Emotional impact is the key ingredient in two new books from Alberta author Sigmund Brouwer. Adding to his extensive backlist of over 100 titles, Hush, Puppy and Trapped will both be released in the first half of 2022.
Hush, Puppy is the third book in the Charlie’s Rules series. Charlie is an 11-year-old boy who helps out at his mom’s vet clinic. Whenever he learns something new about animal behaviour, he records it as a rule in his notebook to help him remember.
In this book for animal lovers, Charlie’s rules are put to the test by a car swarmed by bees, a Chihuahua who has lost confidence, and his best friend, Amy, who is acting weirder than any of the pets.
In Trapped, we meet Matt, a teen counting down to his 16th birthday – the day when he can leave his abusive foster home situation. However, when Matt discovers a large nugget of gold, he must escape immediately before his dangerous foster father finds out. Set in the Yukon, this book’s suspense will keep readers eagerly turning the page.
Like many of Brouwer’s titles, both Hush, Puppy and Trapped are “written very deliberately to engage readers who haven’t practised as much reading,” says Brouwer. Hush, Puppy is for children six to eight years old, and Trapped is intended for teen readers.
As part of the new Orca Anchor series, Trapped is a “hi-lo” title written specifically for teens reading below a Grade 2 level; however, the artful use of metaphor and the clever plot will draw in readers of any age and ability.
Brouwer has written books for a variety of audiences, but he is particularly prolific in juvenile and young adult genres. “The first thing that inspires me to write for any audience is just wanting to share a story,” he explains. “As I do my research for anything, I always look for stories that push my emotional buttons, and then I try to weave them into fiction.”
For example, for the Charlie’s Rules series, he did research with the Canadian Veterinary Medical Association and read a lot of different accounts from veterinarians. “Whenever I read a story that either made me giggle, or there was a degree of suspense or curiosity – like how did a cow get in a tree? – or a little bit of anger – like why would someone do that? – [those stories] that had some emotional impact showed up in [the series].”
Emotions are a big part of how Brouwer teaches writing too. Through his Story Ninjas program and Rock & Roll Literacy Show, he visits over 150 schools every year.
“When I work with Story Ninjas in my writing classes, my single biggest point is this: Great stories are like great songs – they grab your feelings. And that’s because humans connect emotionally. We love songs that grab our feelings. We love stories that grab our feelings.”
Brouwer showcases this philosophy in his own work. He hopes that when reading Hush, Puppy and Trapped, young readers will “get so lost in the emotional impact of the problems presented to them that they just enjoy the story from beginning to end.”