Inspired by Dr Suess, The Mushroom Planet series, Dr Doolittle, C S Lewis, Tolkien, myths, legends, science fiction and fantasy at a young age, American author Bruce Coville writes stories about futuristic gizmos — quirky, fantastical and bizarre stories that are a favourite with children all over the world.
But not all his imaginary gadgets stay imaginary: he predicted the invention of smartphones and voice-recognition translators 20 years ago. In his My Teacher is an Alien series published in 1989, characters use a device called the URAT (Universal Reader and Translator), a powerful pocket computer that seems to belong to our world today. Nowadays, Coville writes about brain-zapping intelligence boosters and machine-based telepathy, which we may also see become reality in future.
Coville’s The Unicorn Chronicles series, Rod Albright Alien Adventures, The Magic Shop series and other playfully-titled books show that the 69-year-old author has a child’s wide imagination, and an understanding of the way young minds work.
Read also: The power of reading aloud, Sanghamitra Subba
Coville is in Kathmandu for the Bal Sahitya Mahotsav children’s book festival on Saturday at Rato Bangala School and will be doing readings from his books there and in other schools.
One day when Coville was six in cow country in upstate New York, his father, a travelling salesman, pulled out Victor Appleton’s Tom Swift in the City of Gold.
“It was a big, ugly book, and he put me on his lap and started reading aloud,” recalls Coville. “We read night after night and went on a journey together. In those times, for boys you almost needed permission from an adult male to read and I became a reader because of the model my father was.”