At only 15 years old, Elle Fox of Aston, Delaware County, is already on her way to a successful creative arts career. This Pennsylvania Leadership Charter School (West Chester) student has already written, illustrated, and published a 2022 children’s book, Meatball and Birdie.
It’s a story that resonates with Fox.
The plot, at its surface, is about a bluebird who, separated from his mother, is befriended by a caring dog. But its message is much deeper than that.
Fox’s narrative — tinged with significant undercurrents of family dynamics in flux and coping with loss and change — is informed by her experience.
When she was nine, her parents answered the charitable call to open their home to foster children.
In her preteen years, Fox lived among a steady rotation of younger siblings (mostly babies), welcoming and comforting them when they arrived and bidding them farewell when they exited.
Her ability to navigate those emotional cycles melded with her parents’ ethos of service, providing her with an innate sense of compassion. She later linked that empathy with her natural talents (art and prose) to develop a story about successfully navigating change.
“My family has been such a big part of this process,” she said of the book project. “Because this has been their story, too.
“We went through fostering all these kids. And it was almost healing for me to write about exactly what we were feeling: missing them as they left our family.”
Truth in Writing
She found the book-writing project a wholly unique experience.
“I would not consider myself a writer at all,’ she said. “But when this idea came to me, the characters came to me, I couldn’t not make a book about them.
“I knew that I had to be the one to tell this story. Because I really wanted to get it right.”
It wasn’t easy.
“The hardest part of writing it was making sure it was true to everyone involved,” Fox explained. “Because there are a lot of different things involved in foster care, just by the nature of how it works.
“So I wanted to be able to tell my side of the story freely, the way I felt it. But I also wanted it to be respectful and true to everyone else’s experiences.”
The experience of her youth — that ability to connect with infants and toddlers, invest in them empathetically, and equip them to move on — is informing her future career path. Fox would like to be an art teacher, engaging her nurturing instinct with impressive illustration skills.
She also intends to become a foster parent herself.
“I would really like to continue the work that we started as a family,” Elle Fox stated.
There are, as well, dreams of expanding the Meatball and Birdie story.
She’s thought about publishing a sequel. And the possibility of it becoming an animated series. And she recognizes that her character designs are ideal for stuffed animal version of both Meatball and Birdie.
More Than Just a Children’s Book
At present, though, she’s content to see her “children’s” book gain an audience far beyond that demographic.
“With all of the emotion pushed into that book,” she said. “I’ve noticed that people can relate to this from so many different angles.
“They can see this from the perspective of a sister moving away to college or losing their grandma.
“Everyone can find a way to relate to this.
“I just hope that the way separation is conveyed in this book is a connection for everyone. We really can understand what others are going through, even if we haven’t lived it exactly,” she concluded.
Copies of Meatball and Birdie are available at Amazon.com.
Elle Fox’s entrepreneurial mentorship is supported in part by CompanyVoice, a YEA! Founding Champion.