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Reston Couple Invents Funny Fables

Charles and Jennifer Gluck have written a children's book called "The Pigeon with the Sticky Stuck Neck."

Not long ago, Reston residents Charles and Jennifer Gluck were taking a stroll around Lake Thoreau and amusing themselves by making up humorous stories about the wildlife they encountered.

When they saw a pigeon hopping along and bobbing its head, they laughed as they wondered what it would be like if the pigeon's neck got stuck in that funny position.

That encounter with a pigeon proved to be the seed of the Glucks’ first book called "The Pigeon with the Sticky Stuck Neck," which was released earlier this year.

"This story kind of reminds me of those old Bugs Bunny cartoons," said Charles Gluck, who also works as a research consultant in Bethesda, Md. "It's got humor that kids can relate to, but it also has elements that parents can enjoy too."

The story focuses on how the pigeon gets his neck stuck and subsequently unstuck. He goes to Dr. Quack, a duck, who introduces the pigeon to other animals that have had similar problems. There's the dog who stretched out his neck when he tried to chase after a female dog, but was yanked back by his leash. And there's also the turtle who injured his neck by sliding down a hill on its shell, which had been coated with Turtle Wax.

"Kids are able to appreciate animals with human characteristics," Charles Gluck said. "It's exciting for us to see something that we've created and that others enjoy."

THE BOOK is essentially a string of fables and folk tales invented by the Glucks, though credited to the pseudonymous Anne Arthur — a combination of their middle names. It is illustrated by Simeon Liebman, a Florida artist the Glucks found over the Internet.

"His illustrations sort of made the book happen and come to life," said Jennifer Gluck, who also works at Naval Surface Warfare Center Carderock Division in Bethesda.

The Glucks would like to eventually leave their jobs and write children's literature as their sole source of income, but for now they are content to see their writing as "almost full-time occupations."

They wrote much of their book via e-mail over the course of a few months, constantly sending each other chapters and ideas while sitting in the office.

"We weren't sure what we were doing when we started out," said Jennifer Gluck. "It was mostly just things that were funny to us."

SO FAR, the Glucks have received positive feedback from a few families from Reston and elsewhere who have read the book. One family read the book together after dinner. Another little girl reads it to her younger brother. One boy who wrote the Glucks a fan letter said "Thank you for the book. I think it's really cool that you made a book. Thank you."

"I've talked to some kids who were really excited about it because it's a chapter book," Jennifer Gluck laughed. "That's a very big deal."

The book is intended for children in early elementary school. It is available on their Web site, www.riverbankpublishing.com and also at Reston's Used Book Shop at Lake Anne Village Center.

This Saturday, the Glucks will read from the book at the Lake Anne bookstore and will perform with their folk rock band, Cinged Blues.

Bud Burwell, a co-owner of Reston's Used Book Shop, said he expects the reading to be a hit with the store's young customers.

"Readings with creative authors like this can spark something in children like nothing else," he said.