Damien Macalino is a third-grader at Hillsboro’s Jackson Elementary School with an addiction to the “Skylander” video game, a fervent passion for soccer and a cat named Morianna.  

He is an average 8-year-old, complete with the wiggles and a grin that wins folks over — with one exception. Damien is a published author.

He comes by the literary profession naturally, as both his parents are writers. When he arrived home with books he’d written in school, his father, Raymond Macalino, seized the opportunity to instill some entrepreneurial and publication skills in his son.

The owners of the Jacobsen’s Books booth at the Hillsboro Farmers’ Market gave the youngster some space to hawk his original, hand-printed compositions. As he sold the one-of-a-kind, hand-stapled books, “his mom would cry” to see them disappear, said his mother, Tonya Macalino.

Damien decided that if he published a book, he could maintain ownership of the original manuscript, making his mother happy and also (ideally) providing funds for important needs such as college and toys.

Damien’s book “What if an Alligator Ate an Avalanche?” was the result of an assignment in school. He teamed up with a friend who provided the artwork for the assignment, and then he used the dictionary to fuel his imaginative alphabet story. Moving from that original version to a published book, however, entailed quite a few more steps.

There were costs involved, so his dad offered to be his financier, Damien explained, adding that part of entrepreneurship is paying one’s bills.

“I am splitting up the money I get from my book to my college fund, the illustrator and my dad,” he said.

After securing his parental line of credit, the young man began searching for an artist to create artwork for the imaginative happenings he had penned. “Forty-seven people responded to my advertisement,” said Damien.

The prospective artists were each asked to submit their version of two pages in the book. Damien then began the demanding task of poring through the submissions to find the right fit. He chose Eduardo Paj because “I liked his expressions and his style,” he said.

The manuscript was then set into text, fitted with the drawings — and copies were ordered.  

Damien soon took on the role of salesman and marketer. He began to visit classes in his school and read the book to them.

“A lot of teachers are asking me to come to class,” he noted, a perfect situation for a boy who would like to teach first- or second-grade when he grows up.

Damien is considering writing a second book, but for now, he’s enjoying meeting new people.

“The biggest thing I have learned ... is how to talk to people when I try to sell my book at book signings,” Damien said.  

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