“Amidst all the pain intertwined with beauty, Driew finds his voice and place.”—Edith Wairimu, Readers’ Favorite

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Reviewed By Edith Wairimu for Readers’ Favorite

In the fascinating Kentucky Outback, Driew Qweepie’s world is filled with beauty, tranquility, and incredible ways of experiencing nature. Surrounded by his loyal mates, Cain, Able, and Gulia, Driew gets the opportunity to grow and discover his wild side. With incredible strength, agility, optimism, and charisma, Driew can withstand everything in his life, even the cruelty of Gayle and Payne, his older siblings, except for the heart-breaking condition of his mother, Nieve. The family tries to hold it together, especially Marq, Driew’s father, but even fortitude sometimes has limits. Amidst all the pain intertwined with beauty, Driew finds his voice and place. Remarkably, nature seems to listen to his voice too through his sing-song. G’DAY: Aints by M.W. Adams is a brilliant fusion of real life, amazing culture, and an incredible wild setting.

Every moment contained in G’DAY: Aints by M.W. Adams seems to be magical. The book is set in beautiful scenery which adds to the depth and uniqueness of the story. M.W. Adams does a great job presenting a story filled with simple yet breathtaking moments while still presenting Driew’s real-life situations. The youthful Driew is also very relatable and likable. With his kind, hardworking, and witty nature, he is a powerful key character. Overall, G’DAY: Aints by M.W. Adams is a rewarding and inspiring story. It helped me appreciate beauty and virtue even in the presence of distress. It is the kind of book that sticks with you long after you have read it. Reading it also helped me relive my youthful days and cherish the wonderful—even though simple—moments which surround me.

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“Beautifully written and well worth reading even more than once.”—Melinda Hill, Readers’ Favorite

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Reviewed By Melinda Hill for Readers’ Favorite

The youngest of five siblings, Driew feels like he doesn’t fit into his family in this coming of age story, G’DAY: Aints by Mark Wayne Adams. Now with his mother failing quickly from her Caddywompus, a brain tumor, Driew has lots of feelings and emotions to process while he deals with his sinister and bother (sister and brother) who resent him for being born and go out of their way to make his life difficult. Driew’s best friend is the girl next door, Gulia, who is from Australia. She shares her experiences with the Outback and native traditions, and Adams blends them with small-town life and Dawson Springs history and lore to help Driew find his path. As a result of some special powers, Driew has a connection to nature that is extraordinary; he can ‘sing song’ natural items to make them move or even provide him with light. This phenomenon, along with Driew’s ability to see the Magic Man, convinces Gulia that he needs to take off on a Walkabout, a traditional aboriginal quest to find oneself.

G’DAY: Aints comes directly from the soul of Mark Wayne Adams and connects us all through his characters into the greater world around us. The story represents a beautiful acceptance of life, family, things we can’t control, and, most of all, the ability each of us has within to come to terms with the ups and downs of life. While some characters take longer to evolve than others, just as in real life, the process is shown to be difficult yet fulfilling as Driew tries really hard to accept his siblings and other relatives for who they are—looking at things from their perspective. Beautifully written and well worth reading even more than once for its deep insights and loving advice, G’DAY: Aints works as a stand-alone story even though it is the fifth in the Family Tree series of novels by Mark Wayne Adams. Just like a song line from the Outback, you can pick it up here or there and still appreciate the unique gift within.

“…fascinating and intriguing characters and a thread of humor runs through the plot.”—Mamta Madhavan, Readers’ Favorite

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Reviewed By Mamta Madhavan for Readers’ Favorite

Set against the backdrop of Outback Australia, G’DAY: Aints by M.W. Adams takes readers along with Driew to explore life events and myriad chaotic journeys as he takes them through his story. Driew has secretly vowed to leave the Outback family and wants to heal his family relationships. His mother Nieve’s time is limited because the doctor cannot operate to remove the tumor resting upon her brain. Their home phone rang nonstop ever since Nieve collapsed in the town square. As the book progresses, readers get to see Driew’s progression from boyhood to manhood, and a move from Australia’s Outback to rural western Kentucky, an aint who helps him discover his past and find himself, and Gulia who encourages him to take control over his story and embrace the Magic Man’s purpose.

