Once upon a time, way back in eighth grade, my English teacher, Ms. Ribar, asked the class to write a creative story. I still remember sitting at my wooden school desk wondering what to write about. My classmates were scribbling away, but I was stuck. What should I write?
When I glanced around the room for inspiration, I noticed a pencil lying on my desk. It could have been a binder or a paperclip, but it wasn’t. A story began to form about a seemingly ordinary, yellow number two pencil.
At the time, I was 13 and my life had been disrupted by the arrival of a new brother. He was two then and I was annoyed with him messing up my ever-so-important teenage stuff. So, it’s not surprising that a little brother was a key character (or should I say antagonist?).
I ended up writing a story about a little girl with a magic pencil. Where everything she drew became real. And everything she erased was gone forever. The seed of the idea for Arabella and the Magic Pencil had sprouted.
Many years later, when I was finally ready to commit to writing creatively, the story resurfaced. After weeks of rebuilding the story from memory and revising it to work as a picture book, it went out on submission, directly to publishers, and found a home. Fast forward to today, that story I wrote in English class all those years ago has become my debut picture book, Arabella and the Magic Pencil, illustrated by Shaney Hyde and published worldwide by EK Books in September 2019.
Now, as a new author, I get to bring my story full circle – back to the classroom. I like to think that Arabella and the Magic Pencil belongs there. Hopefully, it offers young readers and future writers a sense of endless possibility. Students can create their own stories about a magic pencil and the class can problem solve together figuring out how to get their sibling back if they’ve erased him. (Yes, Arabella really does erase her brother.)
I reconnected with Ms. Ribar to acknowledge that this book began in her classroom. As always, she was encouraging and supportive. I hope that young learners appreciate the teachers who are there every day helping them discover their talents before they even know what they are.
About the Author
Stephanie Ward is the author of Arabella and the Magic Pencil, illustrated by Shaney Hyde, published by EK Books in September 2019) and a yet-to-be-announced picture book due out in Spring 2020. After many years in marketing, Stephanie now spends her time writing sweet, silly and sidesplitting stories for children. Too old to blame it on youth, she still hasn’t settled down and spends her spare time traveling. At present, she can be found in London, England with her husband and young son.
Arabella and the Magic Pencil
Arabella is a beloved only child who has a picture perfect life until her brother, Avery, arrives. While she loves him, it’s sometimes hard to like him. She spends her days creating marvelous things with her magic pencil, and ignoring him. But when Avery spoils a perfectly proper tea party, Arabella erases him from her life. Oops! How can she get him back?
Stephanie Ward is the author of two picture books scheduled for release in 2019. (It’s all under wraps at the moment, but stay tuned for details!) To date, her stories have appeared in the Creative Kids Tales Anthology and the CJ Dennis Poetry Anthology. Due to ever-present wanderlust, Stephanie has traveled to all seven continents, lived in four countries and holds three passports. Currently, she lives in London, England with her husband and young son. No matter where she is, you can always find her on www.stephaniemward.com.