I was up early one spring morning helping my daughters get ready for school. Allanna, my oldest, was then 9 years old and was upstairs fretting over her clothes.
With only ten minutes left before she had to run out the door she remembered an important assignment. “Dad!” she yelled, with new found panic. “I have to have a poem for my class!”
“What kind of poem?” I instinctively inquired, to which she responded in frustration “It has to rhyme, and it has to be something no one in my class has heard.”
“Where you suppose to write it?”, I asked, ready for a discussion about ‘doing homework before we are ready to run out the door.’ She assured me it was not a writing assignment, but that we needed a rhyming poem for a discussion in class, and that we needed it right now or the world was going to end.
I am the kind of dad that likes to help under any and all circumstances, so I instructed her to stay on course with her all-important clothing, reminded her to comb her hair and to brush her teeth (she forgot her homework, after all…) and declared I would write one for her.
I looked at the clock. 8 minutes before ‘go’ time. I can do this, I said to myself…
I sat at my computer and let my fingers fly. I imagined my daughter walking to school that morning and encountering an alien spaceship as it landed in front of her. The story began to unfold itself onto my screen as if it were actually happening. She would meet an alien, and he would take her on a ride through the solar system to look at all the planets. She being typically more responsible than on this particular morning, I imagined her realizing that she needed to be in school, and letting the alien know that she should be getting back.
I don’t remember exactly how long it took me to write the story, but I do remember feeling an incredible sense of pride as I handed her the printed page as she came thundering down the stairs. She clipped it from my hands in stride and ran out the door to get to school just in the nick of time.
It wasn’t until she came home later that we all sat down for dinner and read the story out loud as a family. It was an instant hit with the whole clan and I committed then and there to publish it someday in dedication to my daughter, Allanna.
In the following 15-or-so years, the ‘Alien Story’ has become a popular nighttime request among the many stories I have written for each of my children, and is a long-standing family favorite. I love that they ask for it by name, and am thrilled that it has been often.
Finally, together with illustrator Zach Clough, I have published the Alien Story as My Ride With The Alien, an interactive children’s book app for the iPad. I’ve since added more to the story with a section about each planet in our solar system. Intended to teach other children our passion for our solar system, it is my tribute to the many inspiring nights we have spent as a family staring at the stars and imagining amazing adventures we might have among them.
I sincerely hope My Ride With The Alien is as entertaining and education for your family as it has been for mine.
Please let me know what you think; I look forward to hearing from you.