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BIA Fourth Grader and Morgan State Student Collaborate to Create Lovable Children’s Book

While most children have spent their shelter-in-place days focused on keeping up with Zoom classes, online homework, and staying connected with friends through video games, fourth-grade Baltimore International Academy student, Graysen Luthye, has published a book!

“Tell Me a Reason Why: A Skunk and Rat Story” is a picture book geared toward young children and the young at heart. The book centers on friendship. Skunk and Rat are best friends. When Skunk feels unsure about whether she’s lovable, she turns to her friend for affirmation. In return, Rat offers a list of thoughtful reasons why he cares about his friend. In each colorful, beautifully illustrated vignette, Rat shows Skunk that he truly gets her and loves her just the

way she is — quirks and all. The charming story is a delightful reminder of the healing power of words.

Luthye hopes the book will encourage other kids – and adults -- to use kind words and to come up with their own personalized lists of reasons that they love their friends. Luthye collaborated with her father, Curt, and a local artist, Justice Lanclos, to bring this project to life. Lanclos, a Fine Arts student at Morgan State University, illustrated the book, pulling from her love of both American artistic traditions and Japanese traditions, including the use of texture and big doe eyes. A graduating senior, Lanclos is headed to the Savannah College of Art and Design to continue her studies in a master’s program.

According to Lanclos, it was fun to work with a young author. “She was always beaming with ideas and extremely excited about the project,” Lanclos said. Luthye, a student in the French immersion program at Baltimore International Academy (BIA), has also translated the book into French. Located in northeast Baltimore, BIA is a K-8 charter school that has five language immersion tracks, including French, Spanish, Chinese, Arabic, and Russian.

“Tell Me a Reason Why: A Skunk and Rat Story” can be purchased online through Amazon or Barnes and Noble. For more, visit, or follow along on social media:


Curt Luthye


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