Six local middle schoolers will debut their brand-new original novels Friday, July 15 from 2:30 to 4:30 p.m. at The Reading Corner, 408 Main St.

In the first joint academic project between Rockland District Middle School and Thomaston Grammar School — now Oceanside West — six 7th and 8th grade students known as The Elite Team have written, revised and published their own novels. At the Reading Corner, students will be reading from their novels and refreshments will be served.

The novels came about under the guidance of local writer and parent volunteer Sherry Barker Abaldo (also a substitute teacher and Rockland After School Alliance instructor). Given a classroom plus a handful of students from Gifted and Talented Program Coordinator Anne Pietroski, Abaldo created a college-level creative writing workshop to develop the six novels.

The novels are: “A Redneck in the Process”  by Catherine Abaldo — A rich California boy travels to Maine, where he learns the truth about rednecks and finds a secret that rocks his world; “Lemonade for Lizzy” by Emily Protheroe — Leukemia. We’ve all heard what it’s like from the cancer patient’s point of view – but what about the best friend?; “Bloody” by Kalie McGuirl — A harmful virus is released on a small town, and only a few people survive. What will happen to them?; “Time-Slip” by Rhiannon Jones — When a class of unfortunate 9th graders falls into the Mesozoic Era, they have bigger problems than grades; “Shadows of the Moon” by Anna Walker — A 17-year-old girl searches for her missing friend, while learning more about herself; and “The Stone of Cartasas” by Julian D. Abaldo — One summer, three siblings find themselves caught up in an adventure with magicians, an all-powerful stone, dragons, a yeti, a dark plan at the bottom of it all – and a reluctant, funny hero named Julian, who gets by on what he knows from movies and video games.

As a jumping-off point, Abaldo used November’s National Novel Writing Month, which she had used homeschooling her own two children the year before. She added to the mix her own experiences as a professional writer and full-time artist. Workshop topics covered reading your own work out loud; giving and taking constructive criticism; a lot about process; triumphs and frustrations; examples of characterization, setting and dialogue from the greats (Hemingway, Steinbeck, King, Emily Bronte); storytelling structure; and revision after revision.

“This is literacy, ultimately: the point of view of being a writer. The gift or habit of observation. The gift or habit of empathy. It all results in expressing one’s reality, and in turn being open to others. I believe this is critical for future peace and success, for individuals and for the planet,” said Abaldo.

VillageSoup Art/Entertainment Editor Dagney Ernest can be reached at 207-594-4401 or by email to