Youngster earns right to grin like a Cheshire cat
Stacey is eight, a Grade 3 pupil, and author of the book
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.
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.