Garrettsville-area author and newspaper humor columnist Burton W. Cole’s second novel, “Bash and the Chicken Coop Caper” (2014, B&H Kids), won the prestigious 2015 Selah Award as Best Novel for Middle Grades on May 20.
And Cole’s third “faith, fun and farm pranks” novel, “Bash and the Chocolate Milk Cows,” was released May 1 from B&H Kids / LifeWay Christian Resources.
“It’s been a good month,” Cole said. “Bash, Beamer, Lauren and the rest of the gang are doing cartwheels all through the chicken coop. Except Beamer. He can’t do cartwheels. He’s doing somersaults. It’s quite a joyous mess.”
The Bash series of humor/adventure tales about kids romping on a northeast Ohio farm began with “Bash and the Pirate Pig” (2013), which also was a top three finalist for the Selah Award and a top 10 finalist for Christian Retailing’s Best Award for Children’s Books.
“I love sharing the silliness and pure joy of the goofy escapades I remember my siblings and cousins pulling growing up in the country, and how the love and discovery of God was such a natural part of all those awesome adventures,” Cole said.
The Selah Awards, which are presented at the Blue Ridge Mountain Christian Writers Conference in Ridgecrest, N.C., this year this year included hundreds of titles entered from 29 publishing houses in 14 genres.
In “Bash and the Chicken Coop Caper,” while Mom offers “anything” to get Bash and cousin Beamer out of the house, she really isn’t expecting them to use her good sheets to sail-snowboard off the top of the chicken coop, to put a pig in ice skates or harness the hog as the driving force of a pig-powered ambulance sled, or to use undershorts and bicycle inner tubes to build a snowball slingshot. Bash uses the most misadventurous methods ever imagined by a couple of cooped-up kids to try to harvest the Fruit of the Spirit. Beamer’s more concerned about the disappearing eggs and the pink, purple, and orange paisley sleeping bag on the move, and the footprints in the snow.
“Bash and the Chocolate Milk Cows” features chickens dripping in strawberry-rhubarb pie running amok in a fire station, a goat painted in an explosion of circus colors, and the cows giving chocolate milk on April Fool’s Day. Just the typical weirdness Beamer encounters when visiting cousin Bash on the farm. Meanwhile, somebody’s holding up stores and feed mills. Beamer wants to figure out baptism, but instead faces the chocolate-loving robber with only his crazy cousin, pesky neighbor Mary Jane, and Morton, the goat of many colors, as his Gideon’s Army.
Cole is assistant metro editor at the Tribune Chronicle in Warren, Ohio. His award-winning humor column, “Burt’s Eye View,” has been appearing weekly in the Star Beacon, Ashtabula, Ohio, for 22 years and in the Tribune Chronicle for 19 years.
The Pulitzer Prize-nominated journalist grew up on a farm in northeast Ohio and attended a small-town church with a slew of cousins and buddies. That same boyhood inspires his colorful and comical novels today.
He lives in Nelson with his wife, Terry.
Cole will be signing books at the Western Reserve Book Festival Sept. 19 in the Kennedy Center at Hiram College. His books are available at bookstores nationally and at book sites online, including B&H Publishing, Barnes & Noble, Amazon, Christianbook.com. Find Cole at the Burton W. Cole page on Facebook, on Goodreads and on LinkedIn.