March 02, 2011 at 08:30 PM EST

Image Credit: Albert L. Ortega/PR PhotosBack when his twin son and daughter were just a year old, writer-director Gary Ross got a frantic call from a friend: David Koepp was shooting his first movie, The Trigger Effect, and needed a bedtime story for Elisabeth Shue to read to her son in a scene. Could Ross come up with something quickly?

He dashed out some lines about a boy named Bartholomew Biddle who flies out his window using his bedsheet as a kite. “Bartholomew is very courageous,” says Ross. “He has untainted curiosity and the vehicle to explore it.”

Over the years, Ross kept writing, and kept reading to his children, until Bartholomew’s tale had bloomed into a 30,000-word epic told in verse. Candlewick Press, which recently bought Bartholomew Biddle and the Very Big Wind, plans to publish it in 2013, the year before Ross’ twins graduate from high school. “The book has spanned their entire childhood,” he says. “The end of the book is so poignant to me because the story is about growing up and breaking free.”

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