By Mona Robinson
Anna Frances Julian is a budding artist and writer in fourth grade at . She will turn 10 this month. I sat down to interview her over a cup of tea at a local coffee shop, expecting her to be a little nervous.
However, she wasn’t a bit nervous. The conversation flowed smoothly and effortlessly as if I were with a best friend. For an almost ten-year-old, Anna Frances has a very impressive vocabulary and a wide range of experiences that she eloquently incorporates into conversation. Confident yet modest, this collector of soda bottles and bottle caps wants to be an artist and a writer, yet she insists she does not want to be famous.
"My head feels like it's bursting with ideas," she says. Her blond curls bounce as her animated stories unfold. "It's challenging to plan out the entire story because the ideas come so fast," she says.
Her enthusiasm for writing results in energetic and imaginary stories about girls with special powers.
Anna Frances has kept a journal for half her life. Her favorite poet is Shel Silverstein and her favorite book is “The Son of Neptune” by Rick Riordan. One of her favorite quotes is from Dr. Seuss's “Oh, The Places You'll Go.” She loves the book’s rhyming but is more interested in the bigger lessons conveyed in Seuss books.
"It's more complex than just making kids laugh," she says.
Her favorite movie is Hugo Cabret.
She loves to create art. She’s currently working on an abstract composition in pencil. Her work has already been on display at the art school at UGA, and . In addition, she has been featured as "Artist of the Week" at Chase Street Elementary.
Anna Frances was the only child featured in a curated art show last December presented by Company called, “AHA!: Athens Has Art.” It introduced works by independent local artists.
She has a constant audience in her younger brother, Henry Julian, and her stepbrothers, Trent and Ian Slutzky. Her dog Leroy is named for Leroy Anderson because she enjoys his music.
Anna Frances was born in California, but she clearly is a "Georgia Girl" and loves her unique Boulevard neighborhood. Her many friends and she are often seen walking to and from school.
Her quick reply to my questions speaks to her intelligence. Anna Frances's father, Marc Julian, is a psychometrician who encourages her to "never give up." He has instilled a love of mathematics in his daughter.
She also likes science. Anna Frances is enjoying Mrs. Upchurch's science lessons at Chase Street.
Anna Frances smiles as she talks about how her mom, Rachel Watkins (full disclosure: Rachel used to write Whiz Kids.) inspires her. Rachel is a community volunteer, organizer, editor and an employee at . Anna Frances saw her mom spearheading efforts to bring attention to her neighborhood school.
She has taken ballet, tap, and Irish dancing. She's played soccer. Currently, she’s developing her tennis skills with and is looking forward to match play. Inspired by an aunt and grandmother, both of whom are accomplished musicians, she took up violin for a couple of years and has now moved on to playing the piano.
I could have easily spent another hour chatting it up with this child. But she had to hurry home to put the finishing touches on a gingerbread house she had started earlier that day. She was riding a new bike she had gotten early for her birthday.