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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“Blend of Australian fable and southern culture.”—Sam R. Staley review of “DOWN UNDER”

Down Under: Kussins is the kind of book that will delight early and middle-grade readers and leave parents befuddled, in a good way. The book is the second volume published by the quirky and fun Family Tree Novels by award winning children’s book illustrator M.W. Adams, and follows the very normally abnormal Qweepie family. (No, the family name is not misspelled.)

Driew is the youngest boy in the Qweepie family, and he is constantly tormented by his older “bothers” and “sinisters.” Now that his older sister Killiope is off to boot camp following her high school graduation, older brother Pester has taken up the mantle of chief bully. He combines with other kids in the town of Dawson Springs, Kentucky (a real place) to make Driew’s life miserable.

But the young lad is resilient, and Drew soon finds himself in the company of his Australian friend Guilia and two other boys—Cain and Able—working on the neighbor’s farm. The respite is enough to keep him relatively safe, at least safe enough to develop friendships with other children nearby. But tension and danger escalate as Driew finds his compassion putting himself in vulnerable situations.

As Driew faces each incident and disappointment, he becomes aware of the circuitous and unpredictable turns of life and the mosaic that makes up human nature. What seems clear in one moment is revealed as complicated and knotty in the next. His humility grows, and the reader grows with him. The arrival of a supposedly extinct species of Australian dog seems to arrive just in time to resuscitate his purpose in life.

The Family Tree stories are a rich blend of Australian fable and mythology with the upside of southern culture. Driew’s story is told in “moments,” those events along a “songline” that influence his understanding of life and reveals his path as his life plays out during “dreamtime.” He has already mastered the magical art of sing-song, an ability to summon objects as well as conjure effects such as fire for a torch at critical times.

The quirkiness of the novel is not a gimmick. The odd spellings, unusual references to concepts and myth, and juxtaposition of cultural commentary and Australian myth are intentional. The result is an unusually layered story that engages readers while promoting solid values and understanding of the human condition.

Mark Wayne Adams skill as a storyteller shows through with each turn of the page. He knows his audience, and his deep experience as a writer for young readers allows him to juxtapose wildly divergent storylines in ways that strengthen the tale rather than diffuse its power and focus. He includes enough fantasy and magic to transport young and old readers into new dimensions, to the point the forested acreage of the Qweepie family farm truly seems to be transformed from the Back 40 to the Outback.

Targeted toward a middle-grade audience, Down Under: Kussins is appropriate for any reader who has advanced to chapter books. Adults will likely stumble over of the strange spellings and unfamiliar references, but children will delight in the novelty, magic and fantasy of the story and characters. Mark Wayne Adams fresh approach to the series may well end up igniting an interest in the land Down Under for an entirely new generation.

Sam R. Staley, author of The Pirate of Panther Bay

“DOWN UNDER: Kussins” Word Search

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

DOWN UNDER: Kussins Word Search

Put readers’ skills to the test with our DOWN UNDER reader word search. Can your reader find all the words related to the book, Australian Slang, and the Qweepie Family?

See how many words readers can find and have fun with this free puzzle game. This teaching resource is a fun and easy activity that will keep students happy and save teachers time.

WORD SEARCH KEY

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.

DOWN UNDER: Introduction

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

—•—

INTRODUCTION

“You can’t change songlines—but you can change pecking order.”

M. W. Adams

Everyone holds a story within them. The telling is done in various ways. No one remembers every loving and fearful line, only the moments.

Timing plays the most important factor in childhood. Songlines and birth order direct the outcome of a child’s dreamtime. A songline is one of many paths across land and sky, marking an Aboriginal creator-being’s route during dreaming.

A child cannot change dreaming or songlines, but can change chain of command—thus affecting his or her family tree. The footprints a child follows along a songline may uproot family trees in sacred lands.

Footprints are landmarks used to navigate songlines. A child singing the proper sequence of steps fearlessly walks about the Never Never. Crossing through diverse family lands, language is not a barrier when singing the proper way. Singing the wrong way is a curse.

Children must continually sing-song, keeping lands and family trees “alive.” Their sing-song stories are a rise and fall of words—dreaming. To understand children is to follow the rhythm of the creator-being’s songline they follow.

Driew Qweepie’s songline leads him Down Under, unearthing buried moments he recovers and treasures.

In my story of ordinary people, extraordinary things exist, Driew thought.

—•—

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

OUTBACK: Moment Two

This complimentary excerpt from OUTBACK: Bothers & Sinisters. Read the Introduction and Moment One also.

—•—

MOMENT TWO

PERSPECTIVE

“Welcome to the Outback!” The open-armed stranger soaked in the panoramic hillside view. “That is shonky business about your brothers and sisters.”

