Author Wade Bradford takes a new spin on fables with his own children’s book

Wade Bradford sits with three of his children's books, including the latest "Papa Bear's Stage Fright" and the upcoming "There's a Dinosaur on the 13th Floor." Ryan Mancini/The Signal

A local author shared his latest children’s book at a book signing at The Open Book in Canyon Country Saturday.

“Papa Bear’s Stage Fright,” written by author, teacher and Canyon Country resident Wade Bradford, said the book was a meta work of fiction based on “Goldilocks and the Three Bears,” but Papa Bear forgets his lines.

He becomes anxious as a disembodied voice – the narrator – “directs” the characters into their positions in the traditional story. With a case of stage fright, he jumps from the book and finds his way through other children’s tales.

Bradford said the idea came from his theater experience and getting stage fright himself.

“Before I knew what genre to write, I knew I wanted to be a writer,” he said “Almost all my stories were about kid characters.”

Bradford also had other books on display, including “Around the World in a Bathtub,” a nonfiction children’s book about how people of other cultures bathe and clean themselves. Copies of his upcoming book, “There’s a Dinosaur on the 13th Floor,” about a variety of animals living throughout a hotel building, were also by his side.

After speaking with other authors, he learned that while his stories were of the fantasy genre, they had the chance to appeal to children. With that in mind, his stories followed the formula of how a good picture book surprises the reader, he said.

“The ideas sometimes take a long time to cook,” Bradford said.

When he’s on his break from working at Moorpark College, he looks for time to write, he added.

“There’s something about having to grade a whole bunch of papers where I will get a good idea and it’s like I can’t write it, so then I jot it down to remember it later,” he said. “It seems like my brain comes up with – ‘Oh, are you busy now?’ – here’s a good idea. You’ll be grading papers for two weeks, but here’s an idea.”

“Around the World in a Bathtub” was illustrated by Mary Ann Fraser and is on shelves now. “There’s a Dinosaur on the 13th Floor” will be published Oct. 2.

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