Arts and entertainment

South Africa's youngest author tells her story

18 November 2016

Between playing netball, doing ballet, gymnastics, and swimming, a seven-year-old South African has become the youngest published author on the continent.

Michelle Nkamankeng wrote her book, Waiting for the Waves without her parents' knowledge.

"My brother and sisters knew because they always came in my room. They were like, 'What are you doing?" Michelle told Times Live.

"I told them not to tell mummy and daddy. I wanted it to be a surprise."

Watch Michelle talk about her book:

From manuscript to book

Michelle wrote her book on sheets of A4 paper, using green and purple pens. She folded the paper in half and used staples and scotch tape to bind them into a book.

She put her name on the cover and at the end, she wrote a message to her readers: "I hope you had a nice time reading this book."

Today, it looks a little different. Gone are the staples and tape. Her story is illustrated by Megan Venter, described by online shopping portal Amazon as "one of the best illustrators".

The story

Michelle's tale centres on Titi, who has a fear of waves. But with love and support from her family, Titi manages to overcome her terror.

"This story highlights the contradictions of emotions: ultimately, by freeing yourself from fear, you give yourself permission to truly experience the beauty of nature," reads Amazon.

Her father, Paul Nkamankeng, told Destiny magazine that Michelle used her own experience of the beach and how she conquered her fear of the waves.

"The next book from the series, The Little Girl Who Believes in Herself, is about her progression from her fear of the waves to her gaining confidence in herself as a little girl growing up," Nkamankeng said.

The series comprises four books, but Nkamankeng said the final two had yet to be published.

"The third one is called The Little Mouse. It is about finding herself in a world where there are many challenges that she can't understand. It's more of a progress of how she sees life from her eyes," he said.

Michelle has encouraged children to follow their dreams. "Don't let anybody get in your way, and if you can't read you can't write," she told AFP.

Source: Times Live and reporter

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