Driew was awed at the sunset’s radiance. “Call them bothers and sinisters. They’ve used those names my entire life.” Driew’s voice cracked.

“Why?”

Driew tried to speak, but his voice had succumbed to dehydration.

“You need water before you go hoarse—which might not be a bad thing.” Like an Olympian, the stranger heaved a wooden disk from a pile of fieldstones, revealing a well. He pulled at the well’s rope until a water-laden bucket appeared. The stranger filled the canteen with water.

“Drink. Best Outback water in the county, I guarantee.”

The metal container chilled Driew’s lips at the touch. Its contents not only quenched his dry palate, but also his hangin’ feelings.

“I agree! Best . . . drink . . . ever,” said Driew.

While drinking in the refreshing view and water, Driew contemplated how he would respond to the question about his family’s moniker for brothers and sisters. He handed the canteen to the stranger.

“Hey! Mate to planet earth! Are you avoiding my question?” prodded the stranger.

“Imagine you’re the only normal kid you know,” said Driew.

“I am! You confirmed that, mate,” said the stranger.

“You’re hilarious—NOT! I’m not only their ‘lil bother,’ but also the smallest and darkest member of my family.”

“You’re literally the black sheep of the family!” laughed the stranger. “You make bloody good stories. Go on.”

“Misspellings like bother, sinister, and our names are a historic Qweepie family birthright. Qweepie is pronounced like it sounds, and is always followed by chuckles,” said Driew.

“You have issues, mate. Not only creepy, but you can’t spell it either!” The stranger slugged Driew’s shoulder.

Be them ever so cruel, there’s no family crueler than ours, Driew contemplated before responding. “You wouldn’t understand the humiliation.”

“Oh, I understand! There are some real haters in this town. I’m Gulia. Spelled with a G instead of J. Kids call me Goo-lia, Gruelia, Moolia, and a list of bloody hurtful and ignorant combinations,” said Gulia. “What’s yer name, mate?”

“You’re a girl!”

“Too right, mate! Don’t I stand out like a shag on a rock?”

“What’s with your pirate talk, mate? Does everyone here talk like you or is it Talk Like a Pirate Day?” asked Driew.

“I adopted words when visiting Australian relatives,” said Gulia.

I need an Australian dictionary to understand her, Driew thought. “That makes sense. My name is Driew; also misspelled, with an ‘I’ after the ‘R.’ My bothers tease that an odd baby needed an odd name,” said Driew, with a crooked grin.

“We have one thing in common, weird names!” Gulia smiled.

“Two things actually. My dad and Ida Mae, our housekeeper, tell me to play out back. Outback, we have in common,” Driew returned her smile.

“Okay. Bizarre names and the Outback, two things we share.” Gulia passed the canteen to Driew. “What brings you to my Outback?”

“Dad inherited a farm years ago. Since it didn’t sell, we’re here until it’s sold, which I hope won’t take long,” said Driew.

“Which farm?”

“The one where you rescued me,” said Driew.

“That old dump! People live there?” said Gulia, gagging dramatically.

“I know. Mom says magic can be found in the ugliest places. A magic goldmine must be buried there,” said Driew. “Our Wekiva Springs house must have had no magic because it was beautiful.”

“Wekiva Springs. Never heard of it. Is it near Dawson Springs?” asked Gulia.

“No. It’s a subdivision near Wekiva Springs State Park, near Longwood, Florida,” Driew answered.

“Moving from one spring and state park to another. You must not like change,” said Gulia.

“I don’t understand?” said Driew, shrugging.

“Wekiva Springs to Dawson Springs. Wekiva Springs State Park to Pennyrile Resort State Park. You’re about eight miles from Pennyrile,” said Gulia, pointing away from town.

“Oh, I didn’t know!”

“I don’t see the magic in your farm either. But like I said, people dump treasures on Old Hospital Road all the time. Your farm appears to be the biggest dump of treasures around,” chuckled Gulia.

“Old Hospital Road? Where is New Hospital Road?” asked Driew.

“I’ll show you,” said Gulia, signaling Driew to follow her into a tree near the well. They rested in the comfortable cradle of a twisted branch.

“See Outwood Bridge? It’s not used much. A long time ago, Old Hospital Road led to Outwood Hospital beyond those trees. Built in the 1920s for soldiers coming back from World War I, it even had a golf course. They called the road Hospital Road. The new road is Highway 109. Locals call the hill from Dudley Riley Bridge to the top ‘Hospital Hill.’ Don’t ever step onto the road at the bottom! People drive way too fast through there,” warned Gulia.

