The Joyous Adventures of Whizzojack is a collection of short stories following a boy who dons a costume and helps others in his neighborhood. What was the inspiration for the idea behind Whizzojack?
I have read many Spiderman stories to my five year old great-nephew, Jack. He always surprised me by countering my stories with stories of his own, He created the characters and their names. He also instructed me on how to draw these characters. These were the sketches which I then submitted to the illustrators. The basic ideas of the novel are his. Jack and I together created the stories, while I filled in the more high flown details. Jack, who could neither read nor write, built the skeleton of the story, I added flesh and all the rest to it. That, in short, describes the anatomy of the book. Jack is the main protagonist of the novel as Whizzojack. He emulates his superhero and believes himself to be a force for good in the neighbourhood, constantly flitting to the various flashpoints of the city, trying to help out where he could.
Whizzojack is a fun and imaginative character. What were some driving ideals behind your character’s development?
In a sense, the book is autobiographical. We called our parents Pa Tony and Ma Mollie. My father was a senior civil servant, an economist, statistician, auditor general and a university professor. My mother was a pharmacist. The main superpower that Whizzojack thinks he has is his moral formation and common sense, fruits of a good upbringing. The stories also reflects the character of the real life character, Jack. His imagination, good nature, last but not least his willingness to learn and help. This book is as much a tribute to my own parents as it is to the innocence and initiative of Jack. In real life, Jack has a curious, inquisitive mind, constantly seeking new experiences and conducting experiments be it in the garden, the bath or wherever. That too, is incorporated in the story.
What were some themes that were important for you to explore in this book?
In the last decade, the Mediterranean Sea has become a dangerous throughfare for refugees fleeing war-torn countries on rickety boats. What I find striking is the utter disdain and indifference of the authorities in the refugees’ regard, no doubt acting on behalf of the assenting public. This translates into the refusal of various countries to take on the responsibility of search and rescue operations. Once the migrants are reluctantly admitted into the country, they are vilified and stigmatised as agents of disease and crime, who can never integrate. Essentially, at worse they are treated as criminals, at best as undesirable intruders. Sometimes they are even dehumanized. Despite the palpable hostility, they are shamelessly exploited by employers thriving in the black economy. Though the authorities are aware, they turn a blind eye to the abuses. The employers fiercely and openly protect their right to utilize these underpaid, nonunionized workers in menial jobs under degrading conditions knowing full well that the authorities will not enforce legislation. If anything, the politicians whip up the xenophobia of the masses to win votes at election time. Although some of the migrants behave badly, which only serves to fan the racial prejudice, they live in abominable conditions at times suitable for animals. Unless they prove themselves useful, they are dismissed as an unwelcome subhuman nuisance to progressive society. The authorities seem to have an interest to keep the migrants’ living conditions suboptimal to act firstly as a deterrent for other refugees who may be considering the voyage and secondly to tacitly coerce the immigrants into leaving of their own volition.
This story is an allegory about people who are different to us. It deals with racism and immigration as seen through the eyes of a young boy. Whether, the immigrant behave badly or not, he empathizes with them and tries to help them integrate despite the rampant popular prejudice. This is all about respect and tolerance for the disadvantaged minorities and about having strong principles despite the fickleness of the masses.
What is the next book that you are working on and when will it be available?
Being a practicing doctor, it hasn’t been easy to write. I dedicated two hours in the early morning before going to hospital to writing two novels. At the moment, I’m concentrating on the promotion and marketing of the two books which is quite a handful for a novice and self-publisher at that. I have many ideas for writing new historical novels. I’ll let the ideas germinate for a few more years, and in six years’ time when I retire, I should have plenty of time to take up the writing pen again.
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The Joyous Adventures of Whizzojack by Jack Zarb Adami and David Bush, is a collection of short stories containing thirty-five unique characters. Each story reflects difficult situations the main characters are caught up in where Whizzojack comes to the rescue and ends up saving the day as best he can, while at the same time helping his town flourish. As stated in the foreword, the characters are meant to represent immigrants trying to find their place in a town, and does this well.
The imagination behind these stories is fantastic and the authors have done wonders in how they divide and tell each story. Written in easy to follow terms, you get a real sense of the creative mind that created this world, and the way the situations are described throughout which were added by the authors, add to the overall appeal and charm of how each story is told.
Immigration is a sensitive theme to have running throughout the short chapters, and I think in the majority of the stories this has been handled well howeveris some stories such as ‘Stiltman’ or ‘The Can Man’ they are portrayed as the villains because they are different. The characterization of the town, which is overall very engaging, is also shown to have corruption as suggested in a few stories such as ‘The Lineman’.
I enjoyed the aspect of recurring secondary characters like ‘Ma Mollie’ who I felt kept tying each story together. Furthermore, the illustrations created to accompany the plots in each chapter were wonderful and really help the reader to visualize the story. I think these stories would do well as a series of children’s books, especially due to the underlying educational tone of how people should be treated, even if they are different.
The Joyous Adventures of Whizzojack is a charming children’s story that teaches life lessons while also using some unique creativity to keep things consistently fun throughout this adventurous collection of entertaining kids stories.
