It's not every day a normal assignment turns into a published book — especially when you are 10 years old and in grade school.
But Kennedy Warbritton, now 11, accomplished just that when she wrote “Glitz,” the story of a yellow ladybug who is picked on by her red peers at school and tries to fit in by changing her appearance.
“The assignment was given at the end of last school year as a culminating project for the students to show off their writing skills,” said Kennedy's teacher, Stacie Seal. “The purpose was for students to see that they have a voice as a writer, even in elementary school.”
The fourth-graders were given a blank hardback book in which to write and illustrate their stories. As a group, they studied Janell Cannon, author of “Pinduli,” “Verde,” “Crickwing,” “Little You” and “Stellaluna,” and after analyzing several of them, they came up with common writing techniques to use in their books. Then each student chose an animal of interest and a problem the animal might encounter.
Each character, setting and book was different, and each child worked independently, Seal said.
Kennedy, who lives in Apollo Beach with her parents and younger sisters, Hunter, 9, and Jansen, 6, chose the ladybug as her main character and the very real problem of peer pressure at school.
“I chose a ladybug because I love them,” she said. “They're so gentle and delicate, and they won't hurt you.”
Her anti-peer-pressure theme came from Apollo Beach Elementary School's anti-bullying focus.
Like her fellow students, Kennedy wrote her book in pencil and worked on it a little every day.
“She never asked us for any help,” said her mother, Leilani. “She did all the work, including the illustrations, herself. I was very surprised at the creativeness of her writing and how well she produced the entire book.”
When the assignment ended, Seal held an authors party for the class, and parents were invited. She broke the room into groups so all of the kids could read their stories to those seated at their tables. “As her parents, we couldn't have been prouder,” said Kennedy's dad, Jason. “We couldn't ask for a better little girl.”
Kennedy's grandmother, Pat Warbritton, was equally proud.
“The story and illustrations in 'Glitz' were amazing,” she said. “Being an English major, I was impressed. But I was also the grandmother of this young lady and was hoping I was not being partial. So I sent 'Glitz' off to a good friend who is also a publisher and asked her to be honest with me in her assessment of (it).”
The publisher, Lori Chappel, agreed that Kennedy — who dedicated her work to her teacher and grandmother — had written a special book and agreed to publish it as an e-book.
“It's an amazing accomplishment for Kennedy to be published on Amazon,” Seal said. “I am so proud of her for achieving this goal at a young age. I think this experience has proven to be powerful to Kennedy, as well as her peers, because they're able to recognize the unique talents they each possess and that many opportunities are available to them now and even more so in future.”
To read “Glitz,” download the free Kindle app, and visit the Amazon website. The book is available for 99 cents, and when Kennedy's book hits 10,000 downloads, Chappel will pitch it as a hardcover to a major publisher.
Kennedy recently received her first commission check for selling 22 copies, a whopping $9 and change.