Only one of the dozens and dozens of people who have read Sultan resident Tom Green’s children’s book has nailed the riddle before the story ends.
“The Dozen Dozens” is about a family that lives in an upside-down house. The father and mother, Odd Dozen and Even Dozen, and their many children can only walk on the ceiling. They climb a ladder to get to the front door.
One day, the husband promises his wife he will right their house if she can solve his puzzle: “What goes up the chimney down, but can’t go down the chimney up?”
Green said he never planned to become a published author. He grew from aspiring photographer, to serving as a medic in the Korean War, to freelancing for a TV news station, with a few other short careers here and there. He met his wife, Dolly, when she was 15. They met at a house party in Ballard while he was on leave from the Air Force.
They had two daughters together, and then decided it was time to move. It was either the middle of the city or rural country, Green said. The couple eventually agreed on a Sultan Basin Road address. Their house is oriented correctly.
Green settled in as a Sky Valley real estate broker after the move. He and his wife developed five acres of their 20-acre plot into a blueberry farm. They ran a U-Pick operation and sold commercially. About 60,000 pounds of fruit was harvested each year. Dolly stayed home and looked after the house and their kids – they added three boys — and blueberries during the day.
“I was the gentleman farmer, and she was the hard-working farmer,” he said.
Most bushes were sold years ago, but a few still stand for personal use. They used the money they made from sales to travel the world. Nearly 40 countries have been marked in their passports. Some trips were made for enjoyment, others for mission work.
Green retired after 40 years in real estate. He and his wife remain active volunteers in Sultan.
His first book title was released last year, after he turned 85. He said he has always had a fertile imagination, but never found a direct outlet, other than making up stories to entertain his grandchildren.
It was after his wife convinced him to take a community writing class that he began to write them down.
“I started writing silly little stories,” he said. “Then I wrote this one, and it had a lot more meat.”
“Dozen Dozens” is dedicated to the Green’s teacher, Walt Dunn. The new author thanked his late friend and former professor for encouraging others to write down their genealogy and pen their creativity.
“It is this desire of his that prompted me to begin writing stories,” Green wrote.
The finished manuscript went overlooked for years, until the writer’s pastor connected him with a neighbor, Victoria U’ren. The experienced illustrator completed most of the accompanying pictures in colored pencil, until Carol Wanner took over the final few.
Dolly Green was the one who suggested including worksheets at the end of the book. Green didn’t realize as he wrote the story’s lines that the lessons he was incorporating were grammar and math skills his intended audience would be learning in school; how to count and differentiate even and odd numbers, as well as the concept of homophones, where two words have the same pronunciation, but are not spelled the same and have a different meaning.
Green felt it was important he include an educational element to the work. He expects kids between 7 and 11 would be at the right age to understand the content. However, he has sold copies to a friend who had such a fun time reading it to their grandchild with her 91-year-old husband, she bought two more for her grown sons.
British Columbia publishing company FriesenPress printed the paperbacks, which are being sold on Amazon and in some Barnes & Noble stores, Green said. Many he hands out himself, and he always keeps a few in his car, just in case.
Dolly Green has also remained an avid writer, mostly using her skills to document their family history. She wrote the first paragraph for her husband’s next book in an effort to support and motivate him to finish the draft.
Green said he is not in a rush, but there are definitely more ideas and titles coming.