Chris Stead is the father of three children, the oldest of whom – Charlie – has quite the imagination. Chris experimented with telling various stories to his son, and then closely watching to see how and when his eyes changed and you could see his imagination taking over. At this point you he knew the story was a good one, as Charlie was immersed and was visualising the story in his mind.
One day Chris was driving the family home from the Blue Mountains to Sydney on Australia’s east coast and the kids were going crazy. With his hand stuck to the wheel and incapable of reading Charlie – then three-years old – a book to quieten him down, he began to adlib a story about a little boy who went to the beach and got taken out to sea by a giant wave.
Back at home later that night, Charlie asked about the story about the little boy who went to the beach and Chris told it again. He clearly saw that look in his son’s eye. About a week later, Chris tested his young son’s memory. “What happened to the boy who went to the beach?” “What colour was the boat?” “Who helped him when he got stuck out to sea?” Before he knew it, Chris realised that his son was retelling the book; it had all sunk in and resonated. This book didn’t even exist; it was just an imaginary tale that only two humans knew, yet it had a soul.
At that moment, Chris decided he had to make the book something real, with pictures and a hero that his son could see. That book, The Little Green Boat, is now a reality, and it’s almost page-for-page identical to the story adlibbed on that car trip some 18-months earlier. However, now it is more than just a book for his son, but an adventure for all children to enjoy. And it’s not just a single book, but the start of series.
After Chris’ success telling his first story to his son, many more followed. At the time of this writing, over 30 stories exist in some form, with a sequel to The Little Green Boat set to launch before the end of 2015. Chris created a theme tune, a series name and logo, and a character that the kids can get to know and fall in love with, too. And, thankfully, Charlie loves it.