Over the last few days, the publication of the new novel The Adventures of Eli Tilmann: The Mystery of Athon Forrester has caused quite a stir in the literary scene. Available everywhere on the web and published in both English and French, as well as in an audio version so that blind and partially sighted people can also enjoy it, this adventure story is a breath of fresh air. The editors of Toombow Kids have also read the book and found that it was not only an intriguing investigative story, but it also had uplifting messages for orphaned children. It could even be said that it was designed with them in mind. Columnist Petit Nounours brings you his exclusive analysis here in his column “An Orphan’s Wink”.
Although exact figures are difficult to obtain, the latest UNICEF report states there are 140 million orphans in the world in 2019. This is a staggering figure when you consider the suffering that all these little girls and boys around the world must be going through, many of them left to fend for themselves. So what is the connection between these children and The Adventures of Eli Tilmann? This novel by Mason Ewing features the adventures of a teenager called Eli Tilmann, as he and his two friends Logan Lost and Johny Glanderwood, investigate the mysterious disappearance of Athon Forrester.
In this story, the author takes liberties and doesn’t always follow the main thread of the narrative, letting the reader discover different areas as well as the inhabitants of Jonathanland, the fictional town where the plot takes place. It’s an opportunity for him to discuss many themes, such as family, friendship and love, and also children without parents. At one point in the story, in a flashback, Eli Tilmann takes us back to his early childhood and talks at length about the relationship he had with his best friend at the time, Billy. Billy had unfortunately lost his family in a car accident and was placed in an orphanage called ‘The Orphanage of the Wandering Stars.’ It was on the day that young Eli accompanied his mother, who was going there to do some volunteer work, that he met Billy and they became such good friends that they became inseparable, to the point where they thought of each other as brothers. Sadly, Billy, who lived at the orphanage, was hit by a car when he was 9 years old and died. A mixed-race child of African-American origin on his father’s side and Japanese-American on his mother’s, Billy was described as a child whose kindness was matched by his beauty.
Because of his origins and his positive portrait, Eli Tilmann’s novel aims to break down certain negative stereotypes associated with orphans. Orphans today are the victims of many prejudices, such as the idea that they are “broken for life” because of their parents’ absence, that they will be more difficult to raise, that they are more likely to become young people with physical or mental problems, that they come from disadvantaged backgrounds, that they will not be able to succeed in life, and so on. By talking about his relationship with his friend, Eli shows that these prejudices are wrong, and that orphaned children have the potential to grow, develop and make a positive contribution to society, just like any other child. By encouraging people to try to understand them better, the novel helps to break down these negative stereotypes and promotes the inclusion of children, regardless of their family status. What’s more, when you read between the lines and look at the author’s background, you realize that the book has another purpose.
Mason Ewing, the author of The Adventures of Eli Tilmann: The Mystery of Athon Forrester had a difficult childhood. All he wanted at the time was to have friends to play with, but he was deprived of even that basic pleasure. To forget about his daily life, he escaped by reading, which helped him dream. Mason loved all kinds of books, especially adventure stories. We can draw a parallel: when he wrote “The Adventures of Eli Tilmann,” he wanted to enable all the young people in the world who don’t have families, boyfriends, girlfriends or friends, or who have an unhappy life, to be able to be happy by imagining themselves in Eli’s group of friends. This is probably why the hero talks directly to the readers, and tells us so many secrets and details about himself and his life. By being close to us, he makes us feel special and makes us all feel part of the same family.
Finally, with every purchase of a novel, Ewing Publication will donate 20% of the proceeds of the book sales to the SOS Madison International charity, which fights for the rights and welfare of children in orphanages, schools and elsewhere, and has already carried out a number of initiatives in this area.
The Adventures of Eli Tilmann, dedicated to all the orphans in the world, reminds us how important it is to cherish our children and that every little being born on Earth deserves all our love.