Ever since I can remember I liked writing.
In school as a kid I wrote essays and some got published in the school paper.
As a teenager I wrote lots of letters to pen friends all over the world.
I was curious and wanted to travel to meet them. I travelled in my mind.
However it never occurred to me I could become a writer.
I became a teacher and applied for a job in the tropics,
a small island in the Caribbean, Curaçao. I was young and inexperienced.
This was a real life adventure I was not really prepared for.
I had to teach my pupils in Dutch, while they spoke another language, Papiamentu, at home. I noticed they didn’t understand much of what they read,
so I made a dictionary for them and set up a library with easy readers.
Reading these books I thought I ought to make a book like this about their world.
They would love to read their own adventures, I guessed.
I started observing & collecting ideas.
One day when the school was closed down, because of a lasting power failure,
I started to write. I wrote four short stories with my students in mind.
I liked it and kept on writing every day till I had twenty chapters.
Enough to make a book, I thought
and presented the manuscript to the educational department.
They praised me, but nothing happened. An opportunity missed.
My career as a writer was about to end. The manuscript disappeared in a drawer.
One day I wrote a letter to a newspaper to complain about a pile of trash.
I made it funny. A friend read it and said you should write a column.
I remembered the manuscript and took it to the newspaper.
The next Friday my first story was published. Something happened.
Kids started writing to the newspaper. They were curious.
I knew I had to write more stories and ended this series with 200.
A publisher contacted the paper and wanted to publish the story.
It became a series of four books and was introduced in all schools.
In the meantime I became aware, that I should write for younger kids too, specially in their native language. These became really short stories.
A coworker was an art teacher. I asked him to make some illustrations.
He told me, he was very busy and really didn’t have time for this.
However he asked his daughter to read the story and to his surprise she liked it, so after all he made the illustrations and it was published as a picture book.
Kids were marveled by it and it sold out in no time.
I fell in love with the picture book formula
and want to create more picture books that inspire the young readers,
so these books become their biggest treasures,
which they like to read over and over.
Although I’ve already written many picture stories, with the same result,
sometimes it seems like a mission impossible
to get these stories illustrated and published.
I seem to be stuck in another dimension or maybe I’m some kind of alien.
Nobody has time to listen to my stories, except for the kids.
During children’s book week I’m invited to all schools and the kids love it.
Then it’s time again for work as usual, work for food.
Not food for thought, books for bright young minds. Why not?
All it takes is someone who wants to dedicate a little time
to put his heart and soul in it to get the message across.
I think a picture book should be a form of art,
where the writer and the illustrator work together
to create something beautiful, that lasts for generations.
If you think you are this illustrator, that can work this magic,
please contact me.
As I am a traveller in time I’m afraid that my voyage may end
and all my work will circle endlessly in space without ever
touching down on a planet with some intelligent form of life.
I still like to polish up my writing skills or join a critique group,
so that after all these years I finally find somebody
who has the time to listen to my stories.
Roel Jungslager – Pen name: Leo Regals
Member since 2010
Region: Caribbean: South
Published In Children's Market: