A clever house cat named Claude sneakily escapes home one day when his owner forgets to close the door. On his spontaneous adventure, he encounters a variety of everyday outdoor animals and wonders. Bicycles, bunnies, and butterflies, oh my! After a day full of fascination, Claude manages to slip back inside before his absence is noticed.
Allegra Gelose, a remarkable 13-year-old 8th-grade student, has achieved a notable milestone by releasing her debut picture book, Claude in the Great Outdoors. Astonishingly, Allegra managed to release the book in a mere six months, a testament to her dedication and exceptional time management skills. Juggling her responsibilities as the manager of her school’s volleyball team, participation in soccer, running track, taking piano lessons, and keeping up in school, some may begin to wonder when she finds time for sleeping
People may think her book was sparked by her love of reading and writing when in reality, her true passion is science. Fueled by her deep-rooted affection for animals and natural sciences—a subject she avidly pursues in school—she honed her artistic skills by practicing illustrations of various animals.
“It’s hard sometimes to keep motivated and just finish, but it’s worth it 100 percent,” says Allegra.
As her collection of animal artwork grew, she wove a charming story around her illustrations.
What sets Allegra apart from her peers is taking on both roles of illustrator and author of her own picture book. This requires learning the new digital software, Procreate, as well as writing a narrative, drafting the storyboard, and designing and sizing the pages digitally for print. Typically, this amount of work is divided between two people, yet 13-year-old Allegra embraced both roles, all while in school. Before learning Procreate, she would create realistic drawings of animals using colored pencils and watercolor, her favorite mediums.
Allegra had created two illustrations and soon realized she could use these designs for her first book.
And just like that, Claude in the Great Outdoors was already underway.
However, no accomplishment can be done alone, and Allegra thankfully had the support of her loving parents and extended family. Carolyn Lamb, Allegra’s mother, claims her daughter drew inspiration from the thousands of picture books they’ve borrowed from their local library over eight years, enjoying playful stories portrayed through endless artistic variety. As all the pieces came together, they realized her book became an ideal read for parents with their babies or toddlers. With the help and guidance of her mother, she was able to breathe life into Claude and the creatures he encountered.
To support Allegra’s work, you can follow her art and future publishings through Instagram @pacranchpress. Her next ambitious projects include The Three Naughty Puppies Trap Santa, a collaborative effort with her mother. Another tale to look forward to is Bob and the Thanksgiving Feast, initially just a whimsical story Allegra wrote in the second grade but has plans to incorporate illustrations to have it published. Her first picture book, Claude in the Great Outdoors, is available on Amazon for $12.
This is just the beginning of her literary journey, as she aspires to release more books before embarking on the exciting challenges of high school.