When he grows up, Andrew Carranti wants to be an architect.
“I like to draw and I like to build,” the Schuylkill Elementary fourth grader patiently explained to a reporter one afternoon earlier this week.
It’s not clear how the notion of architecture found its way into Andrew’s young head, but it might have something to do with Angelo; the David MaCaulay story he chose to expound on last year when his teacher asked the class to write about their favorite books for a contest at WHYY.
The story, an old builder befriends a bird while he restores a Roman church, moved Andrew—“I’ve read it a lot” he admitted after he outlined, in exacting detail, its plot—and his passion for the tale moved the folks who ran the contest too.
Not long after his parents submitted the essay, the station named him one of the finalists for its WHYY I Like This Book challenge—the fourth annual contest that rewards young bookworms for singing the praises of their favorite stories.
Andrew was chosen from a field of 700 entrants.
From shy guy to TV star
After an interview at WHYY’s offices, the young finalist got more good news.
“One night I came home from karate, and my dad told me I won,” he said, matter-of-factly.
As part of his prize, Andrew—who Schuylkill Elementary assistant principal Robyn Spear said tended toward shyness as recently as a couple years ago—got to star in a short TV spot and talk about what Angelo means to him.
The segment is set to premier on WHYY in November and its young lead handled filming, by all indications, like a seasoned pro.
“A makeup artist did my makeup. I went into a room and they started asking me questions and I had to tell them what the book was about.”
Was he nervous?
“Yeah,” he admitted.
Other accolades are rolling in, too.
Andrew and his family will return to Center City next month for a WHYY-sponsored party celebrating the premier of his video and then, on October 18, the Phoenixville school board will recognize his accomplishment at its regular meeting.
And all the attention has come with a fringe benefit: it earned him the envy of his big sister.
“She was kinda happy for me,” he said. “But she was jealous that it was me and not her.”
Andrew the reader
When asked why he loves to read, Andrew talks about his family.
They have a tradition, he says. On each weekend night, they curl up on the couch and watch a movie together.
When he reads, he said, the experience is the same. With a good book, he can imagine grand scenes playing out on the small screen of his imagination.
It’s a screen he likes to keep running.
“I read chapter books whenever I go to bed,” he said, adding that his dad also reads him short stories and picture books at bedtime.
Right now he’s working on Tales from the Odyssey by Mary Pope Osborne.
“It’s about Greeks…and how they go on this journey and there’s a lot of crazy animals and hydras and dragons and Cyclopes. A lot of that stuff.”
Sounds like a fun read. Then again, the kid has a talent for pitching books.
Schuylkill Elementary second grader Gracelyn Andes was also selected as a WHYY I Like This Book finalist.