My Ambitious Children’s Story That Never Got Finished

The lonely tale of an unpublished masterpiece

Reuben Salsa
Dec 14, 2019 · 5 min read
Shiloh the Star concept sketch by Author.

I’ve always wanted to do a children’s book. I fall in and out of love for my drawings but I always fancied myself as a low-level illustrator. A low-rent hack who can sketch reasonably well to make themselves a valuable team member for Pictionary.

When my wife announced to me that we were going to have a baby, I immediately planned my first children’s book. It would be a series and each would feature my child as the star of the show. As our family would grow, I would add new characters to the line.

With great gusto, I wrote my story.

It was a small novella. I needed to focus. Learn more about my audience. Who was I pitching this too?

At the time, I had never read a book to a child. My memories were filled with Enid Blyton adventures and Dr.Seuss rhyming. I loved Where The Wild Things Are. My references were all over the place. I had written for a 12 year old.

The initial sketches came to me with ease. A little refinement and I had my main characters. Shiloh was the Star, although he barely featured as he slept through most of the book. It was to turn out to be a rescue mission for the drowsy baby.

Heidi our Cat made an appearance. She was the stray cat that adopted us. Jet black with a smokey under-surface. She didn’t like people and would often attack anyone who came near. She was friendly when it suited her. A skittish feline, we used to find her in all sorts of weird places, snoozing with one eye open.

Patch the Elephant concept sketch
The quilted model my wife made.

The final characters were an elephant and an owl. I felt I needed more skills in my rescue team and what’s better than brute strength and bionic vision! My wife even constructed a patched up elephant.

It went on and on. I couldn’t finish the story. There were no breaks and I fell in love with my prose. It was a hideous beast. I would tell myself that parents would love reading a twenty page rhyming story. I couldn’t bring myself to cut or edit anything out.

Then my son grew. And grew. And grew. Along came number two and my dreams of being an illustrated author slowly got sucked up into everyday living. Truth was, I was too lazy to find the time. I wasn’t bothered or hungry enough.

With each passing year, my missus would joke to my son about how I had written a story for him. It became a joke between us. “One day…” I would reply.

I did finally get around to editing the story. Chopping it down to size. And here lie the remnants of that tale. For the first time, published for the world (or my regular 20 fans) to see.

Shiloh the Star

In the land of Bumbletunes there sat a star,
half buried in doors of a billion cars.
Shiloh the brightest star the world has ever seen,
trapped between two cars of a seaweed green.

Atop of Patch the elephant, Hoot had spied,
with his one long sighted eagle-eye.
Shiloh the star caught between
two spotted cars of a seaweed green.

Raced they did to the edge of the sea.
Hoot, Patch and Heidi cat made three.
To the bottom-less boat all twinkles and squishy,
in jumped the owl and the cat smelling all fishy.

Poor Patch the elephant failed to fit.
So on his back, the boat did sit.
With a lurch and a heave Patch did leap,
over the jellybean ocean they crashed in a heap.

There was Shiloh the embedded blue striped star,
sat wedged between two seaweed spotted green cars.
Struggling to get free of an impossible trap,
Shiloh was getting tired and needed a nap.

Heidi was first at the scene,
scratching and attacking she sure was mean.
Next came Hoot with a mighty flap,
but he too failed to save Shiloh from this trap.

Then the ground did wobble
and the flamingo trees began to topple.
Patch the elephant had started to swing
from his fiery red toot a car he did fling.

Along came the second car of a seaweed green.
Patch was super strong like a Fluddlebus machine.
He heaved and heaved till there was no more,
just Shiloh the star freed from the floor.

Into the night the three celebrated.
The owl, the cat and the elephant all decorated,
with medals and pins from their recent quest
to save poor Shiloh who needed a rest.

In the land of Bumbletunes there lay a star,
no longer buried in a billion cars.
Shiloh the brightest star the world has seen,
asleep safe and sound in the land of dreams.

The Partnered Pen

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Reuben Salsa

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Salsa is a fever dream. A whisper carried over the mountains. He’s an illusion. An idea that sways the masses. He’s spoiling for a fight. Don’t look too close.

The Partnered Pen

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