Young Author Publishes Memoir to Help Kids Through the Pandemic

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(Heather Cousins, Photographer)
Standing in front of her collection of books, Stella Ciarlantini, a sixth grade student at Orinda Intermediate School, wrote and published a book chronicling her thoughts and feelings during the pandemic titled, The Story of Stella: A Memoir.

    As a 10-year-old, Stella Ciarlantini, spent two months writing about the pandemic and how it affected her. Among major disruptions and issues, she cited transitioning to distance learning, navigating the lockdown and being isolated from her friends as high on her list.
    “I have always loved writing,” said Ciarlantini. “Writing the book and recording my thoughts was a good way of processing events. I thought my book might help other people with that too.”
    Her self-published, 90-page book, The Story of Stella: A Memoir, started from a conversation with her fourth-grade teacher, Jamie Whaley, at Lafayette Elementary School.
    Ciarlantini, who now attends Orinda Intermediate School, gives suggestions to kids dealing with anxiety and sadness during the pandemic.
    “The most important thing to remember is that there is always light at the end of the tunnel. In the meantime, find your voice. You are powerful, you are smart and you matter,” she said. “Find a creative outlet to express that, whether it’s through writing, singing, swimming, running or playing a musical instrument. You can stand up for yourself and how you’re feeling, and more than that, you can stand up for others who might not be able to do it for themselves.”
    Stella’s mother, Heather Cousins, has been a theater and drama teacher at Miramonte High School in Orinda for over 20 years.
    “The first time I read it was when she finished it. It just brought tears to my eyes,” she said.
    Since then, schools have used her daughter’s book in the classroom, and Bel and Bunna’s Bookstore in Lafayette hosted Ciarlantini at a book signing and meet and greet.
    Cousins offers advice to parents about how to help their children navigate the pandemic.
    “I have seen the arts save kids’ lives over the years, but as a theater teacher, I am concerned that sports are pushed so much, that these kids don’t even know what talent lies within them,” she said. “Our children have immense undiscovered abilities. Creative outlets such as acting, writing and music can help get them through dark times, as it has with my daughter.”
    Writing definitely remains in this sixth grader’s future.
    “I have another book in process,” said Ciarlantini. “A realistic fiction. It follows the story of an eighth-grade girl, Ava, who is a singer. It takes place in Connecticut. I imagine it won’t be available for purchase until the fall.”
    Ciarlantini’s website can be found at www.stellaciarlantini.org and view her KTVU Ch. 2 News interview at https://bit.ly/3JkXZbL. Visit her Amazon page www.amzn.to/3gEz9at and follow her on Instagram @stellaciarlantini.

Elana O’Loskey can be reached at business.orinda@gmail.com.

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