BY GABE LICHT
DELANO, MN Reading, writing, and kids have been passions for Michelle “MT” Kores for a long time.
She has turned those passions into her first children’s novel, “Escape to Niñothia,” which will be published in early November.
Kores was born in Wausau, Wis., but spent most of her childhood in Fargo.
That was a childhood she enjoyed.
“I always like writing and reading as a kid, and I always loved kids. I loved being a kid,” Kores said. “When I grew out of being a little kid, I started babysitting.”
Kores wasn’t the average babysitter. As she got to know the kids in her neighborhood, she started writing plays for them as a teenager: one in the summer and one at Christmas time.
“I would direct it; my mom would sew costumes; and my dad is a mechanical engineer, so he helped build sets,” Kores said. “We started getting sponsors from local businesses. It was really kind of crazy.”
In college, she went from writing plays to beginning to write a book, but she didn’t finish it.
Fast-forwarding a few years, she got married and moved to the Twin Cities, before ultimately moving to Delano.
While she was at a park by a lake with her family, she found the inspiration she needed to finish her book.
“I was looking around and saw all these kids riding bikes and looking at their iPads or phones,” Kores said. “It just made me sad. If things don’t change, it’s going to be like that for my kids. I think about how my childhood was. It was nothing like that . . . So, I decided to finish the story and hope that any kids that read this book will see, that it will make them aware of the beauty that can take place in nature or inspire them to go outside, play outside, and imagine things.”
“Escape to Niñothia” is a 157-page children’s novel for kids aged 8 to 12, depending on their reading level.
Kores said she tried to write the book in the way that children play.
“Characters are on their own and trying to get through things on their own. That’s the same way kids play,” Kores said.
The story follows a group of mistreated orphans living in Smiles Orphange, run by an evil caregiver named Olga.
Some of the younger children from the orphanage bring home an old book about a magical land where all animals are tame, children are always happy, and there are no grumpy adults. While the children fought over the book a map fell from the binding, directing the way to the mystical land called “Niñothia.” The children decide to escape the orphanage in hopes of finding this new home.
“They have to go through all these obstacles and adventures to get there,” Kores said.
The book has no photos, as Kores wanted to leave the images up to the reader’s imagination.
It is not based on any real people, but Kores said situations her friends went through inspired certain elements of the story.
“I just tried to make all the characters in the story relatable to any kids out there,” Kores said. “Every kid that reads the book will be able to relate to somebody in the story.”
She used her initials in hopes of appealing to boys and girls.
“I just wanted it to be gender-neutral so boys looking at it may not think it has a girly name on it,” Kores said. “I don’t know how much that plays into kids deciding books. If it did, though, I wanted it to be completely neutral so that, on first glance, they didn’t get the assumption it was a girly book.”
Kores has self-published the book, but is working with a distribution company to share it with the masses.
She also hopes to have contests and activities on her website for kids to do during and after reading the book.
That website, www.mtkores.com, will also direct interested individuals to where they can find the book.