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A South Orange Resident brings his inspiration to life.

Inspiration often strikes unexpectedly and South Orange resident Steve Ciabattoni’s came at an airport where he observed a bird hopping around in the terminal, rather than flying. That gave him the idea to write a children’s book about a bird who is anxious about flying, something with which Ciabattoni has also struggled. He took a picture of the bird – this was 2012 – and the image stayed on his phone as a visual reminder.

Ciabattoni had long wanted to write a children’s book, but as a former music journalist who now works in digital communications for KIPP Public Schools, a network of charter schools, he never seemed to have the time.

Determined to finally bring his idea to life, Ciabattoni signed up for a class at the South Orange-Maplewood Adult School last spring, called “Create a Children’s Book.” Taught by Duncan Ewald, Ciabattoni says the instructor encouraged writers to figure out how to shape a story, think about the ages to write for and determine the type of illustrations to use. Ciabattoni says, “It demystified the process a little bit.” The class also provided accountability since students had to share their progress each week.

Steve Ciabattoni
Author Steve Ciabattoni released his first children's book.

This past March, Ciabattoni released Finch’s First Flight, with illustrations by Annie Wilkinson. The book tells the story of a bird who was afraid to fly until he meets a young boy at the airport who is also nervous about flying for the first time. Together, they help each other overcome their fears to see amazing sights and fly higher than ever before.

Given Ciabattoni’s work with KIPP, he looks forward to doing some readalongs with the students.

Since Ciabattoni self-published his book with Amazon, he has been reaching out to book publishers and agents to learn how to get his next book picked up. He says he’s in the middle of a draft and this time it’s about a leaf. Finch’s First Flight is available at


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