Third-grader starts a writing career

Cary girl publishes book that reflects her love of animals

schandler@newsobserver.comOctober 7, 2012 

Some authors labor over their masterpieces for years, but Stephanie Gorbounov of Cary wrote “The Little Happy Bird” in “about an hour or so,” she said.

Of course, when you’re an elementary school kid, an hour can feel like a pretty long time.

Stephanie, now 8, initially wrote “The Little Happy Bird,” a book for 3- to 5-year-olds, for a writing contest at her local library.

“It just sounded fun to see what it’d feel like” to write, Stephanie said. “I didn’t really think that I would win, but surprisingly, I did.”

Encouraged by that win and with help from her parents, Stephanie started looking for publishers, and “The Happy Little Bird” was released by Tate Publishing’s children’s division earlier this year.

The idea for the book “just came to me,” Stephanie said, though her love for animals probably had a lot to do with it.

“It’s about a little bird, and he goes on an adventure to his friend Bear’s house, and on the way he made some friends, and when he gets there they play lots of games and just have fun the rest of the day,” she said.

The story, accompanied by colorful illustrations added by her publisher, is good for boys or girls, Stephanie said, ideally “someone who likes adventures and animals.”

Now that she’s a published author, Stephanie is learning the ropes of promoting her book and meeting her fans.

She’s had three book signings since the debut of “The Little Happy Bird,” at a bookstore, her neighborhood clubhouse, and a local Chick-fil-A restaurant. Stephanie’s father, Alex Gorbounov, said she’s learned a lot, even though the experience has been almost entirely “pure fun” for her.

“I think she learned a life lesson that any kind of serious undertaking like this requires commitment and hard work,” he said.

And he said he’s noticed a change in his daughter since she became a published author: “It’s helped her be more responsible with other things. I think she’s matured a little bit because of this experience.”

While Stephanie writes about animals, her own reading tastes are far more varied. She said she enjoys reading mystery and fantasy books (particularly fairy tales) and is a fan of the “Diary of a Wimpy Kid” series.

She said she “probably” wants to be a writer when she grows up, adding she enjoys writing books because “you get to put all the details in it and you can use your imagination.”

But she might not wait until adulthood to publish again.

“I actually have a folder of other stories I’ve written,” she said. Her most recent story has been taking shape in writing exercises at her school, Northwoods Elementary, where she’s in third grade.

“I’m writing about my cat right now, because he has one eye,” she said, adding: “I might turn it into a book.”

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