Natalye Hilliard

Natalye Hilliard has more than a year until she graduates from high school, but the Bayou Paul/St. Gabriel resident’s resume now includes something many adults cannot claim.

The 11th grader at MSA East has written and published a children’s book entitled “Be You.” She is the daughter of George and Shira Hilliard. 

The book from Christian Faith Publishing of Meadville, Pa., is available at Barnes & Noble and through Amazon. 

It focuses on a young giraffe named Sky, who is unhappy with who she is and longs to be someone or something else. 

It’s her way of helping the next generation take pride in their unique qualities.

Sky likes to eat apple pies and bounce on her bean bag when she’s sad, but she does not like herself. 

Sky changes herself into many types of animals, each time hoping that she would feel better about who she is at that time. Through all the changes and challenges that she endures, she realizes that the best person to be is herself. 

“The inspiration for the book came from a class project, and I started to get into it more and more,” Natalye said. “In fourth grade, there was a lot going on and I wanted to inspire people to just be themselves.” 

“I think it was the animal I loved most at the moment,” she said.

Illustrations in the book show a lot of her home area and her own life. 

One picture shows a ferry going across the Mississippi River. Another picture shows Sky in front of a bookshelf that includes titles of many of Natalye’s passions – the Holy Bible, art, volleyball, cheerleading science, theater, piano and MSA.

She loves cheerleading and has played piano since she was 4. 

The book spawned from a 4th-grade school paper. Her mom, really liked it, made it a keepsake, and ultimately decided to have the book published. 

It’s quite an achievement for Natalye. Although publishing companies receive countless manuscripts per year, very few make the cut. 

“It really surprised me because there are a lot of very good authors who never get their book published,” she said.

The publication of the book came as a surprise to Natalye. 

The book is an extension of her own life experience. She said she often looks out for other people, something that spawned from her involvement in Girl Scouts.

Giraffes aren’t her favorite animal, however.

She had a rabbit named “Broadway” for seven years. The name is an extension of her greatest love.

Natalye has seen musicals on Broadway, and she has performed in several musicals through the BREC performing arts series. Those musicals included “The Lion King,” “Legally Blonde,” “The Jungle Book,” “Beauty and the Beast,” “Descendants,” and “High School Musical.” 

Her favorite author is Toni Morrison, whose notable works include The Bluest Eye, Song of Solomon and Beloved.

The book has also put her in front of audiences. She did guest readings at LaSalle and Wildwood elementary schools in Baton Rouge.

Natalye is also a fan of Jazz, as well as Rhythm and Blues.

She is still receiving requests to read at area schools, but she is trying to schedule it without it interfering with her school activities. 

Natalye will sign books at the East Baton Rouge Parish Library on Goodwood Boulevard on Jan. 28 from 12:30 p.m. – 3 p.m.


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