After publishing her first book when she was just 15 years old, a young Airdrie children’s author and illustrator is set to release her second effort.
Mackenzie Cox, now 17, just graduated from W.H. Croxford High School. She has grown up in Airdrie, with her family moving to the city from Calgary when she was just three years old.
Cox has been drawing her whole life, guessing she first picked up a pencil at a mere 10 months old. She says the idea for her first book came when she was tasked with a school art project.
“In my Grade 10 year, my art teacher had me do a Passion Project, so I chose to do a children’s book and illustrate and write one,” Cox explains.
The book, entitled ‘When I Grow Up’ is about a bear named Baxter who wants to learn how to fly.
“It’s kind of silly because a bear can’t fly,” Cox says. “But his friends the owl, deer, and fox all try and help him in trying to achieve his goal of flying. Any by the end he learns that he can’t fly but he knows that he tried. So he learns to follow his dreams and his friends learn to help him and everyone else follow their dreams.”
The illustrations for the book were inspired by artwork Cox came across in galleries in Banff and Canmore. She drew some animals in colourful styles and it was her mom who planted the seed and said they would make a good children’s book.
Cox says she wanted to write a book that had an important message for the readers.
“I was still learning who I wanted to be and what career path I wanted to go down, so I wanted to inspire kids to follow what they think is right and not what other people tell them,” she says. “And I also wanted to inspire people to, when someone has a dream, to encourage them towards it.”
Once Cox had the writing and illustrations done for her school project, she took things even further and was put in touch with someone who could get it up on a publishing site thanks to contacts she made while volunteering at the Airdrie Public Library.
“I’m a little bit of an overachiever,” Cox says with a laugh. “So I went a little further than what [my teacher] expected and I published it. First I published it through Blurb, and then I was able to meet with some people to get me on a self-publishing route with IngramSpark.”
Cox says it went over very well with her family and friends at first, and then with other families who bought the book after word started to spread on local online pages. Cox says W.H. Croxford and Rocky View Schools has also been very supportive, helping her get the word out and connect with the community.
After all of the encouragement she received and the success of her first book, she decided to write another children’s book for her senior project.
It’s called ‘What Makes Me Special?’ and is about a narwhal who doesn’t think there is anything special about him. Cox says she wanted to write a book that tells kids they are all unique, different, and special in their own ways.
Cox doesn’t have an exact release date for her second book yet but expects it to be ready very soon. It will be available through Amazon and anyone local to Airdrie can get in touch with her via her website HERE.
As for what the future holds for this inspiring and talented teenager, Cox says she will be taking a year off school before heading to the University of Lethbridge.
“I would like to get my Bachelors in Education and a Degree in Art so I can teach kindergarten and art classes to younger kids, but I would like to continue writing books and illustrating them on the side. And maybe even illustrating for other authors that don’t have the artistic skill but have the writing skill.”
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