“Why would they build a new road when a good one already existed?”

“Who knows why people stop using perfectly good routes? I do know the old, unused road and your rundown farm are eyesores in my Outback. Both are mostly hidden until fall when the leaves drop and I can see both of them from my bedroom window,” said Gulia.

“Sorry.” Driew wished many things in life stayed hidden. Not only his farm, but also his childhood memories of unacknowledged pleas. That’s not cool. That’s not right. Don’t! Stop, STOP, STOPPP! PPPlease. These resurfacing memories drowned out his good times. “Why doesn’t my sinister like me?” asked Driew.

“Boomerang! You must have hit your noggin on that scarecrow. What do you mean, mate?” said Gulia, giving a cross-eyed look.

“Boomerang? Definition please,” said Driew.

Boomerang—my word to avoid saying something mean. Like ‘right back at you’ or ‘come again.’”

From the Qweepie farm, Nieve clanked a cowbell to summon Driew home.

“I’ve got to go,” sighed Driew, disappointed to leave his judgment-free listener who, as an added perk, lived within sight of the farm.

“Driew, holdin’ a grudge means letting mates live rent-free inside your noggin.  Time for their eviction letters,” Gulia encouraged.

“Unfortunately, my sibling grudge owns the deed to my mind.” Driew smashed his fist into his palm. The force stung, causing him to shake off the pain.

The cowbell interrupted their conversation, followed by a more determined call from Nieve.

“I gotta go!” said Driew.

“Here, one last swig for the road.” Gulia tossed the canteen to Driew.

He finished the last sip of cool Outback water then leapt from the comfortable branch. “I’ll see you around the Outback,” said Driew, running toward home.

“Hey, mate! You’re the best roadside treasure I’ve found in the Outback—a scarecrow with a brain!” Gulia watched Driew descend the hill.

Driew’s perspective of his Outback was not clear like Gulia’s Outback water. The pumpkin patch and the tree line were concealed by dusk’s darkening hold. A sprinkling of fireflies twinkled in the foggy air. Like the pumpkins, Driew was maturing.

Nieve called southern slang lazy-talk. Some of her words like dija, y’all, and prolly were Driew’s favorite words. Gulia’s slang wasn’t southern, but boomerang was sort of like lazy-talk, and it was a word he could adopt.

Speaking a combination of Kentuckian and Australian slang—how cool, Driew thought. He sensed speaking Australian words made Gulia feel closer to her Australian relatives. Her words made her unique!

— • —

Marq found the house’s torn window screens obstructed his view from inside and had not rushed to replace them. Their absence freed the night air to blend with the fragrant smell of southern cooking. Driew enjoyed this open-air lifestyle.

Bits of plastic jugs, stacks of decaying vehicle cushions, and bald tires were strewn around the front yard. The eyesore Gulia saw was clear from this distance.

Nieve beckoned Driew from their two-story concrete house’s side porch. The rest of the Qweepie family had gathered in the dining room.

“Driew Dawin Qweepie, where were you, baby doll? Dinner is ready!” Nieve hugged him, happy he had returned from out back.

She hung the heavy cowbell beside the door and gave it a pat. Great placement, she thought. “You’ll save my voice,” she whispered. Overwhelmed by the work ahead of them, tears welled within her as she surveyed their Kentucky farm. She gently kissed Driew’s forehead, removing straw from his hair. I don’t want to know, she thought. “You’re a mess! Wash up before dinner.”

They strolled through the aged 1930s doorway to dinner.

—•—

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

OUTBACK: Moment One

This complimentary excerpt from OUTBACK: Bothers & Sinisters. Read the Introduction and Moment Two also.

—•—

MOMENT ONE

HANGIN’

“Be them ever so cruel, there’s no family crueler than ours!” Driew Qweepie’s hooded tormenter chuckled. “Go! Here comes that Brown kid!”

Four teenage silhouettes bounced through the overgrown pumpkin patch, their escape concealed by the shadowy tree line.

Fall’s first cool breeze crept through the once popular town of Dawson Springs, ending the suffocation of summer’s dog days. Driew Qweepie’s tween body hung limp in his overalls from the scarecrow’s post. Cawing crows, darker than his hair, mocked him from their perch above.

His eyelids rose and fell over eyes of blue and green. Heterochromia, the condition was called, thought to be hereditary, or caused by a disease or an injury. Since he was healthy and the only family member with heterochromia, Driew’s explanation was an unimaginable injury. His siblings teased, “Dropped on your head is your problem.”

Thick wire-rim glasses obscured the condition. Non-family members awed at Driew’s pleasing appearance. His dark complexion, chocolate ringlets of hair, and dwarf-like size made him a doll for sure.

