New children's book series
Known for his humorous best-sellers for adults, Phil Callaway has taken on a new challenge: children's fiction.
by Paula Novak (Living Light News)
Some people might say that Phil Callaway needs to grow up.
After all, the best-selling author and speaker, known for his humourous adult non-fiction, definitely knows how to have fun. But given the news that he’s just launched a new line of books for kids, maybe it’s a good thing that the 40-year-old Callaway remains young at heart.
Published by coolreading.com, the first three of six Jake Series paperbacks, geared to kids 7-10, have just hit store shelves.
In Jake and the Scrambled Snake, Jake and the Big Hairy Lie, and Jake and the Slippery Bank Robbers, Callaway plunges young readers into the humorous and mischievous world of the super smart 10-year-old Jake and his younger brother.
Three more books will follow in the spring.
“One of them is a humorous Christmas story,” explains Callaway, who lives in Three Hills, Alberta, “complete with some doorknob licking between the two brothers.”
For Callaway, who began by telling stories to his own three kids, writing books for children has been a life-long dream.
“I love to entertain children,” says Callaway, editor of Prairie Bible Institute’s Servant magazine, “but I want them to learn something as well.”
Callaway believes that the best way for kids to learn is through a really good story.
“Any good story tells us about life and about morals and values,” says Callaway. “These books are about wise choices and where to go when we’ve done wrong.”
Callaway was a child when he turned to Christ, but he remembers another important choice that marked a turning point in his life - on May 31, 1986.
“I looked at my first born son and thought, ‘Callaway, most of the time you have lived far from God and now you are holding in your arms the one little guy you’re not going to be able to hide it from.” That night on his knees Callaway prayed, “God make me real.”
That prayer set the stage for Callaway to become the person and the writer he’s been to adults, and now kids, who think the easy-to-read Jake stories are lots of fun.
“The best part was when Jake was cleaning the worm, because he sucked the worm in his mouth,” comments 8-year-old Kyle Donauer.
“A little grossness goes a long way,” replies Phil. “I have read the books in different schools. At the end the kids hollered so loudly, the teachers had to settle them down. That was rewarding. I loved torturing my teachers.”
All of the books encourage children to use their imagination as a problem solving tool for everyday life, unlike the escapism of fantasy. For example, in Jake and the Slippery Bank Robbers, after learning that the bank where Jake cleans is about to be robbed, the brothers dream up a way to catch the robbers, since no one believes it will happen.
“One of the very best gifts you can offer a child is imagination,” says Callaway. “We are not doing that with television or movies.”
Callaway admits his characters are created from individuals very close to home.
“I’m the little brother. The guy who was always a little scared growing up. Jake is really a combination of a number of people in my life including my older brothers. I don’t know if there’s a lot of counseling I need because of that, but that is where these characters come from.”
Callaway is quick to attribute his success to allowing God to use him - and his gifts.
“You never doubt who gets credit. I am the most under-qualified person to do what I’m doing. Moses stuttered, Jacob wrestled, Matthew worked for Revenue Canada; Lazarus was dead and God still found a way to use him. God uses the under-qualified because they know they cannot do it by themselves.”
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