is like, which helped add authentic janitorial detail to what became the book, “Janitors.”After a year of outlining and brainstorming, Whitesides sat down to write the fictional junior book. The book, the first in the series, was released early August. The following four books will be released through 2015, one every August.While Whitesides did not attend college to learn how to write, he said he always knew he’d be an author. The 25-year-old USU grad has as degree in percussion performance and has lived in Logan his whole life. Whitesides grew up reading and writing, and because of this he has been able to find his own narrative voice – he just didn’t expect success so soon.”It is a very surreal experience to see my book published,” Whitesides said. “As a new author, it seems like every store I go to, I go straight to the book section to see if my book is there just because it is so thrilling.”In the fall, the author will be doing school assemblies across the nation.”I will be explaining to students how ordinary things can become extraordinary through the use of imagination,” Whitesides said. “Nothing is more ordinary than a mop.”The plot entails little invisible monsters that infest every school, and they inhale kids’ brainwaves and exhale things that stop kids from learning. This causes students to misbehave. For hundreds of years it has been up to the janitors to use their magic mops and latex gloves to seek out and destroy these monsters and thereby create a good learning atmosphere.”The response from kid readers has been great. I think it is because the setting is so familiar. It is set in a school, and that’s something almost every kid can relate to,” Whitesides said. “And they’ve seen their janitor with a broom in his hand and wondered ‘What’s he really up to?’” To help students understand the power of imagination in writing, “Janitors” publisher, Shadow Mountain Publishing, is sponsoring a contest. The writing contest is open to students grades 4-6, and the deadline is September 20. Students write a fictional or nonfictional essay by completing the sentence, “My school janitor is the best because….” Contest information is available at <a href=”http://www.tylerwhitesides.com/”>Whitesides’ website</a> .The winner’s class will receive autographed copies of “Janitors” and a visit from the author to the student’s school to discuss the writing process.A book signing schedule is available at Whitesides’ Facebook fan page <a href=”https://www.facebook.com/?sk=inbox&action=read&tid=4AJk7lkoJZpvlGBNyXPAuA#!/pages/Janitors/143833215679531″>Janitors</a>.
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