Second in series: Jimmy Crikey is the orphan alien who chose to live on Earth.
Once bullied beyond endurance Jimmy developed his abilities to protect his new Roombelow home from the dangers that threatened.
Far above Earth, the Sky Islands are invaded by the galactic race of Zyrons.
It needs Earth’s four witches, Lord Oron the ancient Weatherman and the developing magic of the tiny apprentice witch, Jade, to overcome the invaders, with a little help from Jimmy Crikey and XRU.
The Zyrons are repelled but in the process the Weatherman disappears.
The four witches unite to search for him throughout the Solar System in Jimmy’s starship.
Their search takes them to the hidden caverns of Mars where stick-like beings called Ropians live below the surface of the barren planet.
The Ropians become an interplanetary threat when their need for water threatens Earth. They have entrapped the Weatherman, to help bring them rain.
The supernatural forces of the four witches, the wisdom of the Weatherman, the knowledge of Jimmy and XRU, the talkative portable computer and starship navigator, combine to challenge the threat the Ropians pose.
Will victory assure freedom for the Weatherman?
Reviewed By Emily-Jane Hills Orford for Readers’ Favorite (Awarded 5*)
“Never underestimate the power of the guardians of Earth,” says Ira, one of the four protector witches of Earth. The galactic race of Zyrons has invaded the Sky Islands above Earth and the Ropians, who live in caverns beneath Mars’s surface, threaten to invade Earth to confiscate its water. In order to avert this invasion, Jimmy Crikey, an orphan alien who chose Earth as his home, his team of witches, an ancient weatherman, and a tiny apprentice witch named Jade come up with a viable solution. From threatening invasive alien forces to ingenious solutions using collective brainpower, the interplanetary adventures of one orphan alien, Jimmy Crikey, an outcast, once bullied by his peers, can overcome evil; not through bullying, but through brainpower and courage.
Wallace E. Briggs’ middle-grade novel, Jimmy Crikey’s Adventures in the Sky Islands (and beyond), is a clever, sensitive fantasy/science fiction story that combines the allure of some of the best-known books in this genre. One senses a bit of Harry Potter, Alice in Wonderland and the fairy tales of our youth where the underdog, the scapegoat, always rises above everyone else in the end. The main protagonist, Jimmy Crikey, is the type of character that will attract young readers and they will be cheering him on through one courageously fought battle after another. There is lots of action and mayhem to keep the plot moving forward and the true magic of this story is the magic found deep within us all. The story is full of relevant messages about bullying and how one can overcome and rise above the conflict through courage and self-confidence. It also speaks strongly about the true source of beauty – deep within our souls. A great read for a young audience.
Targeted Age Group:: 6 – 14
What Inspired You to Write Your Book?
To continue the adventures and successes of a boy who overcame bullying and learned to shine. Jimmy proves it doesn't matter what you look like with grit and determination most obstacles can be overcome.
The heart of the Jimmy Crikey Story
Mirror, mirror on the wall
It doesn’t matter if you’re short or tall,
If your legs are skinny or your waist is wide,
It only matters what’s inside.
Blue eyes, brown eyes black or green
What make you beautiful cannot be seen.
When I look at you I don’t judge your parts.
The best thing about you is in your hearts.
What makes a person beautiful, is what shines out from inside.
Jade could hardly contain her excitement. She was bouncing up and down in front of her favourite Aunt Gemma. “Jade, you had better calm down. You’ll wet your pants if you go on like that.”
“Aunt Gemma, don’t be rude. I’m more grown-up than that. I’ve even started school this year.”
“Don’t go all quiet on me. I’m just pulling your leg. Of course, you’re excited. Don’t worry. Jimmy should be here soon. Be patient a little longer.
The tiny figure of Jade, a miniature version of Gemma, was so hyped up. Her bobbed should length hair shimmered in the light of the diamonites which studded the surrounding walls. Jade had never left her homeland of Lithania before.
Jimmy’s sudden arrival caused quite a stir among Gemma’s gathered family members. He may have just entered his teen years, but Jimmy was admired and respected for his bravery and superior knowledge. He was wise way beyond his years, and no one was surprised by his strange appearance: bright red spikey hair, sapphire blue eyes, pointed ears and enormous feet enclosed in his unique red Attalian boots.
