The Class of 2013 is heading off to college, and many of these young alumni used their summer break to relax before their new adventures. Madeleine Dodge ‘13 celebrated her graduation from George Washington High School, then turned her full attention to a project that she had been working on since eighth grade at Graland.
Encouraged by teacher Jane Maslanka, Madeleine turned a creative writing assignment into a children’s book that she recently self-published with her best friend and illustrator, Olivia Wischmeyer. Does A Giraffe Ever Feel Small? describes how African animals learn to love what makes them different from others, uncovering a bigger concept of how to love yourself exactly as you are.
It turns out, writing the book was the easy part. The process of self-publishing, on the other hand, was much more complicated than Madeleine expected.
“I thought it would be easy,” she says. “We’d send in the files. They would put the book together and we would be done.” But in order to self-publish, they had to create a company, develop a budget, contact the Internal Revenue Service, open a bank account, register a post office box and raise some money.
Thanks to Go Fund Me, a crowdfunding platform, they raised $3,000 to produce the book and get it listed on Amazon. Staying within their budget was another challenge, but the two entrepreneurs made it happen through smart decision making. With plans in place to publish and sell the book, Madeleine and Olivia’s next decision was what to do with the proceeds.
“Community service and giving back has always been important to me,” Madeleine explains. “I was on the Penny Harvest committee as a fourth grader and that definitely had an impact on wanting to support a good cause. We were given the education and resources to do this project and we want other kids to have the tools to support their dreams, too.”
After researching a number of organizations, the girls chose Reading Partners Colorado and Books for Africa. They were drawn to support children in Africa due in part to the obvious connection to the animals in the book as well as the widespread poverty there. They also wanted to support children in the Denver community. “My mom always says, ‘You can’t save the world until you care for your brother,’” Madeleine shares. “We really took that to heart.”
Madeleine speaks with a calm confidence about this incredibly self-directed project: “I learned so much from this experience -- the biggest take-away was learning to trust myself and value my own opinions. I don’t always need to rely on others for their approval or opinion. Now I seek advice only when I really need it.”
Does A Giraffe Ever Feel Small? is available at Bookbar on Tennyson Street, The Bookies on East Mississippi, The Artisan Center in Cherry Creek and on amazon.com.