Teenage friends write a magical book for children - in four languages

Editor's note: We have heard a lot about the toll Covid restrictions have taken on the wellbeing of young people. But three Maryland high school girls beat the lockdown blues by writing, illustrating and publishing an adventure story for young children. Well done, girls!

Here’s a sweet and delightful picture book for your little ones! My teenage daughter and her friends collaborated on it over the spring and summer.


Luna has always dreamed of going to the moon. One day, the opportunity arises in an unexpected way. At first, Luna is afraid to embark on her adventure, but she realizes that this is a once in a lifetime chance. On a daring quest to save the moon from Ash the fire-breathing dragon, Luna meets amazing friends and grows in self-discovery. With beautiful illustrations, this book will capture the imagination of young readers, while teaching important life lessons on kindness and courage.

The illustrations by Grace Gunther are just beautiful.

And just so you know the story behind the story, here’s the Foreword to the book:

Carolyn Cooney is the oldest of six siblings. Her youngest brother, three-year-old Christopher, has Down Syndrome. As an older sister, Carolyn reads to Christopher often and is familiar with all kinds of children’s books. Reading has become an integral part in helping Christopher overcome his speech impediments and because of that, she wants to be able to read her own original story with him. 

Abby Komiske had learning disabilities as a little kid and a huge part in surmounting those struggles consisted in reading children’s books. If not for books like Magic Tree House or Who Was..? she might not have ever loved reading. Today, Abby has not forgotten the value of reading as a child, which is why she is a reading buddy at the library and the co-author of this book. 

As high school students, Carolyn and Abby have had English together for all four years. They became close friends sophomore year while working on a research project together. They soon discovered that their writing styles complemented each other well, and ever since they have been editing buddies. After joking about writing a book together, the two friends decided to actually just do it. It turned into a huge project, spanning several months. They soon realized that in all great children’s books, illustrations were key, so they recruited their classmate Grace Gunther as an artist.

Carolyn Cooney reads the story to her brother Christopher

As they continued to brainstorm and write their story, the two remembered learning about Joseph Campbell’s archetypal hero and the hero’s journey. They decided to model Luna loosely after this kind of hero. Like the archetypal hero, Luna receives a call to action from a mentor figure (Dino), rejects it at first, then finally accepts her quest and crosses the threshold into another world (the moon). Like the ancient heroes, such as Odysseus and Perseus, Luna undergoes many tests, befriends allies, and faces a monster. In Luna’s case, however, she conquers the monster through kindness and not via blows. She becomes a “master” of two worlds and returns to normal life as a stronger, braver person. However, not only was it important for the co-authors to include these elements in the work, but to make their protagonist a more modern type of champion as well. After reading countless novels about heroes, they wanted a new kind of protagonist who related to them in a unique way.

Luna is a gentle hero, but is just as effective as a darker Byronic hero like Iron Man or a Hemingway hero who toughs it out alone. Furthermore, rather than being gifted with super strength or natural cunning, Luna is not afraid to be strong in a different way. These attributes, which enable her to perform great feats, are virtues that all little kids can take into their own lives every single day without actually meeting a green dinosaur or going to the moon. Luna is simply an authentic girl, who knows it’s okay to be scared as long as she keeps persisting through her fears.

And the book is also available in Latin, Spanish and French.





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