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Wednesday, 07 December 2011 07:34

Claresholm author and former teacher pens wild adventure for young readers

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By Susan Quinlan
Whether by e-book or soft cover, most parents are pleased when they see their children’s noses hovering over a good book.
Fortunately, there’s a new author on the southern Alberta scene who, together with his brother, has written an adventure trilogy likely to entice most.

Adventures with Ploox: Risks, Wrecks and Roughnecks promises to take young readers on a wild ride alongside a pair of young mavericks, destined for the jungles of Mexico.

Adventures with Ploox is the first installment by the Brothers Armfinnigan better known as Dave Armstrong, a retired school teacher from Claresholm and his brother, Neill, a professor in Texas.

“I wanted to write something kids wanted to listen to. After 30 years, we’re left with developed characters that are really interesting to kids all the way through. The action is enough, they pay attention,” said Dave Armstrong.

The story kicks off when 12-year-old Nicky Neill Carpenter learns his dad is missing in the jungles of Mexico, said Armstrong. He knows his dad’s rescue depends on him, but he can’t undertake such a dangerous mission alone; enter Ploox.

Once students get hooked on Ploox, a character that can’t seem to escape Grade 6 and has a penchant for thumb sucking and pant wetting, Armstrong said they’re completely engaged.

Armstrong told the story to his grades 5 and 6 Language Arts students over a span of 30 years, pen in hand, taking note of what worked and what didn’t.

Having launched the book this past September at West Meadows School in Claresholm, it quickly sold out.

“I sold 500 on opening night at the launch; over 400 people attended ... Walking into that school after the launch and seeing it on desks all over the school, it seems surreal. It has been a real emotional thing. The support from this community and people wanting to see this succeed; teachers, parents and their children; it’s all wrapped up together.

It’s a real great feeling. These two kids have become like my own children … the adventure has taken off and has left the building.”

Although self-publishing has a bit of a stigma, said Armstrong, the impetus for the Brothers Armfinnigan to have made that choice was simply to satisfy Armstrong’s former students.

“I’d run into these kids I’d taught and they’d ask if I’d published it yet. I knew if it was good enough, I had a built-in audience. It was a special thing I bonded with my classes over. It was hard to let these characters go.”

With success of the book clearly sealed in Claresholm, Armstrong would like to see how Adventures with Ploox fares elsewhere.

“It’s really hard for me to tell if it’s a hit beyond Claresholm. The main way for me to get the story out there is to read it aloud.”

The book was written to be read aloud, said Armstrong.

“It takes on another life … My biggest belief is when I read out loud, they love to listen.”

Having completed a book signing and reading at Chapters in Lethbridge and a reading in High River as well, Armstrong is now extending an invitation to area teachers to contact him, as he’d love to come and read at their schools.

Armstrong said the book is most easily read by age nine and up, likely through Grade 8 although adults enjoy the story as well.

“It’s for the young and the young at heart.”

Adventures with Ploox has been nominated for The Golden Eagle Children’s Choice Book Award, where the stories of Alberta-based authors are voted on by students in the Livingstone Range School Division. The winner will be announced in the spring, as determined by students in grades 4-8.

The book is sold online at Amazon, Chapters Indigo and Dog Ear Publishing, as well as the Chapters store in Lethbridge.

Armstrong can be contacted for a reading or other information at: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .

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