Young­ster earns right to grin like a Cheshire cat

Stacey is eight, a Grade 3 pupil, and au­thor of the book

Saturday Star - - NEWS - NONI MOKATI

SIX years ago Alec Greven, from Colorado in the US, be­came a New York Times best­selling au­thor. He was only nine years old.

Now Joburg could have its own Alec in the form of Stacey Fru.

The eight-year-old au­thor has pub­lished her first book.

Ti­tled Smelly Cats, Stacey’s book tells the story of two fe­line cousins con­stantly fight­ing each other. De­spite their dif­fer­ences, the cousins work it out and prove that love and dis­ci­pline will pre­vail.

The Grade 3 Sa­cred Heart Col­lege pupil amazes her par­ents each day, es­pe­cially re­gard­ing her love and pas­sion for literature.

“She’s ad­vanced,” said her mother, Vic­torine Mbong Shu.

She re­called that last year her daugh­ter, then seven, in­sisted that she read a book she wrote.

“I went in her bed­room ex­pect­ing a hand­writ­ten book but it was all on her lap­top, writ­ten in para­graphs. She asked me to sit down and read it. But I have four other chil­dren and knew there was no way I’d be able to sit through it. I sug­gested we go out for cof­fee at the week­end where I would be able to read it.”

Mbong Shu, who lives in Waver­ley with her hus­band and chil­dren, said she could barely wait for that Satur­day.

When they ar­rived at the cof­fee shop, she took out her lap­top.

To her sur­prise, Stacey had also brought her lap­top with three books which she had con­sulted.

“She said to me, ‘Mommy, let’s pre­tend we are work­ing.’ When I read the first para­graph I grew an­gry. I thought she was mess­ing with me. I knew there was no way she could struc­ture sen­tences like that.

“Of course there were gram­mat­i­cal er­rors here and there but the words flowed. I googled the ti­tle and text to see if she had lifted it from some­where but there was noth­ing.”

Five hours later Mbong Shu and Stacey sat at the shop edit­ing the text.

“She’s sen­si­tive about any changes I make so it was a te­dious process.”

Back home Mbong Shu phoned a friend who helped edit her the­sis and asked if she would look at Stacey’s work. The rest fell into place.

Weeks later, Stacey met an il­lus­tra­tor, Steve Mu­laudzi, an editor at an in­de­pen­dent pub­lish­ing com­pany.

Mu­laudzi said he was in awe of Stacey’s tal­ent.

“I’m a graphic de­signer. I have never done any­thing of this sort. Ev­ery­thing was her work. I would try to con­vince her to change this and that, but she wouldn’t budge. She re­ally wanted her own ideas to flour­ish. I’ve learnt so much from her,” he said.

But for Stacey it’s all in a day’s work. The out­spo­ken young­ster said she loves writ­ing. “I saw my mother writ­ing a book (her the­sis, she means) and I was jeal­ous. I wanted to be like her,” she said.

Stacey said when she told her friends that she would write a story for kids one day, none of them be­lieved her.

Although she dis­likes cats, the an­i­mals were the eas­i­est to write about, she said.

Her all-time favourite read is the Di­ary of the Wimpy Kid, a satir­i­cal fic­tion novel by Jeff Kin­ney.

Apart from writ­ing, she also wants to be a med­i­cal doc­tor.

She has since given mo­ti­va­tional talks to Grade 12 pupils on how to live their dreams and last week pre­sented her book to the Depart­ment of Ed­u­ca­tion.

Mbong Shu, mean­while, said there was noth­ing out of the or­di­nary she and her hus­band did for Stacey and her sib­lings apart from re­mov­ing the TVs from their rooms and re­plac­ing them with com­put­ers and book­cases.

Her ad­vice to par­ents: chil­dren don’t need your money, they need your time.

Stacey launches her book at Sa­cred Heart Col­lege on July 16 at 6pm.

PIC­TURES: PABALLO THEKISO

PROUD PAR­ENT: Vic­torine Mbong Shu with her daugh­ter, au­thor Stacey Fru.

ALL IN A DAY’S WORK: Eight-year-old au­thor Stacey Fru holds a copy of her book ti­tled Smelly Cats.

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