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Author Bruce Hale Offers Hope for Young, Reluctant Readers

Children’s book author Bruce Hale insists he wasn’t the kid “most likely to become a writer,” but “most likely to go to reform school,” and definitely not a lover of books.

That all changed when his parents started reading to him, and today he’s a best-selling author of 25 books including the Chet Gecko Mysteries, with Chet Gecko, Private Eye, everyone’s favorite elementary-school detective and lizard of mystery, and his partner, Natalie Attired. 

Hale will bring his entertaining blend of storytelling to the Library Center at 7 p.m. Thursday, April 12, in “Dream Big – The Story Behind The Storyteller.”

Kids and parents will love hearing how a boy who hated books became a best-selling author. To make it even more fun, Hale will use slides, storytelling and a cartooning lesson. His visit  is free and part of the Library’s 2012 Big Read celebration of reading and great books.

Having been a reluctant reader, himself, Hale understands how parents struggle with their own young non-readers, and offers comfort and helpful ideas.

“I believe that all it takes to create a reader is the right book,” he told the Library in a recent interview. “For reluctant readers, it's important to find stories that grab their interest and are easy enough to read.  Series books, funny books, and books with lots of action are particularly effective.”

Hale says there’s even hope for those “active” kids who love showing off and storytelling. There may be a writer lurking just beneath the surface.

“I've been into acting and singing since high school days.  It went dormant for a few years there after college, but when I got the itch again, I turned that knack for portraying characters into one for creating characters on the page.  But of course, that wasn't enough.  I then began working as an actor and storyteller, until the demands of being a full-time author pushed those pursuits into the background.  But still, you never know when I might burst out in song.”

Readers of the Chet Gecko Mysteries or Hale’s other quirky tales may wonder where he comes up with his crazy ideas for metaphors, similes and descriptions in his stories.
“The wild metaphors and similes I use in Chet Gecko tales are a tip of the hat to Raymond Chandler, who used them so elegantly in his books.  I just took his idea to the ridiculous extreme.”

Hale says he usually reads two to three books at once. Currently, he’s reading Thich Nhat Hanh's “No Death, No Fear;” Lloyd Alexander's “The Castle of Llyr,” a childhood favorite (on audiobook); and “Down the Mysterly River,” a mythic fable by Bill Willingham.

Hale’s visit is funded by the National Endowment for the Arts in partnership with Arts Midwest, and the Friends of the Library. 

Learn more about Hale on his website,, including this:

Hale began his career as a writer while living in Tokyo, and continued it when he moved to Hawaii in 1983. Before entering the world of children's books, he worked as a magazine editor, surveyor, corporate lackey, gardener, actor, and deejay.

Bruce has written and illustrated over 25 books for kids. His Underwhere series includes Prince of Underwhere and Pirates of Underwhere. His Chet Gecko Mysteries series includes: The Chameleon Wore Chartreuse, The Big Nap, The Malted Falcon, Hiss Me Deadly, and others.

He also has created five Hawaii children's books, including Legend of the Laughing Gecko, Moki and the Magic Surfboard, and Moki the Gecko's Best Christmas Ever -- all starring Moki the Gecko. (By the way, Moki the Gecko and Chet are second cousins.)

When not writing and illustrating, Bruce loves to perform. He has appeared on stage, on television, and in an independent movie called "The Ride," where he plays a surfer's agent. Bruce is a popular speaker and storyteller for audiences of all ages. In 1998, he won a Fulbright Grant to teach storytelling and study folklore in Thailand. (No, he doesn't speak much Thai, but he loves Thai food.)

He has taught writing workshops at colleges and universities, and spoken at national conferences of writing, publishing, and literacy organizations. On top of that, Bruce has visited elementary schools across the country, from Hawaii, to Kansas, to Pennsylvania. 

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