Children's writing

Writer in Training

Eleanor, age 7

Eleanor’s first author photo.

On a recent trip to Girdwood, I got to spend some time with my friend, Eleanor. She’s seven years old. For some time now, she’s wanted to write a story and make a book with me, and we finally had the chance. It was either that or watch TV, so the choice was easy.

Eleanor already knew about first drafts, so she got paper for the draft and a stack of paper for the real book.

The title came quickly: Twenty-six Kittens. The rest took more effort, especially the names of the twenty-six kittens. “Writing a book is hard,” Eleanor realized. But she stuck with it.

We completed the draft. I wrote the text on the pages, and Eleanor illustrated. I stitched the book together with needle and thread, and Eleanor composed the About the Author page and the enticing description for the back cover.

Here is our masterpiece!

We’ll start with the back cover because, really, isn’t that where we all start?

Back Cover Book Text

Eleanor’s text says, “What happens when 26 kittens meet a shark in Maui? Join [us] to find out!”

And now you can’t put the story down, can you? Twenty-six kittens and a shark? In Maui? You’d be disappointed if I left you hanging, wouldn’t you?

Well, I won’t.



One day in Alabama, there was a man who had twenty-six kittens. Well, it was a Big Deal.


All the kittens looked exactly the same, but they had different names. One was Raven, another was Rainbow. The others were Jen, Eleanor, Ray, Skye, Rebecca, Rosie, Hummingbird, Ginger, Denali, Max, P.J., Savannah, Snowflake, Snow, Brownie, Silver, Gold, Greenland, Girdwood, Copper, Kipper, Salmon, Chocolate, and Blueberry.


One day, the owner went on vacation to Maui. The kitten sitter was going to pick them up at their house in an hour, but the kittens ran away! First, they ran to Washington, D.C.

And then they ran away to Maui. There were seven shark attacks there, but the owner didn’t know.


When the owner was driving to the airport, he stopped to get some lunch.

Meanwhile, the kittens were sunbathing at the beach. Imagine you were one of those kids playing on the beach!


When the owner got there, he saw twenty-six kittens sunbathing. Then . . . dun-dun-dunnn . . . a tiger shark jumped up onto the beach!


The kittens screamed with fright. They scattered in every direction.


The tiger shark said, “Hey, where’s everyone going? There should be twenty-seven cats. I’m a tiger shark, and tigers are cats, so we must be related!”


The kittens stared for a minute or two and tossed him a banjo and called their owner. They all had a festive vacation having a party with their long lost uncle tiger shark.

The End


Well done, Eleanor!

16 replies »

  1. “The kittens stared for a minute or two and tossed him a banjo and called their owner.”

    My very favorite part. This young lady is a born storyteller!

  2. Eleanor – I though this book was very exciting, and funny! I know my Emily (4) will love it! I will read it to her later today.

    Love from Perth, Western Australia (where we have quite a lot of sharks!!)

  3. I love the drama and the twist — that the shark figured they were related. The teaser on the back and the illustrations were great, too. I look forward to reading more of Eleanor’s work.

  4. I really liked the story, and the illustrations were great. The story was suspenseful; I was worried about the kittens, so I loved the happy and funny ending!
    Eleanor, you’re right, writing a story is hard work. But you obviously have what it takes to be a writer/illustrator–talent and the ability to stick with it!
    When I write a story, I always enjoy naming my characters. You had to name 26 kittens! I wondered how you came up with the names.
    Good luck with your future stories!!

  5. What a great story! Such great words choices were used. This author has great voice–something that is VERY hard to teach. I love the topic (I’m a kitten lover!) and the story is interesting, exciting, and fun. On top of all that, the illustrations are top-notch. Great work, ladies! I hope to read more of your work again.

  6. What a good start to a writing career. Lucky you had Jen to help you publish Eleanor. I expect great things will come your way when you keep producing this kind of work. Good luck. Oh, by the way, I live in Hawaii.

  7. Eleanor – I loved your story. It is very original and has a nice twist at the end – tiger sharks could be related to kittens! Was it hard to think of names for all of the kittens? I liked your illustrations too. You should keep writing lots and lots of stories! I am glad that I had the chance to read this one.

  8. What a great first book! Kittens are my favourite animal. I have four and they are very mischievous! I can only imagine how cheeky 26 would be 🙂

    Keep it up, Eleanor!

  9. My goodness, Eleanor! You have real talent; keep up with the writing. And, Jen, how great that you are sharing your talents with this budding young writer.

  10. Eleanor,
    You have shown you’re not just another fish in the sea, but an author of powerful ideas and sufficient determination to not only swim with the sharks, but make them your ally. Well done!

  11. Eleanor,
    What a great story. I hope you keep writing. 26 cats running away to Washington D.C. and then to Maui. They must have been exhausted.

  12. Eleanor, that was amazing. I have 3 cats of my own and I loved your kitten story.
    I couldn’t wait to find out what happened to the cats and the ending was perfect!!
    Great job!