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READERS LETTERS ABOUT FOOTBALL CRAZY

LETTERS FROM YOUNGER READERS AND LISTENERS

Football Crazy is about a young boy who is literally football crazy and so is his whole family. They do lots of football things together like playing football, watching football, going to football matches and if they’ve had a really good week they even have football cake.

They are all crazy about their Grandad as well. He’s as football crazy as they are and they all love him to bits. He’s a funny Grandad and he’s got a great big grin, lovely bushy eyebrows and floppy ears. He makes huge sandwiches as well. The whole family is really happy until day something terrible happens.

I can’t tell you anymore without spoiling the story if you haven’t read it but this is what a very young reader called Joe thinks.

 Letter from Joe, aged 6, from England

In Joe’s words…

‘How funny nanny the lady( what’s her name again) oh yeh that’s right Gwace ha how funny she is-I love her stories can we go to Ballyyahoo after tea. That Grandad was funny wasn’t he and he said a swear word twice-should that be in the book. Sometimes it was sad and sometimes happy. Ma was funny nan you do that don’t you! I think it’s nice they all watch the football together and Ma bakes for them. If the little boy hasn’t if kicked the ball over near the Da he wouldn’t be watching football again.’

(In case you are wondering Joe’s Nana, June, read the story aloud to Joe and since she’s a great Nana she also helped him write his letter down but all the words are his.)

GRACE’S LETTER TO JOE

Dear Joe,

Wow thanks, Joe, I am delighted you liked Football Crazy and that it made you laugh. Your Nana is a brilliant Nana for reading you stories. I bet she can put on good voices as well. Sorry you couldn’t come to Ballyyahoo after tea – it might have been a bit too far for your Nana to take you – right across the sea and around lots of islands, rocky bays and then there’s the mountains and hills to cross and if that’s not hard enough, someone stole the sign for Ballyyahoo as well! So now I can’t even find it myself.

Never mind, I am really glad you like the stories from Ballyyahoo. Lucy is kept busy writing them and I am sure there’ll be more stories and pictures from Ballyyahoo quite soon.

Love Grace x

P.S. Hi Joe, here’s some special donkeys from Ballyyahoo –  just for you.

kids stories, three special donkeys from Ballyyahoo

Click here for more children’s stories.

LETTER ABOUT THE TREE-HUGGER

It’s always great to hear from younger readers, particularly if I have written a story about kids with problems and a young reader takes the time to write and tell me what they would do if the same thing that happened in the story  – happened to them.  The letter below came from a young girl who read, ‘The Tree Hugger.’

In ‘The Tree Hugger,’ a new girl called Shalmalah, arrives in Debbie’s school. Shalmalah is different from the other girls. She doesn’t even try or care about fitting in.  She seems to like being different. She wears the wrong clothes, eats the wrong food and even says the wrong thing in class. In fact everything about her is ‘uncool’ and soon the class bullies begin a nasty campaign against her – pushing her over, calling her dirty and starting rumours that she’s got hair lice.

kids stories, The Tree Hugger by Grace Jolliffe. Shalmalah gets eggs thrown at her.Most people in the class, including Debbie, are afraid of standing up to the bullies in case the bully’s turn on them as well but Debbie begins to feel guilty seeing Shalmalah left out and picked on is horrible to watch.

Even though she feels bad, she still decides not to do anything to help Shalmalah because she is too afraid of being bullied herself.

But she is forced to think again when she goes home and finds that her mother and Shalmalah’s mother have become friends.

Debbie is forced to make a choice – she can either do the right thing, risk being bullied but get rid of the guilty feeling and feel really good, or she can do nothing and end up still feeling guilty, and never being able to stand up for herself.

I won’t spoil the story by saying any more if you haven’t read it, but I will say how great it was to get the following letter from a very young and special reader called Izzy who told me how she would react if the same thing happened in her school.