The Zapheer family had followed Jimmy, Gemma and Jade to the edge of the river. Below the waterfall was where Jimmy had dragged Mr McDonald’s rowing boat onto a dry shelf. Jade’s older cousins, twins Zach and Rachel, were very disappointed not to be joining cousin Jade on her adventure with their Aunt Gemma. “I’m sorry there’s not enough room in the boat to carry everyone safely,” explained Gemma.
The Diamites were a race of humans who just happened to be smaller than the average person: almost two-thirds of the size and height of ordinary people. They generally wore green tunics made of a soft, cotton-like material that looked like silk, and it glimmered as they moved around. Their leggings were a thicker version of the same material, and they all had blond hair of varying shades. Black or brown ankle bootees made up their daily garb. They lived their lives in a world riddled with caves and tunnels in the cliff-side land of Lithania. The walls of Lithania were peppered with diamonites every few centimetres, and they provided both heat and light.
“I’ll do my best to bring you to visit Roombelow just as soon as I can,” Jimmy promised the twins. “No one else from Lithania will get there before you do.”
“Tell Mr McDonald and Amanda that we’ll be coming to see them soon. And we want to meet your witch friends,” Zac said sorrowfully.
“They are already looking forward to meeting you, Zac, and you, Rachel. You’ll have to be patient a little while longer,” Gemma consoled the sad pair with a parting hug.
They said their farewells and Jimmy lowered himself into the fast-flowing river just a metre or two before it plunged over the lip of the waterfall. Before his feet touched the river, he turned the silver buckle on the sapphire belt gifted to him by Witch Elwin and the waters parted around his feet. Gemma followed Jimmy. She was wearing the sapphire pendant presented to her by Elwin. All she had to do was repeat the words ‘Waters part around me,” as Elwin had instructed her. Elwin’s power over water was astounding, and Gemma’s feet stayed every bit as dry as Jimmy’s. Jade and the rest of her family just looked on in astonishment. Jimmy held his hands out for Jade and lifted her down so that she stood on the river bed, which was dry between where he and Gemma stood.
“Just stay between us, and you’ll not get wet,” Jimmy said. “When we have to climb down the waterfall, you had better climb onto my back and hold on around my neck. Gemma might need to hold on to the guide rope that Geldus set up for us.”
With a final wave, the threesome disappeared over the edge of the waterfall and lost sight of their families. Jade was hardly any weight, and Jimmy quickly negotiated his way to the ledge at the waterfall’s base. Gemma was only a step behind.
They climbed down to the ledge where Jimmy had beached the rowing boat. It only had one set of oarlocks mounted centrally alongside a narrow plank shelf seat. The two oars were clipped to the inside edge of the gunnels. “It’s not very big,” said Jade.
“We’ll be fine,” laughed Jimmy. “Gemma will sit in the bow, and you can sit at the stern, Jade. There’s not a lot of rowing to do because the current is flowing in the same direction we need to go.”
“But it will be dark, Jade,” Gemma said. “There are no diamonites to light our way once we leave Lithania.”
“That is why there are two oil lamps stored under the seat,” Jimmy said, and he pulled the tinder box out of his shoulder bag and struck the flint against the grooved lid of the box. That created a shower of sparks. The oil-soaked wick caught fire, and Jimmy adjusted its length until the light of the flame glowed brightest. Gemma hung the lamp over the hook at the boat’s prow. Jimmy pushed the boat into the river and held tightly onto the rope tied to the stern. He pulled it tight to the bankside, and Jade climbed in to sit at the stern. “You next Gemma,” Jimmy said, and as soon as she was kneeling at the prow, he stepped in, released the stern rope and sat on the central wooden bench. The current took hold, and the boat floated quickly downstream while Jimmy coiled up the rope and placed it on the wooden planks next to Jade.
There was no need to steer the boat. The current flowed downstream towards Roombelow, and the rowing boat occasionally scraped against the walls of the tunnels. Jimmy was keeping a mental note of how many glowing diamonites they floated past. He knew there were seven markers to show the route back to Lithania.
