This highly amusing story will make your kids laugh whilst learning about how to deal with any challenges they’re facing.
By Darci Robbins
Lawrey Goodrick’s debut novel Cans for Change is an outrageous, heartwarming and educational story of father and son shenanigans. Whilst highly amusing, it touches on deeper themes such as anxiety and bullying.
Goodrick was offered a traditional contract with Hawkeye Publishing after entering the Hawkeye Publishing Manuscript Development Prize last year. He ultimately did not place on the long list for that competition but asked if he could submit another piece for consideration … that story was Cans for Change.
“It pays to have your 2-minute pitch ready,” said Carolyn Martinez, Director, Hawkeye. “Authors often struggle when put on the spot like I did to Lawrey, but his verbal description was so passionate and amusing that I had to take a look at his manuscript.”
Daniel Jeffries knows cars. More importantly, he knows his dad’s car, a 1970 Ford XW Falcon GT, his dad’s pride and joy. Daniel helped restore it.
But then his dad became obsessed with recycling.
Now the GT is a GT – oh no!
To have a dump for a backseat is the worst. Especially when the school bully discovers Daniel.
The flies. The filth. The funk.
Will Daniel’s reputation be rusted or restored?
Goodrick has always liked to write about outrageous things and has often drawn inspiration from real-life events.
“I was in the thrust of recycling like a mad man,” Lawrey said. “I often got caught up with my children being embarrassed about it so I thought it would be an interesting story to play with. I wrote the story about this crazed recycling dad, but I didn’t have the motive for Danny to please the bullies in the way that he does in the book. That came from my daughter.”
“I had to go to school to pick up my daughter because she’d been suspended. One of the lines in the book is when Danny says to the bully, ‘That’s not my dad,’ and it comes from that day my daughter was suspended. She was that embarrassed that I’d come to pick her up the kids around were like, ‘Is that your dad?’ I didn’t hear her response, but the kids responded, ‘Then why are you following him?’”
“I like those little instances in life that you can translate into books.”
Goodrick started writing about mental health issues when he himself struggled with mental health and felt that no one understood where he was coming from. He wanted to bring light to the issues that millions of people face every day. Goodrick admits that without the humour that he has imbued into this novel, Cans for Change would be a very different story.
“From a young age I struggled with anxiety and depression. I spent a lot of my childhood analysing my environment and people to try and understand my place in the world and I thought of how bad that can get as a kid and a teenager. Those themes are in my book because teenage years can be hard as it is, but when you have other factors like mental health or trauma it can impact it even more,” Goodrick said.
“If it didn’t have the humour, it would be a rather dark story and I’m just glad I was able to find that balance of humour – gallows humour in a way – and tie in those mental health issues.”
Published author, illustrator and Senior Lecturer in Creative Writing at the University of the Sunshine Coast Dr Ross Watkins also has experience when it comes to discussing deeper themes in children’s books; his book One Photo explored the effects that early onset dementia has on families and younger children. He believes that it is important to teach children about these issues early on.
“Our kids are dealing with these issues in one way or another in their lives, so I believe we have a responsibility to allow children to explore such issues through storytelling, which fosters empathy and a good deal of perspective,” Dr Watkins said.
Goodrick also illustrated Cans for Change himself, something that initially worried him. He’d had experience in the drawing field but the process of illustrating a book was completely new to him.
“I was prompted by Carolyn Martinez of Hawkeye Publishing to draw the illustrations. I threw myself at it and I’m glad I did because it was such a fun experience and drawing the entire book like a storyboard added a whole new level to the characters that I didn’t realise was there. It brought everything to life on the page. I totally appreciate that Carolyn gave me that opportunity and I’ll never look back. If you get that opportunity definitely dive straight in and do it because you may never get that opportunity again.”
Cans for Change is available later this year in all good bookstores and libraries, and is available now for pre-order on the Hawkeye Books website. Pre-order customers receive Special First Edition copies.
Dr Watkins encourages parents to source humorous books like for Cans for Change for their childrens’ early reading experiences. “The sound of kids laughing is not only one of the most joyous sounds on earth, but getting a child to chuckle along with your story can be a powerful tool that allows them to engage with your characters and the challenges they’re facing.’