Maya Jagjivan Kalicharan chats to local author, Samantha Weale.
Bedtime stories are special – especially when your mum dips into her imagination to create one just for you, and then turns it into a book. That’s the journey of Samantha Weale from Gillitts, who has published a dynamic children’s book called Jane the Piglet.
She smiles as she narrates how she came up with ideas to make bedtime stories more interesting for her daughter. “Because she’s four, I wanted a story where there’s continuation, so she knows what to expect next. It follows the piglet who wants to play in the mud, but the mud pit is dry and she doesn’t know what to do. She asks her mum, all the farm animals and eventually the farmer.”
Samantha has been reading the book to children at creches and schools, and says the repetition is a fun element. “Once you get through the first three animals, they already know what the question is, and what the answer is. It engages your child. You can ask the question and they can give you the answer.” She admits to beaming with joy when parents say they love reading the book to their children. “It feels great that I have put a part of me out there.”
Born and educated in Zimbabwe, Samantha moved to South Africa with her husband in 2011. She had a career in human resources and the legal field, and was working as a content writer when she decided to tap into her creative side. She initially wanted to publish a book of short stories about her husband’s childhood, but that did not go according to plan. When her husband convinced her to publish Jane the Piglet, there was no turning back. She worked closely with the brilliant illustrator Chelsea Wade, and today, the book is available as a hard copy and an e-book.
Talking about digital, Samantha says technology has replaced and replicated so much, but the art of storytelling still requires human connection. “You don’t tell a story like you read a newspaper, it’s not bland. When you tell a story to a child, you use your voice; you create the sounds; the emotions, and it’s very important to engage them emotionally.”
She shares some advice for parents, “Go back to basics. If you have 15 minutes at bedtime, why don’t you read a book? It doesn’t have to be a long book, but in a few minutes, you can create the culture of reading.” *