My son, who is generally a reluctant reader, really loves the book Dragon Puncher by James Kochalka. And when I say “love”, I mean the white hot laser focus passion that only a kid on the Autism Spectrum seems able to achieve.
Another thing my son is reluctant to do is write. He’s worked hard with occupational therapists to overcome some fairly intense fine motor skill delays, and after years of effort, is able to write legibly. But he doesn’t like to do it. Ever.
So I was surprised (and thrilled) when he said he wanted to write a letter to the author of Dagon Puncher. He did the whole thing himself, only asking for a bit of help with spelling, an envelope, and a stamp. Then we mailed it off. And more or less forgot about it.
But when we got back from Spring Break vacation the other day, there was a reply letter waiting for him with a hand-drawn picture, stickers, and a fun little map for Kochalka’s other series, Johnny Boo. Now, my son is not given to a lot of outward display of enthusiasm, but if you look in that second picture, you can see his little secret smirk, which is what he does when he’s so excited about something that he can’t stop himself from smiling at least just a little. For those of you unfamiliar with Dragon Puncher, the hero’s weapon of choice is a wooden spoon called “Spoony”. That night, my son took a wooden spoon to bed with him. For me, that says it all.
I don’t know if this is one of those things that sticks with him forever. I hope so. But I tell you what, it’s sticking with me. As a father and as an author. Every time I’m tempted to rush through fan correspondence, I’m going to think of the moment my son opened the letter from his favorite author.