I’ve been wanting to write a children’s book for a long time now. As a kid, I read… and read… and read… and… who am I kidding? I’m still a kid and I read more than ever! But that’s not the point. Most of what I read was far ‘advanced’ for my age, at least, it was if you paid any attention to the ‘age-group’ lists. For instance, I can’t remember the first time I read ‘The Lord of the Rings’. All I know is that it was LONG before I turned nine. ‘The Hobbit’ took a little longer because we didn’t have a copy I could read, just a collector’s edition of my mother’s. ‘Twenty-thousand Leagues Under the Sea’ got perused around the same time, as did ‘Around the World in 80 Days’ and the ‘Odyssey” (carefully edited at certain points by my mom, of course).
In other words… it drives me crazy when I see a book labeled ‘Children’s Fiction’ that has literary content equal to or inferior to ‘Dick and Jane’. (okay, maybe that’s a bit of an exaggeration, but not much) ‘Easy’ reading always translated to ‘insulting’ to me and I know the same goes for my younger brother. At ripe old age of 9, he informed me that the Hardy Boys and Tom Swift were ‘badly written’. Even now, I love Tom Swift, but for the imagination in the stories. I have to agree with him on the literary quality, though.
Which is why I want to write a children’s book. No, cut that. A children’s novel. (after all, ‘novel’ has a radically different meaning than ‘book’ and a novel is what I’m going to write) It’s going to be for kids, but it’s not going to be ‘childish’, in the derogatory sense of the word. Kids are smart and I’ll try to write a book that admits that. Because if I don’t, both my little brothers are going to accost me and inform me in polished, encyclopedic language exactly what is wrong with the book, as far as the literary quality is concerned. Yikes.
And I’ve already got a name for the book. (as some of you probably know, my book idea process starts with the book title and the story follows it) Here’s the pitch for it.
Every little boy dreams about sailing the high seas, riding the waves with a sword on one side, a’hunting Spanish gold. When a little boy’s father captains a tramp steamer bound for all points water-side and his grandfather’s fireside tales conjure the smell of salt spray over the bow of a merchant vessel running supplies through Japanese waters… those dreams loom larger than life. But they’re still just dreams.
On his tenth birthday, Miles’ father gives him a toy pirate. Painted pewter and a chipped sword aren’t much of a gift; the price is still visible, scratched into the metal base. Three dollars. Just a three-dollar pirate.
But even a three-dollar pirate can have a history. Even a three-dollar pirate can be more important than the metal he’s made of. Even a three-dollar pirate knows a little bit about adventure.