The story is adventurous and educational to a certain extent as it speaks about fun facts in the Outback and Dawson Springs, Kentucky. It is entertaining not only because of its story line, but also because of the interesting and informative facts the author has woven into it. The many layers in the plot make it a compelling read and readers are introduced to American, Australian, and Qweepie vernacular. Family bonding, the adventurous Outback world, and the Qweepie family moments make the book real and memorable to readers. The story line and the characters are fascinating and intriguing and a thread of humor runs through the plot and characters, making them tangible to readers. The story also stresses the importance of family, roots, and home, which sums up the daily lives of most readers.

“…leads a young man on a journey to become the man he was destined to be.”—Kathryn Bennett, Readers’ Favorite

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Reviewed By Kathryn Bennett for Readers’ Favorite

G’DAY: Aints by Mark Wayne Adams introduces us to Driew and the adventures he finds himself in within the Australian outback. G’day might be the way to say hello in Australia, but for Driew it causes torment in the form of the Qweepie twins and oh so much more. When the girl next door gets involved, things become even more complex for Driew and, in the end, he must make the choice of exploring a love that is starting to blossom and going on a walkabout that traditionally leads a young man on a journey to become the man he was destined to be.

This book stood out to me as something that would be different and interesting to read when I looked at the description. I am happy to say I was right about that in many ways and, in other ways, it is a traditional coming of age story, making this book a great blend of familiar and unfamiliar. Once I got around some of the slang terms, I really got into the book and enjoyed the adventures. I have always been interested in the idea of a walkabout and the mysterious ways of the Aboriginal people of Australia. I feel that author Mark Wayne Adams has given us a peek inside of that mysterious world through the eyes of Driew in this book, and I love that! I don’t want to give away too much of the journey that Driew must take. Like so many of us, choosing between new love or a harder path that we aren’t sure where it will lead, this read is a solid, enjoyable one. It might be a YA story, but as an adult I enjoyed it and I know others will too. It is well written and has a flow to the story that is enjoyable. I didn’t like setting this one down to go and do adult things; I just wanted to read it straight through.

“G’DAY is a truly breathtaking story with a unique style.”—Liz Konkel, Readers’ Favorite

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Reviewed By Liz Konkel for Readers’ Favorite

G’DAY: Aints by Mark Wayne Adams is a stunning coming of age journey following the life of Driew Qweepie. Driew’s life was fairly ordinary, dealing with bullies, siblings that don’t seem to want him around, and growing up. When his mom is diagnosed with a brain tumor, his life is flipped around and it seems like his siblings are keeping secrets from him. His best friends and his Tasmanian Tiger named Dingo are always there when he needs them. He finds solace in the woods and his tree house, using them to bask in the safety net of his childhood. His family doesn’t mention those they’ve lost. He’s never known the names of his grandparents or deceased relatives, but when he finds a family memoir he uncovers surprising family secrets. Gulia is his charming and brazen neighbor who convinces him to follow where the Magic Man leads, on a journey to find the Outback, an Australian song line. The more he learns about his family, the more he finds out about himself and discovers a connection to Gulia that he doesn’t expect.

The structure of G’DAY is an intriguing one that is broken into moments with every moment serving a purpose. Mark Wayne Adams delivers spectacular details with descriptions like “wrecking ball personality” and larger than life characters. Adams has a quirky style that gives a playful quality and a certain lightness to the story. G’DAY has many layers, a story of family, bullying, loss, growing up, friendship, and first love. Driew feels like an outsider with his siblings, but he finds comfort in the relationships he has with his friends and the bond he has with his Tasmanian Tiger. He also finds solace in the country, in books, and in words. He seems to find magic in every aspect of his life, which gives a beauty to Driew’s world.

