Lemon Tree by Moyan Brenn, Flickr.com

Lemon Tree by Moyan Brenn, Flickr.com

It is with great pleasure (beam, beam!) that I announce to the world that my children’s picture book, The Lemon Tree, which was longlisted for the Golden Baobab Prize in 2014, is going to be published. Woohoo! When I read the e-mail from Penguin Random House yesterday, I was stunned. All those months of waiting patiently and hoping and praying that something would come of it finally paid off. Praise God! It was such a precious moment of uninhibited joy.

When I first embarked on this journey of creative writing almost two years ago, I felt the Lord impress on my heart four Ps: patience, perseverance, peace and perspective. Those were the qualities that He wanted to work in me through this process of writing and attempting to get my work published. And now that I am about to be a published author, I can definitely see how necessary those four qualities are. And they are still needed every day – it’s a work in progress, I now realise.

Of course, I have already published two e-books on Amazon, Alfonso the Tooth Mouse and The Dummy Fairy, and those are still my babies and just as special to me. But The Lemon Tree will be my first book that is published in hard-copy format, something I’m thrilled about. Children’s picture books should be pored over – you should want to relax with your child at the end of a hard day by paging through a favourite story book together and discussing the images. “Who can see Goldbug?” “Why is the baby bunny getting so fat?” “Where is Lowly Worm?” (Richard Scary, BTW, is a genius at creating pictures that beautifully marry his text.) It’s wonderful seeing how children follow the storyline, grasp the characters and chuckle at the author’s sense of humour. Children’s picture books are made for enjoying together in a leisurely way, which is why hard-copy books are still preferable to e-books, IMHO.

And what makes this milestone in my career even sweeter is that the book is written specifically with African children in mind. I really love how the Golden Baobab Prize came about because concerned book lovers in Africa wanted more children to be able to read stories that were homebrewed on African soil – not just stories about foxes and badgers and daffodils (although don’t get me wrong, I love those stories too!

So, in case you’re wondering what The Lemon Tree is about, here’s the blurb:

“A rainy day is the perfect time to make pancakes, or so Gogo thinks, although would you believe there is no flour, eggs or milk left in the house? Lungi and Sipho are sent off to find the missing ingredients, making sure they take some lemons from their tree to distribute to their kind neighbours. A gentle tale with a slight twist at the end which perfectly illustrates the uniquely African concept of ubuntu.”

And at this point I must say a big thank you for my dear friend Ruth Odigie who encouraged me to enter the competition in the first place. Thank you, sweet friend, and for all those who stood by me and prayed for me – Gavin, Vicki, Nancy and Linda.

Now comes the slightly overwhelming bit. I’ll need to sign a contract, the publisher needs to find an illustrator and then – who knows? This is an exciting adventure which is just beginning to unfold and I am thankful beyond words that I’ve been invited along on the journey.