Thai-no-mite!

So why did I write Thai-no-mite?

BOOM!

Thai-no-mite was lit when I was working on Thai-riffic! I pictured a ‘Thailogy’ in my head, three books of Lengy’s adventures. So I had a few ideas for the sequel, dubbed ‘More Thai-riffic!’

Firstly, I planted the book’s arc, something that will flow throughout the eight stories. Lengy’s going to Thailand, and he’s prepping himself for his first overseas trip. A lot is going through his head. Is he going to fit in Thailand, where he supposedly comes from? Will he get along with his relatives? And will he survive a whole month away from his familiar home and friends?

The trickest part of this book was the order of these stories. It takes place in the second half of the year, up until Lengy leaves for Thailand. So I had to tweak things to make it work. Once the order and timelines were established, I let myself loose on the stories.

Designing the book was a pure joy. I re-discovered what made Thai-riffic! unique with its menu contents and little comic strips. I kept the menu theme with this book, just like restaurants update their menus, I did the same here. I reunited with my illustrator Evi O and sketched a few loose ideas for the comic and cartoons in the book. I can only draw stick figures but Evi O weaved her magic and created Lengy’s world.

Another challenge was the actual title of this book. A lot of people thought Wil Anderson was telling the truth about my sequel being ‘Thai Me Kangaroo Down Sport’ and fans were asking for the book by that name. But I really had my heart set on calling the book, ‘More Thai-riffic!’ and then ‘Even more Thai-riffic!’ My marketing senses were tingling though, I didn’t want people to think that ‘More Thai-riffic! was a re-release or special edition of Thai-riffic! So I moved on to catchy one word titles. Thai-no-mite came out on top.

Here are some other Thai punny names that other students have made hehe

Sticky Needles

I still hate needles. So I found it easy describing the anxiety and pain of Lengy and his brother, Kitchai. I researched the type of shots that the boys needed before their overseas trip. This is a story that snowballed into an avalanche of silliness and fun. Dr Needlemouse is something that Sonic fans will appreciate, but he’s basically a figment of the boys’ imagination. And my fab illustrator Evi did a wonderful job fleshing him out.

Classroom Activities and questions

-Have you ever been overseas? Make a checklist of what you need to do or bring before you visit another country.

-Check out the Smart Traveller website, (www.smarttraveller.gov.au) and research a country’s travel status like Thailand. Is it safe to travel there? What precautions would you need to take?

-Are there things that you’re afraid of? Make  a list of fears for yourself and/or your character.

-From your list, think of some scenarios to ‘scare’ your character or yourself. Eg. If you’re afraid of heights, could the story be set on a mountain top or does your character have to sky-dive?

-Comedy can come from someone exaggerating their fears, what are some of Lengy’s in this story?

-Think of a similar scenario, eg. Going to the dentist, visiting a strange relative. What are some descriptions that could be exaggerated, based on your own fear and discomfort.

-Lengy and Kitchai find a way to face their fears, ending the story. Look back on your list of fears. How would you or your character defeat their fears?

Teacher needs a wife

I really loved writing this story. Mr Winfree is loosely based on myself as a teacher. Kids always asked me ‘Sir, do you have a girlfriend?’, followed by ‘When are you gonna get married?’ The awkward scenes inside the Thai-riffic! restaurant with Mr Winfree and Ms Eagles were kinda inspired by my own first date disasters. You know you’re in trouble when your date looks at her smartphone more than you *groan.*

I was happy to include a little history of Lengy’s Mum and Dad in here, how they met in Thailand is a sickly sweet story.

Classroom Activities and questions

-Lengy and Rajiv were doing a goodwill community project. What could you do to help your own local community?

-Do a Venn Diagram of Mr Winfree and Ms Eagles. What are their differences and similarities? Do they make a perfect couple, why or why not?

Batty Dad

My parents love their garden and they have two large longan trees in their backyard. I still remember Dad coming in, eyes wide open, talking about killer bats. This story just wrote itself, a mini sequel to Mozzie Whisperer. Now you know where Lengy gets his loopy ideas from, Lengy’s Dad has some weird ways to get rid of the bats. I looked this up on the Internet and found out some interesting solutions. It’s actually a common pest problem!

Classroom Activities and questions

-Stories are characters solving problems. Make a timeline of the events in this story. How many times did Lengy’s Dad have to rethink his strategy?

-Do bats (and birds) have any right to take fruit from people’s gardens? Or are people to being too cruel in protecting their trees? Create a discussion for both sides.

-What else could have Lengy’s Dad have done to protect his longan trees? Use your imagination and go wild!

