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I'd write more, like you said I should. If only, there was more to me.

Monday, August 20, 2007


As parents we find many things amiss. Too much Enid Blyton, too much Thomas the Tank Engine, too much Bob the Builder. If you've grown up in India, there's the rich Amar Chitra Katha fare, the journey into the classics. But what of contemporary heroes, stories. What of South-East Asian stories? What of the quality of these books?

We've all grappled with it at some point and left it at that. One mother, a high flying lawyer confronted it, debated and then set about changing it. It all started with her daughter Sasha. After the birth of her daughter, she decided to stay at home and chart an entirely new career. She gave up her high flying career as a Barrister-at-Law opting for a full time career in writing.

True, publishing and writing aren't exactly irresistible, so what was the trigger for the dynamic Shamini Flint?

"I had been determined all along not to give up work, but when my maternity leave was up, it was clear to me that my glib plans to get a caregiver was not an option. Despite very much enjoying the challenges of legal practice, it was impossible to reconcile the demands of the job that involved long hours and a lot of stress with having a baby at home!"

I stayed at home for a bit after Dhruv was born and I can vouch for all those stressed out moms who always mirror the fact that a mother's work is never done. Which is why what Shamini has achieved is more than creditable.

For the past four years, she has been tucking her children into bed to get down to writing. Time management, she tells me is crucial as is self-motivation of course.

She set up a business from home by staring Sunbear Publishing "to fill a niche in the Southeast Asian book market."

And journey so far has been anything but easy. It is one thing to get your books out there, quite another to find publishers who'll be equally excited.

That hasn't dampened Shamini's spirits though. After visiting the sights in Singapore, she has taken Sasha to Bali, Hong Kong, Kuala Lumpur, Bangkok and beyond. And Sasha's adventures aren't about to slow down any time soon.

She's also done her bit for the environment and the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) by delving into the world of Pandas and Turtles.

As I always do when it comes to children's books, I put some of these to the test and Dhruv found it hard to put it down. The trip to Bali, refreshed some of his own little adventures, including surviving the monkeys on Monkey Forest Road in Ubud. The illustrations were superb and if they captured his imagination and held him bound for longer than 5 minutes, it was proof it worked. As we talk of another trip to Ubud, Sasha is clearly on his mind and that is a wonderful thing.

I'm enormously hopeful about the potential of these stories, which I hope you'll take the time to read as well.

Children's Series:

Sasha Visits the Botanic Gardens
Sasha Visits the Zoo
Sasha Goes Shopping
Sasha Visits Sentosa Island
Sasha Visits the Bird Park
Sasha Visits Hong Kong
Sasha Visits Bali
Sasha Visits Bangkok
Sasha Visits Singapore
Sasha Visits Kuala Lumpur

Jungle Blues Panda Packs Her Bags
Turtle takes a Trip

Partners in Crime - A Singapore Murder Mystery
How to Win a Nobel Prize: A Stay-at-Home Mums Guide

Read more about Sunbear here and meet the illustrator of the Sasha series, Alpana Ahuja here.

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