For his Junior Workshop project, Jack L. '21 drew inspiration from his creative interests and childhood memories to write and illustrate Max and the Magic Tree, an original chilrden's book. Witnessing the negative impact of COVID-19, Jack took action and used his book to help those affected by the pandemic, raising funds for No Kid Hungry.
Below we chat with Jack about his project and process, as well as his recent fundraising efforts.
What was the inspiration behind your project?
I knew that I wanted my Junior Workshop to involve drawing and creative writing. One of my favorite childhood memories is of reading children's books with my two younger brothers. When I was at Little Calhoun, I always preferred to write my own stories over reading someone else's and my teachers always supported me. As a young child, I wrote and illustrated dozens of stories during my free time for fun. These experiences sparked my idea of illustrating and writing my own children’s picture book
Can you tell us more about the process of creating Max and the Magic Tree? How did you bring your idea to life?
I began by going back and reading all of my favorite picture books from when I was a child. I found stories with the common themes of either animals or food were those that I enjoyed most. Next, I spent a lot of time researching what makes a children’s picture book successful. I learned about character development, plot, word choice, word count, themes, length, and impactful illustrations, among other things. Once I had the image of the main character, Max, in my head, I spent time creating sketches.
The central idea of Max and Magic Tree is the importance of friendship and sharing; that greed can help you gain something in the short term, but in the long term, you end up losing much more. It was important to me that the book have a moral lesson to inspire children to be kind to one another. I feel like the world really needs that right now.
An interesting part of the process was putting aside my personal opinions at times and looking at the book through the lens of a five year old or the adult reading it to them. This required more drafts of the story than I can count!
What did you learn from Junior Workshop? What was valuable about the experience?
This experience was valuable to me because I liked having a blank slate; to use my interests and skills to create something that I was proud of. Junior Workshop taught me that not only is it possible to create something that has never previously existed, but that you can think out of the box and have your product evolve to serve different purposes. When COVID-19 came upon us unexpectedly, I realized that I had a product that I could sell to friends and family and donate the profits to an organization that helps others. I was able to sell my book and raise significant funds for No Kid Hungry, an organization that helps feed the 1 in 4 children that could face hunger because of the negative impact of the pandemic.
Junior Workshop allowed me to explore my artistic and creative abilities in a fun and engaging way. It has helped me realize that creative thinking and giving back to the community are things that will continue to be important to me in the future.