The first time I remember Gary Alipio reading his work aloud in our SCBWI critique group, he had the voice down pat of a middle-school boy in deep trouble who had to finish an essay as punishment – 10,000 words if I remember correctly. He planned for the snarky kid to stop on that last word but so far as I know has not finished that story yet.
His debut middle-grade novel published by Pelican, The Craziest Fishing Tale on the Bayou, came out this year with matching quirky illustrations by Sarah Gramelspacher, another member of our group who is beginning to make her mark. Watching and listening to other group members develop their story-telling and illustrations skills fascinates me, and it has been fun when each of them has shared their words and pictures in our meetings.
This novel revolves around Hatch who deals with life as the middle child between two annoying brothers. He hopes to win the fishing trophy that will bring in enough money to allow his family to stay in their house. They are thirty-five days late for the rent and must pay $500 in ten days or be evicted. Luckily, the Big Fish Fishing Rodeo grand prize for a kid eleven and under, which describes him for the next few days, is exactly that amount and comes with a bonus of getting a picture in the paper! He goes fishing with Grandpa Leon, otherwise known for good reason as Grandpa Grump. Strange encounters include a one armed man, a bragging girl in braids, insects, and rough weather along with an underwear issue that will appeal to eleven-year-old boys.
I think you will hear from both Gary and Sarah in the children’s book world after this. I’m hoping one of the pieces is the rest of that 10,000 words. In the meantime, “Here, fishy, fishy, fishy!”