Young writer puts smile on children’s face

A love for teaching and children’s literature prompted former East Londoner and Clarendon matriculant, Jessica Smith, 23, to produce her very own children’s book, titled Happy To Be Me.
Written and illustrated by Smith, the book was self-published last month and tells the tale of a little fox named Daphne May, who learns to love the parts of herself that make her different to everybody else.
“I come from a family of girls, and I’ve grown up trying to convince them how beautiful they are, getting very frustrated when, try as I might, they could not acknowledge the wonder of themselves.
“That’s why this message became very important to me, and sharing it with little ones, even more so,” said Smith, who now lives in Port Elizabeth.
Smith said that the overall message of the book was for people to celebrate their differences and what made them unique and to accept one another.
Spending the last two years transforming the book from a pencil-drawn idea into a final product, Smith said she was really excited to receive the first batch of her books last month.
“ I loved writing it and seeing it go from words and pencil drawings to what it is now.
“I started working on the illustrations over two years ago, but I wasn’t happy with my first attempt.
“For two years I kept asking other people to do the illustrations for me,” said Smith, who had friend and fellow former East Londoner, Ashton Jacobs, help her with the design of the book.
“I realised that I should just believe in my abilities more and I’m really glad I persevered, because it feels great to know that the book is entirely created by me.
“I chose to self-publish because the publishers I did approach wanted to change a lot of the book to fit their brand.
“I wanted it to be about a heartfelt message, hoping the story would spread positivity.”
Smith is in her third-year of a Bachelor of Education degree, studying through Unisa.
Throughout her studies, Smith has also worked full-time as an au pair to three young girls aged three, five and seven, to whom she has dedicated her book to.
She has also spent time in classrooms as a substitute and student teacher.
“Teaching is a passion I’ve had since I was little. My heart and soul is in being a Grade 1 teacher, because I think there is no greater feeling than knowing you have moulded a child into a strong, organised little person,” said Smith, who clearly remembers lining up her teddy bears and dolls and giving them a good scolding for being too chatty, when she was a little girl.
Over the last month, Smith’s book has received a warm response, with moms, teachers and friends sending Smith messages to share how loved the book is by their little ones.
The book is available at East London-based Baby Bug Boutique’s online store at R89, but Smith can also be contacted at 083-555-9204 for a copy...

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