Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Sweet dreams: Author wants to share family tales with other kids

By Jenny Neyman
Redoubt Reporter

Ken Covey, of Soldotna, may find it a little odd to tell his stories to a group of wide-awake kids, since his tales came about as bedtime stories told to his six children, then 15 grandchildren, over the past 40 years.

He’s scheduled to do a book talk and reading of his book, “The Adventures of a Little Boy Named Kenny,” at 1 p.m. April 18 at the Triumvirate Theatre Bookstore in the Peninsula Center Mall in Soldotna. His grandson, Josh Lofquist, a senior at Nikiski High School, will be there to talk about illustrating the book, as well.

Covey wrote the book before Christmas this winter and had it self-published at the urging of his family.

“It’s a compilation of stories that I’ve been telling my kids and grandkids ever since they were small, starting out with the older kids in the 40s now,” Covey said. “As they grew older they wanted them to be recorded so they weren’t lost, so they encouraged me to write them down. And my wife, too, she’s one of the instigators.”

The stories are of young Kenny and the adventures — or misadventures — he gets into growing up in the mountains of Colorado, whether it’s accidentally stowing away on a train in an effort to find out where the tracks by his house go, or building a homemade “hootenanny” go-cart that has no end of go, but is a little short on stop.

The tales are drawn from Covey’s own childhood experiences and they’ve changed somewhat over the years depending on who he’s telling them to and what he wants to get across with the stories.

Each tale can be read in 10 or 15 minutes, and contains a lesson along with the adventure.

“I hope there’s a little wisdom in there, and a little bit of teaching. I guess a moral might be the way to say it. Every story has a moral of what he should or shouldn’t have done, or could or couldn’t have done or whatever. When I was telling the stories to my kids they were designed not only just to entertain them, but also to instruct them about how actions have consequences and how you should think through things before doing them and not just jump into things before thinking,” Covey said.

Covey hasn’t published anything before, but he’s done writing in college while getting his bachelor’s degree in education, and he’s written stories and poems “for my own amusement,” he said.

“My degree is in education and I was a pastor of a church for several years, so I’m a communicator, I guess you might say. Or try to be, anyway,” Covey said.
One of the biggest challenges was switching communication modes — changing oral stories to written ones.

“I’m not sure that they came out the same way they were told. Translating them to the page was difficult. You can’t use hand gestures and facial expressions and voice inflection and all that sort of thing to tell a story in a book, so the language had to be more colorful, I guess,” Covey said. “Actually, it was easy to write the stories, it was hard to get them to sound right on paper — a lot of changing of words and using a word wrench to get the right phrases in there, and the punctuation all had to be in there, which you don’t think about when you’re telling a story.”

Covey also had to break “one of his sacred convictions that adults cannot hear a Kenny story,” he wrote in the forward to the book. “This is one of the things that has endeared the stories to the kids, because they exist in a secret place where adults cannot enter and where one little boy is the center and hero of his world.”
It was a sacrifice he was willing to make in this and his future planned Kenny books, in order to share the stories with more kids.

“Of course, I like kids. We have six of our own and all our grandkids. Kids are special and need all the help they can get,” he said.

The book talk and reading will be part of the formation of a book group for kids, probably at a fourth-grade reading level and up, said Rosie Reeder, coordinator of the Triumvirate Bookstore. The first meeting will be at the bookstore, then may move to the Soldotna library. Reeder expects the group will meet once every three or four weeks and read a book a month.

The book group is open to anyone, and Reeder is seeking sponsors to help defray the costs of purchasing books for the kids to read.

For more information, contact Reeder at 262-2908.

For more information on Covey’s book, visit www.outskirtspress.com/adventuresofkenny. It is available for purchase at River City Books, Triumvirate Bookstore and online at www.amazon.com, www.barnsandnoble.com and www.borders.com.

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