Pupils do it by the book

Carrolltowne children publish their stories in hard-cover form

March 12, 2000|By Mary Gail Hare | Mary Gail Hare,SUN STAFF

Young writers had their chance to shine Friday when the second grade at Carrolltowne Elementary held an authors' tea.

About 125 second-grade pupils at the Eldersburg school are published authors and illustrators. The 7-year-olds, dressed in their best, clutched their new releases and munched on chocolate-chip cookies.

The books, which began with a dedication page, were printed on thick paper and bound in hard covers. A picture of the writer appeared on the front jacket with the title and name of the author; biographical information was on the last page.

"This book will last a long time because it has a nice hard cover," said Kaleigh Fryman, author of "Draw Me a Church." "I can even show it to my own children one day."

The work was laborious, starting from simple sentences that led up to basic paragraphs, teacher Paula Ehmann said. Pencil drawings became colorful illustrations. When the writing and illustrating were complete, the pupils followed directions in publishing kits designed for children.

"Every second-grader now has ownership of a book that was as close to them as paper and a pencil," Ehmann said.

Enthralled audiences heard stories of a spotless giraffe, a purple elephant, a praying mantis and a bunny that could not hop.

Nancy Hollasch drove from New Jersey to hear her grandson Kevin Hollasch's story. He gave her an autographed copy.

"I had to come," said the grandmother. "These are the things they remember."

For Cassie Anthony, illustrating "The Cat That Had No Tail" was harder than writing.

"The pictures smeared, and then you had to start all over," Cassie said.

The hero of her tale asked several animals how to get a tail. An inventive mouse solved the quandary by fashioning a paper tail.

Casey Crouse's giraffe was shunned for his lack of spots. The animal listened to advice from the moon, the stars and an owl. Finally, a tree's suggestion to "eat your leaves" worked.

"Giraffes have to eat leaves, and that's what finally gave him his spots," Casey said. "My book had a sad start and a happy ending."

Casey said she will read her giraffe story several more times and then pack it away "till I grow up."

"But, I will remember that I wrote it in the second grade," she said.

Michael Bender wrote of a lost old cat who was finally led home by a kitten. Michael tried to pattern his book after Eric Carle, his favorite writer, author of "The Very Hungry Caterpillar."

"I like his books and how he uses animals and repeats words for little children," Michael said.

Agnes Bender said the project had her son and his classmates excited about literature.

"They really feel like authors and illustrators," she said.

Since the writing began in November, many children wove holiday themes into their plots. While Alexander Moore read "Make Me and Give Me Santa's Sleigh" to his father for the first time, his mother snapped pictures.

"I never even had a sneak preview," said Tom Moore. "He has written his own `Night Before Christmas.' He loves art, and this was just up his alley."

Christmas was a natural theme for Alexander, who dedicated his book to "my family and Santa."

"When I started to write, it was near Christmas," Alexander said.

Jackie Failla said authorship "really boosted my son's self-confidence." Geoffrey Failla wrote "The Funny Ant" with the appropriate terms, such as thorax and antenna. The ants were colored an uncharacteristic blue.

"Drawing ants over and over was the hardest thing," Geoffrey said.

The project has been inspirational for Geoffrey Suddath, who has started a second book on his own. This one is about Pokemon.

"I am going to get the information from the front of this book and get another book published," he said.

Several of the children's books will be available in the school's media center.

"Kids need this opportunity to share their work," said Principal Martin Tierney, who said he was so pleased with the effort that he would like to take publishing schoolwide next year.

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