New York school inspires 9-year-old author
Carrie Berk and mom Sheryl Berk publish 'Peace, Love and Cupcakes,' first in a planned series
BY GINA SALAMONE / NEW YORK DAILY NEWS
Published: Sunday, May 13, 2012, 6:00 AM
Updated: Sunday, May 13, 2012, 6:00 AM
JEANNE NOONAN FOR NEW YORK DAILY NEWS
In 'Peace, Love and Cupcakes,' Carrie Berk (front) has included characters named after friends, including (from l.) Jaimie Ludwig, Abby Johnson and Delaney Hannon.
Author Sheryl Berk has good reason to be proud this Mother’s Day. She has co-written a book with daughter Carrie — who’s only 9.
The ambitious upper East Side fourth-grader collaborated on “Peace, Love and Cupcakes,” the first in a four-book series called “The Cupcake Club.” The recently published title is based on Carrie’s own experiences at P.S. 6 on E. 81st St.
Characters are named after Carrie’s classmates, teachers and principal, and many of the school’s events and programs appear on the pages.
“What was really exciting is just seeing how Carrie took what happens in her school career to heart and shared it with other children,” says P.S. 6 principal Lauren Fontana. “So it’s not just made-up events. They’re actually things that are special and dear to her and that have made an impact on her.”
Blakely Elementary School is the setting for the book, a nod to P.S. 6, named the Lillie D. Blake School in the story. And Fontana shows up in the book as Principal Fontina.
Carrie has been reviewing and blogging about cupcakes since she was 7. She thought of creating a book when she was in second grade while at a sleepover with a friend.
“I thought that it would be a good idea to write a cupcake book,” Carrie says. “So I started writing it down and showed it to my mom and that’s how I got the book.”
Her mother, who co-wrote the best seller “Soul Surfer,” pitched the idea to her agent and it was sold. The result is different from Carrie’s original book and incorporates characters she met both before and after the second grade.
“Peace, Love and Cupcakes” (Sourcebooks Jabberwocky, $6.99) focuses on a fourth-grader named Kylie, who’s being bullied at school by a classmate. She starts a cupcake club to make friends and get the bully off her back.
“He is the person who really gives birth to Peace, Love and Cupcakes (the club name) as a business,” Berk explains. “He says to them, ‘You guys are going to make me 300 cupcakes a week.’
“So because Carrie wanted to have somebody who was a strong supporting person who really helped, she picked her friend Jaimie because they’ve known each other forever,” adds Berk.
“Kylie’s thinking about her joining the cupcake club and all her friends are screaming, ‘Noooo,’ because they don’t want to add any other members,” Carrie explains.
Delaney’s character is a lot like her in that she knows almost every Katy Perry song.
“Carrie is not one of the characters,” Berk says of her daughter. “There’s a little bit of her in each of the characters. And none of the girls are the actual characters. They’re all composites of people.
“But a lot of the situations have come out of Carrie’s experiences here,” Berk adds. “Like this year, she’s been a peer mediator. They teach kids how to get along and resolve their differences. And that’s where the whole idea of a bullying situation came about.”
In the book, the cupcake club bakes treats to raise money for their school’s eco center. P.S. 6 also has an eco center, which Carrie helped fund.
“Carrie is a very special, unique child,” Fontana says. “We’ve been fund-raising for our greenhouse up on the roof. And as a little kindergarten student she heard about it, and with one friend made T-shirts and did a lemonade stand on the street and raised over $200.”
“To actually have a student have a piece of work published is just amazing,” Levenherz says. Fein calls Carrie’s writing reflective and thoughtful. “She takes her life experiences and can write amazing realistic fiction that any child her age can relate to,” Fein says.
Carrie used what she learned in the classroom to edit her mom.
“I’d hand her a chapter and she’d come back and it’s all marked up with red,” Berk says. “And ‘What is the character thinking and feeling here?’ And ‘Why are you racing? Where’s your pacing?’ I would say, ‘Oh my gosh, you’re mean!’
“And she’d say, ‘This is what my teachers would ask if I wrote a story and it was missing this,’ ” Berk adds. “She’s mirroring their constructive criticism that they’ve done on her writing. So I felt like I was taking fourth-grade writing.”