DIRIGO STORIES: 11-year-old author helping orphans with new book

Juliese Padgett, 11, holds a copy of her book "The Newest Flower." It teaches children about accepting each other's differences. Sales from the book will help the adoption agency that matched the Padgetts with Juliese (COURTESY: Jen Padgett).

SOUTH PARIS (WGME) -- An emerging author in South Paris is hoping to change the world one book at a time.

"It's kind of hit me, but it still feels like we're in the writing process" said 11-year-old Juliese Padgett.

Padgett is in the process of publishing a children's book with a big message.

"It's OK to be different," said Juliese.

It's called "The Newest Flower," and it's about a flower named Callie. The looks different and teaches the other flowers about acceptance.

It's a lesson Juliese has learned and taught herself.

"People I know ask me questions, but I just respond with, 'Yeah I'm different, but I like it.'"

Juliese's parents adopted her from China at 3-years-old. A few years ago, a classmate pointed out Juliese looked different. No one else in class looked like her.

"At the time I think just felt like the ugly duckling," Juliese said. "I don't really know how else to describe it."

Her mom, Jen, helped Juliese process it through a home school assignment about writing a children's book.

"The depth of what she was thinking and feeling was way beyond her years," Padgett said.

Juliese came up with the idea herself and wrote the story with mom's help. Jen Padgett is an English teacher and reading specialist.

"Her decision always trumped (mine)," Padgett said.

That includes the illustrations drawn by a man in Finland. He agreed to do the work for free since he has an adopted child of his own.

"Adoption enriches your family," Padgett said.

Now, they want to enrich others. When "The Newest Flower" goes on sale this spring, the Padgetts won't keep a dime. Instead, they'll donate the money to Holt International. It's the adoption agency that matched the Padgetts with Juliese.

"We have our two boys who are 'homegrown' and we have our two daughters who are 'heart grown,' and it's just made life better," Padgett said.

To help the Padgetts self-publish "The Newest Flower" CLICK HERE.

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