If you found out there was a local resident talking about a red crocodile that’s allergic to water and that loves eating pineapple cheesecake – well, you might do a double take to say the least.
But there’s actually nothing to worry about; it’s just Greensboro author Sands Hetherington who’s piled up nine national book awards and who will be in the spotlight next week since it’s Children’s Book Week.
The week that’s meant to encourage kids to read runs this year from April 29 to May 5, and it has been around for exactly a century. That means 2019 is the 100th anniversary of the long-running event that’s being celebrated at schools, libraries and bookstores across the country. As part of the week here in Greensboro, on Saturday, May 4, at noon, Hetherington will hold a book reading and signing at the Wonderland Book Shop on State Street in Greensboro.
The focus will be on his highly unusual – but very fun – three-book series called Night Buddies.
“It’s about a red crocodile who loves pineapple cheesecake,” he said. “He can’t get enough of it.”
Hetherington – who says he enjoys a good slice of cheesecake himself every now and then – paused during his description of the story and then stated the obvious.
“This is really wacko,” he said.
That may be, but the kids love it.
Though Hetherington will be the one doing the reading and signing on May 4, he credits his son John with much of what’s gone into the books. He said he got the idea to write the books after reading to John at night. His son always wanted more and one night Sands told him to use his imagination to create some characters and have adventures with them. John did. One creation was Crosley the crocodile, who, his son told him, was bright red.
Hetherington said it eventually came to him why Crosley was bright red – because he was allergic to water. He said that, when he realized that fact, everything suddenly fell into place and the Night Buddies series was born. Sands and John developed Crosley the crocodile over a period of months at bedtime.
Born in New York, Hetherington was brought to Greensboro at the age of two and he’s been here ever since. He now resides in the Carlson’s Farm area.
He majored in history at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and got an M.F.A. in creative writing, as well as an M.A. in English, from UNC -Greensboro.
“I spent much of my time as a professional student,” he said.
Sands, who’s worked as a wealth manager as well as at other jobs, has been writing all his life – though most of that writing has been far removed from the content in the Night Buddies books.
This description of the first book in the three book series gives readers an idea of what to expect.
“In the first book in the series, Night Buddies and The Pineapple Cheesecake Scare,” the description reads, “when pineapple cheesecakes start disappearing from the world’s only Pineapple Cheesecake Factory across town, Crosley, a zany red crocodile, enlists the help of young John Degraffenreidt to straighten things out. In this adventure-fantasy, the unlikely pair sneaks out of John’s house by becoming invisible, thanks to the I-ain’t-here doodad Crosley uses from the bunch of whatchamacallits hanging on his belt.”
It gets even weirder from there, but, of course, the kids dig it.