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Frumiento and Raby win Auburn Book Award

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“Rainbow Flowers” by Ellena Frumiento and “Bee Nice” by Rebecca Raby are the co-winning works of the 2014 Auburn Book Award.

The co-winners of the 2014 Auburn Book Award are Ellena Frumiento, for her book “Rainbow Flowers,” and Rebecca Raby, for her book “Bee Nice.” The two authors created their winning works last year as sixth graders at East Auburn Community School and Fairview School, respectively.

Ellena is the daughter of Carmine and Laurie Frumiento. She has five siblings who range in age from three to fourteen. Rebecca is the daughter of Jim and Charmaine Raby. She has an older brother, Ryan, and a pet schnauzer named “Baby.”

The public is invited to attend an awards celebration on Saturday, October 4 from 11 a.m. to noon in the Maggie Trafton Room at Auburn Public Library, where copies of the books will be available for purchase and signing by the authors.

The annual Auburn Book Project is designed to promote student writing by implementing “writing strategies and effective writing tools” as outlined in the Common Core. The project simulates the process of book publishing, from the development of ideas to the promotion of the final product with book signings.

Student authors incorporate the writing process, computer technology, art instruction and an awareness of the marketplace as they prepare an original, edited piece of writing with original illustrations. All participants have a chance to exercise their creativity in the development of an original story and artwork, which is then bound into a hand-made book.

Ellena Frumiento was inspired to write her book because her mother has a lot of flowers in the family garden. She also likes to read fairy flower books with her sisters, Emma and Amelia, and likes to build fairy houses. Ellena says she chose to write poetry because it was an easier genre for her to use as she shared her thoughts about the flowers she drew.

Her book incorporates watercolor and oil pastels with large colorful blossoms adorning every page. She enjoys painting because she doesn’t find it as tiring as using colored pencils. The book’s pink snapdragon page is her favorite, because, while it’s not part of the rainbow, she especially likes pink flowers and the sky is pink around the edge of the rainbow.

When asked what advice she would give to other student authors and illustrators, Ellena said that doing the Auburn Book Project took a lot of work but was fun in the end. Joanie Simard, Ellena’s teacher during the project, said that Ellena faithfully had work completed before deadlines and spent hours on her two pages each week.

Ellena worked hard to achieve balance on each double-page spread of her book. “The hardest part of Auburn Book Project was getting the paintings so that I liked the layout,” she said. “Some of the flowers were bigger than the poems!”

Ellena’s current favorite book series is “Little House on the Prairie,” because she enjoys learning about Laura Ingalls Wilder’s experiences growing up on the frontier. She enjoys reading about a different historical period and imagining what life was like. She chuckles when she recalls how, in one book, Laura and her sister have no idea that lightning is actually electricity. She has read eight books in the series so far.

When she grows up, Ellena wants to be an elementary school teacher. Her third grade teacher was her favorite, because that was when she learned how to hatch salmon and got to observe baby chicks hatching. Her favorite subject in school is math, because, she says, “there’s always more!”

As a youngster just moving to Maine, Rebecca Raby carried around a copy of the longstanding Maine favorite, “Blueberries for Sal.” As a participant in the Auburn Book Project, she wanted to recreate the experience of reading that book with a bit of an update that included information about bee colony collapse.

Once her characters and story plot were established, she decided to develop a collage technique for the artwork. Critical of her drawing ability, she chose to develop a paper making process that provided the personal “style” she was seeking. “I wanted something different and unique, something that would stand out,” she says.

When asked about her advice to student authors, she replied “Make sure to keep your pace, don’t give up, and have fun with it. I mean, what’s the point? You want your readers to have fun, so you need to have fun in order for that to happen.”

Her favorite book illustrators include Jan Brett for her attention to detail and Eric Carle for his bold, colorful style. “I like it when the art can tell its own story all by itself,” she says. She is currently reading authors Veronica Roth and John Green. “I enjoy their style of writing, the depth…I just can’t put their books down.”

Her considerations for the future include trying to get her book out to many people to read, and maybe a sequel. She thinks about becoming a teacher and, in her wildest dreams, a talk show host or news anchor. Her favorite school subject is language arts because she views language as the root of expression. She hopes people will read her book and “See that when there is a problem, you can put your mind to it and figure it out.”

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