The inspiration to pursue a literary career can come from all sorts of places — even a cartoon show starring a gazillionaire duck.
Like many kids of his generation, Chad Trisef was a fan of “DuckTales,” the Disney animated series that sent Scrooge McDuck on wild adventures all over the world. Watching the series helped ignite Trisef’s fascination with the world’s mysteries — the Bermuda Triangle, the Sphinx, yeti — and, in adulthood, prompted Trisef and his brother, Wayne, to write their seven-volume “Oracle” series of young adult books.
Chad Trisef, 41, is the “C” in C.W. Trisef, the pen name he and his brother use for the novels in which they weave stories of real-life global mysteries — the lost continent of Atlantis, Peru’s Nazca lines, Easter Island — with the quest of a mysterious boy with strange markings on his hand and a mission to complete against long odds.
Last week, during an assembly for third-, fourth- and fifth-graders at Treem Elementary School in Henderson, Trisef, who lives in Portland, Oregon, was greeted like a cool uncle bringing back great tales about his travels. It marked Trisef’s fourth visit to the school and was part of a weeklong series of visits Trisef made to Southern Nevada schools in celebration of Nevada Reading Week.
Teacher-librarian Niki Smead has noticed that Trisef’s visits prompt students to not just want to read, or reread, his books, but books about the places that he writes about, too.
“The first one had the Bermuda Triangle and Bimini Road and Atlantis, and I had kids ask me, ‘Do you have some stuff on the real places?’ ” she says. “So I got nonfiction books for our collection about the lost continent of Atlantis and Bimini Road. So it’s really neat to see that, and I don’t think that would have happened if he had not been here.”
Hearing Trisef talk about books and writing even spurs kids’ desire to write, Smead says. “Hearing how a cartoon inspired his own imagination, the kids are like, ‘Oh, so I have an idea and I can say it?’ (I say) ‘You don’t have to say it. Start writing it. Get it out.’ ”
Trisef’s presentation to Treem students was equal parts introduction to the “Oracle” series and neatest travelogue ever. Drawing an ardent chorus of oohs and ahhs were photos of Trisef in scuba gear exploring the Bimini Wall and his stories about visiting the North Pole.
“Some people are really amazed by the fact I’ve visited those places,” he says later, laughing. “Like, when I told kids I went to Bimini Road and the Bermuda Triangle, they’re like, ‘You were there? Were you going to die?’ ”
But before all of that, there’s a clip of “DuckTales” to be shown and a lesson to be imparted. Trisef tells students that “from that point in my life when I was your age until now, I’ve been studying real-life mysteries, because there are a lot of them all over the planet. Then, when I got older, I thought maybe I should write stories, maybe I should write books to explain these real-life mysteries. That’s what the ‘Oracle’ series is.”
In conjunction with the series, Trisef also has created YourWorld, a moderated, kid-friendly social network website. It’s part of the brothers’ — and the series’ — emphasis on promoting positive social values.
Not that any of that diminishes the fun inherent in reading a tale about young adults involved in high adventure, and then using all of that to encourage kids to read.
Often, Trisef says, “they think it’s hard or it’s homework or they see that a book doesn’t have pictures in it so it’s not fun. So part of the reason I do this is exactly that: To get them interested in reading a book.”
Raising a reader
Want to interest your child in reading? The most important, most effective thing to do isn’t expensive or complicated and probably will turn out to be fun.
Read with your kids, suggests Chad Trisef, co-author of the “Oracle” young adult book series.
Trisef says he regularly reads with his kids at home, before they go to sleep, and any other time he can.
Niki Smead, teacher-librarian at Treem Elementary School in Henderson, also suggested acquainting kids with the public library and taking advantage of summer reading programs and other kid-oriented events.
Read the Sunday newspaper together, she said. Or, find a recipe from a cookbook and prepare it together “so they can see that reading is important.”