BY LAURA TESTER
Pictured above: Emily Allen reads her alphabet book to Mrs. Hind’s kindergarten class at Saskatoon Christian School in April.
Emily Allen already has a children’s book out and she’s just nine herself.
This budding philanthropist from Saskatoon is raising money for A Better World Canada through the sales of her first book, The Big Ark Alphabet Book.
This paperback book, based on the Biblical story of Noah’s ark, is appropriate for early readers around the age of four to six.
Emily initially became interested in writing a book in Grade 2 after reading a similar alphabet book and thinking she could do a much better one. Her mother Maralee is a children’s book author, too.
With the support of her mother and father Darcy, a dentist and professor at University of Saskatchewan, she went to work on creating rhymes and drawing illustrations.
Writing was the easy part for Emily. It only took a month.
She wrote lines like, “P is for porcupine who saw the big sign” with a picture of a little porcupine walking along and a great, big sign that says “Ark that-a-way” with an arrow.
The rest of the time was spent drawing various animals coming on board Noah’s ark.
“The rhymes came really easy for her and then she started doing the pictures and kind of became a little discouraged,” said Maralee. “So I said, ‘why don’t you do one picture a day on days when you don’t have a piano lesson or swimming or whatever.’”
The book took a little less than a year to complete.
Emily began thinking how she’d like to donate some of the proceeds.
She remembered reading a small blurb about how $20 could help children go to school in Africa.
Emily’s book sells for $4, with half of the proceeds going to A Better World Canada. As of late April, she had raised more than $60.
She’s mainly sold to family and friends, at Saskatoon Christian School where she’s in Grade 3, as well as at Mount Royal Seventh-day Adventist Church where the family attends.
Some have donated more than the book price.
While giving the children’s message at church one day, Maralee told the youngsters that they could do something positive about something they were bothered by. In Emily’s case, it was seeing a badly-written alphabet book.
“If you see something that bugs you, that could be God opening a door for you to make it better,” Maralee told them. “Emily has not only made a better book, but she’s using this to actually help people right across the ocean.”
Twenty-five books were initially printed. She’s now on her second printing of 50 books and has sold nearly all of them.
Emily’s parents are proud of her for crafting such a book and for her decision to give to the Central-Alberta based charity.
“I think it’s awesome because she’s completed something big,” said Maralee. “I also think it’s fantastic that she had a really great way to give back from her project, to look beyond herself… that she can be generous.”
“It was a really easy choice for her.”
Darcy said his daughter has a “very giving heart.”
“It was fun to watch and she really got into it,” said Darcy, regarding his daughter’s book writing and illustrating experience. “When she had the idea to sell the book at school to raise money for something, I thought, ‘that’s excellent.’”
The money is being forwarded onto Keith Leavitt, project manager for education at A Better World, who plans to use it for school supplies on his next trip to East Africa.
Leavitt was Maralee’s favourite professor when she attended Canadian University College at Lacombe, now called Burman University.
Emily invites other Canadian youth to fundraise for A Better World Canada.
“Do what you like doing… if you like to bake, bake some cookies. If you like to write, write a story,” she said.
She’s already got an idea for a second book. She’d like to call it Bible Mice. Emily, an only child, enjoys writing and art, performing tap and ballet, and hanging out with her border collie-retriever Wilson, a three-year-old rescue dog, and two budgies named Chirp and Chatters. She’s also a Lego maniac, says her father.
Her favourite subjects at school are gym, art — and recess.
She’s a fan of various authors, including Dr. Seuss, Laura Ingalls Wilder and Norma Youngberg.
“I want to be a teacher and not an author,” says Emily, regarding her future career.
As for possibly going to Africa to see the fruits of her labour, Emily was quick to reply, “No!” She doesn’t like to travel.
“I don’t want to leave home and I don’t want to catch any exotic diseases,” she says, smiling.
For more information on Emily Allen’s book, go online at www.maraleeallen.ca.