On the day that Audrey Zhang became the most famous 11-year-old artist in the world when her colorfully animated doodle was splashed across the Google homepage, she described it as "cool."
But the Levittown fifth-grader, who also has been a Kidsday staff artist for about three years, lights up when she talks about her dragons. In her world, they're all around.
The winner of the national 2014 Doodle 4 Google contest sketches dragons in scrapbooks and twists pipe cleaners into imaginary fire-breathing creatures. She even squeezed a few dragons into her animated drawing of a mythical winged water purification machine in the forest that went live on google.com at midnight Sunday and remained there Monday.
"I know one day she'll be famous," said her mother, Hongmei Weng, 40, a former fashion designer in China. "One day she'll be like Picasso."
But first, there were interviews Monday -- three at Island Trees Memorial Middle School, where she attends, and two more at home -- and praise. "I can't wait to see what the future has in store for Audrey Zhang," Principal Roger Bloom said.
In April, Google reps came to her school to crown her the contest's New York State winner for the second straight year. Judges later selected her the winner out of 100,000 submissions. She won a $30,000 college scholarship, and her school won a $50,000 Google for Education grant.
Google animated her illustration -- "Back to Mother Nature" -- before its debut.
Audrey said she got the idea for the drawing when she learned that millions of people, mostly children, die from drinking polluted water every year. "I want to the help them," she said.
Google.org made a $20,000 donation in her name to provide clean water and bathrooms for schools in Bangladesh.In Levittown, students spread red construction paper for a makeshift red carpet and lined the first floor to celebrate her last month. They gave her high fives and balloons and played "Happy" by Pharrell Williams in the background.
Audrey knew her drawing would debut Monday. "Don't forget," she told her mother. "It was like Christmas Eve for her," Weng said.
But Audrey forgot in the morning. "I was sleepy." When she saw it Monday, she said, "I was like, 'Hey.' "
"It's kind of overwhelming," her mother said. "It's so awesome at the same time."
On Friday Audrey hopes to see some dragons when the movie "How to Train Your Dragon 2" comes out.
She likes the creatures "because they like can fly and breathe fire."
With Tara Conry