Class project becomes book series for young Del Mar author


What began as a fifth-grade assignment has turned into a children’s book series for Del Mar’s Liana-Melissa Allen.

Now 19, the young author and illustrator has recently self-published “Donkey’s Kite: A Horse Valley Adventure,” the second book of “A Horse Valley Adventure” series.

“I just love to enter other worlds,” said Allen, who graduated from Torrey Pines High School in 2014. “I love to create imaginary characters and write about their worlds. It feels like the characters are alive when I’m drawing them and writing about them.”

A creative child, Allen grew up drawing and writing. Her imagination stemmed from her love of reading, which was instilled in her as a young girl by her father. Every evening she sat in his lap in their “Big Chair,” where he read to her.

By second grade, Allen created a cast of characters that later starred in her first book.

“I had adventures with them,” she recalled. “I’d go places, and they’d go with me. It was something that captured my childhood. When I’m in that world, I’m kind of like a kid again.”

Fast-forward to fifth grade, Allen wrote and illustrated “The Three Little Horses and the Big Bully Donkey,” a spin-off of “The Three Little Pigs,” for a class project. Her father, who read weekly to children at Del Mar Heights Elementary School, shared the story with students.

“They just loved the stories,” recalled Paul Allen, a longtime Del Mar resident who volunteered at the school for 13 years. “It was so exciting to see kids get inspired to read.”

As a 17-year-old high school junior, Allen self-published her first book. Since then, she has published six books, including a Spanish version of “The Three Little Horses and the Big Bully Donkey.”

Allen, who is also a pianist, is planning on releasing audio books for her series. She is also working on animating the characters for a YouTube video. In addition to delving into young adult fiction, she has plenty of ideas for “A Horse Valley Adventure” series.

“I’ve got quite a few characters to have fun with,” she said.

“I have a very talented daughter,” her father added. “I’m very proud of her.”

Allen’s books are available at and Visit