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THE WRITE STUFF

Megan McKeown of Olean is only in 8th grade, but she's a published author. She's even had a book signing.

A story Megan wrote about her grandfather appears in the newest book in the "Chicken Soup" series: "Chicken Soup for the Soul: A Christmas Treasury for Kids" from Health Communications ($14.95).

It's a collection of 25 stories intended for families to read together in December to get into the Christmas spirit. Megan's story, "A Christmas Wish," is on page 11 of the 116-page book and is supposed to be read on Dec. 3.

In her story, Megan talks about how upset she was to find out her grandfather had cancer, the cancer treatments he had in Texas, how the only thing her grandfather wanted when he got well was a Jack Russell terrier, how she helped pick out "just the right one that I knew would make my grandpa very happy," and what a miracle it was when her grandfather arrived home in a snowstorm on Christmas Day. "Before Christmas Day had ended, the only thing I had wished for had come true. Grandpa was home," her story ends.

Megan said she got the idea about sending in a story when her teacher at St. Mary's Catholic School in Olean brought in a flier about it. "I was like one of the only ones that entered it in my class," she said. "I haven't actually written something in a book or entered a contest before but I like English a lot and I write stories in class." She said there was an announcement at school about her chapter in the Christmas Soup book and "everybody was real excited."

Megan takes tap and jazz dance lessons and last year taught a younger group in ballet and tap. She also plays soccer and basketball and plays center midfield on the under-13 travel team in the Enchanted Mountain soccer league.

She's a big fan of the Chicken Soup series. "I love those books; we have almost all of them," she said. "I think kids like them because they're so heartwarming and if a kid's having trouble at home or something, they can read these books and know other people are having troubles, too."

People who read Megan's story might get the idea that her grandfather, David Franz, was so sick that he died, but he's alive and well and even went with Megan to the book signing at the Barnes and Noble on Niagara Falls Boulevard. Her grandfather lives in Allegany about 10 minutes away and "he was very excited" that Megan got her story published, Megan says, adding, "Yes, he's really healthy and still has the dog, too."

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