Sophia Bonilla and Bailey Dove with book and artwork

In just a few months, Sophia Bonilla and Bailey Dove, seventh grade students at The Nokesville School, have achieved what few others can claim by the ages of 12 and 13, respectively—publish their very own book. Titled “IS-LAND,” the book is about how a pirate named Clay and his friends discover a place that is land.

The idea for the story was born in social studies class, Bailey shared, “I was in Mr. [Jason] Sack's class learning about islands and started daydreaming about where the name island came from. That is how I came up with the idea, but writing the story happened in Mrs. [Kathy] Smaltz's creative writing class. She taught us that anyone can be a writer. Her class is where I wrote my first draft as a story, not a book. I presented it in class which went really well and inspired me to turn the story into a book. Then, in my communications class, we were presenting, and I heard Sophia's speech on her artwork. After finding out that she was also in my gifted class, I asked her to illustrate the story.”

During this time, Bailey reached out to a few publishers to ask them how to publish a book. One of the publishers reached out to her and thus the students’ journey to publication began.

Utilizing time they had in class together, Bailey and Sophia worked diligently on bringing their ideas to life. When asked how their class helped them to achieve their goals, Sophia shared, “Our teacher let us create a proposal for the book as an independent project. I had the time to draw in the class and work with Bailey on combining her ideas to my pictures.”

Mallory Dove, gifted teacher at The Nokesville School, believes in setting up students to achieve at high levels. “Encouraging my students to follow their passions to create lifelong learners aligns with PWCS' first commitment—Learning and Achievement for All,” she said. “We are creating learners who love to set and achieve goals and grow as people, not achieve for the grade.”

Since the publication, Bailey and Sophia were invited to Zoom in to the gifted classes at Haymarket Elementary School and share how they made their dreams a reality through hard work and self-confidence.

Bailey had this advice to share with fellow students who have an idea for a story, “Find someone who can draw and just do it! You don't have to be an adult to do something big.” Sophia elaborated, “Find the time to draw, practice, and maybe you can be in a book someday, too!”