I originally wanted to write a kids book series about a little girl who travels based on historical events – as a way to mesh storytelling and history for children to understand and be inspired by. I was having a hard time fleshing it out so then decided to approach the story from the vantage of a parent telling their child a story. The first story was going to be about early 1900s Coney Island in Brooklyn and incorporate the story of never judging a book by its cover, which was to be the overall lesson/theme, while delving into the history of the place at the beginning of the 1900s. I started to write it but then stopped as my ideas sort of dried up but I am hoping to go back and finish the story and maybe even turn it into a children’s book series. As an added layer, I also wanted to give the protagonist something that was an obstacle but that did not stop her and was hard to deal with but also something that made her strong and was helping to shape her, in the current timeline and for the future. There’s more info here if you want to investigate more about Type 1 diabetes in children.
Father turned to Mother with pleading eyes and she just quietly smiled and excused herself to attend to the “dirty dishes” in the sink. As the door closed, and any chance of escape was extinguished, Father turned back to his daughter. Grace looked at him with her big brown eyes and sweetly pleaded “One more story, please Daddy.”
Father smiled. How could he refuse his child one more story?
“What kind of story do you want to hear?”
“A made up one,” she immediately answered giving him one of her most winning smiles.
Grace had never for a minute doubted that her Father would give in to her request. Being the youngest and also the “sick one”, ensured her status as the one that got almost everything she wanted. Grace had been diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes and it had completely changed her world and the world of her entire family. She’d been slowly grappling with the implications of being a diabetic and was constantly dealing with the ramifications of what diabetes meant to every aspect of her life. It hadn’t been easy but she felt like most times everything would be okay. If anything, it seemed like everyone else would get into a frenzy over it – either not knowing how to treat her or being super apologetic about mundane stuff. Sometimes Grace would oversell her affliction, to get a little more attention or something she wanted. She’d learned that being the youngest had its pros and cons and also overselling her affliction had its pros and cons. She had to be extremely judicious in how she wielded her power. But for the most part, she motored through it all without taking too much advantage.
Father was first and foremost a history teacher at a local high school. He’d taken Grace’s Type 1 hard and blamed himself as his family tree was littered with ailments and maladies of all types, including diabetes. As a means of coping, he wrote children’s books in which the main character, also a young girl named Grace, lived with an eccentric Uncle who’d created a time machine in which he and his niece and a motley band of friends would travel through all time periods. In the books, Grace was a girl with the inability to walk in her normal everyday life but when going on fantastical adventures through time, was free to live a life in which she could walk. The books were drawn by her Mother and the labor of love put in by both parents, had made the book into a success that soon translated into a series of books. Grace from the books had been on quite a few adventures and now Father was writing full time, had given up teaching and her Mother had left her job to be a stay at home, a position she cherished, with what she called her “side job” of being an illustrator. However, her Father’s success had brought many other things for the family that Grace was not necessarily pleased about. With the sales of the book, the family had uprooted and moved to a large house with 6 bedrooms, 4 bathrooms, a tremendous backyard and a basement as “big as an airport waiting area” as Mother had called it. The house itself was beautiful and she appreciated having her own room, but to move away from her old life, with her old friends and the crutch of routine and sameness to now have to start from square one in a new school, a new town, trying to make new connections was an annoyance she would have preferred to live without. There wasn’t anything horribly objectionable about her other than the box permanently attached to her with her insulin. Once she got over the whispers and stares and someone would be bold enough to ask what it was that was attached to her, things for the most part were okay. People were just curious and she accepted that.
They’d moved to the new house in the Summer and the season was spent mostly unpacking and getting acclimated to the neighborhood, the town and getting back to some sort of schedule. The kids were already enrolled into their new schools and everyone was enjoying an incredibly lazy Summer. Part of Grace was extremely grateful to have parents that were constantly around. Especially on the days she got sick which fortunately were very few and far between. Still, she had her bad days and was very appreciative of the fact that her parents were always around. At the end of Summer, there was school to deal with. School had started and it was still the awkward, honeymoon phase where everything is new and dewy and sweet and fun. Grace hadn’t made a gaggle of friends but she had already won over 2 or 3 kids. She always neglected to tell people that she met she was the inspiration behind the Grace books because that always ruined relationships. Even at her young age, she knew this so she kept this bit of information to herself. Sometimes the data would leak and suddenly real life Grace would find herself swarmed with new “friends” that inevitably became a big headache. So far, at the new school, this had not been an issue and no one had associated Grace’s Father as being the same person that was behind writing the Grace Pennington adventure series of books.
Father started to weave a story about Grace and her Uncle travelling to Brooklyn’s Coney Island in the early 1900s. It was a story he was currently fleshing out and researching for a new story line for an upcoming book. Her Father was born and bred from Brooklyn and had nothing but love for the borough of his birth. The move had made him sad in some ways as he was leaving Brooklyn to go north to Rhinebeck but his wife had reasoned that they were getting a great big house for not too much and they could get dogs (something their Brooklyn apartment did not allow) and also he could start his beekeeping hobby. Father was easy and those reasons alone sold him on the move. That plus the fact that this new Brooklyn was not like the one that lived nostalgically in his memory. This Brooklyn was different and more loud and young, with lots of disposable income that in turn made the rents skyrocket and old timers like him leave in droves. Still the change made him sad but as he saw his children thrive and flourish in the new big house and he saw his dogs run around their property in wild abandon and glee and laying in the arms of his lovely wife serenaded by the night songs of crickets, he knew there was no other place he longed to be.