Northwest NEWS

June 8, 1998


Local second grader wins publishing contract

by Deborah Stone
Features writer

   Seven year old Chad Merkley has always wanted to be an author. He loves to read and write and ever since he was little, he has made up stories to entertain his family. For this red-headed, out-going second grader from Maltby, dreams do come true.

   Chad recently learned that he is the grand prize winner in Raintree Steck-Vaughn Publishers' 1998 national Publish-A-Book contest. His story, "Too Many Me's" will be published in early 1999 and available for international distribution. At the awards ceremony, Chad was presented with a publishing contract that includes a $500 royalty advance as well as any royalties generated by the sale of the book to schools and libraries around the world.
   This year's contest theme, "Enter the World of Technology," drew more than 8,000 participants in the second through fifth grades. Chad is the youngest of four national winners. His first grade teacher, Julie Filer, at Catheart Elementary School in Snohomish, encouraged him to enter the contest.
   He wrote down his ideas and used the computer to produce his story. The process, including editing, took about three and a half months. The result, "Too Many Me's," is a story about an eight year old inventor named Albert who creates robots to perform his chores. The robots cause problems and Albert decides to clone himself to do all of his work, but the idea turns out to be not as great as he thought it would be.
   "I got the idea from watching a news story on T.V. about the cloning of sheep, and I thought it would be fun to use this in my story," said Chad. The name Albert belongs to a special person in Chad's life, Albert Armistead, Chad's grandpa, who was diagnosed with bone cancer last year. "Chad's grandpa is so thrilled with Chad's accomplishments," comments Amber Merkley, Chad's mother. "He had no formal education as a child and used to sell newspapers on the street corners during the Depression. For his grandson to win such an award is so wonderful."
   Chad's grandfather was able to see Chad receive his award at a recent ceremony held at Chad's new school, Evergreen Academy in Bothell. Chad's mother describes her son as a talkative, creative child who likes people. She says, "He adores books and learned to read at four, but he's not a typical bookworm. He's very out-going."
   Chad enjoys the fantasy aspect of books and the ability to lose himself in the stories. His favorite authors include Hans Christian Anderson, Beverly Cleary and Marc Brown. He continues to write and is currently working on a story titled, "The Magic Door." "It's about a girl who moves into a house and one night she sees a glowing door," explains Chad. "She has all sorts of adventures when she decides to go through the door." It's clear that this soon-to-be published author has a depth of imagination that will provide him with many more stories to come.