A local teacher has authored a new children's book that encourages kids to take advantage of support systems, and now she's looking to help make her dream a reality with a community support system to match.
A playwright and a teacher of English, Creative Writing and Acting at Ridgewood High School, the new picture book is hardly Louisa Luisi's first foray into publishing. But it just might be her most ambitious project yet and she'll need some Kickstarter cash to see it through.
Luisi is the author of Your Best Coaches, a 24-page tale of a boy on a baseball team whose best coaches – in life, that is – are his parents.
"The lesson is that if it's the high point in life or the low point in life, your parents will be there to root for you," said the teacher, entering her ninth year. "They're always going to be your number one fan."
A story built on hallmarks of trust and perseverance, the book pairs baseball metaphors with beautiful watercolor illustrations from the hand of Kika Esteves.
"It's really important to talk to kids about being thrown a curve," said Luisi. "I think we live in a society where a lot of young kids and teenagers expect a lot and then they don't know how to deal with things when they are thrown a curve."
Your Best Coaches has been through a ringer of focus groups, according to the author. Pyschologists, she said, are interested in utilizing the story as a discussion point for kids whose parents are recently divorced or in the process of divorcing. There's also a teacher's guide for educators that may be interested in using the book.
With a collection of one-act plays to her credit in New York City, the picture book is a departure from Luisa's normal writing.
"I've always been interested in being a writer and being published," she said. "But as any writer can tell you, it's very difficult getting published."
According to Luisi, a friend had recently held a baby shower and she presented a modified version of the poem as a gift.
"I took this poem, I changed it a bit and turned it into a children's book because people who read it really loved it. I said 'You know what, I'm just going to do this on my own. Forget about the publishing companies.'"
As of early Wednesday morning, 93 backers had pledged $4,625 toward the project. If the $12,000 mark is hit, donations will cover the cost of printing and shipping, legal fees and Esteves' work. There are 22 days left to get Luisi over the hump.
She admits success is not guaranteed. If the project isn't funded, the money is returned to the donors.
"This may not work out but at least I tried," the author said. "That's the most important thing to me as a writer – I tried, I attempted, I may fail in the end but I hope I don't. And that's all I can hope for."
If you'd like to pre-order the book and help with the campaign, check out Luisa's Kickstarter page. If funded, shipping is expected around November.
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