 LETTER FROM IZZY, AGE 8, LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND

Hi Grace,

I think Shal was a very different person but if she was in my world i would help her straight away . leonie and susan are very mean and will probably have no friends left. Pauline just told lots of lies she was funny. I like Debbie because she felt guilty at the end and realised you should always be your self and not follow the in crowd. 
I really enjoy your stories and i am looking forward to my nanny reading me the next oneThankyou

love Izzy x

LETTER FROM GRACE

Dear Izzy

Thank you for this lovely letter. I am so glad to hear that your Nanny read you this story and that you enjoyed it.  I was really happy to know that you would have helped Shalmalah. You are right about being yourself and not following the crowd. If everyone did that there sure would be a lot less bullying in the world.

I heard you made your communion and confirmation recently and that you had a lovely day. I wish you all the best and I hope your Nanny keeps reading you my stories and that you enjoy them.

Love Grace x

CLICK HERE FOR MORE CHILDREN’S STORIES

 

 

THE TREE HUGGER

little girl reading a bookStories for children can serve two purposes. First, they can entertain by telling a good story, one with great characters and a plot that keeps you interested, wondering and guessing just how the story will end.

Secondly, stories can do all the above but they can also help children with problems by raising topics for discussion and learning. I wrote ‘The Tree Hugger ‘ with both these purposes foremost in my mind.

Personally speaking, having been bullied in the past myself, I have always wanted to write stories that just might help prevent bullying, or help a child or parent cope with the effects of bullying.

‘The Tree Hugger’ was initially broadcast as part of a children’s radio show called Fiction Fifteen on RTE, national radio here in Ireland. It had a great response and as a result ‘The Tree Hugger’ was broadcast twice. Parents who have read the story with their children have told me they found it a great way to open up a difficult subject for discussion.

Stories for children often engage with the theme of bullying but this story also looks at the difficult choices and moral dilemma thrust upon children who witness bullying. Seeing bullying going on and being powerless to prevent it happening can have adverse affects on our self-confidence.

As a writer and a mother I also feel it is important to develop strong, bright female characters. Females who are not afraid to choose how they look or how they behave. The following synopsis provides parents with insight into the characters and story themes explored in the story.

THE TREE HUGGER

Everyone’s scared of Susan and Leonie because they’re the school bullies. They decide who is ‘in’ and who’s ‘out.’ Debbie is just as scared of the bullies as everyone else because Debbie’s ‘in’ and Debbie wants to stay ‘in.

New girl, Shalmalah is definitely ‘out. ’ She doesn’t do her hair right or wear the right clothes. Another thing that makes Shalmalah different is that she doesn’t care what the bullies think and doesn’t see why she should change to suit them.

Susan and Leonie want to make her care and they do their best to make Shalmalah’s life hell. They pick on her all the time, spread nasty rumours about her and stop the other girls speaking to her. Soon Shalmalah is isolated and alone.

Debbie feels sorry for Shalmalah but she also thinks that if Shalmalah tried harder to be the same as everyone else Susan and Leonie would leave her alone. Shalmalah doesn’t want to be like everybody else – she wants to be herself.

Debbie doesn’t like seeing Shalmalah getting bullied but she knows that with Susan and Leonie, you’re either with them, or against them. Debbie doesn’t want to be the next person they start picking on either. Shalmalah knows too well that once the bullies have decided that you are ‘out’ then you are on your own.

One day, Debbie finds out that Shalmalah’s mother and her own mother are becoming friends and she has to be nice to Shalmalah at home. Debbie hates feeling so two-faced and soon she has to make a very difficult choice.

ABOUT FOOTBALL CRAZY

‘Football Crazy’ – a story about life, love and death as seen through the eyes of a boy crazy about football.

Children’s stories can be helpful in providing ways for parents to discuss difficult subjects with their children. It’s never easy for loving parents to approach the subject of death with their children.  Understandably some parents avoid the subject all together – yet loss is a sad but inevitable part of life.

When we avoid or distract a child from a subject that is worrying them we are closing off an opportunity for growth. Some subjects are too difficult or painful to discuss, particularly when we are in mourning ourselves.

When a mother or father is grieving following the death of their own parent their children can be experiencing confusion as well as sadness and loss. A loved one is gone. Questions arise – where have they gone? Will they ever see them again? Will our family ever be happy and have fun, like we used to?

KIND RELATIVES

Sometimes, other kind relatives tell children stories about where the dead person may have gone to. These stories can differ from ‘Granny’ is an angel looking down from heaven – to ‘Granny has gone for a long restful sleep because she was tired.’

