The Secret Underground
by Natalie Bahm
Twelve-year-old Ally is the only witness to a bank robbery in her small town. Unable to block out the memory of the robbers, a notorious gang known as the Gauze Men, Ally joins her little brother and a bunch of neighborhood boys digging a hole in her backyard.
Only the hole isn't just a hole - it's a massive set of tunnels snaking beneath the neighborhood and heading for an abandoned steel mill. Ally is old enough to know the danger, but she reasons spending time with sixth-grade heartthrob Paul is more fun than sitting at home with her worries. And dangerous it is - none of the kids' parents realize the tunnels exist, but the Gauze Men might.
100% of proceeds from this book will be donated to help a baby boy named Jayden, and contribute toward his family's massive medical expenses. Jayden suffers from a combination of congenital problems including Hirschsprung's disease.
Natalie wrote this book to help Baby Jayden and his family, who have been through untold emotional and financial hardship since his birth. The proceeds for this incredible book will go to Jayden's parents. Wow. I am blown away by Natalie's compassion and generosity. I hope you will all buy a copy, spread the word, whatever you can . . .
When I was a kid reading aloud terrified me. When I read to myself the words on the page made sense, but when I read aloud they got blurry and mixed up. I stuttered and missed words and read very slowly to compensate. When a teacher called on me to read in class I’d panic, sure that I would mess up and look silly.
I was lucky enough to have teachers who realized I was a good reader (thanks to comprehension tests), but other students teased me. I never volunteered to read aloud, and tried to keep my eyes down during class reading times so I wouldn’t be asked to read.
It was bad.
When high school came I knew I needed to get over my fear. I practiced reading aloud to myself at home. I tried to skim ahead when the class was reading something, so if I got called on I could recite bits from memory.
Then one day, I was in English and my teacher asked me to read a long poem to the class. I read the entire thing without stumbling once. I still remember the feeling of triumph in that moment. I’d conquered my fear.
Two weeks ago, I finished recording the audiobook for The Secret Underground. It was such an interesting experience. I learned a ton about narration and recording. I made all sorts of mistakes and spent HOURS fixing them. Fifteen years ago I never would have imagined I could read a whole book aloud, much less a book that I’d written. I’m pretty sure middle-grade-me would be proud.
Natalie Bahm’s The Secret Underground will come out September 28th with all profits going to the family of baby Jayden Huynh. Jayden is a two-year-old with serious health problems. You can read more about the project here. The eBook version of The Secret Underground is available for preorder on Amazon and Apple/iTunes. The print and audio versions will be available on release day at all major online booksellers.