Last spring, as my senior year of high school was winding down, I embarked on one last adventure: a project I call Kidplomacy.
At my high school, The Lovett School, seniors have the opportunity to finish some or all of their classes early to spend the month of April doing a self-designed, self-led senior project. I love writing, making art, and studying diplomacy, so I brainstormed ideas for a project that could combine these interests. I ultimately came up with Kidplomacy, a children’s book that I would write, illustrate, and publish to introduce young readers (a.k.a. Kidplomats) to the concept of diplomacy.
With this plan in mind, I got to work on my book, starting with the story itself. Because diplomacy is such a broad and complex subject, I wanted to convey it through thematic characters who could connect with my audience. I discovered Peter Past and Frankie Future, two friends who represent the importance of learning from the past and envisioning a better future, and work together with Kidplomats to make positive change in the world.
Once I had this basic narrative figured out, I was able to jot down the rhyming story in a couple hours, and I instantly began visualizing the pictures I would make to accompany it.
I created the book’s 28 illustrations through the process of intaglio printmaking, specifically drypoint printmaking, which involves etching a plastic plate with a pencil-like carving tool, covering the plate with ink, rubbing off much of the surface of the plate, laying it on damp paper, and rolling it through a printing press. Because this type of printmaking lends itself to monotone images, I painted many of the illustrations with watercolor to add more color.
I then scanned the illustrations, created a digital manuscript, and self-published my book online. When I received my first copies of Kidplomacy in the mail a few days later, what I had accomplished finally hit me—I made a “real” book!
It’s so fulfilling for me to see the book I created listed on Amazon alongside the children’s books I grew up reading (even if mine isn’t quite a bestseller yet!).
I hope that my book helps the next generation of Kidplomats realize the power they have to make the world a better place. I also plan to apply the lesson of Kidplomacy to my own life as I attend Williams College this fall and pursue a career in international diplomacy.
I hope my book helps the next generation of Kidplomats realize the power they have to make the world a better place. I plan to apply the lesson of Kidplomacy to my own life at Williams College this fall.