Driew has a complicated relationship with his family as his siblings often seem to shield him from anything bad while also taking some of their pain out on him. His mother’s health slowly degrades throughout due to a brain tumor and this greatly affects the entire family. G’DAY puts a great deal of focus on childhood and the carefree magic that comes with it, referencing acclaimed novels The Outsiders, Where the Red Fern Grows, and Peter Pan. Driew finds himself captivated by the wonders of the woods, which is where the Magic Man and Australian lore ties into the story. The wonder of it all will pull you into his world. G’DAY is a truly breathtaking story with a unique style, quirky language that finds the magic in words, the memory of the past, and the struggle of life and death.

G’DAY: Moment 1

This complimentary excerpt from G’DAY: Aints. Read the The Magic Man and Family Roots also.

—•—

MOMENT ONE

COFFIN

Driew had never known anyone to die, and he wouldn’t let today be that day.

Driew fought! Bound and gagged inside the suffocating supply box, his sing-song voice now restrained by his bindings remained unable to save him. Driew feverishly peeked through the cracks of his locked wooden coffin of doom. His eyes burned with pain from the sliver of sunlight upon the horizon.

His Tasmanian Tiger joey, squealed from the tormenting blows of two masked teens. Dingo hung from the rusty wire clothesline bagged like a papoose in a sinister’s dress—Gayle’s. With two wooden baccastix, the teens walloped Dingo like a celebratory piñata.

Disguised in a black hooded sweatshirt, the boy tormentor commanded the girl, “Let’s take the mongrel to the river.”

“You never mentioned drownin’ it,” the girl tormentor said, wearing a matching disguise.

“If it swims, it won’t drown. If it drowns, then it would’ve died sooner or later,” the boy said.

Fraught with urgency, Driew wriggled against his painful confines.

“I’ve never seen claws on a dog before. I’m not touchin’ it,” the girl said.

“We’ll use this stick for totin’ the mongrel down to the river,” he said, handing the girl a wooden baccastix, normally used for firing dark tobacco.

Driew rubbed his cheek against the wooden floor, snagging the gag cloth on a splintered board. Nostrils flaring in anger, he peered through the cracks of the box as Dingo slid off the clothesline onto the baccastix carrying pole.

Driew pressed hard against the splintered board, grimacing as it pierced his cheek. With a fitful yank, the gag ripped but remained cinched.

The tormentors dragged Dingo to the supply box where Driew struggled. The boy tormentor kicked the box near Driew’s head. The forceful kick cracked the board against Driew’s temple. He winced, knocking back urges to cry out his pain. The bully stole Driew’s happiness but he wouldn’t find satisfaction in Driew’s pain.

Dingo’s marsupial cries subsided into low, fearful whimpers. He, like Driew, sensed potential danger.

“There’s no family crueler than ours,” the boy said.

This all too familiar phrase Driew learned and understood bloody quick. He pulled at the slobbery gag a third time, freeing his clenched jaw. Inhaling a much needed breath, he was able to sing-song, bellowing to the baccastix supporting Dingo.

The baccastix ignited, engulfing stick and dress with teal blue flames. Startled by the sudden fire, the tormentors dropped the flaming stick and cargo onto the unforgiving soil.

Ripping through the dress with his cat-like claws, Dingo escaped, scurrying to a nearby tree for safety.

“You’re full of bad ideas! The dog is loose and mad!” The girl yelled as she ran from the flaming baccastix out of Driew’s sight.

“Come back you big sissy. We’re not done with him!” The boy hollered, chasing behind the girl.

Driew rolled onto his back and sighed, “As always, left like a magician to free myself.”

Lured by his curiosity to the opened yard supply box, Driew had spent nearly an hour locked away in solitary confinement. While peering into the box, his twin tormentors wrangled him like a rodeo calf, locking him inside.

When faced with difficult situations, Driew sought out his own solutions to problems. This meant not asking others to do something he wouldn’t. He calmed himself rather than bellyaching and calling for help.

His oldest sister and brother, Killiope and Pester, both graduated and moved away. Killiope served in the US military, and Pester played college lacrosse. Their absence offered no comfort as Driew’s twin siblings sealed his little bother fate on the farm.

Driew lay staring through the darkness of the confining coffin, focusing on the wooden box lid.

