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The Honolulu Advertiser

Posted on: Saturday, January 12, 2002

'Chet Gecko' could bring heroics to big screen

By Wanda A. Adams
Advertiser Books Editor

Bruce Hale, who got his start 11 years ago self-publishing children's books and acting them out for keiki in Hawai'i schools, may see his work brought to the big screen by the same company that produced the box office-busting animated feature "Shrek."

Vanguard Films has picked up the option to make a computer-animated movie of writer/illustrator Hale's "Chet Gecko" mystery series. Hale, who moved to California six months ago to explore more opportunities in writing, teaching and filmmaking, sounded a bit like his pre-teen readers when he heard from his agent that producer John Williams was interested in Chet Gecko: "Oh. My. God. This is too cool," he said.

The lizard-tailed private eye is just up Williams' alley. Like "Shrek," Hale's books are charming and smart, readily enjoyed by people of all ages. Jolie Jean Cotton, Advertiser children's book critic, pointed out that the tone of the Chet Gecko mysteries is smart aleck, wise-cracking, campy with "thoroughly gratifying sarcasm." And for the younger kids, there are the cartoony line drawings and the general fun of having a gecko for a hero.

Hale and his massage-therapist wife, Janette, are back in Hawai'i this month from their home in Santa Barbara, as they said they hope to be a couple of times every year. During this trip, he's working with La'ie Elementary School, teaching conflict resolution with the help of Moki the Gecko, another of his heroes. Moki models ways to solve problems other than a sock in the nose; Hale helps the children to brainstorm their own alternatives.

He's just finished Chet Gecko book No. 6 for Harcourt; he's got three more to go in his nine-book contract. (Four are in print so far.) He's been doing a lot of speaking at writer's conferences and educational workshops. And if the Chet Gecko movie ever comes to pass, he'd like to work on a TV series.

Meanwhile, he's seen a few of Chet's relations in gecko-less California — blue-bellied lizards, chameleons and such — but he misses daily contact with the friendly house creatures of Hawai'i. And he and Janette miss the people here, too: "They're a little more on their guard in the Mainland, a little colder. They're nice, but the aloha is missing."