An Upper Arlington High School student visited Barrington Elementary School on March 1 to share a tale of perseverance, determination and -- eventually -- success.
Paige Plagenz, 18, a senior at UAHS, said her visit was an opportunity to talk to about 70 first-graders about setting and achieving goals as well as the writing process.
"I was hoping to share the publication process with young kids and hopefully to get them out there and follow their own dreams or write and illustrate a book in the future if they want to," Plagenz said.
Her 30-minute presentation was centered around a book she wrote and illustrated that started as part of a journal project when she was a 14-year-old in Marlene Orloff's freshman English class at UAHS.
"We had to have a writer's notebook freshman year," Plagenz said. "Mrs. Orloff encouraged free writings and found my story in them. She encouraged me to try to get it published.
"The hardest part for me was telling myself I was going to do it," she said. "Believing in myself and telling myself this is what I want to do was difficult, but now I'm really glad I did it."
That book, "Cookie Moon," was released Dec. 4 by Mascot Books, which describes itself on its website as a hybrid publisher -- one that combines elements of traditional publishing and self-publishing. "Cookie Moon" is available online through Amazon and Barnes & Noble and at Cover to Cover Children's Books in Upper Arlington.
Plagenz said the story is about two giants who live in space: Mrs. Moon enjoys baking cookies, while her husband, Mr. Moon, prefers to eat them.
As they take part in their respective hobbies, they are able to use the cookies, both fresh from the oven and in various stages of being eaten, to explain the phases of the moon.
Her grandparents and her father inspired the characters, she said.
"My dad used to tell me bedtime stories, so he was an inspiration for it," Plagenz said. "But my grandma loved to bake. She was always baking cookies and my grandpa loved to eat those cookies."
Amy Byard, media specialist at Barrington, said Plagenz's visit was a good opportunity for young students to see what people like themselves are capable of achieving.
Plagenz noted that the idea for her to pursue writing came to her in fifth grade when she was a student at the school.
"I think it's good for the kids to see that idea of sticking with an idea you have and developing it over a long period of time," Byard said. "They got to see how her perseverance was a little tested and how she used her love of writing with her love of art.
"She's 18 years old, she has a book published, and to be able to share it in her own community, I think that builds interest. I thought it would be a good real-world experience for our kids."