Roxbury Resident Publishes Children’s Book

 

By Steve Sears

For Roxbury resident, Raymond DeGraw, he wanted to write a book with purpose, that would perhaps kindly teach a loving lesson.

The Adventures of Willy Boy for him was a joy to author, but it certainly has a true purpose.

The book is about childhood, imagination, nature, family – and smartphones. DeGraw explains his premise behind his book. “I feel these kids today have all this technology thrown into their faces. And it’s almost like they have nothing to do… like when I was a kid, if I had nothing to do, my mom said, ‘Go outside and do something.’ There would even be times she would get tired of us running in and out,” he says with a laugh.

Willie Boy is named after his own son, William, and the book is illustrated by Scott Galan, DeGraw’s childhood friend. “We both graduated (from Roxbury High School) in ’95,” says DeGraw. “And I’ve known him since the second grade.”

DeGraw, who had always wanted to be a writer (his late father, Ray DeGraw, was a sportswriter for the Daily News), worked as a Daily Record sportswriter for five years, and then became a career bartender. He is now a handyman and stay-at-home dad.

Once William went to kindergarten, it was just he and his daughter, Maggie, at home. “So, I started writing children’s books,” DeGraw says, who always loved reading in the genre while growing up. “The way I got the idea for The Adventures of Willy Boy, obviously he had started going to kindergarten and kids already have smartphones. And he’s coming home asking, ‘Can I have a phone? Can I have a phone?’” What really inspired DeGraw to write his book was what he saw every day when after his daughter’s nap and before William came home from school, both he and Maggie would head over to Horseshoe Lake to walk around the track. “And it’s right across the street from Eisenhower Middle School,” he says. “We would see those kids get out of school and every time they would immediately go to the phones. They wouldn’t talk to each other; they wouldn’t look at each other. they would walk in groups, but they’d all have a cell phone glued to their hand. We would see kids bumping into trees and telephone poles. And then they would all go off together and sit on the benches around the lake, not talking to each other – all on their phones.” He also mentions the kids were oblivious to the nature around the lake, like the ducks flying overhead. “That’s where the impetus for the book came. All those things kind of melding into each other and The Adventures of Willy Boy.”

In the book, Willy Boy is eventually – after many hints, requests, and prayers – gifted with a smartphone by his parents. However, his daydreams and imagination, which were a huge part of his young life, take a sojourn. No longer does he and his beloved robot, R-Matey, search for buried treasure while doing battle with the dreaded Pirate Arrtimus from Willy’s treehouse “pirate ship at sea.” And when on trips to the lake with his dad, the discussions about the nature and nearby wildlife are absent. Willy Boy now had his smartphone and, as the book says, is “…lost and content in his new blue world.”

Then the lesson comes. While walking with his dad at the lake, peering at his phone and not paying attention to where he is walking, Willy Boy trips over a stone, the smartphone is sent aloft and crashes to the ground in pieces. Willy Boy has a skinned knee and will heal, but the smartphone is a goner. Lesson delivered; message received. At that moment, he miraculously returns to his imaginary world, he and his dad all the happier.

DeGraw sought to write a book that both parents and kids could relate to. “I like to teach lessons in my books,” DeGraw says. “When you see the classic books out there, the ones that everyone remembers, the life lessons are timeless.” In addition to Galan, DeGraw’s wife Kathy gave the book a great look over and edit. “She’s the one that actually put it all together.”

DeGraw is at work on other books, including another children’s book called The Rise and Fall of Stanley Flathead, as well as Life Behind Bars: Everything You Wanted to Know and Didn’t Want to Know About the Restaurant Industry.

The Adventures of Willy Boy can be purchased online through Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Walmart, or directly from the publisher at www.authorhouse.com

 

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