“Torments must be what the last born deserves,” he said to himself.

Sing-song, a spooking voice called from the familiar spook, finding Driew once again in despair.

Hopeful his sing-song controlled this wooden box as it had many other wooden objects on the farm like the baccastix, Driew sang. The supply box lid rattled against the lock outside. Driew turned his song’s focus toward the end of the box at his feet and sang his sing-song intently. The end fell open and a joyful tiger-striped flash bounded into the box over his feet and onto his chest. Dingo’s joyous licks showed Driew his parents weren’t the only ones who loved him unconditionally.

Shuffling feet first from the box, Driew scooted outside in the sunlight’s freedom.

“I must be a magic man to escape their box of doom.”

—•—

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Text and illustrations copyright © 2018 by Mark Wayne Adams. All rights reserved. Family Tree Novel is a SYP Kids imprint.

DOWN UNDER: Moment Two

This complimentary excerpt from DOWN UNDER: Kussins. Read the Introduction and Moment One also.

—•—

MOMENT TWO

PESTER

Located off Old Hospital Road, the farm wasn’t a historic home place to his father, Marq, or to Marq’s father, Pap. Qweepie history prior to these men didn’t exist.

Named after the Dawson family’s water well, Dawson Springs became historic to water boarders. They traveled near and far seeking tallo water’s minerals and healing powers. Water pours from refrigerators, why travel any distance beyond the kitchen, Driew thought.

From the safety of the front porch, Driew looked over his father’s farm, pondering how long this rural life might continue. Less than a year ago, the home place was a wasteland of vehicles, a home covered in despair in the midst of his family disparity, a reflection of a life of defeat—not on the homeowner, but upon the people who had left the worthless mess. Now, Outback was growing into a marvelous Eden home.

Just because a place’s beauty is hidden doesn’t mean beauty doesn’t exist. Dawson Springs is very special too; however, sharing the town with his larrikin bother Pester tainted summer’s shine. Pester’s pranks were an ugly part of this special place.

Driew’s summer started with a violent blue between him and his oldest sister, Killiope. After their confrontation, he had decided to run away from Dawson Springs.

Gulia convinced Driew of an undiscovered spring of magic—his story. His sibling confrontation and friend’s motivational speech canceled out one another. Driew opted for an adventurous Outback life.

Resting in the side porch monkey swing, Driew reflected on the evening’s incomplete chase. Tomorrow’s chase eminently awaits. Since the blue, his body had surprised him. Not only did the fight correct his vision, but also increased his physical endurance.

”Where you chasing lightning bugs, baby doll?” asked Marq Qweepie, Driew’s father.

Marq Qweepie had adapted the lazy talk of the neither northern nor southern state called Kentucky. Lightning bugs replaced fireflies. G’Day replaced hello. And supper replaced dinner. Marq had either adopted or regressed into new habits living in Dawson Springs, as had Driew.

Lazy talk didn’t seem lazy anymore. The words flowed like sweet tea over ice. Smooth and popping at just the right syllable. Yonder didn’t make sense before. Yonder was now a safe distance away.

A winded Pester rounded the porch then wedged his way into Driew’s relaxing monkey swing. Like a pack animal, Pester displayed his hierarchy. In the Qweepie pack, Pester ruled as top dog. Pester had assumed the leader role in Killiope’s absence. As Big Bother, Pester reigned a larrikin like his name implied.

Driew knew of only one other big bother worse than his own—Jameson Hayder, his bully kussin. Driew avoided that bounce. Pester shared Driew’s bedroom—no escaping family.

“Where have you been?” asked Nieve Qweepie, caring for her oldest son’s whereabouts as mothers do.

“I ran Old Hospital Road. Gotta keep in shape for the lacrosse tryouts next spring. There are no teams. If I want to be recognized, I gotta be on point,” said Pester, munching on his third supper.

”We found a team in Clarksville, Tennessee. But we need your help to cover costs,” said Marq.

”Why?” asked Pester.

”We can afford the transportation and time. You need to supply the dues and gear,” said Nieve, more into sports than Marq.

