Author & Illustrator Encourages Students To Follow Their Dreams

By Ali Renckens

On October 15, children’s author and illustrator, Michelle Nelson-Schmidt, spoke to a group of fourth and fifth grade students at FishHawk Creek Elementary School to encourage them to follow their dreams. “I feel like I have a magical life,” she said, sparkling. “And you can have one, too.”

Her works include The Whatif Monster and Bob is a Unicorn. Both of these books complement her message. The Whatif Monster keeps people from pursuing their dreams. She explained, “I wrote this book to remind people that for every bad ‘what if’ there is a good ‘what if.’” Bob is a Unicorn tells the story of an elephant who wants to be a unicorn, even though all of his friends try to discourage him. In the end, he meets a little girl who believes in him. “When you’re following your heart, people may not understand you. But that’s ok. Your people will find you,” Nelson-Schmidt said. However, she warned them that success is not easy; she spent three years trying to be published. “Don’t expect anyone to hand it to you. It takes hard work.  Only you can make it happen, and in the end, you get to feel like your own superhero.”

Before leaving, she made all of the students ‘pinkie promise’ to follow their hearts and dreams, no matter ‘what if.’ “By having a magical life, you make this a magical world,” Nelson-Schmidt said. “I want the children to know that they can have the life they want. It just takes hard work, perseverance and believing in themselves.”

Nelson-Schmidt’s appearance at FishHawk Elementary was sponsored by the FishHawk PTA. She also spoke to children at A Kid’s Place and Ruskin Elementary, which was sponsored by the FishHawk Riverview Rotary Satellite South Bay After Hours Club. Her stay was sponsored by Hilton Garden in Riverview.

Michelle Nelson-Schmidt currently lives in Atlanta with her husband, two children and four dogs. When she isn’t writing or drawing, she enjoys visiting the beach and reading. Although not available in stores, her books and paintings can be purchased through her website, michellepaints.com, or Christine Ans by calling 368-2699 or by e-mail at ubahfla@yahoo.com.