CHELMSFORD — She recently turned 15, but when Lucy Frankland starts filling out job and/or college applications, she can add the title of “published illustrator.”
A freshman at Chelmsford High School, Lucy’s illustrations — 15 of them — are featured in a new sci-fi novel for adults, “Cryptid Academy,” by Howard Wolke of Sudbury, a family friend.
Art runs deep in the Frankland household. Lucy’s mother, Amanda, is a well-known artist and photographer in the Merrimack Valley and an art educator at Keystone Montessori School. Based on the illustrations in Wolke’s novel, it is evident that she passed her skills on to her daughter.
“It was great that he chose my work,” said Lucy, who has been reading “Cryptid Academy” extensively to develop a feel for each character’s look. “I like it. It’s definitely for high school kids, but I like it. It’s a good story.”
“Cryptid Academy,” Wolke’s first novel, follows golems, giants, nags and fairies at the high school Collinstein Academy, where each character is unique in appearance and behavior and deals with the same issues that young adults face.
“It’s about how they kind of get separated because of things that happen at school, and how they come back together and include everyone and exist together,” Lucy said. “I like the mystery part of it. It’s about the truth. The main character is huge, and they’re built on truth so they can’t lie. So that’s an interesting addition to the story.
“But I like that it’s about inclusivity and truth,” she added.
Giants, giants, nagas and fairies are perhaps the most suitable characters for a high school artist to illustrate, which is what Wolke was looking for last year when he was in the final stages of his novel.
“I liked the idea of an eighth grader doing illustrations,” he said. “Lucy has a great mental eye for what characters look like and her style is perfect.”
Through the character descriptions on the back pages, Lucy was able to shape each character’s appearance. Over the following weeks, through regular virtual meetings with Wolke, she brought each of them to life.
“Lucy did such a great job working with me on this,” Wolke said. “Lucy was there every step of the way, and her illustrations are incredible.”
The release of Wolke’s book was part of a discussion on science fiction on November 29 at Silver Unicorn Bookstore in Acton, where he paid tribute to his young illustrator, drawing applause from friends and family in attendance.
The sequel to “Cryptid Academy” is already underway, and Wolke hopes for a spring 2024 release. He had already contacted Lucy about the art.
“I couldn’t have done it without her illustrations,” Wolke said.