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A message from Frank Newman

These stories are for all ages. If being read to a younger reader I want the person reading the story to enjoy it as much as the person it is being read to. But I also want the stories to be more than fun. these stories say something about the way you and I live and think.

I don’t expect everyone to pick up the messages at the first reading. There are lots of little meanings and subtleties that will only be seen after a few readings, and maybe only when you read the stories again in a few years time.

Each story takes about six months to complete. Most of that time involves developing an idea and selecting words that will express that idea in a funny way. I find the stories fun. I hope you do too!

I want you to figure out what the stories mean to you, but this is what they mean to me.

Norman Finds his Wings

This is the first story in the series. Experience has shown me that anyone can achieve anything if they have a vivid imagination and a lot of determination.

The points I am making are these:

  • If you try really really hard a person can achieve anything they want to. Flying wasn’t easy as Norman discovered. He did not succeed at first. He needed a lot of determination, Mellowpuffs and he tried really really hard.
  • Anything is possible. One needs to have big dreams to achieve extraordinary things.
  • Once one person shows that something is possible, others start doing it too.
  • It is normal for people to criticise those who are doing the things that normal people are afraid to do or have not thought to do. In this story the nosy Normals thought it was "outrageous…monstrous…preposterous...ridiculous…" that Norman should try to fly. Norman did not notice the criticism – he did not let his critics stop him from trying.

So that’s why I wrote Norman Finds his Wings.

Grump Grump and the Splendidious Tree

This is based on a true story. Were I live (the place I call Normalsville) there was a big stink between a man and the council. (I was an elected member of the Council at the time. My job was to help people with things like tree problems.) The problem in this case was the leaves from the tree, which was in a council park, kept falling into this mans back yard. Anyway, the big stink went on for years and years, the man got very grump grumpy – he even threatened to cut the tree down. Lawyers got involved, which made things worse - it was a right good old mess. In the end the problem only got sorted because the man and the people from the council stopped being grump grumpy at each other and started to talk about the problem.

The points I am making are these:

  • Getting grump grump grumpy about something is not going to fix the problem. In fact, being a big old grump makes things worse.
  • Lawyers tend to exaggerate and sometimes make things worse not better. In the story Mr Grump’s lawyer accuses the kindly Mr Normal of …."A vile and disspicable trespass…a horridible act of heinous proportions…a conspiracy to deprive one of Normasville’s most responsible and acclaimed citizens of his rights to quiet enjoyment and normalness…".
  • Sometimes when two people argue other people get hurt. In this case the tree gets so upset it ran away from home to a place that homeless trees go, the sun stops smiling, the tweetie birds stop tweeting, the sunflowers became "off-colour".
  • The media likes sensationalising disputes. Something as trivial as a leaf became the headline story in the Normalsville News: "Normality in Normalsville threatened" was the front-page story.
  • Sometimes, to resolve differences of opinion, one needs to say that "s" word - "sorry". As Mr Grumpy Neighbour Normal finds out, saying sorry made him feel as good as it did Mr Normal. "Although sorry is not a big word, it was hard word …to say. Funny thing was, saying it made him feel good."

So that’s why I wrote Grump Grump and the Splendidious Tree.

The Sock Rebellion

Wearing socks of the same colour just does not make any sense at all. Funny thing is, because most people wear matching socks, everyone is expected to.

Being an eight-year old, Norman does not realise what he has done when he goes off to school wearing one red sock and one yellow sock. Unfortunately his indiscretion comes to the attention of Mr Plod who arrests Norman for breaching normality.

What starts as an outrage, soon turns into a sock rebellion, an urgent meeting of the Normalsville District Council, the formation of the Sock Exchange and the Sock Intelligence Agency and a change to what is normal in Normalsville.

The points I am making are these:

  • Sometimes something is normal because that’s what everyone has done for as long as anyone can remember.
  • What is normal changes – in this case people realised that having to wear socks of the same colour was silly. Soon wearing different coloured socks was normal.
  • Politicians are quick to change their opinions when there is a clear change in public opinion. Socks became an election issue because that’s what people in Normalsville were concerned about at that time. In this story the text from speeches by three of the world’s greatest leaders (J F Kennedy, Winston Churchill and Martin Luther King) have been adapted by the Mayor.
  • The line of justice is fragile. In this case it was as fragile as a pea in a pea whistle. When Mr Plod lost the pea from his pea whistle he became powerless to exercise control.
  • Politicians tend to make heroes out of people when it suits them. Norman, an eight-year old that innocently wore different coloured socks was described as the leader of the sock rebellion and a person with great courage. He was made chairman of the Sock Exchange.

So, that’s why I wrote The Sock Rebellion.

The Mountain and the Mole Hill

This fable explains how sometimes differences become more than they should, and that sometimes there is no one "right" way of looking at something. The points I am making are these:

  • In many cases what starts out as simple difference of opinion takes on a greater importance because the disagreement becomes emotional and personal. In this story mole and the Mountain goat feel deeply insulted. The key issue of the argument moves from being about whether it is a molehill or a mountain, to one of not letting the other get the better of them.
  • There is more than one way to see things and sometimes there can be more than one right way of looking at something. In this story, what was a mountain to Mr Mountain Goat, was a molehill to Mr Mole. Both were right, when looked at from their own point of view.
  • Where two people see things differently, does not mean one person is right and one is wrong. The same thing can be seen in different ways, and each way is right to that person.
  • Differences of opinion are simply differences of opinion. One needs to move on and put the differences behind. While the Mole and the Mountain goat argued days and months passed while others went about their way in their normal way.

So, that’s why I wrote The Mountain and the Mole Hill.

Norman's Farty Armpit

This little story shows that famous people are normal people. They are just like the rest of us but sometimes we forget that.The points I am making are these:

  • Fame and fortune pass quickly..
  • Famous people are just like to rest of us.
  • Nothing is more important nor more valuable than the love of a family and the love of a mother. Fame and fortune comes and goes but family love is not conditional on what one achives.

So, that’s why I wrote Norman's Farty Armpit.