Bloomfield boy, 6, does book signing at Barnes & Noble

By Cristina DC Pastor

Young author also plays the drum, the piano and basketball.

A 6-year-old student at Watsessing School in Bloomfield, N.J. has published a book and signed copies at a Barnes & Noble book store in nearby Clifton on April 28.

“I Am Jan Alexander” was written by Jan Quintos, the youngest of three children by Alex and Ethel Quintos. The book has three short stories spread over 24 pages, with illustrations on every page which he himself had sketched. He could be one of the country’s youngest self-published authors.

“It’s only one sentence per page,” chuckled Alex, a Sampaloc, Manila-born businessman who operates a parking service and the food truck Sisig Republik. His wife, Ethel, from Las Pinas is a stay-at-home parent. They have two older children, Alexa, 13, and Josh, 7. Jan dedicated his book to older brother Josh, who has autism. All three kids are U.S.-born.

A lefty, Jan’s interest ranges from writing to drawing to drums and piano to basketball, according to his father. When he heard his sister, Alexa, had no interest in having her writings compiled in a book. Jan declared he wanted to have his own book.

“I was in Jersey City playing basketball, and he called me several times. What time are you coming home? When are we going to publish my book?” recalled Alex, 38.  “Very persistent siya!”

Written and illustrated by Jan Quintos.

Dad found a publisher in Ex-Libris, and after two weeks “I Am Jan Alexander” was off the press. It has three stories: A Day in School, The Kid Goes on Vacation, and The Kid Got Lost in the Zoo. There is a Lesson exercise at the end of each story.

Watsessing School issued a press release on the school website announcing the book signing at Barnes & Noble in Clifton.

“Jan has been sharing his stories with his fellow classmates and other classrooms here at Watsessing,” reads the statement. “We are all so proud and excited for him we had to share the great news.”

Jan spoke to The FilAm the day before the book signing. He is excited, he said, and proud at the same time. Asked why he dedicated his book to older brother Josh, he replied, “Because he got autism.”

He does not quite understand what autism is, but he asks a lot of questions, said Alex. “Why is Kuya Josh not talking to me? Why doesn’t he want to play with me? We explain to him that his brother is a special child because of his condition.”

As a published author, Jan gets a lot of attention at school. He thinks he is “famous” because some of his teachers gave him chocolate candies and notebooks. He also gets good grades and excels in Science. He was named Student of the Month for September and wondered why, despite getting praise from his teachers, he was not awarded in the succeeding months.

“We remind him he needs to be humble and that the awards need to be shared with everyone,” said Alex.

At a recent book fair in East Orange, he was able to sell 28 copies of his book. He went home with $280 in his wallet. “He sold them by himself, he talked to the buyers,” he said.

Jan has this early morning routine where he plays the drums then the piano, and practices his ball dribbling before coming down to the table to take his breakfast. His parents are pleased that he displays a certain kind of discipline and confidence, but wish also that he stays a fun-loving kid.

With his parents Alex and Ethel Quintos, sister Alexa and brother Josh.

© The FilAm 2019

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