By Daniel J. Vance
Children's author Ron Roy has sold about three million "A to Z Mysteries" books for children ages 6-10. Now set for publication in late September 2004, his "W" book, "The White Wolf," features a 12-year-old, wheelchair-using girl with a disability, Abbi.
For millions of children worldwide with a disability, this is tremendous news.
The 64-year-old author spoke to me initially about his morning routine. "The first thing I do is answer perhaps 30 emails daily from kids," Roy said over the telephone from his "old farm house" near Manchester, Connecticut. "I get hundreds of letters a month, which I can no longer handle personally (because of the volume). The series is very popular. I've received letters from Singapore and Spain, and even email from parents. Random House has done its job of marketing and promoting."
He had the idea for the mystery series six years ago, saying,. "I created Dink, Josh and Ruth Rose and sent Random House the "D" book. They loved it. I then sent them 'The Absent Author' and later 'The Bald Bandit.' This winter in Florida I finished the series, meaning all 26 now are done, with the last four awaiting publication." The X, Y, and Z books will appear spring 2005.
Little known about Roy is his 1984 book, "Move Over Wheelchairs Coming Through." He said, "Living in Manhattan, I was volunteering at a hospital twice weekly. In the children's ward were kids who weren't 'bedridden,' but zooming around in wheelchairs. I was fascinated by their pluck and energy. For this (1984) book, I interviewed eight children using wheelchairs and personally got to know them in their homes and schools. Each kid had a chapter."
The book won awards and many U.S. schools used it in social studies classes.
Roy said, "In writing 'Wheelchairs' I heard children with disabilities and their families tell about not being treated nicely. People would cross the street to avoid eye contact with them. They had the humiliation of having to be carried and classrooms disrupted because of them. I was wondering how these families (emotionally) made it. Even today, years later, when I see a person with a disability I'm more apt to make eye contact and tune into their world more than I would have. The book brought my compassion more to the fore."
I can't wait to read "The White Wolf."