Lucas Chen

One of Shakopee’s youngest authors, Lucas Chen, reads his book “A Boy and the Caterpillar Rescue.” Chen is in fourth grade and has been writing ever since he could pick up a pen.

A year ago, Lucas Chen learned a hard lesson on accepting the outcome of a difficult circumstance when someone very close to him died.

It was his pet caterpillar named Cat, who was in the process of morphing into a butterfly when, one morning, he didn't wake up. Lucas, who was in third grade at the time, learned a lesson about life that day: sometimes, things don’t go the way we hope.

Instead of forgetting about the caterpillar, as most children would, Lucas — who has always stolen his mother’s printer paper to create storybooks — was inspired to write a children’s book about Cat. His mother, Julie Chen, helped him find an editor and an illustrator. Now, a year later, Lucas is a published author with a book called "A Boy and the Caterpillar Rescue" for sale on Amazon.

And he’s in fourth grade.

Julie Chen, who co-owns the Waffle Bars and Jamba Juices in the Twin Cities with her husband, said Lucas wanted to change the ending of the story, because he didn’t want Cat to die.

“But Mom said, ‘Lucas, if you’re going to write the ending, it has to be true,’” Lucas said.

Lucas' story is far more meaningful than a tale of a boy and his pet caterpillar. According to him, it’s really about “overcoming and accepting outcomes.”

Lucas celebrated a book launch at Waffle Bar in Lakeville and sold all of the 150 books he and his family ordered. The proceeds went to his family’s church in Crystal.

”I wanted him to have a sense of accomplishment and build that confidence in him,” Julie said.

Aside from being an author, Lucas is also a full-time kid. He captures creatures in his backyard in Shakopee — especially turtles — and reads books by Jerry Palotta, who writes about animals. He is good at quick math and hates social studies. He also takes piano lessons and evidently likes hot chocolate based on his Caribou Coffee order.

“My next story will be a surprise,” Lucas said.

“Oh?” Julie said, unaware of his next book’s blueprint.

Maddie DeBilzan graduated with a journalism degree from Bethel University. She’s interned at Salon Media and the St. Paul Pioneer Press. Outside of work, she sifts through Goodwill clothing racks, listens to Ben Rector's music and goes on long runs.


Recommended for you