Mr. Elliot has a job he loves. He is the custodian in a school. But life is not always easy. When he sees a child being called stupid and falling into the traps he remembers so well himself, Mr. Elliot decides it is time to take action.
Kathy gives an overview of the book:
His daughter had told him, "Watch for the building with the big rabbit and turtle beside the doors." And there it was.
Mr. Elliot soon found himself in a room with four other people, all adults, who looked just as scared as he felt. Mr. Elliot's heart thumped. Could he really put himself through all this again? The struggling over letters and words? The humiliation of getting them wrong?
Mr. Elliot sat on the edge of his chair squeezing his hands between his knees, hoping the teacher would not ask him any questions, or worse, ask him to read.
"Good afternoon, everyone," a dark-haired woman said. "My name is Brenda. I'm going to be your teacher."
After the students introduced themselves, the teacher showed them how to write the words I can. Everyone copied the words on the first page of their notebooks. They wrote I can three times. Then the teacher asked each of the students how they would finish an I can sentence. She wrote down the words for each sentence on a chart.
"Would someone like to try to read any of the sentences?" Brenda asked.
Mr. Elliot kept his eyes in his lap so she wouldn't ask him.
The tall woman beside him, who had told the class she could read a little, raised a finger.
"Lorraine? Good for you."
Lorraine began to read. "I can . . . make . . . a boat. I can . . . kick - I mean, kind . . . No, it's . . .um . . ."
Mr. Elliot cringed, but no one in the class laughed. And the teacher didn't shout or wave a ruler.
"That's a hard one," Brenda said, "because this 'k' is silent. It says, 'I can knit socks."'
Mr. Elliot went home that day with three sentences to study -
I can push a broom.
I can kick a ball.
I can play harmonica.
As he coasted home on his bike, he thought, Maybe - just maybe - I can learn to read.
I had been thinking about writing a story about an adult learning to read when a teacher happened to tell me that the school caretaker at her school (where I was visiting) had just recently finished learning to read. I dedicated King of the Castle to the ‘real’ caretaker, Elijah Allen, because in more ways than one, he inspired me.
Kathy long ago sorted mail, waited tables, and taught school for five years, before finally figuring out that what she really wanted to do was write. She now has over 30 titles to her credit which include young adult fiction, novels for middle readers, picture books, non-...
Kathy Stinson's latest book does more than "celebrate the joy of being bare naked." It explores all the fascinating aspects of the human body, young and old, male or female. The text and illustrations go...