If a writer needs the inspiration to finish their book, all eyes can turn to local author Alexandra Adlawan.
Alex, as she is called by family and friends, was born and raised in Long Beach. Since fifth grade at Minnie Gant Elementary School, she has always enjoyed creating characters and hoped to one day bring them to life in a children’s book. A Stanford Middle School and Millikan High School graduate, Alex recently achieved her dream by publishing her first book, “Wild Imagination: The Adventures of Maddie and Albert.”
Alex also has autism.
“It was an emotional rollercoaster for her at times when she was working on the book,” said Cathy Adlawan, Alex’s mom. “She can be shy, nervous, and anxious because of her autism, but with this book, she’s been a different person—more outgoing, and she’s happy.”
According to AutismSpeaks.org, on April 26, 2018, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released new data on the prevalence of autism in the United States. This surveillance study identified 1 in 59 children (1 in 37 boys and 1 in 151 girls) as having autism spectrum disorder (ASD).
Alex’s love of books has always helped her through many difficult seasons dealing with the struggles of autism.
“Alex’s whole world is books,” Cathy said. “She loves books and goes to the library regularly. She has a blog where she reviews books that she spends hours on each day, and it’s like a full-time job to her. So to actually have written her own book—it’s been a dream come true.”
Inspired by the comic strip “Calvin and Hobbes,” Alex’s journey into writing and illustrating her own children’s book began with her characters. Beginning in November 2017, Alex spent hours drawing at home and writing stories about her characters, hoping she could one day share them with book lovers everywhere. She finished her drawings and story in June 2018, and her book was published a few weeks later.
“If you really want it, you can make it happen,” said Floyd Adlawan, Alex’s father. “She’s always been drawing and had a ton of stories, so the challenge was finishing one [for print]. I said I would do whatever it takes to help her publish her book if she finished her story.”
In “Wild Imagination,” the two young, central characters, Maddie and Albert, find an unlikely friendship with each other. Albert is a shy boy who likes to sit quietly and read, while Maddie is adventurous and a bit hyperactive.
“She’s wild and crazy, and I figured she’d need a friend,” Alex said of her character Maddie.
When Maddie and Albert meet, they go through a series of adventures that explore and challenge both of their imaginations.
Alex celebrated the debut of “Wild Imagination” Sunday at Gatsby Books in Long Beach, located on the corner of Spring Street and Bellflower Boulevard. Alex hosted a book signing and gave a special reading of her book to friends, family, and attendees at the bookstore. Alex delighted people in attendance at Gatsby Books when she read “Wild Imaginations.”
“She stood up there to read her book in front of people, and wasn’t even nervous,” Cathy said. “I’m very proud that she has found something that can be a career for her, and that she has found a place in this world.”
You can pick up a copy of “Wild Imagination: The Adventures of Maddie and Albert” at Gatsby Books, The Better Half Gift Shop, and Island Tales Children's Bookshop in Balboa Island.
Adlawan’s book is also on the shelves at local Long Beach libraries. You can check one out at the Michelle Obama Public Library, the El Dorado Park Public Library, Los Altos Public Library, and Brewitt Neighborhood Library.
“I still can’t believe it,” Alex said of publishing her first book, a dream since childhood. “Now I am working on three other ideas for books.”
To find out more about Alex and her love for books, visit her book blog at http://booksbooksandohmorebooks.blogspot.com.