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‘Summer Snow’ Family Film Inspires Novel Called ‘Dandelion Trail’

Monday, February 23, 2015 @ 07:51 AM

TUPELO, Miss.—Hallie Benson, the precocious 8-year-old with a big heart in the hit family film, “Summer Snow,” has certainly made her mark.

“Summer Snow,” released by American Family Studios, a division of American Family Association (AFA, has seen wonderful success since its theatrical debut last summer, its television premiere on UPTV in August and its DVD release in October.

But now, Hallie, the central character in “Summer Snow,” is the inspiration for a new novel called “Dandelion Trail.”

Kendra White, one half of “Summer Snow’s” brother-sister co-writing and co-directing team, recently sat down with American Family Radio’s (AFR, John Riley, the host of “Afternoons with John Riley,” to talk about “Dandelion Trail” and how the book came about.

“My brother and I had just finished co-writing and directing AFA’s first feature film ‘Summer Snow,’” White recalled. “By this point, I had completely fallen in love with the character of Hallie Benson, the little 8-year-old star of the film played by the amazingly talented Rachel Eggleston. There was so much potential for future stories with this spunky, warm-hearted little girl that AFA began to discuss hiring a novelist to write a Hallie-based adventure story for young girls who wanted to be just like her.”

AFA and White worked with Joy Lucius, a freelance writer for the AFA Journal.

“On top of being a passionate and talented writer,” White said, “Joy Lucius also worked at an elementary school and had an amazing gift with children—the demographic we wanted to reach. After sharing the screenplay and a rough cut of the film with Joy, we sat down to discuss the idea of her writing the novel. She was so intrigued by the character of Hallie and picked up on so many of the nuances in the script that I knew she was going to be a perfect fit for the book.”

Starring David Chisum, Cameron Goodman, Garrett Backstrom, Brett Rice and Rachel Eggleston, “Summer Snow” tells the story of 8-year-old Hallie Benson (Eggleston), a small girl with a very big heart. Whether baking cookies for a grumpy neighbor or selling toothbrushes to help a friend, Hallie always thinks of others. Unfortunately, her “creative” ways of helping people often leave her father, Dan (Chisum), with a mess to clean up. Dan struggles to keep it all together after his wife’s death. He doesn’t cook, do hair or know how to help his three children without his beautiful wife and her unshakeable faith in God.

For the book, Lucius created a significant amount of new content beyond the stories “Summer Snow” touches upon.

Without offering too many spoilers for those who haven’t yet seen “Summer Snow,” “Dandelion Trail” begins right before the climax of the film, when Hallie sees herself in Nicaragua in the 1970s during the time that her mother was growing up as a missionary’s daughter.

“She goes on many journeys and learns that no matter where you are and no matter how bad things seem, God is always there and He wants you to spread His love to the entire world,” White said of the book, which she hopes “challenges girls to completely surrender their lives to Jesus and push outside their comfort zones to reach people with the love of God.”

White added that some other story lines in “Summer Snow” are also revisited, and some questions that linger in the movie are answered in the book.

Joy Lucius is first and foremost a reader—then a writer. So, it is no wonder that she teaches reading at Shannon Elementary School, close to her home in Tupelo, Miss. Lucius began her professional writing career as a freelance journalist for the AFA Journal, taking her love of reading in a whole new direction.

“Dandelion Trail” is available for pre-order now online at the AFA Store and will be shipped to buyers on April 1.

“Summer Snow” has been named to the top spot in Christian Film Database’s list of favorite Christian films of 2014. Christian Film Database reviews numerous Christian films and selected “Summer Snow” over many other great contenders.

In July, “Summer Snow” made its theatrical debut in Tupelo, Miss., where AFA is headquartered, and Lexington, Ky., where the movie was filmed. Then in August, “Summer Snow’s” successful television debut on UPTV set network records, becoming the second-most-popular movie in the history of the network and also the No. 1 movie premiere in 2014 among women ages 25-54. The film was also released on DVD in October.

The movie has been called “inspiring,” “exceptional,” “amazing” and “uplifting” and provides a wonderful opportunity for families, Bible studies and small groups to gather and discuss issues of family and faith.

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