Buddy and Gracie: stories for kids

Jan DeGrass/Arts and Entertainment Writer / Staff writer
November 25, 2011 01:00 AM

Heather Conn, author of Vancouver's Glory Years, turns her pen to a children's book, Gracie's Got a Secret.

Have you been secretly reading your children's books? You're not alone. Many of the books aimed at kids, particularly those written for teens and pre-teens, make for great reading for adults too.

Author Ken Budd of Gibsonshas produced, published or written two dozen books in his career. His Carmanah, Artistic Visions of an Ancient Rainforest is his best known. His new book, SummerWild, The Adventures of Buddy Williams, is the first aimed at young people. Buddy is 10 going on 11 and his months at the summer cottage are golden - he swims in the lake, plays at spitting chokecherry pits with his friends Mokey and Riel, catches fish with his Gramp, meets a First Nations boy, Joe Starblanket, and is goaded into a terrifying jump on water skis by his boat-owning uncle.

Notice the absence of technology, no cell phones, no video games, in all these activities? That's because the story is set in the 1950s and describes an era when summer fun was outdoors and kids played freely in what nature had to offer.

Budd, who used to teach creative writing, said he told his students that they should begin by writing what they know.

"Many of the adventures the characters of the book experience are ones I had as a lad," he said. His recollections of that time in this somewhat fictionalized memoir are crystal clear. You know he's been there. If you've ever remembered those glorious summer months with nostalgia, then you should buy this book for your grandson and read it yourself. He has also written a student study guide to accompany the book, useful for parents and teachers. Budd will be signing his book at Woods Showcase in Gibsons from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. this Saturday, Nov. 26.


Local author Heather Conn also enters the imaginative world of children with her picture book, Gracie's Got a Secret, aimed at kids aged seven to nine and published by MW Books of Garden Bay with illustrations by Lillian Lai of Vancouver.

Gracie is a feisty, wee goldfish on the go who becomes an inspiration to the creatures, an alligator and an elephant, that she meets on her journey outside the fishbowl.

Conn explains that the book helps kids to understand a concept that she learned on her own journey of self discovery in India: the idea of letting go - a Taoist notion. Gracie knows she can do something seemingly impossible and this gives her confidence. The book is a fun read with engaging pictures despite its deeper message.

Conn will launch her book with a reading this Saturday at the SC Arts Centre in Sechelt from 5 to 6:30 p.m. The launch will feature storyteller John Conway, puppets and nibblies. Kids are especially welcome to this free event. The book is available for $9.95 at select bookstores or through the author at her website, www.graciesgotasecret.com. Conn will also be at the Christmas Craft Fair at the Seaside Centre on Nov. 26 and 27 selling and signing books.

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