'Julie Loves to Dance'

Contact: Erin Flynn
Nadia Famiano holds her book while standing next to Quyen Edwards in the aisle of a library.

Nadia Famiano dedicated her book to Quyen Edwards, a librarian at Portage (Michigan) District Library who inspired and supported her books from a young age.

PORTAGE, Mich.—In just her second year at Western, Nadia Famiano is still getting into the rhythm of college life. But she’s already pirouetted into the professional world as a published author with her children’s book, “Julie Loves to Dance.”

From twirling on the playground to discoing in the bathroom and boogieing on her bed, Julie can’t help but bust a move wherever she goes in this frolicking tale that follows her through an ordinary day of extraordinary footwork. 

The story danced itself into existence one day in high school when Famiano found herself daydreaming during class and thinking about 
a little girl she babysat who was “obsessed” with dancing.

Nadia Famiano holds her book while standing next to Quyen Edwards in the aisle of a library.

Edwards has saved many of the books Famiano created as a child during her visits to the library.

“I was writing out notes and then, next thing I know, I have a little poem. And I thought, ‘That would be a good children’s book!’” she recalls. She thought submitting her work would be an opportunity to receive valuable criticism of her writing. “I sent it into a publishing company with a little synopsis and manuscript, and I was waiting for a rejection letter.”

But the rejection letter never came. Instead, an email popped up one day in band class notifying her that her manuscript was accepted. Things escalated quickly.

“All of a sudden I had to find an illustrator, I had to figure out what my royalty rate was going to be and I had to sign a contract,” says Famiano, a Medallion Scholar studying creative writing and Spanish.

As luck would have it, a family friend had a son, Nicholas Crocker, who was studying illustration at Kendall College of Art and Design. The two joined forces to bring the story to life. It was published by Bumblebee Books through Olympia Publishers in July 2023 and is available at most major book retailers online, like Amazon and Barnes & Noble, and Kalamazoo bookstore, Bookbug. 

“Seeing the book ‘out in the wild,’ it kind of just hit me that my book is no longer just a little idea I had. Suddenly, it is real and available for people to buy and own,” she says.

This writing milestone is a full-circle moment for Famiano, who was first encouraged to write by Quyen Edwards—the Ms. Quyen mentioned in her book dedication—a librarian at Portage (Michigan) District Library.

“I’ve gone to the library pretty much every week since kindergarten,” Famiano says. “Ms. Quyen would always give me little stacks of paper and say, ‘Write a book.’ … She probably had 50-something by the time I stopped writing the little books.”

Two people read the book "Julie Loves to Dance."

Famiano shows Edwards the dedication page.

When “Julie Loves to Dance” was published, Famiano brought Edwards a copy along with 
a cake to celebrate her success.

“I’m pretty sure she started crying when she saw the book’s dedication,” says Famiano. “It was really great. She’s just who I want to be when I grow up, pretty much.”

Edwards positive influence and passion for her work inspired Famiano to become a children’s librarian, a career she still plans to pursue after getting a master’s degree in library science. 

For now, she’s entertaining invitations for book readings at libraries and schools around the area. She’s also honing her craft and gaining confidence in her literary talents through Western’s creative writing program, winning the Gwen Frostic Undergraduate Creative Writing Award in Fiction in her first year on campus.

Famiano is also already starting to prepare for her Lee Honors College thesis. With this book under her belt, she’s thinking another may be in order—potentially combining her two majors to craft a bilingual book. But as for another professionally published piece?

“One day, maybe,” she laughs. “If I can get my homework done.” ■