Alessandra, a third-grader, is working on a novel with her friend Sydney (not present). The story is about two sisters who must learn to work together after being abandoned on an island. The girls are calling their novel “The End of the Year.” Alessandra also has other stories she’s writing on her own.
Chiara is in the seventh grade and is writing a story based on her own experience as a soccer player traveling to Cambodia and coaching Cambodian girls to play the game. “It’s a story about global understanding,” says Chiara, “and how sports can bring people together.”
Three friends, Megan, Olivia, and Graeme, all eighth-graders, were excited to sit in a cafe, sip hot chocolate, and write on their laptops. Megan’s novel is a historical fiction set in the 1860s. Her main character, whose parents are involved in the Underground Railroad, but who lives next door to slave hunters, finds a runaway slave and helps her to escape. It’s a life-and-death adventure as the two girls travel the Underground Railroad to Canada.
Olivia’s story centers around a confident and talented female runner. She’s in high school but already has a track scholarship lined up for college and everything’s going right for her. That is, until she breaks both legs in a terrible car accident and is told she can never race again. “It’s about coping and finding new passions,” says Olivia.
Graeme is writing a novel from the point of view of a snow leopard in Mongolia. The snow leopard’s brother has been killed by humans and now the leopard is starving and needs to find new territory. “It’s kind of hard to write,” admits Graeme. “There’s no dialogue, because snow leopards can’t talk. I write his thoughts, but there’s not really any talking. And because the snow leopard has never seen a human before, I have to imagine how an animal would interpret everything and describe it that way.”
For the month of November, these students, along with 80,000 other students around the world and nearly 500,000 adults, will attempt to write a novel in 30 days. “We’re not used to being able to write about anything we want,” confides Chiara, “so it’s pretty hard . . . but really fun.”
Photo from left to right: Chiara, Alessandra, Megan, Olivia, Kim Votry, and Graeme at Cafe Louvre on 11/9/13