Pages: 169 | ASIN: B09514222J
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General Jack and the Battle of the Five Kingdoms by David Bush is a fiction story about the five kingdoms of animals: Feline, Canine, Dairy, Equine, and Big Mammal. The lions, rulers of the Feline Kingdom, are cruel overlords of all the other animals. Miaow is chief of the cats, the lowest of the Felines. Although he laments the unjust and savage way of things, he accepts it and does nothing to change it. But after he is wounded by a panther, he is saved by a boy named Jack, who nurses Miaow back to health and encourages him to take action. The four other animal kingdoms join together and work with the cats in secret to overthrow the Feline rulers. What will happen if King Roar learns of this betrayal?
I enjoyed reading David Bush’s riveting novel that follows an ordinary character that does something that he’d believed was impossible. The plot of the story was intriguing and unique, and I liked that the cats became some of the heroes of the story. Scratchy was my favorite character in the story. I liked the pictures of the animals and landscape, especially the black and grey silhouettes of trees and mountains, that were included throughout the story. Most of the pictures were black and white, except for a few that showed black silhouettes against a bright orange sky. There were lots of interesting facts about history, geography, and wildlife in the notes at the end of the book.
I enjoyed the thrilling conflict at the heart of this story, but I didn’t like how Miaow behaved in the beginning of the book, standing by and allowing injustices and atrocities to happen to others. Miaow’s son Scratchy was the only one willing to risk his own life and safety to intervene. Miaow turned a blind eye to the suffering of others out of fear of the consequences to himself. With Jack’s prodding, Miaow finally started organizing the covert warfare against the Feline Overlords. In this part of the book, there was a lot of focus on the battle tactics of the Union Jacks. The descriptions of the successful missions against the lions, tigers, cougars, panthers, and jaguars were very descriptive, if a bit repetitive, but still aided in creating some enthralling battle scenes.
David Bush has created a unique story that blends The Jungle Book with The Lord of the Rings to create an enchanting adventure. General Jack and the Battle of the Five Kingdoms is a spellbinding story that will appeal to fans of epic fantasy.
Pages: 163 | ISBN: 979-8667226413
General Jack and the Battle of the Five Kingdoms follows two unlikely heroes who set out on a quest to liberate their repressed animal friends. What was the inspiration for the setup to this riveting story?
The main inspiration was my great nephew Jack. I am spending a lot of time with him now and he has an inquisitive mind. He bombards me with simple questions about this and that. He has a passion for animals, battles strategies and storytelling. Together we made up stories to illustrate the answers to his probing questions. In a way the novel is a compendium of these various mini-tales. I have always been a huge admirer of J.R.R.Tolkien, C.S. Lewis and George Orwell. So I used their frameworks as the matrix in which to embed and develop these mini-tales.
Jack is an intriguing and well developed character. What were some driving ideals behind his character development?
You probably mean Miaow. In his case, it all comes down to Saint Paul’s immortal quote in his letter to the Romans, “I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do. I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out- this I keep on doing.” This is at the heart of every illicit addiction that prevails especially in our times. The struggle between flesh and spirit generates inner conflict. This is good as it implies a vibrant healthy conscience. This is the hallmark of Francois Mauriac’s writing. He was a major influence on Graham Greene, who similarly created conflicted protagonists in his novels.
Regarding General Jack: He is the Christ-like figure who is the bearer of the good news. The manner in which the animals receive his message in the novel is a retelling of the transcendent parable of the sower.
What were some themes that were important for you to focus on in this book?
When I was in my early teens, I subscribed to the weekly periodicals “Look and Learn”, “World of Wonder” and “Tell Me Why”. I was hooked on them. It was amazing. Within the forty pages or so of each magazine, they covered a host of various themes like history, famous heroes and villains, geography, battles, literature, politics, geography, cultures, inventions, and many other issues. They presented these stories in a way to appeal to middle grade readers. These stories inspired, educated and entertained the reader. It’s a pity they’ve long gone out of print. With my book I attempted to emulate these types of magazines, in a way to stimulate and entice the reader unto higher reading.
Ordinarily, in a novel you’d have one or two themes. You can’t have more as the book risks losing its shape and focus. I could get away with stuffing myriad themes in one novel because I treated the novel as a symphony. Each chapter can be likened to the movement of a classical symphony- you have the different variations of the sonata, the andante, the allegro and the scherzo. Each movement has its own unique set of themes, they are rarely monothematic. But these themes blend in well together, at times complementing each other in the overall symphonic composition. A composer uses the movements to organise or contrast the themes and ideas in a larger piece of music. Incidentally, my book ends with an adagio that is preceded by an andante segment from the penultimate chapter.
In the main, the novel is an allegorical study of human nature and man’s destiny.
What is the next book that you are working on and when will it be available?
The next book is actually the first novel I wrote and it is the first novel of the Jack trilogy where the story centres around the namesake of my great nephew. They were intended for him to be read at his different literary ages. ”General Jack and the Battle of the Five Kingdoms” is the second. Unusually, I had two consecutive free weekends. I wrote the first drafts of both novels in each weekend. The manuscript has long been ready but I have been held up because of the illustrations. I hope to get it published by the middle of next year.
Again it’s a 21st century retelling of Aesop’s fables. It’s about a five year old boy who considers himself a superhero. He interacts with forty different colourful supervillains to protect the residents of Jacktown with unpredictable consequences. It is an illustrated chapter book intended for early readers 7-10 years. The title is “The Joyous Adventures of Whizzojack.”
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