Farmington River second-graders create their own storybooks -- in hardcover


OTIS -- At home, Aengus Pigott, 7, enjoys learning about fantasy, mythology and history when his parents read to him.

The second-grader from Farmington River Regional Elementary School got to return the favor recently, reading a fairy tale that he wrote to his classmates and his father, Justin, a carpenter, who left work early to be there.

"It has 36 pages, including the ‘About the Author' page," Pigott said proudly, who wrote the longest book in the class.

The 11 second-graders in Samantha Kalisz's class are still only beginning to develop important reading and writing skills, but they're already accomplished authors -- with hardcover books to show for it.

Before a large assemblage of peers and family, these pint-sized authors performed readings of their newly released books at the school's library.

"They don't like to write at the beginning of the year. The writing is foreign to them," Kalisz said. "They start [the year] with five-sentence stories. As they build these skills and they get more interested in writing, they are able to come in March and April and some have [30 page] books. It's amazing to see how far they come when some don't even like to write."

In March, Kalisz read stories like, "The Three Little Pigs" and "Cinderella" to her students. The students were then told to conjure up characters, create a problem, and then build a plot with a beginning, middle and end that would put their fictional characters in motion.

The second-graders went to work with gusto. "The Princess and the Rabbit" by Noelle Noland is about a princess who must be saved by a Prince Charming after she is captured -- by her evil pet rabbit. The couple called animal control to ensure evil didn't return.

"A Fairy Tail," by Erin Decelle is about three abandoned dogs who are helped by a magical fairy to find their owner.

"The Pig Attack" by Pigott has a plot on an epic scale of "The Hobbit," by J.R.R. Tolkien, which he enjoys. There is a fight between good and evil, a jail break and two epic battles before the end results in the antagonist deciding to leave behind a life of bad acts.

As far as the title, it's befitting a book where the protagonist and antagonist are both pigs who can walk around as if they came from "Animal Farm" by George Orwell.

"They laughed when I read," Pigott said about his classmates.

"It's the kind of stories he likes," his father said.

Emmett Richard, 7, of Sandisfield, was able to shake off writer's block and produce, "The Three Little Cats," a lively story about three cats who avoid capture by a dog.

He professes he's not good at writing, but he was able to overcome what many accomplished authors struggle to do by writing a book starting with a blank piece of paper.

His first draft was sparse on detail, so he went through the draft line-by-line and fleshed out the story. The 12-page book -- which includes pictures and some sentences -- had to be conceptualized, edited and it is the most he has ever typed on a computer.

When he completed his book, his mother, Vanessa Tarasuk, listened in with rapt attention until all three cats were able to escape harm and live happily ever after.

To reach John Sakata:
or (413) 496-6240.
On Twitter: @jsakata


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