Ever since she could pick up a pencil, Victoria Mwende has had a passion to write. Now, as an eleven-year-old living in Kenya, Mwende can share her writing with the world in her recently student published book, The Adventures of Awesome Alice.
Mwende, born in Zimbabwe to Kenyan parents, attended Laird School in Tempe, Arizona from grades kindergarten to fifth-grade while her parents earned doctorate degrees at Arizona State University. Her family moved back to Kenya this year where she is now a seventh-grade student. She returned to Tempe Elementary this April to share her experience co-writing a published chapter book to fifth-grade classrooms.
Mwende is multi-lingual, a voracious reader, and a prolific writer. She met Monica Allread, a previous Tempe Elementary employee, in a 2014 Tempe Elementary summer school novel writing class where she further honed her writing skills.
“When I met Victoria I knew right away that she was a very talented writer,” said Allread. “Especially for a student going into fourth-grade!”
Mwende reached out to Allread in the summer school class and asked her if she would help her fulfill her dream of writing a book. The two authors set out on their journey to write The Adventures of Awesome Alice in September 2014.
“I’m amazed and surprised that I am now a published author,” said Mwende. “I’m thankful to Monica for helping me brainstorm and guide my ideas.”
The inspiration behind the character and plot of The Adventures of Awesome Alice has a lot to do with Mwende’s life and her dreams. The adventure-filled chapter book has characters which are named after her friends and the main character, Alice, has similar characteristics to Mwende. She also incorporates activities into her book that she has not yet experienced but would like to.
“In the book, Alice has a dog and goes camping,” explained Mwende. “Even though I don’t have a dog or haven’t gone camping in my life, I like to imagine what it would be like if I did.”
Mwende and Allread visited fifth-grade classrooms at Laird School, Frank Elementary, Nevitt Elementary, and Scales Technology Academy in mid-May to discuss the steps they took to write a book together, how students can improve their writing and creativity, tips for self-editing, and more.
“It’s just so inspiring that someone our age was able to write and publish a book,” said Isabella Parker, a fifth-grader. “I’m so excited to read her story and hopefully write a book of my own one day!”
Mwende and Allread also led students into a creative writing activity where students were able to collaborate on a short story and then present it to the class. Mwende credits these classroom activities to her success as a writer.
“Writing is easier when you practice, especially with your classmates,” explained Mwende. “It’s a great way to share and explore your imagination together.”
At the end of their writing workshop, Mwende and Allread passed out signed and printed copies of The Adventures of Awesome Alice. They also took time to take a selfie together with the class, something that Mwende and Allread did to reward their hard work each time they wrote together!
The Adventures of Awesome Alice is now available on Amazon at a cost of $5.99 per book.