Children either love or hate being tickled.
Michael Wray’s son loved it so much it inspired the Sault native, who lives and works as a teacher in Istanbul, to call his first book The Adventures of Tommy Tickles.
“I came up with the idea for this book from our son when he was four years old. He’d crawl into bed and wake up my wife and I in the morning. I would just turn my hand into a little walking man, like you see on the cover of the book, tickle him and just make up stories. After a while I thought ‘this would be an interesting story,’” said Wray, speaking to SooToday Monday.
“I emphasize, when I do readings for children, tickling should only be done with your parents in a safe and supportive environment.”
The Adventures of Tommy Tickles was published in hard copy form by Orient Express in January, Orient the exclusive distributor of materials by Oxford University Press in Turkey.
It is available in Canada through Kindle on Amazon
“The book is about three adventures Tommy has with one child. It’s personalized in the sense I left spaces for people to put their own child’s name in it as they’re reading it to their child. The illustrations are very colourful and engaging,” Wray said.
Back in his hometown to visit family members, Wray read The Adventures of Tommy Tickles to a group of children at a reading held at the Sault Ste. Marie Public Library July 22.
“It’s been encouraging. The book reading at the library went really well. I sold the 50 books I brought from Turkey, with a few left over from family and friends,” Wray said.
A Tommy Tickles sequel (Never Tickle a Tiger) is already in the works, to be preceded with a seperate children’s book.
“With this book I wanted to share something that made lots of children happy. I had such good feedback from my friends that I wanted to share it with other children,” said Wray, 59, who returns to the Sault to visit family members every two years.
A Sault Collegiate graduate who earned a degree in English literature from the University of Toronto, Wray went travelling and eventually began teaching in Turkey.
“I only planned on going there for one year to visit a friend, but then I fell in love with the country, I met my wife and after that I stayed there. It’ll be 25 years this August.”
“I teach a special program which emphasizes using English in creative ways like drama, writing, comics, ways to get them using their English in context. I like their enthusiasm.”
“One of my teachers predicted I would go far, but he never expected I would take him literally and move to a country 3,600 miles away,” chuckled Wray, a teacher of Grades 3, 4 and 5 students at a K-12 school in Istanbul.