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Young author-illustrator puts her own twist on classic tale

Sophia Lee recently published a children's book called "Patty the Hen."
(Courtesy)

Carmel Valley teenager Sophia Lee has reimagined several alternate endings for the stories she grew up with, coming up with sweeter and more satisfying life lessons for children.

The 14-year-old incoming freshman at Canyon Crest Academy recently published her first children’s book “Patty the Hen”, a retelling of the classic fable “The Little Red Hen” featuring one of her modified and modernized morals.

“I like the idea of taking something so classic and traditional and adapting it to make it my own,” Sophia said.

In the original version of “The Little Red Hen” story, the hen does all the prep work and will not share her bread with those who would not help it get made. In Sophia’s version, the opposite happens: a hen named Patty is greedy, selfish and lazy and the chicks who work for her only want to help. The twist at the end is that the chicks eventually leave Patty and start their own bakery, beating out Patty in the bread-making business.

“The moral evolved around the importance of gratitude, generosity and fairness,” Sophia said.

The story also combines Sophia’s two favorite hobbies: art and baking—last week she whipped up a tres leches cake.

Sophia, who this spring graduated from Pacific Trails Middle School, has been thinking about doing a book for a long time. She had drawn rough sketches and comics about Patty but this year was able to put it all together.

“I’ve loved to draw and paint for as long as I can remember,” Sophia said.

This year she downloaded MediBang Paint, a free digital painting software and started playing around with more digital art. She then taught herself how to publish her book on Amazon—a self-described perfectionist, she spent a lot of time editing the book and the final version arrived in her hands just last week, its pages full of colorful and bright illustrations: “I’m so pumped and excited.”

Sophia was proud that she did it all by herself, it is important for her to be independent, she said.

The moral of her story is about generosity and Sophia put her words into action: 100% of the profits made from “Patty the Hen” in the first year after publication will go to the Foundation for Prader-Willi Research.

Prader-Willi is a genetic disorder and the most common genetic cause of life-threatening childhood obesity and type 2 diabetes. Children with Prader-Willi lack normal hunger and satiety cues and are unable to control their food intake and will overeat if not closely monitored.

She learned about the disease from her father Tien Lee’s Carmel Valley-based company Aardvark Therapeutics, which is developing a drug to help treat children with Prader-Willi.

“Children with Prader-Willi always feel like they are starving to death,” Sophia said. “The more I learned about their terrible suffering inspired me to help those children through my project.”

Sophia would definitely like to work on more books and is thinking of doing a series with twists on original fables and fairy tales that end with a better moral.

She has her eye on taking on “The Ugly Duckling” next. In the original story, the ugly duckling grows up to be a beautiful swan, which Sophia said only sends a message that beauty still matters.

“That’s really messed up!” Sophia said with a laugh. “In my version, the duck grows up to be an even uglier duck.” Her updated message would be that looks aren’t as important as being kind and having a beautiful personality.

Find “Patty the Hen” on Amazon.com


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