“We’re almost there, Gemma,” Jimmy announced. “Get ready to jump out when we reach your cave. Tie up the boat, and once it’s secure, you can show Jade where you used to live.”
Gemma secured the rowing boat and held out her hand for Jade to grab, and she pulled her onto the rocky ledge, which was like the front doorstep into her tiny home, in the cave at the bottom of the well in Roombelow. There wasn’t much to see, although, with the help of the people of Roombelow, Gemma had been able to furnish it out into comfortable living quarters for herself. And that was all that Gemma had required: one softly covered couch bed, one table, one chair, one lamp hung from the ceiling, and another stood on the bedside table. Gemma had chipped out the stones to make an alcove, and she placed a small set of drawers in the space. That was where Gemma stored plates and cups, knives, forks and spoons and several changes of clothing. The larder section was empty because she had been away for quite a few weeks.
Just then, there came the musical lilt of a bubbling song. Jade looked around to see where the sound was coming from. Then she spotted a silvery-blue fish, its body raised almost halfway out of the water. “Why? Hello, Fiona. How nice to see you again,” Gemma greeted her old friend.
Burble, burble, burble.
“Yes. I have been visiting my family in Lithania, and this is Jade, my youngest niece. Say hello to Fiona, Jade.”
Neither Jimmy nor Jade had understood a word or gurgle of what had passed between Gemma and Fiona. “Oh! I’d quite forgotten you don’t understand fish speak.”
“You’re speaking to a fish,” gasped Jade.
Jimmy just smiled. He couldn’t talk fish speak either unless he was wearing Matilda’s magic ring on the little finger of his left hand. Then he could speak in any animal language.
Gemma told Jade that when Matilda had cast the sleeping spell on Roombelow, she was trapped at the bottom of the well for ages and ages. The only creatures that ever visited were fish and frogs, so she learned how to speak to them.
“Kneel here beside me and shake Fiona’s fin.”
Fiona wriggled joyfully at Jade’s soft touch.
“She’s lovely, Gemma,” she said.
Jade was delighted to meet a friendly fish who burbled so musically. “I’ll have to learn how to talk to Fiona.”
“You’ll need an awful lot of practice, Jade. I don’t think you have the patience to sit still for hours at a time until the burbling begins to make sense. Fiona has enjoyed meeting you, but we really must go now. There are many more wonders you’ve yet to see. But first, we have to get to the top of the well in the town’s main square. Wave goodbye to Fiona, and let’s make a start.”
With a final slap of her tail, Fiona disappeared, and the threesome moved along the stone ledge until they could see the circle of light at the top of the well.
“How do we get up there?” Jade asked.
“It used to be that I had to shout, and any villager within earshot would come to lower the bucket. Then they would wind me up to the top, sitting in the bucket.”
“But there’s no need to rely on a passer-by when I’m here,” Jimmy said. “I’ll climb up in a flash. Just give me a minute, and I’ll lower the bucket. I’ll wind Jade up first, then you Gemma. There’s the hook to grab the rope when the bucker comes down.” The hook, screwed into the end of a short pole, was still resting on the ledge where Gemma had left it for safe storage.
Jimmy was wearing his red Attalian boots, and he scaled the inner wall of the well. It was as if his feet were limpets gripping the wet walls. They were the same boots that could skim him over the ground faster than a cheetah could run. He slid over the low wall surrounding the well and pushed the empty bucket to let it swing over the well. There was now a ratchet on the roller to prevent the bucket from free-falling down the well. He shouted, “Stand back. Bucket‘s coming down.”
When Jimmy released the ratchet, the roller spun freely, and the bucket fell down the well, landing in the stream with a splash. By the time Jimmy had first wound Jade to the surface, followed by Gemma, there was a crowd of friendly faces gathering around the well. Pushing through to the front were Mr McDonald, the mayor and Amanda, his wife.
“At last!” Amanda said. “You’re back, Gemma, and who is this pretty little thing you have brought to see us?”
The usually ebullient Jade was half-hidden behind Gemma’s legs. The giant beings ogling her miniature figure put fear into her heart. The people of Roombelow were friends of Gemma, who had lived among them for more than two years, but they had never met another Lithanian. Jade was so dainty it looked as if the slightest breeze would blow her away.
