DR. MEL'S MESSAGE - From my novels to my other projects, no telling what you will read. This is the only place you will get to read about how I developed a screenplay into a novel and what is the driving force. I will talk about many things from films to books to acting to producing. It really will depend on where my mind takes me. I hope you will join me on this journey.
12-year-old Abel invites you to walk a few miles in his flip-flops as he leaves his tribal home for the first time on a cargo ship to go to boarding school. Here, in the jungles of the South Pacific, he has to fight not only for knowledge, but for food, acceptance and friendship. Meanwhile, a proposal for a new business on his island may threaten his clan's very existence. Thanks to what he's learning about himself and the world around him, he discovers how to become the leader his community will need.
I looked through this book, at every picture, and then I read the narrative from beginning to end and was captivated. I often judge a book on whether it teaches me something, opens a window to another world, uplifts me in some way and if too, it pulls at my heart strings. The story told through the words of young Abel spurred me on. More than once this coming-of-age tale brought tears to my eyes. An excellent read for people of all ages. - Pat and Rosemarie, Explorers Club, Canada
What an interesting look into Vanuatu family and tribal life! This touching story highlights how different life can be from anything we know. It made me realize that despite different backgrounds we all have one thing in common: we all need love, friends and a place we belong to. Wonderful book for young readers but not only. I thoroughly enjoyed to submerge myself into a different world by reading this valuable book. Brigitte Frey
I was there! This book brought back memories and many forgotten moments that made me love the people and their country. Their humble, friendly attitude mixed with brotherly respect and love for their neighbors and countrymen was brought back to life for me in this short story. Abel's challenges as he leaves his island to go to secondary school on another island, combined with his coming of age issues also made me remember my 'issues' at that time in my life. This fictionalized biography opens up Vanuatu both for others coming of age...and for older readers who would like to gain an excellent understanding about Vanuatu. Michael Jensen
I am at a point in my life where my friends have begun starting their own families. This confronted me with a difficult question: what to give as a gift at baby showers and the like. I feel like you only need so many baby clothes so I looked for something more enriching, and this book fits the bill. I first bought it for a couple that was big on traveling specifically to non-tourist destinations (seemed like a good fit) and couldn't help but give it a read. It's rare these days to have something that is interesting to children and adults alike but still present positive values and has educational value. If I had to pick a highlight, I would say it is the way the book shows how vital it is for a child to have a mentor as this is rarely explored or even mentioned. Simon Sschreder
Twelve year old Abel is a hunter and gatherer in the mountains of Vanuatu, on the island of Ambae. He is chosen to continue schooling on faraway Pentecost Island. A bare-bones cargo ship takes him to a "foreign education", in a foreign country and a foreign language. When he returns home, he is challenged to prove what he has learned in school to promote unity in his village and between tribes on the island. Wonderfully descriptive of life in a different culture and country. A story tenderly, and compassionately told! Jean Whitehouse
I was born in Austria, and for the first 10 years of my life, I did not know there were people who spoke languages other than German. I quickly learned how important it is to speak English and studied it with enthusiasm. This later helped somewhat in communicating with my American husband. My beloved adventurer took me to live in Bogota, South America, and then in Tokyo, Japan. From there we went to live in London and finally in Geneva, Switzerland. Since we both retired, we have visited over 100 countries together. More than that, I have delved deeply into cultures that seem very foreign to us. I have discovered that whether you wear fur all year or nothing but a bamboo skirt, the values we live by are the same all over the world. I had the chance to be an active Scout Leader for 12 years, which taught me to believe in the resilience and ingenuity of young people and filled me with hope for the future. Then I had the privilege to teach languages in an international setting for 16 years. I've learned to communicate in 6 languages, and am always ready to chat with anyone, anywhere. Now I write books for Middle-Grade readers and hope the colorful reality of our shared planet is as riveting as tales of witches and zombies. In fact, I have learned that nothing is as interesting and intriguing as the truth...since that is what touches all of us. And to the extent we can walk in somebody else's shoes (or flip-flops) we can develop empathy and understanding.