Posted Oct. 31, approved 2014 at 6:00 AM
WORCESTER — Worcester native David Hickson of Shrewsbury learned a thing or two about humanity during his upbringing in some of the tougher Worcester neighborhoods. Thirty years later, prescription those tidbits are being brought to schoolchildren across Central Massachusetts through a character known as Oliver Fae.
“One of the biggest things I learned is that in order to get along with people, you have to get to know them,” he said, which is not unlike the small fictional knight he created in stories for his four children at bedtime.
The children’s book author and illustrator, who self-published his book “Oliver Fae: The Dragon’s Tale,” will be appearing at 3:30 p.m. Nov. 5 at Gates Lane Elementary School, 1238 Main St. His talk is designed to bring the school community together in a family-friendly environment, and is one of many he has lined up for this fall.
The rhyming story tells the tale of a young knight named Oliver Fae who is small in stature but uses his street smarts to navigate his way through the kingdom. The story is the first in what Mr. Hickson hopes will be a long line, having spent years crafting tales and recently becoming determined to publish them.
“I have a passion for telling the stories that will help improve peoples’ lives or touch them in some way,” he said.
For the organizers at Gates Lane, particularly first-grade teachers Christine Rovezzi, Teresa Favreau and Lynn O’Donnell, the book event is significant on a number of levels. Not only have the first-graders taken the plight of Oliver Fae on personally as they have read the book in class and absorbed its multilayered messages, but the school has also been encouraged to create more opportunities for parent involvement by Principal Ann Swenson.
“Getting parents involved in things at the school can be tricky business,” said Ms. Rovezzi. “We have a lot of working parents and we know they are busy. What we are hoping to give them enough notice and also get them as excited about this as we are and hope they can find the time.”
The event, she added, also dovetails nicely with the citywide initiative “Worcester — The City That Reads,” which asks students to engage in leisure reading for 20 minutes each day.
The event will be open to not only the 100 first-graders and their parents, but also the entire school community as well as the public. Mr. Hickson, after giving a presentation, will be on hand to sell and sign copies of the book.
Oliver Fae, the mighty knight, while keeping the company of dragons and princesses, has become a conduit for Mr. Hickson’s messages of kindness, character and perseverance in the face of adversity. Having been raised as a minority amidst ample racial tension in the city, he found that he was accepted in all neighborhoods thanks to his ability and willingness to treat people as individuals and friends.
“What I went through built my character, but not everyone in my position was so lucky,” he said. “A lot of people don’t make it through.”