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From H.B. High to mythical wildlife: Children’s book author has adventures to tell

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Former Huntington Beach resident Todd Calgi Gallicano will release the novel “Guardians of the Gryphon’s Claw” Aug. 29 for young readers.
(Courtesy Todd Calgi Gallicano)

Mythical wildlife may not exist, but because of Todd Calgi Gallicano’s book, they will be alive in the imaginations of children and adults.

Gallicano, an author who spent part of his childhood in Huntington Beach, will release “Guardians of the Gryphon’s Claw,” the first tale in the Sam London adventure series, on Aug. 29. The book’s publisher is Delacorte Press, an imprint of Random House Children’s Books, a division of Penguin Random House.

The book for young readers tells the tale of an ordinary boy, Sam London, who gets caught up in extraordinary circumstances when he finds out mythical wildlife exists. He goes on adventures throughout national parks.

“My experience with national parks has been amazing,” Gallicano said. “I want kids to get excited to visit the places Sam does and hopefully it gets them interested in looking up cool mythical creatures from different cultures.”

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While this is Gallicano’s first book, he is a screenplay writer whose script credits include “Ash,” which sold to Dreamworks SKG and “The Holiday Letter,” which is currently in development.

Writing the book was like writing a bunch of cliffhangers, all leading to the next chapter, he said. It took Gallicano about two years to go from the idea he had based on a dream to the full manuscript.

“Todd has an uncanny insight into young people and writes funny, touching and original young characters,” said Charles Shyer, Gallicano’s friend and colleague who is directing “The Holiday Letter.” “That unique skill is evident in both ‘Guardians’ and in ‘The Holiday Letter.’ ”

In Shyer’s opinion, Gallicano’s ability to write for young people is because he is a bit of a kid himself.

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“You can always find him at the front of the line waiting to see every new Marvel movie the day it hits the big screen,” Shyer said.

State Assemblyman Matthew Harper (R-Huntington Beach) has known Gallicano since high school, where they were part of the school’s TV production program in which they wrote, used cameras and were on-air personalities.

“Creating this world is very much within his character,” Harper said. “Todd’s very imaginative and can communicate on a personal level very well. If someone has one of those, they may not be a very good writer but with both of those, it could be a start of a long and very bountiful career in writing.

“I’m just really happy for him and I think this is something that’s the beginning of something great for him,” Harper said.

Gallicano, who now lives in North Carolina with his family, said he was very much like the book’s character, Sam, when he was younger because like Sam, he didn’t know his passions.

“I moved to Huntington Beach from New York when I was 12 or 13 and it was very much a culture shock. I was a New York kid surrounded by all these surfers,” Gallicano said.

But not knowing his interests didn’t last long. He attended Dwyer Middle School and found he liked doing video production, and he continued the courses with Harper at Huntington Beach High School, where he was voted Most Talented.

The second book in the Sam London series is slated for June 2018. For more information, visit mythicalwildlife.com.

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JENNIFER LANE is a contributor to Times Community News.


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