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Jack L. '21 —A Children's Book With An Important Message

The Project: An original children's picture book called Max and the Magic Tree. Since the completion of the book, copies have been sold to benefit the organization No Kid Hungry

The Inspiration: One of my favorite childhood memories is 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 that. 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

The central idea of Max and Magic Tree is the importance of friendship and sharing. Greed may 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. 

Process: I began by going back and reading all of my favorite picture books from childhood. 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 the elements that make 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 mind, I spent time creating sketches. 

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!

The Value of Junior Workshop: This experience was valuable to me because I enjoyed 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 box and have your product evolve to serve different purposes. Unexpectedly, COVID-19 came upon us and I realized that I had a product that I could use to raise money to help others. I sold my book and raised significant funds for No Kid Hungry, an organization that helps feed the 1 in 4 children that could face hunger due to the negative impact of the pandemic.

What's Next: 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.