KID LIT WEEK: A Frog and a Whale in a Princess Tale by Tina Scotford
This week we chatted about children’s books and reading to our kids. With that, we also assembled the Author Avengers – four local women who have taken the bull by the proverbial horns and are kicking ass in all sorts of wonderful ways. These sisters have done it for themselves, quite literally. They’re all self-published authors and continue to make significant strides across South Africa’s kid lit scene (and beyond!).
Today we’re featuring KwaZulu-Natal-based author Tina Scotford, another mom warrior who has dabbled in both traditional and self-publishing.
‘A Frog and a Whale in a Princess Tale’ is Tina’s first self-published work. Written in what is now know as her signature rhyming style, this beautifully illustrated story (big ups to illustrator Olivia Villet) features a quirky, comical frog on a quest to find a princess whose magical kiss will transform him into a man. He meets dangerous sea creatures along his journey and cleverly outwits them at every turn.
The book also contains cut-out characters which make for further fun and creative play (hello, something to do over the December break!). What do we love most about this book? The local flavour. Table Mountain is always in the background and, in the end, Frog finally lands on the Cape’s rocky shores.
Love. Love. Love.
Still, the book will appeal to children worldwide who are bound to resonate with the brave frog, whose dream doesn’t quite work out the way he’d planned (and that’s okay!).
Another exciting development is that Book Two in the Frog series is due to be released early next year. ‘Frog’s Magical Ring in the Platteklip Spring’ features a tenacious frog on a mission to find the magical ring, which was dropped in the waters of the Platteklip Spring. Frog hopes the mystical ring will grant him three wishes, which will transform his small, damp place into an elegant castle with a lot more space! Will Frog’s dream come true? Or will the dangersous creatures put a halt to his plan? Keep an eye on Tina’s social media to see when Froggie’s next instalment hits the shelves.
And that’s not all… Tina has authored the Kachoo series, illustrated by Frans Groenewald and published by Jacana Media. This series was inspired by Tina’s travels to exotic bush destinations across Southern Africa and beyond. It features a string of lovable animal characters, from a lost zebra foal in need of help, to a lion kind that “sometimes loses, and doesn’t always end up with the meaty feast he chooses”.
All of Tina’s books can be purchased online and in most tourist shops within South Africa (we may or may not have seen a copy of ‘A Frog and a Whale in a Princess Tale’ on the shelves at Love Books). And how’s this for service: If you don’t come right online or at a store, you can email firstname.lastname@example.org she will make sure the book comes to you!
More with Tina (an author Q&A):
What made you want to write a children’s book?
I have always enjoyed creative writing and poetry. I wrote my first rhyming story featuring Jigger the Dolphin when I was around 9 or 10 years old. As a child I enjoyed nursery rhymes and quirky stories written in rhyme, plus my father had a wonderful sense of humour and we used to banter back and forth with little rhymes such as 'See you later, Alligator! and 'In a while, Crocodile!’. We made up a lot of our own too which I loved!
When I had my daughter 9 years ago I continued the tradition with her. Even when she was a newborn I would make up little rhymes that I repeated to her on a daily basis. I still sing them to her today! Subsequently she is an excellent speller and a very animated reader, which in part is thanks to all the nursery songs and rhymes we would say together.
One day I decided to put these quirky rhymes on paper and submit the stories I wrote to a publisher. I was very fortunate that they opted to publish my stories.
What was your favourite book growing up?
My favourite story was The Three Little Pigs. I have 2 sisters, one older and one younger, so I saw us as the three little pigs. But it was also the first book that I memorised word for word before I was able to read. I was very jealous when my older sister could read before me, so I would pull out my simple Three Little Pigs book and ‘read’ it just to show that I too could read.
In the age of iPads, Netflix and fast-paced parenting, how did you ensure that your children became a keen reader?
I allow my daughter to play games on the iPad (preferably educational games) or Friv on the computer. When she was around four I used to download interactive book apps that highlighted each word as they were read out aloud in the story.
I look for appealing books that are page turners and talk the book up before she starts reading it to get her excited. If she starts losing interest in the book, then I sit and read a couple of pages to her while she is in the bath. If I notice I’ve done most of the reading that week then I get her to read to me while I am in the bath. We are currently reading ‘Wonder’, the story of a young boy who has a facial deformity. I promised we would watch the movie after we have completed the book. This little ritual is also quality time for her and me.
You can’t ignore technology as it is the way of the future. Try to find ways to let it work in your favour and for it to be beneficial for our children.
Name a must-have picture book, other than your own, that you would recommend to anyone
The Gruffalo by Julia Donaldson
Learning to read and falling in love with books is the key to unlocking a brighter future – Tina Scotford