Author Jacqueline West presents to NR fourth, fifth graders


Author Jacqueline West presented to all of the New Richmond elementary school fourth and fifth graders on Dec. 15 at New Richmond Middle School.

West is the author of "The Books of Elsewhere," a series of five related books for upper elementary students. The main character is an 11-year-old girl named Olive who moves into an old house only to learn that the house does not want the new family to learn about its secrets.

West shared about her childhood and how she developed a love of writing. She also shared how experiences from her life allowed her to be creative and develop the ideas for her books. Since the School District of New Richmond has updated its writing curriculum in recent years, having an author discuss the writing process makes a big difference for students. West shared the highs, lows and challenges of being a professional writer. The presentation included how the publishing process works and how an illustrator was found. West has also written several others books for older aged readers.

What makes the Jacqueline West author visit even more special for New Richmond is that West is the daughter of retired New Richmond eighth-grade teacher, Vicki Cobian. Several staff members worked with Cobian and knew West as a young girl. Although the Cobian family lived in the River Falls area, New Richmond staff and students have been following the career of West for several years.

"The Shadows," the first book in the Books of Elsewhere series, was published in 2010 by Penguin Books. From start to finish, it took West eight years to write and publish this book. Other books in the series have taken less time to publish but West was able to make writing her true profession once "The Shadows" was published. Movie rights for The Books of Elsewhere are currently being considered. West currently lives with her husband and child in Red Wing, Minn.