Jackie Prata ’20 publishes her book, Fortune Cookie Surprise!

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Sacred Heart Greenwich junior Jackie Prata took her writing skills from the classroom and into the real world when she published a children’s book, Fortune Cookie Surprise!, July 20. The book compares fortune cookies to people, describing them each as unique and special. She credits her teachers at Sacred Heart for helping her tune up her writing and polish her illustrations.  

The cover of Jackie Prata’s book, Fortune Cookie Surprise!
Courtesy of jacquelineprata.com.

Fortune Cookie Surprise! follows main character Emily and her family while at dinner at a Chinese restaurant. During the meal, Emily realizes that she is similar to a fortune cookie because just as a fortune cookie completes a meal, she completes her family. Fortune Cookie Surprise! encourages children to see every person as different in their own way. 
The inspiration for Jackie’s book originated from an “I Believe” essay Middle School English teacher Mr. Marc Maier assigned to her class in seventh grade. 

“Little did I know at the time [I wrote my essay] that my idea to compare fortune cookies to people, each unique and special, would be the inspiration for my book,” Jackie said.

During the publication process, Jackie received support from the Sacred Heart community and her family, who helped and encouraged her. Former Middle English English Teacher Mrs. Louisa Polos Condon and Lower School Art Teacher Ms. Erica Bogin assisted Jackie with her writing and illustrations, respectively. Upper School School English Teacher and Chair of the English Department Doctor William Mottolese also assisted Jackie with creating the storyline for the book, and the editing process.

“Ms. Bogin was very helpful with the artwork. Ms. Polos, my middle school English teacher and Dr. Mottolese, my high school advisor helped me with the storyline and edits. Finally, my parents supported me throughout my journey especially when some of the work seemed overwhelming,” Jackie said. “I could have never completed this book without all of their support and encouragement.”

Jackie had a number of local book signings when Fortune Cookie Surprise! first came out.
Courtesy of jacquelineprata.com.

Despite having success in the end, there were obstacles along the way. Illustrating the book was a challenge, as Jackie did all of the artwork herself by hand. However, the most difficult part of the process was editing the story itself.

“Starting with an essay, editing it down into a short story, then even shorter for a children’s picture book was extremely challenging,” Jackie said. “Every word became extremely important.”

Jackie also offered advice for other high school students hoping to become published authors one day. She cited feedback from others and having a good support system as keys to success.

“If you believe in yourself, your story, and are committed to working hard you can accomplish just about anything,” Jackie said. “Publishing a book was much more complicated than I thought, but I would recommend taking each part in stages, and not getting discouraged over any obstacles you may face, it is also important to have a support structure who can encourage and motivate you to achieve your dream.”

Featured Image by Katherine Santoro ’19