Good Monday morning, everyone! Lauri here… although this morning I’m not entirely sure I’m “here”. I have been granted a reprieve from my empty nest syndrome—all four children are under one roof again! It’s great, wonderful, and fabulous… AND it makes me eminently qualified to review a story about a delightful child with a very, very messy room.
In Yuval Harpaz’ book, Don’t Let Rocky Get Away, young Tommy struggles with an insurmountable task. His room is a mess, and his mother won’t allow him to play with his friends until he cleans it. Tommy is a typical boy—wholly unconcerned with neatness. But, when his mountain of toys descends upon him like an avalanche of clutter, he realizes order is the ticket out from under the mess.
Harpaz shines as he brings his main character to life; Tommy is a boy with a rich and vivid imagination who undertakes a wild journey through the chaos of his untidy room. With his mischievous toy monkey Rocky leading the way, Tommy encounters mislaid toys in “Lost Toy’s Land.” Tommy and his toys are stuck in “Lost Toy’s Land” until they can catch Rocky (who knows the path home) and learn his secret. Misplaced puzzle pieces, toy truck tires, and baby hippo puppets join the quest to get back home. Ultimately, Tommy realizes that putting his toys in their proper places and arranging his room is the key to escaping “Lost Toy’s Land.”
Don’t Let Rocky Get Away is an engaging story with a relatable message. I never felt as though the author was “beating me over the head” with the lesson. Tommy discovered, on his own, that clean equals good.
I enjoyed reading Harpaz’ book, and highly recommend it for young elementary readers.
Now, on to the author interview…
1. First, what inspired this book?
The inspiration for this book is a combination of several factors. Writing about the mess in a kid’s room is based on the constant mess in my 7 years old daughter’s room. Writing the story was another way to communicate with her about the subject. She also posed for the illustration of Tommy trying to open the door. The monkey character is based on a favorite monkey puppet I used to have as a kid. And the newspaper headlines are based on some of the more favorite inspirational quotes I collected over the years.
2. When did you start writing?
I think that I wrote my first conscious and deliberate stories in high school. I thought, I can write something for the high school newspaper. It was a very unripe experience, but the passion for writing matured ever since and expressed itself in a variety of ways.
3. Why did you begin writing?
I can’t say for certain. It maybe was a way to organize my thoughts, maybe it was a wish to be noticed by other kids in my class and to be more popular or maybe it was another way to express my imagination.
4. Will we see Tommy again in another book?
I already and previously published two other stories with Tommy. They are not completely follow-ups. They describe challenges that a boy in this age confronts. In one story, Tommy deals with the fear of dark. In the other, he deals with an abandoning friend. I currently do not have any plans to further develop this line of stories.
6. Would you like to tell our readers about your WIPs?
Until the end of the year I may publish another line of children’s stories encouraging kids to step up and develop positive personal leadership values. Besides that there is a six-year research I conducted on business development by collaboration, and I hope that I will soon publish some of the works.
7. What do you feel is the easiest part of writing?
For me the easiest part of writing is coming up with ideas.
8. What do you feel is the hardest part of writing?
The hardest is editing. Sometimes I read things I wrote before, and I can’t figure out “what was I thinking about”. On the other hand some stuff I read, even years later, makes me feel envious of the guy who wrote that… and makes me wish I had that clarity and creativity all the time.
9. What is your favorite thing about Tommy?
There are three things I appreciate most with Tommy. The first is that he is pragmatic and not whiny. Secondly he is a curious and a learning type of kid. And thirdly he always finds ways to express his rich and imaginative inner world in a positive way.
10. Give me one fun fact about yourself?
I occasionally write and draw an inspiring note on my daughters’ sandwich wrapping paper before they go to school. It takes one minute and leaves them with a smile. Sometimes it’s a blessing for a good day—sometimes it is an insightful short quote and sometimes it is a funny and imaginary folly.
Many thanks to Yuval for taking the time to answer my questions! I’m inspired… and off to organize my house (with the enthusiastic help of my kids!).
Yuval Harpaz is a married father of three, likes jogging, writing, photography, and personal development. He has a rich imagination and sometimes is even caught doodling comics on napkins.
Yuval’s stories are built to establish the love for books and reading in children. He accompanies his stories with intense and colorful illustrations. His stories are meant to make a difference and to allow children to develop and master a new level of reading. You can find his book at Don’t Let Rocky Get Away.