Photo by Johnny Jackson
Princess Rucker, 13, authored a self-published book called “The Spider Club: Genetics Mix” and recently won a prize for a work called “Mission S.P.A.C.E.” She is shown with Vickie Faulkner (left), her former sixth-grade English teacher at M.D. Roberts Middle School.
JONESBORO — Felicia Warner recollected that, as a toddler, her son once drew a giant caterpillar on the wall “from the bottom of my stair to the top of my stair.”
She said it was his depiction of a book she and her husband frequently read to him as a baby.
At 13, Christian Warner’s larger-than-life imagination lives on in his new self-published book, “Phoenix Beginnings.” The book is a 114-page collection of short stories spanning 13 chapters of science fiction.
“He has a big imagination and he’s very artistic,” Felecia said. “I think the fact that we started reading to him early is why he appreciates writing.”
“He would tell stories,” added her husband Ken Warner. “From the start, I would say, ‘Chris have you written it down?’ because we want to encourage him any way we can.”
Christian Warner is a seventh-grader at M.D. Roberts Middle School.
He said “Phoenix Beginnings” has developed over time since third grade.
“I’ve made up short stories about them so many times and I put them all into one story and turned it into one novel,” said Christian.
He also designed the book cover.
“A picture can tell a story and a story can paint the picture in your mind,” said Christian. “I am very proud of how it looks and I can’t believe I made this.”
His English teacher, Karen Lee, affirmed his talent.
“His intellectual energy is beyond what I’ve seen in many years,” said the 11-year veteran teacher. “It’s phenomenal. He’s got so much that is untapped at this point. His ability to be innovative, stay energetic and creative is phenomenal.”
Christian’s former sixth-grade English teacher, Vickie Faulkner, helped edit the book and was instrumental in getting him to write it.
“He devours books,” Faulkner said. “It’s just an innate talent and it’s something he’s worked on and honed for a while.”
Faulkner said Christian is an example of the many potential writers the area’s schools have turned out recently. Among them, she pointed out, is former student Princess Rucker.
The 13-year-old, who is also Christian Warner’s classmate, has already won her share of local and state writing contests.
“I’m not surprised,” said Faulkner. “It’s an innate talent with her as well. She’s very bashful but she has a whole lot to say.”
Princess’ parents, Lawanna and Greg Rucker, said they believe their daughter was born to be an author.
“It’s just a gift,” said the mother. “She has this innate writing ability and it’s her passion. “She exceeds on the CRCT [Criterion-Referenced Competency Tests] and is above grade level on reading and writing.”
Fifth-grade teacher Yvonne Sellars remembers Princess at J.W. Arnold Elementary School.
“She was an excellent writer and storyteller, even in fifth grade,” said Sellars. “Her gift of language displayed evidence of passion and dedication even at that young age. It is enriching to know that she has continued to excel in a discipline that is often neglected.”
Princess recently wrote “The Spider Club: Genetics Mix,” a self-published, 113-page sci-fi tale about super heroes.
“I know that I am a good writer [and] I feel very proud of myself,” said Princess. “Publishing a book has encouraged me to write more.”
She also wrote a piece called “Mission S.P.A.C.E.” that earned her a Gold and Silver Key Award.
The sci-fi work is being featured through March 22 at Savannah College of Art and Design in Atlanta. She and other regional winners will be recognized March 23 at the 90th Scholastic Art & Writing Awards ceremony and reception sponsored by SCAD.
Her classmate Christian plans to have a book signing March 23 at Arts Clayton, 136 South Main St. in Jonesboro. He will sign books and read passages from 12 p.m. until 3 p.m.