Hi to everyone at Aquinas College!
Michael Bauer here and I’ve been asked to tell you a little bit about my book Don’t Call Me Ishmael!
I guess the first thing I could tell you is that the whole story started because I had an image from the old movie Moby Dick on the noticeboard beside my desk where I work. It showed Captain Ahab (actor Gregory Peck) on the side of the great white whale. When I looked at that picture one day (while I was still trying to write my first novel The Running Man) I thought of the famous opening line of Herman Melville’s book Moby Dick which is “Call me Ishmael.”
Then for some reason I imagined a boy saying the opposite, “Don’t call me Ishmael”. I started to wonder who that boy was and how he got the name Ishmael and why he didn’t like his name and that’s how the whole story began. It’s weird to think that if I didn’t have that picture on my noticeboard I probably wouldn’t have written the Ishmael stories. All my books have started like that – from little thoughts or ideas that have made me wonder and ask questions.
I really enjoyed writing Ishmael and the sequel Ishmael and the Return of the Dugongs. The characters seem very real to me and I like how they have very different personalities so I get to write and say things that I normally wouldn’t – particularly when I’m writing as Razza! All the boys in the story were based on ‘types’ of boys I’d known when I was a teacher. James Scobie was the only one who started out based on a particular boy, although he ended up quite different in the novel.
I based Ishmael a little bit on me. I really hated speaking in front of the class or groups of people when I was at school just like he does. I didn’t get over that until I was at university and I got more confidence. Sadly I also had more than my fair share of unrequited love like Ishmael does with Kelly Faulkner! Some things that happen to Ishmael in the book are similar to things that have happened to me – like fainting before an audience (more than once!) and strange incidents with pegs! If I ever visit Aquinas I’ll tell you all about those.
One of the more unusual things about the Ishmael books is that my son Joe designed and created both covers. He did the first one when he was in Grade 12. He does all the art work and makes all the props (like the Ringo peg doll) and takes the photos. If you look on the front cover of Ishmael you can see a symbol representing Joe’s initials just above Ringo’s head. You should be able to find it on the Dugong’s cover as well. Also check out the picture of the band on the Dugong’s cover. One of the Dugongs is me. Of course I’m a bit hard to recognise because I’m quite a bit younger in the photo and purple!
At the moment I’m writing a third and final Ishmael story which will cover grades 11 and 12 and get the boys all the way through school. It will be a sad day for me when I write the final page. I’ll really miss those guys!
Anyway if you do read Don’t Call Me Ishmael! I hope gives you a few laughs and maybe something to think about after you’re done.
ps In Chapter 3 Thar She Blows it mentions that the date of Ishmael’s birth is August 1st. Ishmael has the same birthday as someone famous who is mentioned in the novel. Can you guess or google who?
I’m about half way through the book and it is very interesting and funny. My favourite part of it so far is when Barry Bagsley and his gang put insects and spiders in James Scobie’s desk. When James opened his desk all the insects and spiders came out and went crawling through the room. Things were flying around the room and people were screaming but James was sitting in his chair and didn’t even move when they came out. I suggest you should read this if you really enjoy a funny book. It has a lot of quotes from Moby Dick. It is very interesting and I suggest you read it. Alana, Year 8.
‘Don’t call me Ishmael’ is definitely a comedy book which I would recommend to someone if you are into a joke. At the start of the book it was a bit hard to understand but as I got up to about Chapter 6 it started making a bit more sense. The story is about how the main character has got Ishmael Leseur’s Syndrome, but that’s not going to stop him from his journey in his new school. This is a good book to read and is fun and enjoyable for all ages. Maeana, Year 8
So far I haven’t read far into the book but I have already enjoyed reading it. It is a humorous book and every sentence you read you are guaranteed to laugh. Barry Bagsley is a very interesting and funny character and he keeps the story going. I would recommend this book to anyone who likes a laugh and likes an interesting and adventurous story. I am really looking forward for the end of the book. Brent, Year 8
‘Don’t Call me Ishmael’ is definitely a comedy book. I have always found funny books boring and not all that funny, but this book I actually find interesting. I like this book because of the characters: I find Miss Tarangoa an interesting character as she tricks Barry into thinking he’s going to win the day off school but ends up making him wait until she wants to finish the game (which could be the next day or the next year etc.). I would recommend this book to people who like a book that has comedy in it. I think that by the end of the book I will want to keep reading more. Emily, Year 8