REVEALING READ: Arlene and Geoff Hollis, aka Detective Leo, front, with author Ellie Royce and the picture book.
REVEALING READ: Arlene and Geoff Hollis, aka Detective Leo, front, with author Ellie Royce and the picture book. BELINDA SCOTT

Secret retirement village tales revealed in picture book

LUCAS and Jack is a delightful picture book about discovering the exciting stories hidden behind wrinkles, walking frames and wheelchairs.

Author Ellie Royce, who has worked at Sawtell's Marian Grove retirement village and Mater Christi nursing home for almost 10 years, was inspired to write her first picture book by the real life stories of residents she has met.

Residents like veteran, amputee and retired detective Geoff Hollis, who stalked murderers, braved gunfire and tracked criminals across states in his work with the Homicide Squad; the Hold-up Squad and the Special Weapons Squad.

Adele Hollis said sometimes her husband was away from home so long their children asked to watch the news on TV just so they could see their dad.

Forced into retirement and aged care by a stroke, Geoff is still being consulted by detectives working on unsolved murders.

Geoff became the model for Leo the detective in Lucas and Jack and his seven year old grandson has now read the book.

Other residents with working lives as diverse as ballet dancing and farming also wound up 'in' the book, which delighted them and their families when it was published.

It has also created a meaningful memento for the descendants of those who have since died.

That aspect of the book was a surprise for author Ellie, who embarked on the project because she saw youngsters sitting on brick walls, waiting for their parents to finish visiting their elders.

She wanted to write a book which gave these children an insight into the exciting and brilliant lives their grandparents had led and which would inspire them to find out more.

"It's almost a true story," Ellie said.

Even though she is an experienced writer, she was reluctant to embark on a picture book, because of the long and painful process involved in distilling a complex story into 400 words and then finding the right illustrator, which she said was: " a bit like a blind date."

Fortunately artist Andrew McLean proved the ideal picture partner and the book has been short listed for a number of awards.

Lucas and Jack, which is now available both paperback and hard cover, is a great Seniors Week gift idea for grandparents to share with their grandchildren.

The author's website is

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