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Unread 02-18-2019, 04:11 PM
Jim Moonan Jim Moonan is offline
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Default Nora

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Nora
Like most children’s bedtime stories this is meant to be read aloud, with feeling, and time taken to examine the pictures closely to help children visualize what they are hearing.

Preface

This is a bedtime story about a girl named Nora. Nora was my babysitter when I was seven years old.

It is a true story, mostly. I’ll tell you at the end which parts are true and which parts I made up.


……………………………………………………………………………..


Chapter One
We Find a New Babysitter


(OPENING ARTWORK: DOUBLE PAGE OF A HOUSE AND FRONT YARD WITH FLOWERING TREES AND GARDEN IN FULL BLOOM ON A BEAUTIFUL DAY)

One Friday in May -- I remember it was around my birthday, May 17th -- my mother said to my father, “Let’s go out to eat -- Alone. Together.”

She called her best friend, Peggy.
“Hi Peggy. This is Dorothy. I was wondering. Do you know anyone who could babysit the children while Bob and I go out to eat, alone, together?”

Peggy replied, “Why yes I do! Her name is Nora and her telephone number is 1-2-3-4-5-6-7”

(ARTWORK: SPLIT IMAGE OF MOTHER ON THE TELEPHONE WITH PEGGY)

So my mom called 1-2-3-4-5-6-7 and a woman answered telephone.
“Hello”, the woman said
“Hello!” My Mom said, I’d like to speak to Nora, please.”
And the woman replied, “I am she.”

“Oh! This is Dorothy. My best friend Peggy said that maybe you could babysit the children for my husband and I while we go out to eat. Alone. Together.”
“Why, I’d be happy to!” Nora said
“I’ll pick you up at seven”, said my mother.

And she did. And when she brought Nora home to our house my brothers and sisters and I could hardly believe our eyes!
Nora had hair that shot straight up in the air, so high, then fell down her back until it touched the ground. And her hands looked glued to her hips. And her elbows stuck out. And I looked down at her feet and her shoes were pointed and curled up at the toes!

(ARTWORK: PORTRAIT OF NORA)

Then, all of a sudden, I got this lump in my throat.
“Nora, do you think I could say goodbye to my Mom and Dad?” I said, choking back tears.

And that’s when she said it.
“It’s too late, you little Cherub”.
I froze. She called me something no one had ever called me before. A Cherub! I wasn’t a Cherub! I was a CHILD! I didn’t even know what a Cherub was!

I turned and looked out the window and saw my Mom and Dad in the car! Backing out of the driveway!


……………………………………………………………………………..


Chapter Two
Nora Reveals Her Amazing Powers

But as it turned out Nora was a very nice person and a really good babysitter and we think she was a CRAYON ARTIST because she said to us, “Now you little Cherubs go get me all your crayons.”

So we ran around the house and got all our crayons. --We had about -- 90 -- But some were broken but they still worked perfectly fine, you know what I mean?

“Now you little Cherubs close your eyes.” Nora said.
So we closed our eyes and heard a very loud swooshing sound of wax on paper and, when we opened our eyes, Nora had hung crayon pictures on all the walls -- AND THE CEILING!

And we think she was PUZZLE WIZARD because she said, “Now you little Cherubs go get me all your puzzles.”
We thought to ourselves, Why does she keep calling us that?

So we ran around the house and got all of our puzzles. We had about -- 9 -- But some were missing pieces -- you know what I mean?

“Now you little Cherubs close your eyes!” Nora said.
So we closed our eyes and, when we opened them again, Nora had taken all nine puzzles…. And put them together INTO ONE PUZZLE!”

(ARTWORK: NORA, AND CHILDREN GATHERED WITH HUNDREDS OF CRAYON DRAWINGS TACKED TO THE WALLS AND CEILING AND NORA IN FRONT OF A LARGE COMPLETED PUZZLE WHOSE IMAGE IS INDISCERNIBLE)

Then Nora said, “Would you little Cherubs like a bedtime snack?” and took us upstairs to the kitchen, sat us down at the kitchen table and then on top of the table she put -- a plate...

