Friday, June 02, 2006

The Story of the Father Brown Mystery Adaptations

From the com box, Chris asks what I mean by the Father Brown Mystery Adaptations.

Right from the start of my love for Chesterton, was a serious interest in sharing his writing with my children. However, they were too young really. I tried to get my daughter to read The Innocence of Father Brown, which I loved and thought would be a great introduction to his writing. Although she was an avid reader, she could not get into the Father Brown.

"OK," I said, "come on, I'll read it out loud to you."

Well, I had to keep stopping and explaining either a) an archaic way of speaking or b) a slang word in British English or c) just a British/American English difference. After attempting to read The Blue Cross out loud, I realized why my 10 year old couldn't get into it. I was frustrated, but not ready to give up.

Then I was in the library, and discovered a book in the children's section called "Step into Classics" Sherlock Holmes, now called Stepping Stone books. These are in essence, the same stories as Sir Arthur Conan Doyle wrote, but adapted so that younger readers can read them. I thought that I could do the same thing with Chesterton's work.

The idea is to excite the younger generation about a certain author, in my case, G.K. Chesterton, so that the name is familiar, and that down the line, say, in their teens, they will want to read the direct story, and then come to know and love Chesterton.

It was my idea to capture the imaginations of the younger children, so that they would read Chesterton readily when they are older. His name would be familiar to them and associated with something wonderful: a good mystery.

So, I began with The Blue Cross and eventually wrote that, The Strange Feet (Changed from "queer" due to the modern day interpretation of that word), The Flying Stars, and The Absence of Mr. Glass. After I'd finished the first four, I decided to try and find a publisher and an audience before I did any more.

Now, Hillside Education is planning to publish the first four books in a collection. The essential story is all still there. The difficult words are made easy, the British slang replaced with words an 8 year old will understand. The reading age range is 8-12. By 13 or 14, most teens can read directly from Chesterton's own words. But younger than that, the adaptation will be very useful.

In some ways, I hope also to evangelize the parents who right now consider Chesterton "too hard" or "too deep" as well. If they read the adaptations and see how great the stories are, they may be enticed to look for Chesterton's work in the library, or next time they're at the local book store.

So, that's my idea. Hillside has Ted Schluenderfritz on board as the illustrator, most people know that he is the artistic director for Gilbert magazine, as well, and quite familiar with illustrating Chestertonian works. I am thrilled to have him involved in the project.

This is something I've been working on for many years, and the thought of it finally becoming a reality is quite exciting. I really think this is going to open up the door for many, many more people to come to know and love Chesterton.

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