”Boys, we’ve discussed letting all three of you work this summer. Since Payne is working at Pennyrile State Park, Piper Brown has neighborly offered to hire the two of you for jobs in her garden. We are fine with you helping as long as you commit until Gulia returns,” said Nieve.

”Killiope never worked. Why should I?” Pester countered the idea of employment.

”Fine! Work here. Wash the van and mow the fast-growing lawn and fields for free,” said Marq, frustrated by Pester’s response.

”Cleaning a minivan is like cleaning a house without air conditioning,” said Pester.

”How about mowing grass in town? You’ll earn fifteen dollars an hour,” Marq suggested. ”You won’t make that bagging groceries!”

”Mowing is too hot and boring. Back and forth, clipping the same grass week after week!” said Pester.

”This summer is your last opportunity to earn money before graduation. Money doesn’t grow on trees, you know.” Marq kicked off his soiled farm boots, the same boots he used to mow the same fields week after week at Pester’s age.

”I shouldn’t have to work,” said Pester, sulking in the chair.

”If you want spending money, you’re working! Help Piper or you and I are applying at the DQ, DG, and every tobacco patch within three counties. You’re not gaming this summer away!” Nieve sipped her sweet tea.

Driew had hoped to enjoy the cool evening and sweet tea conversations peacefully—not tonight.

Pester brushed past Driew, flicking his ear. If ever a time for a kid to snap, Driew chose the wrong one. In a reflex action, Driew swung at his pain, hitting Pester.

Pester snatched Driew in a headlock, spilling Nieve’s drink and breaking the Mason jar.

”Stop this bickering! You’re working for Piper! No sass talk. If you two want to touch, sit face-to-face and hold hands!” There are two sides to a story, Nieve always said when resolving conflicts. She ignored the motto today.

“I don’t want to hold his stinking hand,” said Pester.

“Do as I say or you’ll be cleaning this mess and the house too!” said Nieve.

Pester locked hands with Driew, face-to-face in the wooden porch swing.

“Stay there, while I get something to clean this mess,” said Nieve, slamming the screen door. The 1930s farmhouse wood floors whined from the force of her punishing march to the kitchen.

”You jerks, your mom is worried about finding a job herself. Don’t add to her stress by being lazy and spoiled. No one in this house wants to work this summer. To leave, that’s our only other choice.”  Marq collected the broken Mason jar then joined Nieve inside.

Driew contemplated where issues began in his life. Rid of a big sinister, left with an even bigger bother picking up where Killiope left off.

Pester manipulated the punishment into Driew’s torment. ”You’ve never cared for anything but yourself, lil’ bother. You’ll clearly never hafta be responsible,” said Pester, clenching Driew’s fingers. With his strong sweaty grip, Pester forcefully squeezed.

Driew collapsed onto the porch, whimpering in pain.

Pester didn’t let go.

Get back, Driew thought, replacing his whimper with his newfound strength. Driew clinched forcefully as Pester’s hold eased. Getting even, Driew thought.

Pester attempted to break the hand holding bond. He hocked a spit wad, dangling his saliva over Driew’s face. Footsteps creaked over the wood floors inside and toward the porch. Pester jerked Driew off the floor and into the swing beside him.

”Aw, you the lovingest bunch of boys,” Ida Mae said. “Your momma gots a job call. She said you boys bess clean this mess and get off to bed fer work.” She left towels and a bucket of soapy water beside the swing.

”I’m done! Night, lil’ bother.” Pester jumped the porch banister, leaving Driew to clean up.

Driew had become Pester’s keeper, cleaning responsibly, with no verbal appreciation. Pester’s lack of words hit harder than his punches. Driew cared for his family and took on added responsibilities to show his love.

Killiope and I grew closer before she left for bootcamp. Could Pester and I do the same? Driew thought, empowered by his show of strength.

I don’t want to live another torturous year as Pester’s little bother. Can’t Pester resolve his issues to become a loving brother?

—•—

Text and illustrations copyright © 2016 by Mark Wayne Adams. All rights reserved. Family Tree Novel is a SYP Kids imprint.