Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Children's Books for Reluctant Readers

Lately, I've been asked by a number of folks why I write children's books instead of Y/A. Well, I don't know why, it's just that I love writing for children. My aim is to make children laugh, cringe and squirm on the edge of their seats. I think that's the aim of most authors who write for children, but I particularly like writing stories for reluctant readers, the ones not yet interested in reading.

I had difficulties at school because of childhood illnesses and was slow at catching up, but I loved reading stories with mischievous characters and nasty adults. I especially loved Roald Dahl's books and Enid Blighton's.

I was a very mischievous child and ended up in all sorts of strife with my teachers and parents. Once when I read my childhood diaries to some children, they laughed their heads off. It was a wonderful feeling and  I became addicted to writing stories to make make children laugh. I also turned my diaries into fictitious children's stories for reluctant readers. At first, I was worried about the content of my children's books because I added the naughty things I did as a child, and some things weren't what parents would like their children to do.

I gave one of my books to a neighbour to read and he said no way would he ever let his grandchildren read such a story, and that humour like that should be kept in the bathroom. Well, that didn't put me off, I donated that book to the local schools and  libraries. One headmistress told me that they kept such books in their schools and libraries because children loved them and that those type of books helped reluctant readers to want to read. I'm going to post a sample of my first reluctant reader book, then at the end, I'll post one of the reviews I received from a customer on Amazon. This lady bought my reluctant reader book for her granddaughter even though she's quite an advanced reader. So that's why I love writing for children and so far, I've receive such wonderful feedback from them.

Excerpt chapter from Star-Crossed Rascals:

Chapter Seven – Germs

“You little nitwit!” yelled Auntie, holding her forehead. “I can’t leave you alone for one minute. Just look at this mess.”
No way was I hanging around to poo my pants. I jumped off the toilet seat, pushed past her and ran downstairs. Holding my bum, I hurried to the outside dunny.
When I swung the creaky door open, a big stink hit me in the face. Eww! I pinched my nose. I hated that smelly outhouse. It was always full of creepy-crawlers.
My stomach gurgled from the worst bellyache ever.  It felt like wild animals were fighting in my tummy. I sat on the loo and rested my feet on a milk crate. But there was no privacy. That grouchy grownup pounded on the door.
“Pollyweena, get out here this instant!” she barked. “I want to talk to you, but I need to use this toilet first. You’ve blocked the other one and the darn plumber can’t come until tomorrow.”
I ignored her and farted real loud. Take that, Auntie!
“Did you hear me?” she bellowed.
“Yeah,” I shouted, then I farted again. “Did ’ya hear that, Auntie? Did ya? I need to use the loo too, ’ya know.”
“This’ll be the last time I’ll ever babysit you!” she yelled. Then she must have gone indoors ’cause the back door slammed.
In the middle of the night, I had another tummy ache.  That didn’t please Auntie. She had to take me to the outhouse again. When I sat on the loo, my teeth chattered. I nearly froze to death.
Auntie shouted through the door, “Hurry up, Polly! It’s cold out here.”
“Well, guess what?” I hollered. “It’s your own fault. You shouldn’t feed liver to little kids – or make them clean toilets.”
“Just get on with your business,” she said. “You didn’t even eat any liver.”
“I’m trying to do a poo, but you’re bothering me,” I moaned, holding my belly.
When I finally went back to bed, the sun was already peeking in my window. Auntie felt my forehead. “Seems you have a fever,” she said. “No school for you today. I won’t be accused of being a bad babysitter.”
“No way!” I wailed. “I wanna go to school.”
“Too bad,” she said, covering me with a blanket. “That’s what happens to naughty girls who eat other people’s muck. I bet Dirty Gertie McDoodle is sick, too.” On her way out, she turned back. “I’ll bring you water and dry crackers.”
Water and crackers? What sort of breakfast was that? Even prisoners got real food. I sighed and snuggled under my covers. How was I gonna see Gertie? School was the only place I’d ever get to see her until Mum came back. I didn’t ’wanna stay home with that cranky old boiler. I was never going bubblegum hunting, ever again.
I looked for Jenny, but I couldn’t find her. And where was Mange? He usually came up to my room. I got out of bed and shouted down the stairs, “Auntie, where’s Jenny and Mange?”
Auntie came upstairs, carrying a tray. “Get back into bed. This minute!” she demanded. “I’ve put that yappy dog’s outside. I won’t have flea-bitten animals in the house. And I threw that smelly rag you call Jenny in the washing machine. It was full of germs.”
“No, Auntie, no,” I cried. “She’s my baby. Give her back!” Tears filled my eyes.
“Bed!” she repeated.
As I climbed under my doona, I wailed, “But Jenny will drown and get dizzy from spinning. And Mange will be lonely.”
“Tough luck,” she said, setting my breakfast on the dresser. Then she headed out the door.
My lip quivered. I wanted my pals, not dry old crackers. I sniffed and sipped my water. Auntie didn’t even like Mange. I bet she only likes black cats.
When she started banging pots down in the kitchen, I screamed out,  “I bet you’re cooking another horrid meal of bats and snails.”
She shouted up the stairs, “Watch it, Polly.”
“Watch what?” I yelled. “There’s no TV in here.”
Staying home with no one to play with was so boring. Auntie left Jenny, hanging on the washing line all week. Her pretty face got all smudged. And poor Mange had to sleep in the shed with the chook poo. Mum wouldn’t do that.
On Saturday morning, I got very excited. I jumped up and down. “Whoopee!” Mum and Dad were coming home. That meant I could play with Gertie again. I did a little jig around the room, then my door opened.
Auntie popped her head in. “Your parents are staying away for another week, so you’ll have to put up with me.”
I gulped. “Why?”
She sighed. “’Cause your grandmother’s sick.”
I frowned. “Can you take me to see her?”
“No, you’ll stay here with me,” she snapped.
But Grandma’s your sister,” I said. “Don’t you want to see her? You could stay and look after her.”
“I wish I could,” said Auntie. “She’d be less trouble than you. But your parents insist on staying, so don’t you dare leave this room until Monday.”
I frowned. Poor sweet Granny was sick, and I was stuck here with her nasty old sister.
On Monday morning, I grabbed my new shoes. Mum bought them before she went to Grandma’s. I put them on and did my happy dance. I spun around real fast. Yippee! Now I could go to school and see Gertie.
Grinning, I headed for the bus. Gertie wasn’t there. But when I got to school, she was getting out of her mum’s car. I ran and threw my arms around her. “Oh, Gertie, I’ve missed you!”
Gertie pulled my hands away from her neck. “I’ve missed you too,” she said, “but don’t smother me. I’ve been sick.”
“Me too,” I said.
Just then, Gertie’s mum came running towards us. “Gertie,” she shouted, “I’ve told you – you’re not allowed to play with Polly anymore.” She made squinty-eyes at me before marching back to her car.
Big tears pricked my eyes. I sniffed and looked at Gertie. But she ignored me and waved at her mother.
My shoulders drooped and I trudged across the playground. As I walked into school, Gertie ran up behind me. “Wait,” she shouted.
When I turned around, she was grinning. “Silly,” she said. “I had to fool my mum, didn’t I?”
I giggled. “You should get a big trophy for acting, Gertie.”
She looped arms with me. “At least my mum can’t see us in the classroom. And we can meet in the park after school.”
I smiled. “Auntie’s going home next weekend. Then you can play at my house.”
“And you know what?” said Gertie. “We can ride to the riverbank on my bike and you can sit in my basket again.”
A loud voice boomed behind us.
“Well, well, well, if it isn’t the bicycle terrorists.”
I nearly jumped out of my skin.
Patting her belt buckle, the headmistress glared at us. “So, you’re the two girls who ran me off the road. Aren’t you?”
Gertie nudged me and gave me her be-quiet look.
“Answer me!” snapped Mrs Godbolt.
With a big gulp, I said, “It … it was an accident.”
“Go to my office!” she ordered, pointing to the door. “Now!”
My tummy shook. I’d forgotten about Cuthbert’s. I held Gertie’s hand and we shuffled into Mrs Godbolt’s room.

I hope you enjoyed my sample chapter. Here is one of my five-star reviews from Amazon Books:

5.0 out of 5 stars Want the Truth? Ask a kid!June 18, 2011
This review is from: Star-Crossed Rascals: Adventures of Rascals, Polly and Gertie. (Volume 1) (Paperback)
I bought this book for my grandaughter. She loves it. I could stop the review right here because that says it all.

I'm sure we can all relate on some level to this story about two childhood friends who get into trouble all the time when thinking back on our own childhoods.

Just as these two adventurous, mischievious girls appear to go over the line, something funny happens, creating an amusing and entertaining tale.

My grandaughter is only seven, but advanced in reading and an avid reader. She carries this book with her and reads it over and over in bed before she falls asleep. I just bought her Patricia Puddle's newest release, "Molly Gumnut Rescues a Bandicoot". My grandaughter can't wait to read it.

Kudos to the writer. Not only does she reach kids on their level, she has great comedic timing that make her children's stories unique.

Thank you so much for that, June, and to all the other wonderful reviewers who posted great reviews on Amazon Books, Amazon Kindle, Smashwords, and Goodreads. I posted this review because it came from an child that loves my books. It makes all the hard work so worth while.

No comments:

Post a Comment