Columns and stories of life from the Fredericksburg area.
Age no obstacle for young author
PURSUITS: GIRL’S MESSAGE IS FROM THE HEART
BY LIANA BAYNE
THE FREE LANCE-STAR
Christine Burgado perched on the edge of the rocking chair, clutching her stuffed rabbit. Her long brown hair fell into her face and her feet dangled several inches above the floor.
The 7-year-old opened a book and started to read to Mrs. Caswell’s first-grade class at Rocky Run Elementary.
Not just any book, but her book.
Christine’s father, Luis, suspects his daughter, who just finished the first grade at Park Ridge Elementary, may be Virginia’s youngest author.
Neither the Library of Congress nor Guinness World Records was able to confirm that. But Luis Burgado said he checked International Standard Book Number (ISBN) registrations and Library of Congress lists of child authors and was unable to find anyone published in Virginia who was younger—though there’s a record of a 3-year-old boy in Maryland who wrote a book.
Regardless, Christine, who published her book in the fall when she was 6, is less interested in setting records than she is in telling stories—which made her an obvious choice as guest speaker at the June 12 dinner Sara Caswell organized for the young writers in her class.
Christine’s book, “The Princess and the Dragon, Vol. 1,” chronicles a princess whose prince husband gets turned into an ugly dragon by a mean witch. Instead of shunning the prince, the princess kisses him and he turns back into his human form.
“She gives the dragon a kiss because love is the greatest thing in the world,” Christine explained matter-of-factly.
After the prince regains his body, he and the princess live happily ever after.
INSPIRED BY DAD’S STORY
Christine, like her princess, also seems to believe in the power of love to make change. She wrote her book in order to give some of the profits to charity after being inspired by the story of her father.
“When I was a kid, there was a time I was homeless and didn’t have a lot,” Luis said. “When I told her about that, she got sad. She said she wanted to make sandwiches for everyone without food.”
Luis grew up first in Brooklyn, N.Y., and later in Connecticut. Christine has always lived in the area; she was born in Stafford while Luis was stationed at Quantico Marine Corps Base. He has since left the military and now works as a marketing and branding specialist. His wife, Migdalia Burgado, is also from Brooklyn and was recently hired by Geico in Stafford.
Instead of making thousands of PB&J’s, Christine sat down and wrote “The Princess and the Dragon.”
Christine wrote and illustrated her book in just one day, Luis said.
“I wrote the story and drew the pictures. Then my dad scanned them into the computer and let me pick the colors for my pictures,” Christine said.
Luis said Christine’s love of writing springs from her advanced reading level. Christine learned to read when she was 2, her dad said.
“Whatever she was interested in, I gave her,” he said.
TEACHING EACH OTHER
You’d never know Christine was a published author unless you asked. When she wasn’t reading her book to her fans at Rocky Run Elementary June 12, she was laughing and running around the library just like the other first-graders at Mrs. Caswell’s “Little Critters Authors’ Dinner.”
Caswell’s students have been working on improving their writing skills all school year. Each student wrote and illustrated at least three storybooks. At the event, the students ate a special dinner with their parents and presented their books. At the end, Christine read her book out loud and gave each student in Caswell’s class an autographed copy.
The class worked with a group of 11th-graders from Stafford High School all year through Stafford school system’s Learn and Serve community service program.
The Stafford High School students met with their young friends once a week to help them with writing and editing.
Cynthia Lucero–Chavez, the community involvement specialist for the Learn and Serve program, knew about Christine’s book through family friends. As she was helping to coordinate the final program for Caswell’s class and its high-school helpers, Lucero–Chavez thought bringing Christine in as a guest speaker would be a great example of another Stafford child’s achievements.
“You can learn anything from another person,” she said.
Christine said she wants to write for a newspaper when she grows up—if she isn’t a pizza delivery driver, that is. (She loves pizza so much it made an appearance in her book.)
A second book is currently in the works, the profits of which will also be donated to charity.
Christine also likes reading, playing with her younger brother, also named Luis, and doing math problems.
“I like to figure stuff out,” she said.
Christine’s dad said that, aside from her happening to be a published author, his daughter is a normal, outgoing kid who loves talking to others.
“She’s very thoughtful and always trying to do stuff with consideration for others,” he said.
Christine’s book is available for $9.99 on amazon.com.
Liana Bayne: 540/374-5444