"What I did this Summer Vacation."
It is, perhaps, the most popular and predictable writing assignment for students returning to school each fall.
But this year, Rochester fifth-grader Danny Glazier's essay could be more unusual than most.
Danny, 10, spent his summer publishing a book.
It started at an ice cream shop
Actually, the process of writing and self-publishing a book took more than one summer break for the student.
It started back in second grade with an end-of-the-weekend family trip for ice cream.
"Sunday nights were always a little challenge," Danny's mom, Michelle Glazier, said. Danny had been having a hard time leaving home to go to school. After a family-filled weekend it was particularly difficult.
That Sunday evening, during a quiet moment in the shop, Michelle asked the question all moms wonder about their kids.
"My mom asked what I was thinking, and I said I was thinking about if I had 100 pockets," Danny said.
"So then she asked, 'What would you put in them?' "
Danny loaded his imaginary pockets with all the things he would miss from home — from little things like Legos to big things like his brother.
The topic was revisited often in the Glazier family and eventually made into a story that even featured a much-wished-for hamster named Anakin.
"I was sad about going to school — I wanted to stay home — and I knew other kids were sad, too," Danny said. "I thought my 100 pockets might help them feel better, too."
At the end of second grade Danny read his story to his class. That summer, Danny and his parents got to work on learning to self-publish a book.
'Not everything comes easy'
Danny was thinking a lot about his story and how it could help other children.
"When his thought kept revolving around what to do and how to do it, my husband Doug and I decided this was a great creative opportunity," Michelle said.
Doug began researching the self-publishing world and talking to friends. One friend, Mike Watkins, teaches at Baker College. He introduced the Glaziers to a student, Krista Sassee, who eventually illustrated the book.
Although Danny's parents offered a lot of help, Danny was involved every step of the way, attending meetings and having long conversations with Sassee on his vision.
The process was neither quick nor easy. It took more than two years — or nearly a fifth of Danny's life.
"It was a great way for Danny to learn that if you keep at it, you can make something happen," Michelle said. "Not everything comes easy."
With book-in-hand, Danny is ready to move out of the publishing world and into the spotlight as author.
Danny's parents are hosting a book launch party for friends and family that will include face-painting and balloon animals as well as Danny's favorite cheesecake from one grandma and his favorite chocolate chip cookies from the other.
There are also plans for Danny to be a special Authors in April guest at North Hill this year.
As for Danny, he's plotting his next book "about a troublemaker who figures out how not to be a troublemaker anymore" and looking forward to fifth grade.
"Me and (my friend) Evan are going to have a lot of fun!"
"If I Had 100 Pockets" can be purchased for $7 (plus shipping and handling) through email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
You can follow Danny's author adventures on his Facebook page here.