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Portrait of a young artist

Posted: January 2, 2009 8:53 p.m.
Updated: January 3, 2009 4:59 a.m.

When Taylor Wollstenhelme, 9, isn't speed-reading, the Newhall resident works on novels.

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From the moment he wakes until the moment he falls asleep, Taylor Wollstenhelme, 9, of Newhall is moving, thinking, creating and wondering.

"His brain is constantly going," said his mother, Valerie Wollstenhelme. "Constantly."

The bright-eyed boy is a comet.

He speaks faster than the human ear can hear, speed reads and comprehends new stories every day.

The walls of the "man room" Taylor shares with his father, Sid Wollstenhelme, features rows of colorful video-game characters and framed art work. Photos of Taylor and his big brother, Mitchell, 15, decorate the walls.

But Taylor is most intrigued by the family computer, its contents and potential to create his fantasies.

For fun, Taylor creates video games, board games, cyber vehicles, Web sites, fiction series and remarkably well-thought-out marketing and licensing plans to promote his ideas.

He is well spoken, precise in his speech and infectiously curious.

As Taylor tells the story of one of his latest titles, "A Traitor In The Candy Smelling Midst," his eyes grow wide and he giggles at the twists and turns his characters take on their journey to solving the mystery of who made the bad candy.

While Taylor is entertaining his future readers, he is entertaining himself.

Taylor follows the candy story with his plans for a second candy story and a rainbow of marketing ideas he's targeted at his readers, kids who are from 8 to 12 years old.

At 2 years old, Taylor began playing video games. At 5, his Canyon Springs Community Elementary School kindergarten teacher taught him to channel his incredible imagination.

Taylor, now in fourth grade, has an insatiable passion for reading that continues to grow.

"I go to the library every day," Taylor said. "I finally decided to just start getting two books at a time."

Every day after school, Taylor returns to his kindergarten teacher's classroom to write.

"She's the nicest teacher I've ever met in my life," said Taylor.

Kindergarten teacher Cathy Kuebler said Taylor visited her periodically from the time he finished kindergarten but began doing after-school homework with her teaching partner's son this year.

The two boys sit in Kuebler's class to work, and when Taylor is through, he gets on Kuebler's computer.

"His file is named My Pride and Joy," Kuebler said.

In it, Taylor writes wonderfully imaginative stories.

But Kuebler knew Taylor was exceptional from the time he spent in her kindergarten classroom.

"He was very creative and asked a lot of questions, very verbal and interested in lots of things," Kuebler said. "And he was an authority on everything."

Kindergarten teachers introduce students to storytelling.

"We teach them to hear it, say it and write it," she said. "When he would tell you back the story he would include every little detail. He would do things at home and bring them in and tell of the wild adventures he would add to the story. He has an amazing imagination."

Kuebler said she knew right away Taylor was exceptional.

"I told his mom that he's going to be something very special when he grows up. You can just tell," she said.

For now, Taylor is focused on reading and writing.

"I started reading to him when he was in the womb," said his mom. "I read to him when he was small."

He dreams of becoming a director, writer, scientist or architect.

"I encourage him to try anything and everything," she said.


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