When I was seven I was very shy. In report cards there were always comments like, ‘Michael is a bright boy, but he really needs to speak up more in class. He needs to participate.’ But, I was a daydreamer. I had more important and fantastical things on my mind. During lunchtimes my small, loyal group of friends and I would invent games, writing out rules and drawing characters plus elaborate maps of imaginary kingdoms. Sometimes my younger brother Mark would join us.
This year on my birthday my brother told me a story about when I was seven and he was five, and how I used to tell him about my adventures in the magical kingdom under our house. The only way to enter the kingdom was via a door in the floor of my cupboard that only opened at night. I told him stories about fighting monsters and rescuing princesses. Of course I told him it was too dangerous for him to come with me. And so on my birthday my brother finally told me how he used to sneak into my room while I was sleeping in an attempt to find the secret door.
I always loved cartoons and comic books too. Before I could draw I would ask my mum to draw me Superman over and over, until I started school and started writing and illustrating my own stories. These four are my favourites.
This is a comic book called ‘Superman’.
The front cover shows a man’s head from the back as he reads a newspaper with an article about Superman. This is really meta for the work of a seven year old. On the first page, the captions have been dictated to my mum. This happened when I wanted the story to look more professional.
This is also really Meta. On the second page is a drawing that looks kind of like Superman’s body with the head of Elvis from his 1973 televised concert ‘Aloha from Hawaii’.
I think I could’ve done more with this story. It would be interesting to know more about the character of Mr Bon, and what the ‘trouble’ was that Superman could ‘feel’, and how he was going to save the world, and why he feels like he has to tell people he is a good guy.
The second story is a short story is called ‘The Dragon Egg’.
Once again I’ve come up with a concept (what if a girl found a dragon egg) but then after that it trails off into the dragon just hanging around for twelve years and then leaving… ‘Bye for now.’
The third story is my favourite. It’s a picture book called ‘One Special Adventure’ co-written by my brother and I, with Stars of David drawn on the cover, for no reason.
This one takes a little deciphering:
‘Once upon a time: there was two dwolfs [dwarfs], two ilfs [elves], a baby dragon, a eyewop [what is this?] and a…’
They are all riding their long horse.
The horse looks a lot like a camel now.
‘First they fought seven hydras.’
Here you can see the baby dragon breathing a bunch of fire.
‘The baby dragon burnt the hydras’.
The next ten pages are blank… apart from the back cover, which has six more Stars of David, and writing that seems purposefully illegible apart from the names of my brother and I. Once again there is room for more to happen plot-wise, but I like that the Baby Dragon returns for a cameo.
The first result when you Google ‘perceptive kids’ is a 2010 TIME magazine article called, ‘What Do Kids Know? More Than You Think’, and although I didn’t read it, I agree. So let’s try to find some meaning or message from these stories:
– ‘Superman’ shows that even when you’re trying to save the world, you shouldn’t forget to let people know you’re a good guy, doing it for the right reasons.
– In ‘The Dragon Egg’ the protagonist finds something amazing and then all of a sudden it’s gone, but there is still hope that one day it will return.
– In ‘One Special Adventure’ (the best book in the library) maybe the message is that if you’re going to do something difficult, you should do it with friends, whether they are elves, dwarves, or your little brother.
There is one more story that was all pictures and difficult to decipher but essentially it is about a hero with a sword. He saves a princess from a tower, but when he comes down there’s this guy with a lightsaber. Below is the last page. Here is the other guy who is now king and married to the princess, and this is our hero watching TV and being sad.
Although I think my writing has improved, there are some things that haven’t changed since I was seven. I still get shy and don’t like participating in classes, I still have a small group of friends who I really like a lot, and my brother and I read each other’s stories every week, now via email. I’m starting to feel like I’m getting somewhere with my writing, but that’s another story.
Bye for now.
Words from Mike Day. Find him on twitter @mikedayawake.
Illustration from Tilly Hutchison. See more of her work at tillydrawspictures.tumblr.com.