As he hung from the scarecrow’s perch, his consciousness swayed like a porch swing in a gentle wind. The hangin’ left him to reflect on his family hierarchy. An unwritten historical timeline that flipped through his mind recalled a decade of prank-filled albums created by four tormenting siblings. Soon his eleventh year would bring new volumes of teenage tortures.

Labeled “little bother,” he was the youngest and lowest ranking member in the Qweepie family. From the first moment of his life, he learned trust was not easily earned. His bothers’ and sinisters’ torments had worsened since moving to the Kentucky farm.

His parents, Nieve and Marq Qweepie, uprooted their Florida lives to resolve nasty letters received about their farm’s demise. Marq listed the property for sale after his father died and never intended to return. Ida Mae, the caretaker during Marq’s absence, became feeble and unable to maintain the farm properly.

“She needs you. She needs you,” a voiced echoed melodically, awakening Driew. His heavy eyelids rose to reveal a hazy heterochromic gaze reflecting his own.

“PSST! Holy Dooley! You alive mate? G’Day! Here down under!” a voice called below him.

Driew’s light-sensitive eyes focused on the pumpkin patch. Behind the scarecrow’s post, the setting sun cast a veil of darkness over the stranger. “Wh-wh-who are you? Wh-wh-what do you want?” Driew’s voice screeched into the silent patch.

“I heard whimpers. Thought I’d find an abandoned pup out here, or something entertaining. People dump treasures off this road all the time.” The stranger pointed toward the road leading to the Qweepie farm.

Scarecrow was an elevation from being a “little bother.” This prank signified his torturous life—a pawn to ward away intruders.

“No worries. They aren’t coming back,” coughed Driew.

“Who did this, mate?”

“My bothers and sinisters.”

The stranger tugged at Driew’s overall straps, releasing him from their confines. The stranger backed away in awe of Driew’s glide to safety.

A whirling cloud of dust howled through the patch. Crows abandoned their perch, alerting the hillside of the disturbance.

“A willy willy! Let’s rack off! These spirits give me the heeby jeebies!” The tween stranger grabbed Driew’s overall straps and led him away.

—•—

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

Summer Reading List: “DOWN UNDER: Kussins”

The Family Tree Novel series’ steady, enduring story is like a tree growing against nature’s will toward the sky. Driew Qweepie’s perennial story buds, blossoms, grows, and falls from the twisted branches of the Qweepie family tree. The story’s sing-song rhythm creates a songline for readers to follow, scanning a century all told.

The book series begins with a boy starting walkabout, a historical rite of passage into manhood. The moments throughout walkabout are viewed by a magic man chasing along an untimely move from Dawson City, Victoria, Australia’s Outback, to Dawson Springs in rural western Kentucky. This journey becomes a boy’s tracing of his bloodline, discovery of country, and possible death.

DOWN UNDER: Kussins is part of our Summer Reading List for Students! Purchase your own or check the book out at the local library. If it’s not available at the library, request it be added.

DOWN UNDER: Kussins is written by Mark Wayne Adams. This is one of books in his award-winning Family Tree Novel series of chapter books:  STATION: OutlawsOZ: InlawsNO WORRIES: Momus & MamaaysOUTBACK: Bothers & SinistersDOWN UNDER: KussinsG’DAY: AintsMATES: Uncools, and WALKABOUT: Mates.

Summer Reading List: “OUTBACK: Bothers & Sinisters”

The Family Tree Novel series’ steady, enduring story is like a tree growing against nature’s will toward the sky. Driew Qweepie’s perennial story buds, blossoms, grows, and falls from the twisted branches of the Qweepie family tree. The story’s sing-song rhythm creates a songline for readers to follow, scanning a century all told.

The book series begins with a boy starting walkabout, a historical rite of passage into manhood. The moments throughout walkabout are viewed by a magic man chasing along an untimely move from Dawson City, Victoria, Australia’s Outback, to Dawson Springs in rural western Kentucky. This journey becomes a boy’s tracing of his bloodline, discovery of country, and possible death.

OUTBACK: Bothers & Sinisters is part of our Summer Reading List for Students! Purchase your own or check the book out at the local library. If it’s not available at the library, request it be added.

OUTBACK: Bothers & Sinisters is written by Mark Wayne Adams. This is one of books in his award-winning Family Tree Novel series of chapter books:  STATION: OutlawsOZ: InlawsNO WORRIES: Momus & MamaaysOUTBACK: Bothers & SinistersDOWN UNDER: KussinsG’DAY: AintsMATES: Uncools, and WALKABOUT: Mates.

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