Crazaoke

Karaoke was touched on in ‘Thai for a Day’ in Thai-riffic!, so it was time to write a whole story on this loud Thai tradition. I wanted to include the whole street in this story, most of the restaurants and stores are based on ‘pun’ names that I’ve seen around. Nothing brings a community closer than karaoke. I shared Lengy’s resistance to karaoke, not wanting to embarrass myself. This coming from a stand-up comedian! But once you get over the first few lines, karaoke becomes very liberating.

-Would you sing or perform in public? Why/why not?

-Why is Lengy afraid to join in with his parents in karaoke?

-Use the Internet to find lyrics to your favourite song. Try reading the lines like you’re reading a book (try not to ‘sing it in tune’). Was it hard reading it without singing its tune? Create a game where students read their song and have others try to guess the song.

-Alternatively, you can have Bookaoke! (similar to a game on Spicks and Specks). Take a book and sing it as any tune. Students have to try to guess that tune.

Snappy Mum

This is another story based on my childhood. My mum was crazy about photos, and this was before digital cameras! Maybe it’s an Asian thing; you spend all your time taking photos of places that you forget to actually experience the holiday.

I got to exploit another fear of mine here, extreme rides. I went to theme parks, swearing not to go on ride that makes me go up, down or upside down. After being pushed, I screamed my way through many vomit-inducing rides. That rollercoaster scene is mostly all true haha! I have fond memories of going to Dreamworld, most of them after I recovered from dizzy spells.

I loved creating the playful battle between Lengy and Mum, with Mum always having the last laugh (just like in real life). It’s a nice preview for Lengy’s longer holiday in Thailand.

Classroom activities and questions

-What are some of the scariest rides you’ve been on? What about the lamest ride you’ve been on?

-Who do you feel sorry for in this story, Lengy or his Mum?

-Why do you think Lengy changes his mind about Mum’s pictures?

-Create your own theme park with extreme rides. What would you have it in to make thrill-seekers like Lengy come back for more?

Auntie’s Aussie Day

My Auntie visited us a few times when I was a kid. And I still remember her being excited in a souvenir store. We must have stayed there for about twenty hours, more or less. That image of her suitcase being filled with Aussie souvenirs has stayed in my mind. I love Lengy’s own perception of Australia, made up of clichés and trademarks. I’m sure Auntie will get her revenge when Lengy comes to visit her in Thailand.

Classroom activities and questions

-Did you think Lengy was cruel to his Auntie or was he trying to help her?

-Imagine you have a relative coming over from overseas for the weekend. Create an itinerary of places that you would take your relative, to show off the best of Australia.

-Make a list of all the ‘Aussie’ things that Lengy tries to introduce to his Auntie.

-Lengy stretches the truth on some things about Australia. Make up some of your own ‘myths’ about Australia that overseas travellers might fall for.

Joy Krathong

The Loi Krathong is the other big celebration on the Thai calendar. As a kid, I used to go down to Parramatta river for the Loi Krathong festival, which is where this story is set. I wanted to revive Lengy’s rivalry with Khem. I love the little explanations of this festival throughout this story, especially when it’s got Lengy’s unique spin.

Classroom activities and questions

-Create your own krathong! You could do it using craft materials (check out YouTube clip, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z_ywc61c6Sk) It has to float, so think about the weight and size of your design.

-Play Mr Winfree’s game of ‘Will it Float!’ Make up a list of things in the classroom that are safe to use in water and ask yourself, will it float?

-What did Lengy learn about Loy Krathong from his Grandma?

A Thai-riffic! Christmas

When I was in Year 4, all I wanted for Christmas was a tree. I think I cried for one (let’s keep that between me and you hehe). So this anxiety of not celebrating Christmas fuelled this story. It’s amazing to hear many kids say they don’t celebrate Christmas but still have the presents, candy canes and cards in their lives. I got to live out my Christmas dreams in movies and TV shows. I guess Lengy’s desire to fit in pushed him to decorate Thai-riffic! I had fun throwing in all my little Christmas stories (buying cheap decorations, musical Christmas cards for my…crush) for this festive tale.

Classroom activities and questions

-Why did Lengy want to celebrate Christmas so badly? How would it benefit his family and the Thai-riffic! restaurant?

-Lengy finds out about his friends’ Christmas plans and realises each one is different. Think about your own Christmas celebrations. Even if you don’t really celebrate it at home, think about what happens around you at school or at the shopping centre.

-Do people need presents to celebrate Christmas? Create a discussion for both sides.

I really hope you enjoy Thai-no-mite, send me your cHEwY thoughts on what Part 3 should be called 🙂