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.”

—•—

G'DAY-Aints-www.mwa.company-Flat Book
Text and illustrations copyright © 2018 by Mark Wayne Adams. All rights reserved. Family Tree Novel is a SYP Kids imprint.

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Reading Group Guide for “DOWN UNDER: Kussins”

Reading Group Guide for DOWN UNDER: Kussins

16-Adams-Family Tree Novel-DOWN UNDER-Reading_Group_Guide

1. Down Under is defined as the continent of Australia. How does the author parallel down under, when referring to the moments, to Down Under, in reference to the continent of Australia?

2. How is the author’s use of moments rather than chapters important in this series?

3. What are Driew’s early perceptions of his big bother, Pester, and could Pester have been perceived differently if Driew had understood him sooner?

4. How does Pester’s rank in the family hierarchy after Killiope’s departure the military affect his family?

5. In what way has Pester forced Driew to grow? Is there a defining moment in Driew’s maturation?

6. How does Able and Cain Poe’s family life contrast Driew’s? Would they have the same feelings toward Driew as Pester and Payne if they were his brothers?

7. How do you think Pester would have handled being the youngest Qweepie sibling? What are some ways older boys might be treated that the youngest boy wouldn’t be?

8. What discovery in the Dingo chapter stops Pester’s aggression? Is there a line he has crossed that keeps him from forgiving himself?

9. How does friendship resolve the issues Able and Cain have with Driew? How might their relationship be different if it had happened sooner?

10. How does Driew’s relationship with Pester affect his relationship with Able and Cain?

11. What role does Dingo play in the novel, as a permanent fixture on the farm and in Driew’s family?

12. What role does water play in Driew’s story? How does it influence Driew’s actions?

13. How do you think Marq’s secret influenced his decisions until he shared it with Nieve and Driew? What affect do you think keeping Marq’s secret will have on both characters’ relationships?down-under-kussins-3d-book-cover-9781596160385-www-mwa-company-72dpi

 

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.

“A great story about discovering the world around us.”—Ryan Jordan, Readers’ Favorite

down-under-kussins-3d-book-cover-9781596160385-www-mwa-company-72dpiReviewed By Ryan Jordan for Readers’ Favorite

DOWN UNDER: Kussins by M.W. Adams is the second book in the Family Tree Novel series and is a collection of moments, basically chapters centered around one particular scene in the life of Driew and his family, such as his brother Pester who calls Driew his little bother. Each scene stands alone, but together they make up the life of a young boy in Australia as he meets new people and learns about the world around him. This is a fictional reinterpretation of the life of the author with a lot of clever twists and fun moments that helped bring the stories and volume to life.

I liked the way in which each chapter could stand completely on its own, and the titling of each as ‘moments’ worked really well. Each was a moment in time unto itself, and the self-contained nature inside of the wider theme of the story did a lot to make it interesting. I think my favorite moment was “Hunter” because it had a little bit of everything. There is also a smattering of strange vernacular that I didn’t recognize, and I found the glossary to be tremendously helpful in learning new words or different uses of things I’ve seen before. I think that there is enough fun and educational information in this work to entertain any children, and even adults could easily find quite a few things to love about it. Down Under: Kussins by Mark Wayne Adams is a great story about discovering the world around us by looking at small snippets in time.

“A well-crafted work that reads like poetry.” —Ruffina Oserio, Readers’ Favorite

down-under-kussins-3d-book-cover-9781596160385-www-mwa-company-72dpiReviewed By Ruffina Oserio for Readers’ Favorite

DOWN UNDER: Kussins by M.W. Adams is a family tree novel for young readers, a well-crafted work that reads like poetry, featuring very good and believable characters and a plot that will undoubtedly have readers turning the pages. The main character, Driew, is not an ordinary kid, and of course his parents think it is useless leaving him with a cellphone. From the very first page, readers are pulled into the world of the protagonist, a world that rhymes with a lot of tension and activities and danger. Very early in the story, the reader understands that Driew already has a huge problem dealing with his one sibling: “I don’t want to live another tortuous year as Pester’s little brother. Can’t Pester resolve his issues to become a loving brother?” The reader is pulled into the dynamics of family life and conflicts, but the adventure of Driew is what will take their breath away. Follow him down the hazardous path under.

The writing is like nothing I have read before, an original voice and a turn of phrase that has its unique signature. M.W. Adams has a bubbling imagination that comes out powerfully in the morphology of his writing, the cast of characters, and the compelling plot. The plot is fast-paced with a lot of drama and powerful scenes to pull the reader in. I read the entire story within twenty-four hours and enjoyed the plot lines, the characters, and the themes that center on the family. Down Under: Kussins is fun and entertaining.

Qweepie Names

Moment Three: Unearthed

“I mean Killiope, Pester, Payne, Gayle, and Driew. Our names aren’t spelled right! They’re confusing, annoying. They even sound . . . painful. People automatically assume the worst in us,” said Driew, avoiding eye contact by tossing garbage onto the pile.

“Names don’t define people. People define names. Look at me, baby doll!” said Nieve, waving to capture Driew’s attention. “Your father and I can’t thank the hospital enough for the spellings. We lucked out with a caring nurse who couldn’t spell. We accepted the names and knew you would in time. That’s also why spelling is important! Words have power.”

OUTBACK: Bothers & Sinisters by M. W. Adams