Emily Cabrera says her favorite subject in school is reading, followed by social studies, and then science.
Curious that writing or music aren't currently on that list: the 11-year-old sixth grader has penned a full-length musical, which will be staged at a performing arts camp this summer at.
According to her mother Monica Cabrera, ever since she was a toddler Emily has enjoyed watching nature documentaries, reading nonfiction, and learning about animals – wolves in particular.
Emily's musical, "The Waterwolf," is about a mythical clan of peaceful, colorful wolves, known as waterwolves, who clash with a dangerous pack of arctic wolves and must fight for survival. She wrote nine original songs for the show, singing them into a recorder for pianist Eriko Nagai to transcribe the music.
Sherrill Jones, the camp coordinator, said the camp's performance of "The Waterwolf" will give children "the unique opportunity to develop characters, originate roles, and sing music that's never been performed before."
Jones described Emily's play as "fascinating."
"Not only was her writing ability pretty exceptional, her knowledge of the wolves and their habitats gave it authenticity," Jones said. "We liked it so much that when she asked us if she turned it into a script would we be willing to produce it, we said yes."
Emily's waterwolves are blue and yellow, each with different patterns of markings, with green eyes. "They have short fur because they live in a tropical climate," she said. "They have wings that are not usually used for flying, but more like a seal flipper, to catch their food."
She got the chance to interact with real wolves last summer, when she had the chance to experience a wolf training session in Virginia.
"You watched wolves jump over stuff and through that you could see how they work in the wild, how they move, how high they can jump, what they do to catch prey," she said. "You got to give commands to young wolves that are still learning and help them practice. They liked cheese a lot."
"The Waterwolf" is not Emily's first finished work. She has developed four different series of book ideas and multiple comics, too. She credits her good friend Manaal with inspiring her to write the story, which took her nearly two years to complete. Her influences include the series Warriors by Erin Hunter, which is about wild cats.
"I spend probably all my free time writing," Emily said.
And, her mother Monica added, "When she's supposed to be sleeping, too."