Julia Miranda had learned how to use her voice well before she held her first book signing at Pink Rooster Treasures in Orange last week.
“We got an assignment from our teacher – it was Dr. Seuss week – to make a rhyming story,” Julia said. “Ok, so no joke I was sitting in my kitchen, writing as fast as my fingers could fly, trying to finish this before Thursday so it wouldn’t be late,” she said. “Normally when I squish things in, it’s not great, but this was actually pretty good.”
Her mother Christi remembered, “She said can I show you a paper I wrote?” Christi, a published author herself, was impressed after reading it but was trying to filter her excitement between being Julia’s mom (‘where everything she does is great’) and seeing the story as a writer sees it. She sent it to her friend, Meg, asking her what she thought about the school assignment.
Christi received a text back, in ALL CAPS, saying ‘THIS IS A KID’S BOOK!” Christi’s friend, Meg Delagrange-Belfon, also happens to be an illustrator.
You see, there are two authors in this extraordinary family. Christi Miranda wrote a book in 2020 called “Heels & Valleys – Confessions of a Church Girl”. And now her daughter, Julia, has a book out, a children’s book called “I Will Not Shut Up!”, featuring a character named “Molly Polly”.
The most extraordinary thing? Julia Miranda, published author, and self-described “lover of pasta”, is twelve years old.
It all began when Julia’s teacher at Little Cypress Christian School, gave the rhyming assignment to the class a few months ago. The teacher, Regina Caillier, often gave creative writing assignments to her students to spark their creativity.
Meanwhile, Julia had gone to District Fine Arts and competed in musical theatre, junior solo division, and got an invitation to Nationals in Orlando, Florida. On the way home from the competition, Christi joked that Julia needed a whole job.
Everyone else they knew sold things like chocolates or popcorn for fundraising, but it was just the two of them, no family to sell to. And the thought of going door to door to strangers’ homes was not appealing to either of them.
“Then I was like, oh, we have her book,” Christi recalled. “Down here it’s just us, so I thought this might be cool. My book came out last year so I had a little understanding of the process. So I called Meg and asked if we could pull the trigger on this.”
“I made a few edits and sent it to my teacher because I figured, you correct all my papers, so you could correct this,” Julia said. Her teacher Ms. Caillier is credited as an editor in the book.
Julia had done some drawings for the book and sent it to Meg the illustrator, but every bit of it – fonts, colors, characters, facial expressions – went through Julia. If the kids didn’t look like the kids she went to school with, or if something wasn’t right, Julia had the conversations with Meg about the changes. Julia admitted that she loved being in charge of a project at the age of twelve.
But Julia had told Christi that she didn’t know that she wanted to be known as an author at this point in her life.
“And I said to her, well people just know you as a creative, because she does musical theater, wrote the book and paints things so creativity is her jam,” Christi said.
Once the books came in and Julia saw the final product, “It was really cool! I looked at the first copy and of course I texted my dad, and I was like ‘Look dude this actually happened! I didn’t’ tell you about it, but this actually happened!”
“And we went to Pink Rooster and I got to do my book signing. Which was actually pretty fun because I signed them all in crayon,” Julia said.
The “Molly Polly” character in the book is ‘as jolly as can be, but not everyone likes the sound of her voice’. Julia said she had the idea mainly because, as a very outgoing girl herself, she would often get comments about being loud, and that at first, those comments really bothered her.
“I talk a lot. I’m loud. It’s actually kinda disappointing when I’m quiet. And people would tell me to be quiet,” she said. “I was like, I’m sorry, does it look like I can fix that issue?
“It’s not an issue. I learned that people don’t have to like me, or the fullness of me, but it doesn’t mean that I can gripe back at them. I can choose how to respond. It’s not what people do to you, it’s how you react to it that makes you more adult or more mature than them,” Julia said.
“Molly Polly handles it in a way – she gets hurt, because words hurt. A lot. And so Molly Polly doesn’t just go and try to get revenge, she just keeps going and I bet she probably went home and talked to her mom about it. I don’t know her life. I just kinda make her up in my brain.”
Her mother Christi is a preacher in a male dominated field and teaches a course called “Preach Girl”, and her own book came from that experience.
“She’s heard me encouraging women to use their voice, and that we have something to say. And the world needs the gifts that are in them. She would be playing Barbies in the next room while I was teaching a class to twenty women. So she’s heard all of this and those things have influenced her. But she’s so much her own person.”
About 150 copies of “I Will Not Shut Up” have been sold so far, and not just locally, although the Orange Public Library is considering adding the book to its shelves. People send Christi and Julia pictures and videos of children across the country reading the book. Teachers buy the book for their classrooms.
Christi showed photo of a little girl who is holding the book as she’s fallen asleep. The extraordinary thing about this, other than it was written by a 12 year-old author, is that Julia’s readers are all over the US. The little girl in the pic is from Idaho. Her mom found out about the book on the website and ordered on Amazon.
Julia, who has already traveled the world with her mother as part of being a “PK” – as she says, or a “Preacher’s Kid”, has more book signings planned in her future. Her mother said proudly that now she has “I Will Not Shut Up” laid out alongside her own books for purchase at events for “Preach Girl”. The duo has already traveled everywhere from Denver to Brazil as part of Christi’s work, and are known as “The Miranda Girls”.
Although her love for musical theatre and fundraising for Nationals was the drive behind publishing the book, Julia says she’s only twelve so she hasn’t ruled out being a writer.
When asked her favorite thing about the book, Julia said it’s the author’s info page inside the back cover of the book, and the quote, “She feels very strongly about pasta.”
“Me and pasta have a long-lasting relationship,” Julia said in all seriousness.
Currently, “I Will Not Shut Up” is in stock at Pink Rooster Treasures in Orange, and online at Christimiranda.com/Julia, where her mom has put up an author’s page for her daughter. Copies are also available on Amazon.
When asked what message she wants both kids and adults to take from her book, and the age of its author, both Julia and Christi agree on an important one:
“It’s never too late to use your voice, and it’s never too early to use your voice. “