Even though I’ve written dozens of books (more than 120 and
counting), it’s always an exciting time when a new book hits the shelves. My
latest, due out in July, is a novel for young readers aged 8 to 11 years. Here
Comes Trouble! is based on a boy I knew, one of five siblings, whose
parents were addicts. The boy's family lived close to where my husband and
I lived. He and his brothers and sisters ‘adopted’ us as ‘Nanny’ and ‘Poppy
Bill.’ Sometimes the children came to us for food, other times we took them
out, gave them gifts for Christmas and birthdays, or we shopped for
groceries for the family. Sometimes we lent money to their parents.
It always upset me that their mother frequently kept them home
from school. I talked to their school and became aware that the family had a
caseworker, that the authorities were aware of their situation. I worried a lot
about the domestic violence in the home and other adult abuses the children
suffered, so it came as a relief to me when I discovered that all five had been
taken from their parents and put into care.
Months later I ran into them and was amazed by the differences in
them – happy, smiling and clean children who seemed much calmer. Yes, their
carer told me, they were attending school every day and coming on in leaps
and bounds in their learning and socialising.
Here Comes Trouble! is a fictional story but with a background of five siblings
taken into care. The oldest boy struggles to fit into his home and his school
life. Friendless, he accepts the company of an older boy who leads him into
trouble with the police. Happily, there is an older couple which helps him and
his siblings when their parents fail them. As with the children I was ‘Nanny’
to, they are taken into care where they live happily, all the while wanting the
return of their parents.
Recently, I’ve heard of several academics who are researching
Australian written books for young readers that feature foster children. Both
academics have been surprised to see how few there are -- even though thousands
of children in our country are taken into care every year.
As a foster mother,
I too looked for books to read to children we cared for: at the time all I
could find that fitted the bill were books by American authors -- The
Pinballs by Betsy Byars and Ruby Holler, Sharon
Here Comes Trouble! is my third book about foster children: the others are Nobody’s
Boy and A Game of Keeps (both Celapene Press books).