From their first day meeting with the published author and artist Martin and Delia Wach of Wheeling, Ashton Elementary School students knew what they wanted to write about — the Mothman and all things paranormal in the area.
The students, selected for their writing and drawing abilities, were thrust into the process of how writing and publishing works. Martin Wach is very excited about this new project.
“We are talking about Mason County and the history here,” Wach said. “One of the purposes is to draw attention to the area through a children’s book.”
The 32-page book will come to life sometime within the next six months to a year, and both husband and wife will guide the students through the entire process behind publishing.
Ashton Elementary Principal Alesia Green says her students are very thrilled.
“Each teacher from third to sixth grade selected students that were inspiring writers or illustrators,” Green said. “We even have one first grader that was chosen for her remarkable drawing abilities.”
Paige Tarr, a fifth grader at Ashton, is looking forward to the project.
“I am excited about everything,” Tarr, 10, said, “especially writing the book and doing the research.”
Delia commented that the students were ‘Paranormal Hunters’ on the day everyone met up to investigate the TNT area; the supposed place where the Mothman was first sighted.
“We will be doing a lot of researching on the Mothman, and all things paranormal in the area,” Martin stated. “This area is rich with a history of ghosts, and students will be paired to research different areas of the county.”
Once compiled, the book will sell nationwide and several children may even be selected to be involved in book signings.
“Students this age have such a great imagination,” Martin said. “And there are no children’s books out there that describe paranormal activity.”
The Wach’s have been involved in this school program with 530 other schools across many states including West Virginia, Kentucky, Pennsylvania, Maryland, North Carolina, Utah, New York, Florida and Virginia. But only four other groups of students have been chosen to actually write and illustrate a book with them.
“We get a whole pile of good stories, but the students at Ashton had such a unique story, we couldn’t pass it up,” Martin said.
The whole process involves lectures, presentations and meetings with the students, parents and school officials. At the end of the day, there is a little cost to the school.
According to the author’s Web site, the cost to the school is ‘cheap but trendy.’ It went on to say that the sales from the book are shared between Martin and the school.
“Each school will choose a charity or organization they wish to donate their proceeds,” Martin explained. “After being in 530 schools, this program seems to give children the greatest excitement and determination to become writers, illustrators or even adventurers.”
The Wachs also will be visiting Point Pleasant Primary School while they are in town to give a presentation and to discuss Martin’s new novel, “Never, Never, Never, Never, Sit on a Tarantula.” During regular visits like these, Martin also talks to the children about his six years in the Rain Forest of Suriname, South America.
While Martin focuses on improving writing skills and the publishing process, Delia works through “Skype” with the students at the school to work on their knowledge about art, including the color wheel and what it takes to be a good illustrator. Her ability has made her one of today’s best known children’s book illustrators.
The Wachs hope at the end of this entire process that the students involved will be able to reflect on their experience with the project and use it to help them guide their future.
For more information about Martin or Delia Wach, visit their Web site at www.teddybearguardians.com.