Eighth-grader illustrates children’s book
Clarendon Hills Middle School eighth-grader Shannon Sinwell (left) ilustrated the book "Joining Forces With Glory" for author Lisa Mallen (middle), who is friends with CHMS art teacher Lauri Thorley. | Chuck Fieldman~Sun-Times Media
Name: Shannon Sinwell
Originally from: San Marino, Calif.
Lives now: Hinsdale CHMS eighth-grader illustrates children’s book
Hobbies: drawing, writing, swimming, traveling, shopping
Drawings: nine published in the book Joining Forces With Glory
Updated: June 11, 2012 8:16AM
Clarendon Hills Middle School art teacher Lauri Thorley had enough confidence for everyone involved when she suggested to an author-friend that one of her students would be the perfect illustrator for a planned book.
Thorley’s friend, Lisa Mallen, was writing her book, Joining Forces With Glory, and Thorley told Mallen that CHMS student Shannon Sinwell would be a wonderful choice to draw the illustrations that would go inside the book and on the cover.
“I just really thought she’d be perfect for it, so I suggested it,” Thorley said.
Mallen said she was open to the idea because she trusted Thorley’s judgment. And she wasn’t at all disappointed when she saw the results of Shannon’s efforts.
“She was perfect,” Mallen said. “She did a great job. She captured my characters really well and really brought them to life.”
Shannon was modest when she heard the praise from Mallen, just as she was when Thorley originally suggested the idea of having the Hinsdale resident create illustrations for the book.
“I really do like to draw; I’ve been into drawing for a while, and I’ve been in art classes since first grade,” Shannon said. “Usually, though, I just draw using my imagination, and I never thought I could do something like this.”
Shannon’s parents also told her to go for it if she was interested.
“She sent me the story, and I liked it when I read it,” Shannon said. “I thought it was a cute story, and it brought out the issue of how kids dealt with the military.”
Published in December, Joining Forces With Glory is a story written mainly for 7- to 10-year-olds. The plot revolves around Glory, whose name was taken from the hymn, “The Battle Hymn of the Republic.”
According to Mallen, Glory is a spunky 8-year-old who enters a new school in the middle of the school year, something she is accustomed to doing with her family’s frequent moves, because she is an “Army Brat.”
Glory’s third-grade teacher, Mrs. Wonderbee, is quite proud to have the daughter of an army officer in her class, and she makes sure the students know that Glory’s dad helps keep the nation free.
Glory has the opportunity to explain her unusual lifestyle to her curious classmates; however, one student, Hank, is not impressed. From the very beginning he is mean to Glory and tries to make life miserable for her. Glory discovers the answer to a mystery about Hank as a result of a class assignment, which eventually leads to the heartwarming end.
Shannon began working on her illustrations last summer.
“I was nervous,” she said. “I wanted to impress the author, but I’m not always the best with time management. I worked on it a couple of hours each day for a week. I used pencil and then traced over it on the drawings for the inside of the book and markers for the cover.”
Shannon again was nervous when the package arrived with her books.
“It was kind of surreal,” she said. “It was a great experience. I might do it again if I had the chance, but I’m not actively looking for another opportunity.”