Fiona Ingram’s earliest story-telling talents came to the fore when, from the age of ten, she entertained her three younger brothers and their friends with serialized tales of children undertaking dangerous and exciting exploits, which they survived through courage and ingenuity. Haunted houses, vampires, and skeletons leaping out of coffins were hot favorites in the cast of characters. Although Fiona Ingram has been a journalist for the last fifteen years, writing a children’s book—The Secret of the Sacred Scarab—was an unexpected step, inspired by a recent trip to Egypt.
The tale of the sacred scarab began life as a little anecdotal tale for her 2 nephews (then 10 and 12), who had accompanied her on the Egyptian trip. This short story grew into a children’s book, the first in the adventure series Chronicles of the Stone. The author has finished the next book in the series—The Search for the Stone of Excalibur—a huge treat for young King Arthur fans. Although Fiona Ingram does not have children of her own, she has an adopted teenage foster child, from an underprivileged background who is just discovering the joys of reading for pleasure.
Naturally, Fiona is a voracious reader and has been from early childhood. Her interests include literature, art, theatre, collecting antiques, animals, music, and films. She loves travel and has been fortunate to have lived in Europe (while studying) and America (for work). She has travelled widely and fulfilled many of her travel goals.
About the book...
Fiona Ingram's first book for children, The Secret of the Sacred Scarab, takes its young heroes, Justin and Adam Sinclair, on a gripping adventure through Egypt. The cousins travel down the Nile on their holiday and are soon caught up in an adventure they didn't expect to happen. They dodge danger in the form of a deadly giant cobra, outwit seriously creepy baddies, survive the desert, and finally discover the secret of the sacred scarab.
As the book evolved, an entire series developed in the background - The Chronicles of the Stone. The Chronicles continue in the second book, The Search for the Stone of Excalibur, which Fiona has just completed. Justin and Adam find themselves plunged into the myths and legends of King Arthur and his wondrous sword.
The Secret of the Sacred Scarab was nominated a Finalist in the Children's/Juvenile Fiction section of the USA 2009 Next Generation Indie Book Awards, as well as the USA National Best Books 2009 Awards. It was nominated a winner in the 2009 Readers' Favorite Awards. It was also listed number 2 in The Children's & Teens' Book Connection Top 10 Favorite Books of 2009 for Kids, Tweens & Teens. Recently the book won a Silver Medal in the 2010 Nautilus Book Awards and a Finalist place in the 2010 International Book Awards for Children's Fiction. The book won a Bronze Medal in the 2010 Moonbeam Book Awards. It was also a Finalist in the 2011 International Rubery Book Awards and was awarded the Children's Literary Classics Seal of Approval.
From the author...
Any parent who is an avid reader will have already thanked their parents for getting them started on the road to reading. Through the magic of storytelling, children learn, experience emotions, and begin to understand the world within as well as the world around them. Reading with your child, or sharing activities that involve reading is a wonderful pastime with so many benefits. Not only does this special ‘together time’ strengthen the bond between you and your child, but it enables you to monitor your child’s progress. You’ll see the growth of your child’s vocabulary, awareness of the world, social behavior skills, listening skills, confidence, use of imagination, and many other developmental aspects.
The written word also has a deeper impact on young readers’ lives. Life issues are sometimes a challenge for kids to comprehend. Although most parents wish to shield their children from the tragic side of life, many times reality intervenes and the parent may be powerless to adequately comfort their child when dealing with a sad or traumatic situation. Death, disease, divorce, moving house, loss of a pet, bullying, experiences with alcoholic or abusive parents, and drugs form part of a long list of potentially negative life experiences. The death of a beloved grandparent, parent, sibling, friend, or an important adult can have a potentially devastating effect on a young person. Books can offer the kind of therapy that a child will appreciate and in a format that they can understand.
Stories, either fiction or non-fiction, enable children to identify with characters and sad or devastating events and relate these experiences to their own lives. Children are then able to recognize and understand how other people respond to frustration and disappointment. This helps children develop empathy and understanding of human behavior. It can also enable children to respond to discussing issues with a parent or responsible adult such as a teacher or therapist.
Today’s books also have opened up discussions on a variety of previously taboo topics or at least topics that were avoided. These issues can include:
· bullying at school
· peer pressure to indulge in drugs or sexual activities
· negative comments regarding a child’s weight, appearance, or lack of athleticism
· tolerance of differences among peers, such as income levels, religious beliefs, nuclear families vs. broken homes, etc.
· a parent’s history with substance, emotional, physical, and sexual abuse
· long term changes in living situations, such as the arrival of stepchildren or grandparents
· issues such as homosexuality and lesbianism, especially where a parent decides to ‘come out’
· unique abilities and challenges faced by peers or family members with special needs, i.e., autism or Down Syndrome, debilitating illness, or illness or trauma resulting in disability, etc.
Regardless of the issue tackled or the story composed, a book’s therapeutic effectiveness will be enhanced by:
· age-appropriate language
· honest and realistic characterizations
· an avoidance of explicit preaching while allowing the reader to make the moral connection through critical thinking
· a good, well-written story with relevant illustrations
Of course, even the best written book embracing a particular problem is not a cure-all, and parents should take note that books cannot replace the expert advice of a health care professional where necessary. However, using books for the purpose of healing will often be a solid step in helping a child understand and accept the realities of life, even when harsh and unpleasant.
THE SECRET OF THE SACRED SCARAB
Written by: FIONA INGRAM
ISBN Number: 9780595457168 (soft cover)
Genre: Juvenile Fiction - middle grade adventure