Entertainment

Murray unveils children's book tonight

SUSAN DOOLAN, Special to the Examiner

Christine Murray may have struck a winner in her first book, Shayna Gladstone: In Search of the Scientist.

The adventure story has an appeal for both adults and kids.

A book launch event takes place tonight.

"I've had adults read it and love it," said Murray, whose all-time favourite comment to describe her book was Harry Potter meets Willy Wonka.

It is being positioned as a middle-grade reader suitable for ages eight to 13.

A Grade 4-5 class in London, Ont., (where Murray was born) has been reading it at school. She visited the class recently to read Chapter 11 to the kids and answer questions.

One child called it the second best story after the Harry Potter series. The children also wrote letters to Murray after the visit. The letters included drawings of Terramanna and comments on the story.

The story begins when Shayna Gladstone, around age 10, is almost crushed by a giant hot-air balloon after she escaped from the bullies in her school gym class. It turns out the balloon's pilot has been looking for a young hero to help save Terramanna and restore fun and frivolity to the land.

But first Shayna has to overcome her fear, face down the evil Falco and find Minnie, a famous scientist who is missing.

"She has two other friends who she meets in this fantastical land and they are her main companions for the adventure she goes on," Murray said.

The setting was inspired by a story Murray's father would tell her when she was a child.

She changed the name, however, to Terramanna to better represent a world that existed beyond the hole in the international dateline. It's a fun place where there are popcorn volcanoes and mountains made of fudge, licorice fields and bubble-gum trees.

One of Murray's interests played a role in the book. An actress who has appeared in film, some after-school televisions specials, commercials and, more recently, South Simcoe Theatre, used visual elements in her storytelling.

"When I was writing this, I'd see it visually, see it more as a film. I'm thinking, 'How do I make this scene work visually?'" she said. "I think when people read it they'll understand it has a visual impact if you let your imagination go."

Murray has enjoyed writing from the time she was a child. She considers it a part of her artistic side. She started writing the story about six years ago and had an editor who suggested she remove a male character.

She struggled with the suggestion for about a year because she'd didn't want to let him go.

"It was heartwrenching - it was one of my favourite characters," she said, adding that she may bring him back at some future point.

By day, she is a lawyer in a south-end Barrie firm Murray Ralston Lawyers, with her husband, Jay Ralston. The two met in a local pet store, looking for fish. Prior to moving to Barrie in 1992, Murray went to Midland first, after she graduated from law school.

Shayna Gladstone: In Search of the Scientist is available in all forms. Soft cover and hard cover books are available at Page & Turners, and at Chapters. Soft cover sells for $13.95.

The book will also be available at tonight's launch at Simply Tea and Chocolate, 151A Dunlop St. E., from 5:30 until 7:30 p.m. There will be finger sandwiches, tea and treats for kids of all ages.

For more information about the author, visit www.shaynagladstone.com.



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