Then on top of the plate she put a -- cracker.
Then on top of the cracker she put -- peanut butter.
Then on top of the peanut butter she put -- jelly.
Then on top of the jelly she put -- KETCHUP!
Then on top of the ketchup she put -- MUSTARD!
Then on top of the mustard she put -- MAYO!
Then on top of the mayo she put -- RELISH!
Then on top of the relish she put -- A MARSHMALLOW!
And then on top of the marshmallow she put -- another cracker.

Then she pushed the plate over to ME and said, “Happy Birthday, you little Cherub. Try this -- I think you’ll like it!”
But I knew I would not like it… But I didn’t want to hurt her feelings… So I decided to take a little bite.

(ARTWORK: ME SITTING AT THE KITCHEN TABLE, LOOKING BEWILDERED/WORRIED, WITH NORA'S SNACK SANDWICH IN FRONT OF ME)

I picked it up, smiled, looked at it, made a “hmmmmmmm!” sound, nodded my head, squirmed, said, “Looks good, Nora!” looked again at it, and ever so slowly nibbled on the corner, just enough to taste the peanut butter… and jelly… and ketchup… and mustard… and mayo… and relish… and marshmallow…

I tried and tried and tried and tried and tried and tried and tried to swallow it and finally I did...


……………………………………………………………………………..


Chapter Three
Nora Tucks Me In for the Night


I looked up, still swallowing, cleared my throat enough to say, “That’s delicious Nora!”
But it really wasn’t -- I just didn’t want to hurt her feelings -- Do you know what I mean?

And I said, “But I’m not really very hungry. Actually I’m kind of sleepy. Do you think you you could take me to my bedroom and I could put my pajamas on and go to sleep?”

, “Why, I’d be happy to, you little Cherub!” Nora said.

She took me into my bedroom and I put my pajamas on.

Then she did something I had never seen anyone do before: she took my pillow and squeezed it once -- and it got bigger! Then she squeezed it again -- and it got bigger! And then again and again and again and it got bigger and bigger and BIGGER!

Then she took my head and gently put it on the pillow, which was now hanging off the side of the bed, and then took my blankets and pulled them up…. Over my toes…..
… Up…. Over my knees.
… Up… Over my tummy.
… Up… Over my shoulders!
… Up… Over my NECK!
UP TO MY CHIN!

And then she pulled the blankets very tight across my body and tucked them in under the mattress and it squished me in the bed but it felt good -- do you know what I mean?

(ARTWORK: ME TUCKED TIGHTLY IN MY BED, SMILING, WITH THE BLANKETS PULLED UP TO MY CHIN)

And then she walked over to the lightswitch at the door and said, “Nighty-night, you little Cherub!”
“No! No no no Nora no no Nora no! Usually my mom sings me to sleep. Do you think you could sing me to sleep?”

“Why, I’d be happy to you little Cherub!” Nora said. She came over and sat down on my bed, which pulled the blankets even tighter so I was squished in the bed even tighter -- Do you know what I mean?

Then Nora sang me this song:

There was one little boy in the middle of the woods,
There was one little boy in the middle of the woods
There was one little boy in the middle of the woods
And he couldn’t find his way home...

There were two little boys in the middle of the woods,
There were two little boys in the middle of the woods,
There were two little boys in the middle of the woods,
And they couldn’t find their way home….

There were three little boys in the middle of the woods…..


On and on and on she went. Up to the number ten, I think. But I fell asleep at the number seven…

(PICTURE: BEDTIME PICTURE OF NORA SITTING ON THE EDGE OF MY BED SINGING AND ME SLEEPING)


……………………………………………………………………………..


Final Chapter
The Next Morning


...When I woke up Nora was gone. But on my pillow there was a box. And on top the box was a note. So I was seven. I could read. So I opened up the note… But I couldn’t read a word of it.

