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August 10, 2016
Catapulting from piano teacher to contracted author in just three days, Elise Parsley is living a story stranger—and, dare I say, better?—than fiction. The 27-year-old makes her debut as a children’s book author and illustrator with If You Ever Want to Bring an Alligator to School, Don’t!
And who could resist such a charming, cheeky premise? First grader Magnolia offers readers a cautionary tale after setting off a stream of zany, chaotic events when she brings an alligator to school for show-and-tell. Magnolia explains that if you do bring an alligator to school, you’re probably going to get sent to the principal’s office—between the alligator’s mischief with paper airplanes and his desire to snack on your classmates.
“She’s way cooler than I ever was,” says the author of her spunky lead.
Parsley herself is still amazed at the quick turnover of the book deal as well as the overwhelmingly positive response to her book. “It’s really crazy to think that a month ago, nobody knew who I was, and now several people do!” She says she has always had a second job, so some people were not even aware that she was writing books until Alligator went through.
The book began with an independent piece drawn for an art portfolio: “I drew Magnolia in her classroom, with her teacher standing over her with a scowl on her face and a paper airplane in her hair. The alligator Magnolia brought to school is tattling on her, saying that Magnolia did it. From there, I figured that I’d better have a reason for this alligator being in the classroom in the first place, and I wrote the whole story.”
Parsley had always dreamed of becoming a children’s book creator but had no prior experience in art before college. She studied drawing and creative writing at Minnesota State University Moorhead, where she learned the techniques she used for Alligator’s illustrations, which were all digitally drawn. She says that her teachers guided her in “creating art that would speak to children.”
“The idea of writing a book was much further in my mind, and I didn’t really see that as a real possibility,” she says. “But I thought…we’ll see if it ever comes in handy for writing books or not.…It’s come to fruition.”
You’ll find If You Ever Want to Bring an Alligator to School, Don’t! on Reading Club flyers and online now!
About the Author: Mari LeGagnoux is a Social Media/Online Marketing intern. She is a senior English concentrator at Brown University, but an Angeleno at heart. She also drinks way too much tea.
September 9, 2015