Magical; Fifth-grade author publishes first book
Published 10:11 am Wednesday, March 29, 2017
It’s not unusual to have a book-signing event in Austin.
However, it is unusual to have it for an 11-year-old author.
That’s right: Fifth grader Nawras Zaki’s “The Magic Garden” was the centerpiece for a book signing Tuesday at her school, I. J. Holton.
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“I felt pretty happy that I could publish the book,” she said. “I am excited that people can buy it.”
And so can you. The book is available on Amazon for $10.
Nawras is a student in Sarah Shultz’ class. Shultz and her students gathered in the library to hold the event, enjoy some refreshments and congratulate Nawras.
“We welcome a new Minnesota author,” Shultz said, and laughed with others when a student piped up, “And the greatest.”
Students had books signed; one student wanted his forehead signed, too, but a teacher stopped him before it could take place.
Shultz said Nawras approached her some time ago, asking her to proofread one of her stories. Not too much later, she handed Shultz a manuscript.
“She said, ‘Ms Shultz, here’s my book.’ “ Shultz said.
“It was a huge thrill for me and, I am sure, for her,” Shultz said of the final product.
Nawras first heard about publishing young author books after she attended a Young Authors, Young Artists Conference in Rochester last year. She jumped at the opportunity to follow through with publishing her own book.
“I think it is pretty amazing,” said Angi McAndrews, principal at I.J. Holton.
“I am so proud of her,” said her mother, Marwa, who attended the book signing with Nawras dad, Amar, and brother Yamin, 2. Two other children, Enar, 8; and Yamir, 5, were in classes.
Marwa said she found valuable help with learning English, thanks to the Community Learning Center, after the family arrived in Austin from northern Sudan, 11 years ago. That, in turn, helped her children.
“Today, she likes to read a lot; she reads every day,” Marwa said, smiling.
Nawras is also an Eberhart Poetry Contest finalist.
But on Tuesday, it was all about the “Magic Garden.” Nawras’ story tells the tale of Flora, her garden and an evil aunt. She read the short book to her classmates during the event, too.
“I want to keep writing,” she said afterward, adding she might consider using her same characters, “but in a different story.” A series may be born.
It was not necessarily an easy process, she said.
“I wanted to do something magical,” she said. After deciding a preliminary plot line — among the most difficult of all things to do in writing fiction — “I began to invent my characters.”
Deciding how the plot line would develop was the tough part, at times.
But Nawras prevailed. After all was said and done, “I was really proud of it.”
“And, I was really relieved,” she said, with a true author’s chuckle.