The Magic of Writing for Kids

My little book is called Night Buddies and the Pineapple Cheesecake Scare, which released on the first of June.  It has two principal characters: John, a young boy who isn’t ready to go to bed yet, and Crosley, a bright-red crocodile who shows up to rescue him. 

This is my first children’s story.  One thing I discovered is that there is little difference in kids’ fiction and older peoples’ stuff.  They both use characters and plots and backgrounds and dialogue and all the rest of it.  The only difference worth mentioning is that kids’ stories can use magic.

I studied literature in college and graduate school and wrote a dozen or so adult short stories.  I gave it up for other pursuits.  In middle-age I produced a son and named him John.  Like the kid in the story, I didn’t give him a middle name. John is who invented Crosley.  Okay, let me back up: I always read to him from a very early age and without fail.  One night when I was done reading (I think he was six), I may have suggested he make up a companion to finish going off to sleep with.  Then maybe I didn’t; he may have done it on his own.  Pretty soon, though, there was Crosley: red color, goofy name and all.

At bedtime we started throwing Crosley ideas around and inventing episodes.  This went on for a year or more, and even though we did stop, Crosley had become a real member of the family and would pop up in conversation for years.  Eventually I decided to put him and John into a story.  Crosley has this bunch of little magic whatchamacallits on his belt, and he and John use one to become invisible, and they slip right past John’s parents and out into the Borough.

Crosley is red because he is allergic to water.  Well, not directly.  If he gets much water on him, he breaks out doing the Black Bottom dance and has to keep going for hours.  Unless he takes his antidote pills.  They stop the Black Bottom quickly enough but turn him red at the same time.  It’s a side-effect. Crosley also works for Night Buddies Amalgamated.  This organization pairs up kids and crocodiles so they can sneak out on adventures whenever the kids can’t sleep.

Adventures are called Programs in the Night Buddies, and tonight’s Program is to go find out why the whole world’s supply of pineapple cheesecakes is drying up.  I should have mentioned that John likes pineapple cheesecakes and Crosley is absolutely goofy about them, so this is a real emergency.

The Program runs way late, of course, and gets crazy and scary, and when it’s finally over and John gets home, he has no trouble falling asleep.  This is the Night Buddies system working.

I could have dropped the red part, but Crosley was such a family pet that I didn’t want to compromise him in any way.  Crosley began as a lights-out buddy, so let’s go on and make him a member of Night Buddies Amalgamated, right?  And throw in that he’s a pineapple cheesecake freak and have a pineapple cheesecake emergency, and there’s the whole gist.  But I want to say again that John invented Crosley.  I only explained him and porked him out a bit.

Guest post by Sands Hetherington. Sands Hetherington credits his son John for being his principal motivator. Sands raised his son as a single parent from the time John was six. He read to him every night during those formative years. He and young John developed the Crosley crocodile character in the series during months of bedtime story give-and-take. Sands majored in history at the University of North Carolina (Chapel Hill) and has an M.F.A. in creative writing and an M.A. in English from UNC-Greensboro. He lives in Greensboro.

You can find out more about Sands Hetherington’s World of Ink Author/Book Tour at


  1. Pineapple cheesecake sounds good, and so does the book!



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