2011/2012 Feature Book of the Week #8
Priscilla the Great by Sybil Nelson

Tuesday, November 8, 2011


Meet Priscilla Sumner, an ordinary seventh grader with extraordinary gifts. As if middle school isn’t hard enough, not only does Priscilla have to fight pimples and bullies, but genetically enhanced assassins trying to kill her and her family. Armed with wit, strength, and a genius best friend, Priscilla must defeat the Selliwood Institute, an organization dead set on turning children into killing machines.

Add an older brother annoyingly obsessed with Christina Aguilera, mischievous baby twin brothers who could scare the sin off of Satan, and parents more puzzling than a Rubik’s cube in the Bermuda triangle and expect a smoking page-turner! (Publisher's summary from Goodreads)


            Hi Bookbattlers! Thanks so much for having me this year. I’m so excited for you to get to know Priscilla Sumner, the title character in my Priscilla the Great series. I’ve written a lot of books and she is by far the most fun to write. While I was writing the series, many times during the day I’d have to stop what I was doing in order to jot down something funny I could imagine Priscilla saying.

            So how did I come up with the idea for my feisty little fire-thrower? Well I started thinking about all the problems kids have when puberty comes along. I mean, what does puberty bring besides pimples and confusing hormones? So I thought how cool would it be if puberty brought awesome powers as well. But Priscilla the Great isn’t your ordinary superhero story. Even without her fire-shooting fingers, she is a riveting character. She’s addicted to superhero movies, comic books, and racing bikes down Main Street with her friend Kyle. Plus her school cafeteria has a soft serve ice cream machine which is home to the monthly seventh grade versus eighth grade Ice Cream Challenge (ICC). Imagine being able to stick your head under the nozzle of your favorite ice cream and gorge yourself while humiliating the eighth grade bullies. Awesome!

            While Priscilla is totally competitive in a tomboy kind of way, she is also completely in touch with her feminine side. A major plot point of the book is Priscilla trying to capture the attention of her crush, Spencer Callahan who barely knows she exists.

            On top of all this, Priscilla also has to deal with her quirky family: five-year-old twin brothers who like to throw frozen waffles at her for no reason at all, a sixteen-year-old brother who can’t stop singing Christina Aguilera songs, a father who looks like a professional wrestler but would rather bake cookies and a mother who has never heard of Oprah!

            I wrote Priscilla the Great while I was a high school teacher in South Carolina. I often found my inspiration for characters and situations from my students. In fact, Priscilla is a mix of two my students Ellen and Helen. It’s a complete coincidence that their names happen to rhyme. They weren’t even related. Anyway, I remember Helen would come into class every day with the craziest stories of something that happened to her. Once she shaved her armpits without shaving cream and they burned so badly that she spent the day with her hands tucked in her armpits. I haven’t used that story yet but expect it soon!

            So basically, if you haven’t already been introduced to Priscilla’s great world, be sure to check it out. Soon, she’ll most definitely be the hottest girl you know!


Sybil has always had a love of books and writing. During her school years, shed choose a different author each summer and devour their complete works.  Riding public transportation from her low-income housing, she always dedicated Wednesdays to her library pursuits. 
Sybil also spent her time jotting down poems and stories in her beloved notebooks. She even won a full scholarship to Washington and Lee University for one of her essays. Though her scholarship was for journalism, she soon lost confidence in her writing and ended up changing her major from English and Journalism to Mathematics and Music Theory.
During the years after college, while working as a math teacher at Georgetown Day School, Sybil never lost her love of words. She continued to devour novels in her free time. In all of her reading however, she began to notice that the novels she enjoyed most never contained any black female characters. This observation bothered her.

After years noticing the role models (or lack thereof) for black girls in the media, Sybil finally decided to pick up a pen and do something about it. While working as a math teacher at Ashley Hall School in Charleston, South Carolina, finishing her masters thesis at the College of Charelston, she began writing stories poems and novels that featured strong black women. She now attends the Medical University of South Carolina pursuing her Ph.D. in Biostatistics. She continues to write and, to date, has written ten complete novels.

Sybil has three books published under pen name Leslie DuBois. Visit www.LeslieDuBois.com to learn more. 

A BIG thanks to Sybil Nelson for taking time out to support all you lovely book battlers. Hope you are enjoying Priscilla the Great as much as it sounds like Ms. Nelson enjoyed writing about her. Make sure you leave a comment to let her know and enter in the Comment Challenge.

Also make sure you stop by next Monday for a very
special and exciting announcement!! 

5 Delicious Comments:

laduemiddle said...

Love the cover! It has a clean, graphic novel feel to it.

Can't wait to read it.

-A Ladue Middle Student

Anonymous said...

north middle school: i really liked this book and i think it was interestig how the author wrote about something so childish like superpowers, but made it fun to read for middle schoolers

Anonymous said...

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Anonymous said...

Cool book. Nce plot and the characters seemed so believable


Anonymous said...

North Middle here y'all!
I loved this book! I peronally found some similarties between it and the X-Men which being a full time nerd I loved! I could also relate to Priscilla having an over-protective dad!

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