I brought the note downstairs to the kitchen where my mother was making breakfast.

“Mom! Mom! --Mom? --Where’s Nora?”
My mother said, “Tsk, tsk, tsk! Silly boy! Nora went home last night when your father and I came home from dinner.”

I handed My mother the note. “Mom, read this note.” So she did. It said:

Nighty-night, you little Cherub!

Love, Nora.

(ARTWORK OF MY MOTHER AND ME. MY MOTHER IS READING THE NOTE. THERE IS A BOX ON THE TABLE)

I sighed and opened the box and guess what was in it? It was a doll! And the doll had hair that shot straight up in the air, very high, then fell down its back until it touched the ground. And its hands were glued to its hips. And its elbows stuck out! I looked down at her feet and her toes were curled up at the end.

And I said, “Mom! Mom! MOM! This is NORA!”

And my mother said, “Tsk, tsk, tsk. Silly boy. This isn’t Nora. This is a doll.”

(ARTWORK: A TROLL DOLL THAT LOOKS SOMETHING LIKE MY DESCRIPTION OF NORA, BUT ONLY SOMEWHAT)

I said, “Mom, do you think I could call Nora up? I want to thank her. Oh, and I have to ask her a question.”

My Mom said yes, so I called 1-2-3-4-5-6-7 and Nora answered the phone.

I said, “Hi, Nora! This is Jimmy -- Er, I mean… This is the Cherub! Yes. It’s me! The Cherub! Um, Nora, I have a question. What does Cherub mean?”

And Nora said, “Tsk, tsk, tsk. Silly boy! Cherub means soft……… tiny……. angel.”

So from that day on whenever we needed a babysitter we always asked for Nora and she always left us a present, sometime while we were sleeping, under our bed.

(FINAL ARTWORK: DOUBLE PAGE OF MY HOUSE AGAIN, SAME PICTURE, ONLY THIS TIME IT IS NIGHTTIME AND THE SKY IS FILLED WITH STARS AND ONE BEDROOM WINDOW IS EVER SO SLIGHTLY AGLOW)


The End


……………………………………………………………………………..


Epilogue

Now I will tell you which parts of the story are true and which parts I made up…

First of all, her name was not Nora. It was Kathleen. But I love the name Nora and it’s my story so I can make up any name I want for her!

Her telephone number was DEFINITELY NOT 1-2-3-4-5-6-7! That would be impossible, wouldn't it?
But she did have hair that was high up on her head. It was called a beehive hairdo. It is very fashionable for girls to have them. My sister has one. But her hair didn’t drop all the way to the ground. I just thought it would be interesting to make her hair both high and low in the story. Like the doll. The doll I'm thinking of was one of those troll dolls with high puffy hair. Nora didn't look like a troll. It's just a picture I have in my mind of the kind of thing she would leave us. I had a troll doll. Still do.

She did always stand with her hands on her hips as if they were glued there. But they weren’t of course! And I could see the bones of her elbows!

She always wore pointing shoes -- but the toes didn’t curl up. I made that up!

She always did call us cherubs but I never thought to ask why and I never knew what it meant.

My mother’s name was Dorothy but everyone called her Dottie. My father’s name was not Bob, but I changed it to Bob to honor my Uncle Bob and his son Bobby Jr., two great men.

Nora was an excellent drawer and taught us how to draw Snoopy dogs and trees and flowers and clouds with rain in them and Mexican suns that looked like they were sweating sundrops and big crescent moons. She always hung our pictures up for our parents to see when they came home -- but she never put any pictures on the ceiling. I made that part up.

She was very good at putting puzzles together but she never put nine puzzles together into one puzzle. Nobody could do that! Could they?

She never made us a snack like the one in the story. She always brought snacks with her. She would bring yummy cookies and brownies and cupcakes and jello cups with fruit in them and chocolate covered pretzels. On winter nights we always begged her to make us hot cocoa and sometimes she would fill the tops to overflowing with mini-marshmallows!

