So the story was mostly a success. Alex has been talking about the story sporadically. “John is a bad boy!” “The monkeys POP the bubbles!” “John gets NO cookies and chocolate milk!” “John said sorry.”
There were some issues with it, however.
The story was too long. About halfway through Alex had to take a break to play with his toys, then after about 5 minutes, he came back to finish the story.
Mike was too clever. I haven’t heard anything about Mike since I read the story. He understood that John did a bad thing and he eventually got caught, doesn’t get any sweets for a week, and said sorry, but there has been no mention about how Mike lured out John to incriminate himself. Most likely for a 2 year old, Mike would have just told his parents that John did it, and when asked how he knew, would be unable to answer – to him, what he knows must be true.
She told me the story was long just from looking at how much scrolling was needed on the tablet in portrait orientation. Still, she found the story entertaining, even though she thought the problem and setting were nonsensical when she first saw the compiled list.
I spent a total of 2 hours on the story. Half an hour on Wednesday where I wrote about a third of it and formulated the rest in my head (including coming up with the resolution), and then an hour and a half on Friday to finish writing it; immediately after I finished writing it, I helped take care of Alex for a few hours and then read it to him that evening (instead of on Saturday, because I was excited about it).
The story could have used a read-through before I read it to him. There’s a slight plot discontinuity you can pick out if you’re paying close attention: the narrative description of the monkeys playing with Mike’s bubbles sounds like it was the very first time they encountered them, which has a captivating whimsy, I think, but at the end of the story, John complains about how Mike “always” gets to play with the monkeys and he doesn’t.
Either I should have put in an interlude (“One such day, after Mike was finished blowing bubbles and had to go in to eat his dinner…”) or a clarifying point that Mike blew bubbles with the monkeys before, but this was the first time they started popping them.
And of course, the story needs to be shorter for his (current) attention span.
Next time I’ll make sure to give the story a read-through with a critical eye before reading it to Alex, and make sure it doesn’t require too much scrolling. I got the characters, conflict, and setting for from Alex this morning, lets see how this one goes.