Our read-alouds for the past few weeks have been a pair of children’s mysteries written in the 1950s and set in Ancient Rome: Detectives in Togas and Mystery of the Roman Ransom. We finished the second one this afternoon, and Alex was horrified to discover that there aren’t any more.
So she wrote one, or rather, she dictated one and I wrote it down. She drew the title page. Once she finished dictating the story, she also drew a complicated map and wrote up a pronunciation guide to the Latin names. I have to post a picture of the pronunciation guide because it’s so adorable:
It’s six chapters and a prologue, ten half-sheets of letter paper long, so I’m not going to share the whole thing. It’s called What Will I Do?, and it continues the saga of seven elite young Roman boys who solve mysteries and untangle political plots directed at their eminent fathers. Alex plans to write a series of seven sequels, one from the point of view of each boy. If she follows through on that, my hand is going to fall off.
Alex’s story is told from the point of view of Caius, who receives word from the Emperor that Marcus, the son of a villain from the previous book, is bringing a secret army to Rome to attack Caius’s father, Vinicius, a Senator and proconsul of Rome. On the way to warn Vinicius, one of the boys is captured by the villain’s soldiers. Vinicius sends half of the Praetorian Guards to rescue the prisoner while the other half guards his villa. While Caius attends his father, the rest of the boys fetch their tame lion, Rameses, who first appeared in Mystery of the Roman Ransom. Which brings us to Chapter 4, which I will reproduce here to give you a sense of the style:
CHAPTER 4: AGAIN!
Flavius said, “I can’t believe Vinicius’s life is in danger again.”
“Me too, me too,” said everyone else.
“I have an idea,” Flavius said. “We can make it easier for the other half of the Praetorian Guard to get in by bringing Rameses.”
So I walked over to get Rameses. He was chewing on a meat bone. When he saw me and Flavius coming, he thought we were here from the butcher’s shop with more food. We said, “No, Rameses.” We said, “Fighting time again!” We took Rameses to show the other half of the Praetorian Guard.
The Praetorian Guard were fascinated. They said, “He would scare off anyone who stood in our tracks!” Mucius would be rescued in just a few hours with Rameses!
So the Praetorian Guard set off with the boys and me and Rameses to save Mucius. We came into Marcus’s lair about an hour later. A few guards had been hurt in a battle at the gateway, but they could still fight. They just had a few cuts. The Praetorian Guard were great at fighting! They made their way on.
Finally, they found Marcus’s dungeons. They searched each cell through the bars until they finally found the one where Mucius was kept. I looked at the doorway: Number Twelve.
After that, there’s another thrilling battle, a daring escape, a last-minute attack “just as we were feeling relieved and thinking it must be over,” and a final victory courtesy of Rameses. In conclusion, “The boys felt like they had saved the whole wide world! THE END.”
I have to say, I’m particularly impressed by the fact that her story has a plot which ends. I don’t think any of my early literary efforts did. Alex is purely delighted with herself – What Will I Do? was the only bedtime story she wanted tonight.