She did always tucked us in very tightly and it felt so good! It was the best feeling in the world!

And she did sing me to sleep if I asked her to. I don’t remember what song she would sing. I made the one in this story up.

And she always left us a little note and sometimes a present next to our bed.

Oh, and she was my first crush. I thought she was the most beautiful person on earth -- not counting my mother. She was fifteen, I think.

And yes, my birthday is in May. May 17th to be exact.

So that’s my stora of Nora, my babysitter, my first crush. I’m eleven now. I don’t know where she is I just know that her family moved to North Carolina, I think. Sometimes I think about her. Maybe I’ll never see her again. But I’m sure if I ever bumped into her I would know it was her. I don’t think I will, though. I don’t think I would want to. I like her just the way I remember her.



……………………………………………………………………………..
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Last edited by Jim Moonan; 02-26-2019 at 04:34 AM.
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Unread 02-18-2019, 06:05 PM
Jim Moonan Jim Moonan is offline
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So that you don't stumble out of the gate, in the prologue I refer to art work that would accompany story. But I have none! I have inserted artwork notes in caps wherever artwork would appear.

I have told this story to groups of young children for years. The difficulty is to transcribe the oral narrative and presentation to the page using written narrative, dialog and art.

I've tried to document in writing verbatim how I tell the story (it is memorized) but did make one significant change: I changed the narrator's age from "undetermined" or "adult" (no one ever asked me) to an eleven year-old boy who is recalling his own memory of Nora from when he was seven. I don't know yet if that works. I've tried in some ways to channel an eleven year-old Holden Caulfield persona (prepubescent with none of his psychosis) into the narrator.
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Last edited by Jim Moonan; 02-19-2019 at 01:50 PM.
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  #3  
Unread 02-21-2019, 01:01 PM
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Felicity Teague Felicity Teague is offline
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Hi Jim,

I'm just popping in for now, to let you know that I really enjoyed reading this and I'll be back as soon as possible to comment.

Work's a bit crazy at the moment and I'm also trying to sort out my dad's 70th birthday celebrations (woo-hoo!), but I'll visit when I can <(:-) (party hat)

Best wishes,
Fliss
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Unread 02-21-2019, 06:18 PM
Jim Moonan Jim Moonan is offline
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Thanks for taking the time, Fliss.
I know it is long. That doesn't help attracting critters here... Maybe I should write an abridged version ::))

Since this is based (very loosely) on a real babysitter I had when I was little, I've evolved the telling of it to include an afterword that details which parts are true and which are made up (though some of that is even made up/embellished). I want the children to know that as a writer they can change whatever they want to make the story their own. For example, my babysitter's real name was Kathleen. But I have always loved the name Nora, so I changed it.

I hope you do come back; hope your father's party was full of laughter and silly hats. And cake! Cake!

This is my party hat creation: <**>
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Unread 02-22-2019, 11:12 AM
Jim Moonan Jim Moonan is offline
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FYI, the spelling of "story" in the opening line of the preface as "stora" is intentional, meant to immediately begin creating a playfulness with the way the story is told when telling it orally. (The rhyme with Nora.)
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Unread 02-24-2019, 01:04 PM
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Felicity Teague Felicity Teague is offline
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Hi Jim,

You're welcome! Yes, your story is longer than the average post here, but I find it very engaging so I breeze through it, smiling the while <(:-)

I like your party hat. I can confirm Mr T's celebration involved laughter, silly hats, and cake. The guineas got involved too!

I'm really pleased to read that you've been telling the original version of your story to children, the intended audience, for such a long time. That's a great way to find out whether you're on the right track, I think. A couple of years ago, I was commissioned to write for children aged 6 to 12, and to help with this I was assigned a feedback group. The kids were brilliant, partly because they were so honest. Sometimes they'd just tell me, 'This bit's boring,' and I'd laugh and change it until it met with their approval! So the fact that your story has already received thumbs up from the kids is excellent.

