Age Group: Young Adult
Genre: Coming of Age
Release Date: November 15, 2013
Growing up in the fictional town of Meadowview, young Willie Watson objects to being required to play the part of an orange in the school play when he is nine and in the fourth grade. But that's just the beginning of his problems.
As he continues through elementary school and into junior high school, Willie has to deal with the town bully; Christmas with his relatives; the death of a schoolmate; the loss of his girlfriend; the theft of a fountain pen, and his broken eyeglasses.
But that’s not all. Willie doesn’t want to eat his peas; take the garbage out; deal with his troublesome kid sister; try to climb the ropes in gym class while his gym teacher harasses him, or have to stay after school until he’s “…old enough to grow a beard.” Readers will discover how Willy becomes a member of Brucie’s gang; what happens in the old movie house on Main Street; how feisty old Grandma inspires Willie, and much, much more.
Included in this book are such chapters as "There Is No Santa Claus," "Oh Captain, My Captain," "The Dog in the Rhinestone Collar," "A Bird's Just a Bird," and "Hey Brucie, Your Sister Wears Long Underwear."
I Don’t Wanna Be an Orange Anymore contains a wealth of humorous and often touching descriptions of a young boy's fantasies and life experiences as he grows up in a small town many years ago.
Call me Willie. My last name is Watson. I have a wife, two kids, two cars, and one mortgage. I’m an English teacher at a high school, so I guess that makes me a pretty average guy. But I wasn’t always that way. You see, when I was nine and in the fourth grade, I was the kind of kid my classmates called a dweeb. In fact, I was so dweeby that everyone was always pushing me around, especially all the guys who were members of Brucie Schultz’s gang of spitters and troublemakers. Luckily for me, however, my days as a dweeb ended one fine day in 1942.
You remember that 1942 was the year that Japanese soldiers overwhelmed American and Filipino forces during the Battle of Bataan in the Philippines and Anne Frank’s family went into hiding in Amsterdam in Holland.
I was sitting in the kitchen of my house with my mother one day having my cookies and milk. I remember that our house looked just like the house Archie Bunker lived in on a show that appeared on television twenty-eight years later, in 1971. The house had a basement with a dirt floor, three rooms on the first floor, and three rooms and a bathroom on the second floor. It was covered by asbestos siding that my dad had to paint quite often because it was always peeling. In the small backyard we had a Victory Garden in which my mother liked to grow, among other things, peas.
We lived in a small town that wasn’t different from thousands of other small towns in the United States. Because that was during the days before shopping malls appeared, the town had a Main Street with quite a few stores, a gas station, a movie theater, two or three places of worship, a roller skating rink, and a town hall that housed the county offices and the courthouse. A White Castle hamburger place stood at the outskirts of town. I remember that the hamburgers served there were square.
As I sat in our kitchen munching on a chocolate chip cookie, my mother looked at me and said, “What’s the matter with you, Willie? You don’t look so good. Is something bothering you?”
Was something bothering me? Of course something was bothering me! You see, my fourth grade teacher, Miss Pfeiffer, had chosen me to be an orange in the upcoming school play. Truth to tell, I would rather have been struck by lightning than stand on a stage in front of everyone dressed like an orange. I needed help, and I needed it fast. But because she wasn’t always the most sympathetic and understanding person in the world, I wasn’t sure that my mother was the right person to turn to. Nevertheless, I decided to give it a try. Maybe I’d get lucky, I thought.
Hank Kellner is a veteran of the Korean War and a retired associate professor of English currently based in Winston Salem, North Carolina. He is the author of 125 Photos for English Composition Classes (J. Weston Walch, 1978); How to Be a Better Photographer (J. Weston Walch, 1978); Write What You See (Prufrock Press, 2010); and, with co-author Elizabeth Guy, Reflect and Write: 300 Poems and Photographs to Inspire Writing (Prufrock Press, 2013).
His published Ebooks include Terror at Mirror Lake, The Taste of Appalachia, The Lucky Star House of Celestial Pleasures, Mayday, Give Me Liberty Or..., I Remember, Prologue to the Pokerbury Tales, Wooden Doors, Humpty Dumpty, Curtains, and Forever.