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For many, the dream of writing and publishing a book can take years to achieve, but North Garner Middle School student Mariya Hunter has made that dream come true at just 11 years old. Hunter says publishing a book was always a goal and she spent much of her childhood reading and writing stories in hopes of having them published one day.
“It feels amazing that I have written a book,” Hunter says. “I’ve always wanted to tell stories that are relatable to other kids like me.”
“Lucile and the Big Race,” which Hunter published three years ago, tells the story of an elementary school girl who’s competing in a school race with one of the fastest boys in school. She trains every day, determined that she’s good enough to beat him, only to slip and fall during the race. In a delightful twist, another young girl ends up winning the race after Lucile inspired her to practice more.
Hunter says the main character, Lucile, was based off of characters in books her dad gave her to read growing up, including Keena Ford in “Keena Ford and the Second-Grade Mix-Up,” Alexandrea in “Sugar Plum Ballerinas” and Penny in “Penny and the Magic Puffballs.” The messages in these books are similar: a young girl is told she can’t do something, or is doubted by others only to prove she can be successful in whatever she’s determined to accomplish. “I wanted to create a story that showed you can do anything you set your mind to, no matter what anyone else says,” says Hunter. It’s a lesson for all of us, no matter our age.
Hunter is currently working on her second Lucile book and hopes one day to become a teacher or scientist.
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