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Second “Heaven” book coming out, movie deal progressing PDF Print E-mail
Written by Wauneta Breeze   
Thursday, 28 July 2011 16:48

By Carolyn Lee

The Imperial Republican


“Heaven is for Real,” the best seller written by Todd Burpo of Imperial with Lynn Vincent, has been on the New York Times Bestseller List in the paperback non-fiction cate­gory for 35 weeks. As a matter of fact, it’s been the number one book every week but one back to Jan. 23, or for 17 non-consecutive weeks.

It also reached number one on the Canada list last week, and has been on that list for 15 weeks. That’s according to Stephanie Newton, senior publicist for non-fiction at Thomas Nelson, the publisher.

The book is the story of young Colton Burpo’s emergency surgery and consequent survival, with his remarkable experience in between.


Colton tells his parents of his journey to heaven, seeing relatives, how the Holy Spirit “shoots down power” from heaven to help us, and seeing the doctor operating on him.

Newton said four million copies of the book and e-book have been sold.

On Nov. 8, a new, related book will be released. “Heaven is for Real for Kids” is Colton’s message, told by him in the book: Jesus really, really loves children.

In an effort to reach even more families with this story, the new book is in Colton’s words, to other children.

Father Todd said, “It’s for parents and grandparents to sit down with the children and read and talk about heaven.”

The book is illustrated by Wilson Ong, under Colton’s direction. Burpo said the illustrations tell the story more clearly for children.

A letter to parents is included to guide them in talking to their children about heaven. Scripture, along with a question/answer section with answers from the Bible, is also included.

The book is for children ages four through eight, Burpo said.

A DVD-based conversation kit and guide will also be available in November.

In the works is a movie based upon “Heaven is for Real,” to be filmed by Columbia Pictures, part of Sony Studios.

“Everything is moving forward, but nothing is signed. The paperwork is in lawyerland,” Burpo laughed.

With the average movie taking 18 months to film, Burpo said, and Sony Studios deciding when to release it, he guesses it could be a Christmas 2013 movie.

Burpo wants to make sure the movie accurately portrays the book, hence the legal discussion. “I’ll never have complete control but will have influence,” he said of the movie. Burpo owns the story, and the publisher, Thomas Nelson, owns the book, he noted.

“When you work with producers, the relationship you have with them and they have with the studios is important. The whole road is scary territory.”

Burpo feels that, “A whole lot more people watch movies than read books, so we can reach more people.”

He added that, “We bathe everything with prayer. It would be easy to go the other way,” and not make a movie, but Burpo feels people are being encouraged with Colton’s story.

“The success of the book was a complete surprise, to us mainly, and everybody. My editor said it’s so rare for a first book to get so much attention. The odds are three in one million for it to happen to anyone.”

Burpo added, “Although I wasn’t ready (for the attention) God was. We’ve made every decision every step of the way with prayer.”

Todd and wife Sonya and family are taking the summer off from traveling around the country, giving interviews concerning the book. He said their “contract for media” interviews concluded the end of the school year.

Come fall, the trips will begin again, publicizing “Heaven is for Real for Kids.”

Asked what percentage of his time is split between being pastor of Crossroads Wesleyan Church in Imperial, publicizing the book and working on the movie, as well as time with his family, Burpo said every week is different. He also assists Trent Spady with the business Overhead Door Specialist, which he sold to Spady. “He’s done an outstanding job,” Burpo noted.

“I’m not trying to take on extra work without laying some down,” he said. “I have more responsibility for things, but have more people to help.”

He said staff at his church helps with the book work, and he prays to God to send more people to help.

As of September, Crossroads Wesleyan will welcome Phil Harris as executive pastor. He will work for the church three-fourths of his time, and one-fourth with the “Heaven” projects.

“I can’t do big things by myself,” Burpo said he’s learned.

He has opened an office in Moreland Insurance concerning the “Heaven” book, which has been translated into four languages with contracts for 34 languages.