“We’re frightening the little girl,” Mr McDonald boomed. “Everybody, move back a bit. Let’s give her some space.”
The crowd responded to Mr McDonald’s plea, and gradually the area around the well became less crowded. Amanda was able to approach Gemma and reach out a hand towards Jade. Jade looked up at Gemma, questioning what she should do. Gemma nodded her approval, and Jade slowly revealed herself to the mayor’s wife. She cautiously touched Amanda’s hand and then gripped Amanda’s outstretched fingers. Amanda was holding Jade in her arms in no time, but Jade stared in wonderment at the skies above her head. She had never before seen clouds floating in a blue sky.
“Welcome to Roombelow,” boomed, Mr McDonald.
Amanda dug him in the ribs with an elbow. “No need to shout.” And to Jade, she said, “You are coming to stay for a few days with Mr McDonald and me. And don’t be afraid of Mr McDonald. He may look and sound a bit gruff, but underneath all that, he is as soft as a feather pillow.”
Mr McDonald just smiled his friendliest smile, adjusted his red bow tie and put his thumbs in his waistcoat pockets. “I’ve been looking forward to meeting Gemma’s niece ever since Jimmy found your cliffside cave world. I’m sure you’re going to enjoy your stay with us.”
“Of course, we will, Mr McDonald,” Gemma responded. “Jade couldn’t wait to come and visit Jimmy’s home, and she’s heard so much about life in Roombelow and the magic of witches and the beauty of fields and mountains and rain that falls from the sky. There’s just so much she would like to see.”
Mr McDonald spoke to the gathering. “Alright, everyone. We’ve all met our new visitor. She’ll be staying for a few days, so let’s get back to our work for now. We’ll all have the opportunity to get to know her better once she settles in.”
With that said, Amanda carried her little guest into their home, followed by Jimmy and Gemma. Mr McDonald hung back to make sure the crowd dispersed
Everyone that Jade had met in Roombelow seemed gigantic compared to her tiny figure. But at least they were all friendly.
Amanda had prepared a snack of biscuits, cakes and fruit drinks which disappeared very quickly. Amanda’s baking was renowned and probably explained why Mr McDonald was the rounded shape he was. “Anyone for more?” he asked as he snaffled the last cake on the plate.
“Thanks Mr McDonald. We’re all full. We left the last one for you,” Jimmy said, smiling. “If we’re all refreshed, I think we might have time before night-time to visit Matilda’s house on the hill.”
Jade sat forward expectantly. “Aunt Gemma, are we going to see the witch?”
“Jimmy seems to think we’ve got plenty of time to visit Matilda, so let’s get on with it,” Gemma replied. Amanda advised them to be back before dark. I’ll have an evening meal ready for you.”
The friendly people of Roombelow waved to the threesome when they set off for Matilda’s house. There was a pathway leading to the large, forbidding house at the top of the hill. Jimmy and Gemma would usually walk straight into Matilda’s home, but they thought it would be polite to knock because Jade was with them.
“I hear you, Jimmy,” Matilda called out. “The door isn’t locked. Come on in and let me welcome Jade to Roombelow.”
The creaky hinges of the heavy wooden door groaned as Gemma swung it open. Jade hung back. She was apprehensive about meeting a real witch.
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Now retired from a technical sales and marketing environment selling toxic gas anaylsers I found the time, between caring for my disabled wife of fifty seven years, to write a few more stories. Primarily, I chose to write stories for children. Why?
When I was a youngster, I was brought up in a cash strapped, loving family environment, but books were in short supply.
Minds, including those of my siblings, were not broadened by international travel, nor indeed by local travel, to visit new horizons. Television programmes to show a glimpse of the wonders of the world hardly existed.
I yearned to be transported into a world where cash was not a limiting factor.
Escapism? Yes, but also a release of pent-up emotions, being able to enjoy the fruits of life on equal terms as other children.
So, when I began to write it was to satisfy a desire to entertain children in alternative worlds.
Stories that would transport a child's mind into another world where the presence of physical limitations did not limit the flights of imagination.
When imagination roams free wonderful worlds can come into existence and boundaries to vision are destroyed.
Give young minds the freedom to soar then there are no limits to what an active mind can achieve.