Gross-out Kids’ Story

A short story of mine, “The Stink Mystery”, was selected for the Redwood Writers’ seventh annual anthology, a wonderful collection of juried poems, short stories, memoir, flash fiction, and essays. Vintage Voices: The Call of the Wild is dedicated to our famous California author Jack London. A portion of the sales goes to support VintageVoices_Call-of-Wild-200x300the Jack London State Park in nearby Glen Ellen. I wrote “The Stink Mystery” a couple of years ago. It’s aimed at about 7-11 year olds and will likely appeal more to boys than to girls. You’ll understand why. As I was writing, I asked myself, “How gross shall I make these descriptions?” For instance, would this fly: “It’s the punky-sweaty, dirt-between-the-toes, no-socks, picking-toenails, flakey-athlete’s-foot kind of aroma.” “Yes, perfect,” said my editor. Well, what about this: “Moldy cheese. Old cat litter. Wet dog. Rotten eggs. Mildewed sweatshirt.” “That’s a good one, too,” he said, “don’t cut it.” Okay, I thought, I was on the right track. I knew this one would stay, too: “. . . dirty clothes and balled-up old soccer socks, rotten food in his backpack, wet towels, a hidden stray dog, mouse turds.” Yup! I was more judicious about the description of the dead possum (yes, that’s as close as I got to call of the wild). My editor told me to make my description of the dead beast gross ’cause boys like gross things. So here’s what I said: “Oh, cool, Mom,” shouted Cody. “Look at those squirmy white maggots crawling out of his ears and butt. Yeah!” I don’t know if kids like this story as I haven’t read it to any just yet. But when I do readings to adults, I can count on their collective “Yuck, Oh no, Oh gross, OMG, and Sick!” whenever I hit all the above passages. I just laugh, knowing that the boys will instead probably be saying, “Cool, Sick (meaning good), Yeah, and Sweet!” You can buy this anthology for $12 on or It’s a great gift! (And my kid story is the only kid-gross one included.)


About writersandy

Writer, Gardener, Crafter
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