There's nothing unusual about an illustrator creating artwork for a children's book.
Unless the illustrator just turned 7 in October.
Cartersville Primary first-grader Magnus Smith and his mom, Breanna, signed a contract Friday with Charlie's Port, a nonprofit organization that produces creative projects with exceptional young people, for him to illustrate a children's book written by an 11-year-old.
"I am amazed at his artwork, especially at his age," Mrs. Smith said, noting she is "ecstatic" about the contract. "My husband [Brett Smith] has potential drawers on his side of the family, but we believe Magnus has taken it to another level, and we are so excited for him and want it to take him as far as it can so we are all into searching for every opportunity to enhance his gift and get him out there. He is very serious about his drawings and does not like to mess up. It has to be perfect."
Magnus, who is attending Cartersville Virtual Academy this year, said he wanted to be a book illustrator "because I really like to draw different things," especially Dragon Ball Z characters.
"I'm excited about it and happy I get to do it," he said. "I really like to draw. It's fun to me, and it makes me happy."
Mrs. Smith said she and her husband recognized Magnus' talent early on because he was always asking for paper and markers or crayons everywhere they went.
"One day, we started noticing him sitting in front of the TV with paper and drawing utensils, and he would lay on the floor and try to draw whatever was on the TV, and he did that very often," she said. "Then eventually, he didn’t want markers and crayons anymore; he wanted pens and colored pencils."
The Cartersville couple were "amazed" at how their son's drawings evolved as he got older, Mrs. Smith said.
"He got to the point where he could just glance at something and then run to the table and just draw it without having it in front of him," she said. "That’s when we knew he had a gift, and we really wanted to do something with it and not let it go to waste."
While talking with Magnus' kindergarten teacher, Metta Whitton, about his drawings last year, Mrs. Smith mentioned that she wanted to enroll him in "some kind of art camp or something for the summer," and Whitton said she would help find one for him.
"I wrote a post on Facebook looking for suggestions," Whitton said. "I was hoping that a local artist might mentor him or that someone might suggest an art camp. A friend shared the post from Charlie's Port Publishing."
Mrs. Smith said his teacher had "found something better" than a camp for him.
"She got on the internet and saw that there was a children’s book publishing company looking for a child illustrator to illustrate a book written by an 11-year-old," she said.
Whitton reached out to the publishing company, and in April, she submitted a drawing of "Three Billy Goats Fluff" that Magnus had completed for her as a virtual learning assignment.
"And the publisher got back with her instantly," Mrs. Smith said.
After Whitton gave the publisher Mrs. Smith's contact information, the two talked, "and she wanted Magnus to draw a few things around the house in black marker," Mrs. Smith said.
"Well, he did that, and I sent it in, and she reached back out to me and said she wanted him and wanted to give him a contract," she said. "She could not believe a 6-year-old at the time could draw like that."
Whitton also couldn't believe such a young student could draw the way he did.
"In all my years of teaching, I have never seen a kid with such a natural talent for drawing," she said. "His attention to detail is amazing, even more so being that he was only 5 years old [at the time]. He constantly amazed me with his drawings."
Magnus' former teacher said when his mother contacted her in July to let her know about the contract offer, "I ugly-cried."
"I was just so proud of him," she said. "He is such a kind, sweet, smart boy and deserves this so much. I cried again when I found out he signed his contract."
Magnus, whose drawing utensils of choice at the moment are pens, colored pencils "and sometimes markers," will receive his first assignment this month, and he will have 31 days to complete and submit it to his publisher, his mom said.
"Right now, we do not have a time frame on when the first book with his illustrations in it will be published," she said, noting he will be paid per illustration/image.
But whenever it is released, Magnus will have one fan waiting in line to buy copies.
"I plan to buy copies of the books he illustrates and have Magnus autograph them," Whitton said. "Magnus' future is so bright. I can't wait to see what happens."
Mrs. Smith said her son's gift of artistic talent and the opportunities he's being given are an "example to us on what God can do and will do in our life and a trying of our faith."
"We have been down a long road of trying to succeed and prosper as a family, and things are looking up for us," she said. "This is a reminder that your gifts will make room for you. God has been putting amazing people in our life and path and setting up divine appointments on our behalf but also removing different things and people, but it's all for the better. We are so proud of Magnus, and we know this is just the beginning for our family and can’t wait to see what else God has in store."