 DIFFERENT CULTURES

The stories we use to tell children about death vary from culture to culture, religion to religion, but what doesn’t vary is the fact that when a loved one dies they leave a space in the family where they used to be.

One child described a ‘granny shaped hole in the house.’ Others talk about the ‘empty chair nobody ever wants to sit on.’

‘Football Crazy’ is about this empty space in the family. In this story it is the Grandfather who dies. This wonderful, loving football crazy granddad had been a huge part of this football loving family and without him they don’t enjoy football any more. children's stories - image of a footballAs a family they learn to accept the loss gradually and together they find a way to enjoy their lives again while always remembering their wonderful, football crazy granddad.

 TO READ MY PERSONAL NOTES ON WRITING FOOTBALL CRAZY PLEASE CLICK HERE

 

FOOTBALL CRAZY

sad-boy with footballFootball Crazy is a family story that isn’t just about football. It’s really about life, death and love. Writing this story was a very special task for me.  I wanted to write a story for the whole family as opposed to a story solely aimed at children and I knew that a family story, especially one that deals with a family crisis, should appeal to parents as well as children.

I felt that the best way to achieve this was through a story about a ‘normal’ family dealing with a family crisis. So the adults in my family story have faults and failings while still always trying to do best by their children. Just like real parents.

footballIn ‘Football Crazy’ the crisis is the death of a grandparent who was a big part of this football loving family. Whether you like football or not, the parents in the story are people you can identify with. They could be you, your neighbours, relatives or friends. In other words they are human.

When I wrote this I had my own personal family story at the forefront of my mind. I remembered the death of my own grandmother when I was nine and in particular my childish confusion around my family’s response to her death, which given the times – was a silent sort of sadness.

family story - image of a footballLike little Jimmy in ‘Football Crazy’ I thought my family would never be the same again and also like Jimmy I gradually learned that families do recover and be ‘normal’ again.

Looking back to those times I know if had heard or read a little story about other families coping with the loss of a loved one it would have helped me and relieved some of my confusion.

The idea of helping a confused child or helping parents raise a sensitive subject to discuss with their children really inspired me to write a family story but I didn’t want to make it too sad. Life is a mixture of  happy and sad events so I aimed to write a warm and enjoyable story to reflect that reality. I also wanted to show that time really does heal.

When Football Crazy was initially broadcast on RTE 1 National Radio here in Ireland, I was heartened by the wonderful response the story received from parents and children. So much so I decided to make the story available on Kindle for the first time.

All families experience crisis from time to time and I really hope that ‘Football Crazy’ is an enjoyable family story that can provide you and your children with a little help or comfort during a family crisis.

ABOUT FOOTBALL MAD

 FUNNY SHORT STORIES FOR KIDS FROM IRELAND

FOOTBALL MAD

I was commissioned to write ‘Football Mad’ for children’s radio here in Ireland. It was then broadcast on RTE Radio One as part of its children’s Fiction Fifteen series.

Football Mad is set in Ireland which is where most of my children’s stories are set and by a funny coincidence is also where I happen to live – right at the end of this lane below.

country-laneOne of the things I most enjoy doing is writing dialogue, especially children’s and I feel strongly that you don’t really know who a character is, even one you’ve invented, until you’ve made them talk. Sometimes it takes time to find a voice for a character but once you do it’s fun and they almost begin to create their own stories.  Once I’ve found a character’s voice it remains with me for a very long time.

The images in Football Mad are the work of Brendan Hill of Evilhairday and you will find more of his wonderful art here. 

Funny short stories for kids Image of a boy and a football

I really enjoyed writing this story and Shane’s voice was great fun to work with. In fact I loved finding all the voices of the characters in Football Mad and it is one of those children’s stories that adults seemed to enjoy as much as kids.

I think it is because parents feel empathy with Shane’s Mum and Dad. They were busy and didn’t want to be roped into playing football with their son. funny short stories for kids. Image of a football They are good parents but there’s no such thing as perfect parents or perfect children.

I adapted this story from my own original radio version, especially for younger Kindle readers and for the parents who read to them. I hope you enjoy it reading it as much as I enjoyed writing it.

Grace