By Daniel J. Vance
Best-selling children's author Ron Roy has a red-hot series: his "A to Z Mysteries" for children ages 6-10 has sold more than three million copies worldwide. In it, characters Dink, Josh and Ruth Rose solve exciting mysteries. In September 2004 Roy's publisher will release his long-awaited "W" book, "The White Wolf," which features a 12-year-old wheelchair-using girl with a disability, Abbi.
I can't wait. The idea for Roy having a character with a disability came from my 7-year-old son Patrick and me.
"When you emailed me last year with the idea I thought, Why didn't I think of this?" the 64-year-old Roy said recently over the telephone from his Connecticut home. "I consider myself sensitive to disability. The idea was perfect. A while ago a child emailed and asked why my characters didn't have pets. So I introduced a dog named Pal in the "I" book. I listen to my readers."
As for the Vance family, we've been "A to Z Mysteries" fans for several years. We first learned of Roy through his award-winning 1984 book, "Move Over Wheelchairs Coming Through," in which he profiled eight children using wheelchairs.
In "The White Wolf," Abbi is adopted, 12, and lives with her mom, who is single, a writer, and has already appeared in two "A to Z" books. Roy said, "Abbi has spina bifida, uses a wheelchair and the setting is a Maine summer cottage. It is about Abbi, Dink, Josh and Ruth Rose solving a mystery."
This fictional "Abbi" sounds a lot like my own daughter Abigail, an 8-year-old wheelchair user with spina bifida. It's not by coincidence: a picture of Abigail and my son Patrick appears at the end of the book.
Besides "A to Z Mysteries," Roy currently is working on his fifth "Capital Mysteries" book, part of a series in which "a boy and girl about 9" solve crimes and mysteries in Washington D.C. The first book in that series is "Who Cloned the President?"
Roy began writing at age 34 after teaching elementary students for ten years and earning a Masters in early childhood education. He wrote about 30 failed manuscripts over four years before a publisher accepted his "A Thousand Pails of Water." It alone had received 22 rejection letters.
Keep writing Ron. We're eagerly looking forward to a character with a disability in your "Capital Mysteries" series, too.