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WINTERLOCHEN Event Features Students' Own Children's Books

Children’s books might be fun to read, but they’re hard to write. That’s what Interlochen Arts Academy students recently learned. The students wrote and illustrated children’s books in January during a two-week class.

To help students brainstorm ideas, teacher Karen Libby took the class to an elementary school in Traverse City, The Children’s House.

“We asked them, ‘What would you put in a children’s book if you could?’” says Derek Brockington, a junior. “One of the kids said, ‘I’d put in a wizard lizard.’”

An idea Derek used in his book, George Gobb and the Magic Glasses.

“It was really a breathe of fresh air to see their imaginations explode in front of you,” says Derek.

Using ideas from the kids, Derek created a story about a boy who gets a pair of magic glasses from his grandma that allow him to see something great and imaginary out of what he already sees.

“I decided to take this class because I thought it would be really interesting to learn how to write and author and illustrate a book,” says the dance major. “Because it was children’s I thought it’d be very easy, and it was actually very difficult to come up with an idea.”

Taking the class for the second time was Angeling Cruz-Yen.

The junior collaborated on her book, Field of Stars, with sophomore Sasha Inoue.

“The two of us were just talking about what hasn’t been done before, what kinds of things would we be interested in reading about or some kid, you know, would be interested in reading about as well,” Angeling says. “So, we decided to choose a story about this lazy blogger and his cat.”

The pair came up with the story together about a cat who decides he wants an adventure and runs off and has his owner chase after him. Sasha wrote most of the story, and Angeling, a visual art major, did most of the illustrations.

"Since I was a little kid, I’ve always loved stories. And illustrations in stories have always been a fascinating thing to me,” she says.

Students will read their books tomorrow, Saturday, Feb. 23, at 11 a.m. at the Writing House at Interlochen Center for the Arts as part of the first annual WINTERLOCHEN Arts Day. This family-friendly winter festival will feature free indoor and outdoor activities as well as free student performances and much more.