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12-year-old Baltimore author takes her prize-winning book to the Smithsonian

Author Gabrielle Jones Fields, second from right, with her book, "My Mom Could Be a Super Hero." With her are, from left, National Youth Foundation founders Jamee Joppy, Sophia Hanson and Carolyn Crawford.
Author Gabrielle Jones Fields, second from right, with her book, "My Mom Could Be a Super Hero." With her are, from left, National Youth Foundation founders Jamee Joppy, Sophia Hanson and Carolyn Crawford. (Courtesy National Youth Foundation)

Author Gabby Jones Fields is taking her book to the Smithsonian Institution this weekend, reading from it and signing copies during a Saturday Mother’s Day-themed event at the National Postal Museum.

Not bad for a first-time author who’s only 12.

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Gabby, a seventh-grader at Mount Royal Middle School, won last year’s inaugural Amazing Women’s Edition contest, in which students were asked to write and illustrate a book about a local woman they admire. She wrote her book, “My Mom Could Be a Super Hero,” about her mother, Trinia Jones, a U.S. Postal Service letter carrier in Owings Mills.

“Whenever I think of a superhero, I think of my mom,” said Gabby, who spent about a month writing and illustrating her book. “She works at the post office and she works really long hours. I just really admire that about her.”

For her part, mom said she’s grateful Gabby appreciates how hard she works.

“When they have a career day, there’s not much you can say about the post office,” Jones said, noting she always stressed to Gabby how a mail carrier has to work under sometimes extreme conditions. “I was honored that she wrote the book, and that she put me out there in the snow and the rain and the sun. … I’m glad [she] got the message.”

The competition was sponsored by the Chadds Ford, Pa.-based National Youth Foundation, which “promotes diversity and gender equality in children’s books,” co-founder Sophia Hanson wrote in an email. The competition, for students in grades K-8, attracted 28 entries, she said, many from teams of students.

Gabby’s father, Willie Fields Jr., said he was proud of his daughter for taking on the project of writing a book and seeing it through.

After working on it for a while, he said, “she came out and said, ‘Daddy, this is getting really hard.’ But she finished it, and she won.”

Erin Falligant, an American Girl book author and one of the competition judges, praised Gabby’s book for expanding the definition of a superhero.

“She shows us that we can and should look for heroes close to home — sometimes within our own homes,” Falligant said in a quote provided by the foundation. “She takes the concept of ‘superhero’ and turns it on its head. Rather than looking to a fictional character in a cape, Gabby recognizes the ways in which her mother cares for her family and for her community through her job with the U.S. Postal Service.”

Saturday’s free event, which will also include a workshop where kids can create their own Mother’s Day cards, is set for 10:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m. at the National Postal Museum, 2 Massachusetts Ave. N.E. in Washington. Information: postalmuseum.si.edu.

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