Filled with excitement, primary and high school pupils sat eagerly listening as author Vennessa Scholtz read from her latest book, Kita’s Dance with Dust, at the Parow library, last week.
“Libraries are the best place for books to be accessible to as many children as possible,“ Ms Scholtz said.
“I was surprised at the number of high school learners who came to the Parow event. They had lots of questions about the writing process and publishing. I encouraged them to read, read, write and read some more.“
Ms Scholtz, who grew up in Kraaifontein, said she was a prolific essay writer at school. “It seemed a natural progression to follow a career in that line.
“I started as a court reporter with the Cape Argus at the end of 1991, but have worked in communication for local government for the past decade.”
In 2013, just before leaving the newspaper business, she won three journalism awards.
She started writing in 2016 when she saw an online ad for the Golden Baobab Prize for children’s books.
“I was busy with my entry for the Chapter Book Category, when the idea struck for the Picture Book Category. The story of Kita won in the Picture Book Category,” she said.
The book, which was published by LAPA, is available at Bargain Books, Reader’s Warehouse, Wordsworth, Exclusive Books and other outlets.
“Kita is a subtle lesson on following the rules meant to keep you safe and how parents, especially mothers, are always there for their children,“ she said.
“It’s also a reflection of my childhood – listening to my parents was not high on my agenda as I was the most mischievous on the block.
“What made this book especially poignant is that I received my first copies on the same day of my mom’s funeral. She didn’t get to see it, but I gave one of my first copies to my father,” she said.
This is the author’s second children’s book.
“Despite popular belief, writing for children isn’t easy. They know when you’re speaking down to them, and children can ask some of the most difficult questions. I like to think I write the stories the present and future generations will find entertaining and magical.“
Ms Scholtz said she hoped that Kita’s story would be a subtle lesson to children about actions having consequences.
“In the story, Kita’s mother eventually comes to save her, and it’s also an ode to mothers everywhere.”
Principal librarian Jacinta Avontuur said the book would also be available at the library for patrons to read.