authors, teachers' resources

“Lights Out!” (Aleesah Darlison)

Welcome to day 2 of the celebrations for the launch of the Undercover Readers Club! Today Aleesah Darlison is visiting to talk to us about reading undercover. She has two books due out in 2010 – a picture book, Puggle’s Problem (out July), and junior novel, Totally Twins: Musical Mayhem (out September).

"Puggle's Problem (cover)""Totally Twins (cover)"

Lights Out – Aleesah Darlison

"Aleesah Darlison (photo)"
Aleesah Darlison

I have a bad habit, I confess. I love reading in bed. Some people read in bed to make themselves sleepy, to help them drift off into Dreamland. But I read in bed to stay awake, knowing that if I start a book, I won’t be able to stop until I’ve finished it.

As it gets later and later and I get further and further through the book, I just can’t put it down. I can’t bear the thought of waiting the next day or the next or worse – the next – to see what will happen. Even at the expense of getting huge, black bags under my eyes, I have to finish the book!

It’s always been this way, ever since I started reading at the age of four. Look in my photo album and you’ll see shots of me, very young, reading to kids in the neighbourhood. My kindergarten teacher used to get terrible migraines and would often have to lie down in the sick bay next to our classroom. I went to school in a tiny country town in the seventies. We weren’t big on substitute teachers back then and my teacher would leave me in charge of the classroom to read to everyone until she was feeling better. I remember this very clearly.

My favourite bedtime reading when I was very little were Golden Books. Stories like, The Poky Little Puppy, and The Most Beautiful Tree in the World, a tale about a huge pine tree that gets chopped down to become a Christmas tree. As I grew older, I loved C.S. Lewis’s Narnia series, including The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe. Enid Blyton was another favourite, especially her Magic Faraway Tree and Wishing Chair series. Older still, I fell in love with the English classics, like Jane Austen (Pride and Prejudice, Persuasion) and Emily Bronte (Wuthering Heights). But my all-time favourite classic novelist was Charles Dickens (Great Expectations, The Pickwick Papers, Nicholas Nickleby). Even today, my bookshelves are full of his works.

I grew up in the country, so we were expected to play and do chores outside a lot of the time. Being inside reading a book was seen as a luxury, as time-wasting, and I was often told to ‘Get your head out of that book!’.

I wrote a lot, too. Mostly silly, soppy poems that would be far too embarrassing to show to anyone. I wrote them on yellow note paper and kept them in a red folder. Reading and writing into the small hours was a regular past time of mine. In our tiny house, my parents knew exactly what I was up to and could tell if I had the light on too late, so I would wait until they had gone to sleep, then secretly read or write by torchlight under my covers.

I got caught a few times and was always told to turn the light off. Immediately, or else! Then I’d go to sleep, imagining all sorts of story developments and twists. Then, in the morning, as soon as it was light, my eyes would ping open, I’d pick up my book and, still in bed, I’d start reading where I left off. An early morning read snuggled up in bed is just as good as a late night one, after all.

If I had a lights out curfew today, I would still sneak books into bed. Especially in winter, when it’s so delightfully naughty to curl up in a toasty bed and read, read, read. The books I would read in bed these days are Kate Forsyth’s The Wildkin’s Curse, Jackie French’s Hitler’s Daughter, Rebecca Stead’s When You Reach Me, Sandy Fussell’s Jaguar Warrior, and David Grimstone’s Gladiator Boy series. Just to name a few.

© 2010 Aleesah Darlison

Visit Aleesah Darlison’s website to find out more about her and her books!

"Undercover Readers logo"Alphabet Soup magazine is celebrating the launch of Undercover Readers (our new reviewers club for kids)!  If you’d like to join the Undercover Readers Club, you’ll find an information pack you can download from the Alphabet Soup website. As part of the celebrations, we have a different children’s author or illustrator visiting Soup Blog each day until 29 June 2010 to talk about what they used to read after ‘lights out’ when they were growing up. So be sure to check back tomorrow!

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