Authors John Alajijian and Russell Uvas look at the certificate they received at McKinley Elementary School in Burbank on Thursday, September 20, 2012.

Authors John Alajijian and Russell Uvas look at the certificate they received at McKinley Elementary School in Burbank on Thursday, September 20, 2012. (Tim Berger/Staff photographer / September 21, 2012)

A group of seven fourth-graders are now among the elite at McKinley Elementary School for writing a book selected among thousands nationwide to be published by Scholastic Book Fairs.

As third-graders, the seven students co-wrote and illustrated, “Two Dollars, One Wallet.” The authors include Marion Hunter, Noel Pennington, Julia Guglielmo, Russel Uvas, John Alajijian, Sara Cohen and Henry Keeney.

The book tells the story of a dollar bill named George — “an ordinary dollar bill who lived in the wallet of a school janitor named Mr. Juan Carlos.”

When George meets a dollar coin named Sacagawea, they swap their adventures and journey to the wallet.

Scholastic officials gave medals to the authors Thursday and $5,000 to McKinley for Scholastic credit.

McKinley parent Shari Wendt saw the flier advertising the contest last year and approached third-grade teacher Angie D’Mello.

D’Mello allowed the seven students to work under Wendt’s guidance each week from November to March.

“This is surprising to me as anybody,” Wendt said as the authors signed copies for parents and friends.

One of the authors, Henry, said he was also surprised.

“We didn’t really see it coming,” Henry said. “Now we realize we won the book [contest]. Let’s have fun.”

Co-author Russell suggested the book’s idea and title.

“It just came to me randomly,” he said. “I thought about it while we were writing.”

The book’s Mr. Juan Carlos was inspired by McKinley’s own Juan Carlos Diaz, a janitor in his 16th year at the school.

“I didn’t expect this,” Diaz said Thursday. “It’s an honor for me.”

Carolyn Longest of Scholastic Books recalled her Florida office last spring filled with “hundreds of hundreds of postal buckets” containing thousands of books from across the country.

“You put something out in the world that had never been there before,” Longest said.

The book will sell for $4.99 at Scholastic book fairs nationwide.

Burbank resident and children’s book author David Shannon, writer of the Caldecott Honor book, “No, David!” congratulated the authors’ early success.

“I’m never going to look at a dollar the same,” Shannon said.

-- Kelly Corrigan, Times Community News

Follow Kelly Corrigan on Twitter: @kellymcorrigan