I like so much about your story ('stora', hehe). The N's tone of voice seems appropriately lively to me. I haven't heard of Holden Caulfield, so I don't know whether your channelling has worked. Hopefully a more knowledgeable member of the 'sphere will swing by and advise! Also, I haven't tried this approach to story writing, where the N explains at the beginning that some things are made up. I think it would be worth asking the children about this, to see whether it appeals to them. And perhaps you could do a little research into current trends too.

As far as presentation is concerned, I've worked in publishing for almost fifteen years, so I'm used to cues for artwork etc. I also worked with an artist throughout my own project. I think your ideas show a lot of promise. I could help out with proofreading too, but I think the best way forwards at this stage is to involve the children, while wearing your party hat of course <**>

I hope some of this is of use to you <(:-)

Best wishes,
Fliss
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Unread 02-24-2019, 04:58 PM
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Jayne Osborn Jayne Osborn is offline
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Hi Jim,

I just want to register the fact that I enjoyed reading your story (I'm not at all keen on 'stora' though, sorry - it just looks like a typo!) and there's loads I want to say... but I'm too tired and it's bedtime, so I'll be back... as Arnie said.

Cheers,
Jayne
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Unread 02-27-2019, 11:06 AM
Jim Moonan Jim Moonan is offline
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Thanks Jayne -- No mora stora : ) When I'm telling the story aloud it works as a kind of slang-ish accent-ish entry into the story that serves to highlight her name - Nora. But I wasn't so sure about it when I saw it in writing. So thanks for that. It's now gona : )

Fliss, I appreciate your attention to this. I think you have some work experience with children's literature and in general with things fanciful that children would be naturally interested in, so your impressions mean a lot. You have the kind of gentle whimsy and free-floating imagination that would be able to accurately gauge the viability of this as a written story vs. one told aloud.

My chief concern is how well I've translated the story from oral to written. Humbly, I can say that every time I tell it to a group it works like a charm. Iíve told it hundreds of times for years and years and without exception can feel and see the group absorbed by it. I know it works as a story told aloud to a group, so that is enough for me. But I did want to capture it for posterity before it fades away. Everything fades away!

The aspect of the story that is most challenging for me to translate to the page is incorporating the element of the story that engages the reader to consider what parts are true and what parts are made up and how effectively it provides children a glimpse of how someone writes a story by mixing facts with fantasy.

The other thing I'm wrestling with is the structural aspect: the dialog, the formatting, the sectioning into chapters (I don't know if that works. I think it does). The way it looks on the page.I have little experience with preparing a manuscript and am only taking a shot in the dark as far as how the story should be helped by the graphics. I do have a vivid image of what Nora looks like, though.

Btw, Holden Caulfield is the fictional storyteller in the J.D. Salinger's "Catcher In the Rye". but is not similar in any other way other than that he, too, was speaking directly to the reader in a way that is quite disarming.

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Unread 02-28-2019, 12:53 PM
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Felicity Teague Felicity Teague is offline
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Hi Jim,

You're welcome! Yes, I have a bit of experience and I hope it's helpful for you. I like 'gentle whimsy'; my mother actually calls me 'Whimsy' sometimes. It's pretty, we think :-)

I understand your concern about whether a story that's very popular when read aloud would be equally enticing in book form. Have you thought about seeking advice from someone who works in children's publishing? If I had a typescript prepared and I wasn't quite sure about it, I might seek advice via the Writers & Artists website, for example. Do you have something similar in the USA?

W&A publishes a yearbook too; and on accessing Amazon.co.uk I see they have a version tackling how to write (and illustrate) for children. If you could find a US equivalent, that might be a good resource too. It might help you decide which publishers would be most likely to take on your story. And you could look at their websites for guidelines on how to submit. If anything seems complicated, I'd be happy to help you.

Thanks for the link! I like a disarming narrator :-)

Best wishes,
Fliss
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