BRUCE HOBSON writes a series of animal fables as Mwenye Hadithi (pronounced m-when-yay hadee thee).
An avid fan of Brer Rabbit at school and inspired by the study of international literature at University, I would visit the University Library in Kenya to research myths and legends in oral literature. I loved the animal myth stories, but not so much the tales of Hyena women and people-eating Ogres. This resulted in the Hadithi series, a collection of traditional and original African myths and stories. Such myths were already being lost to new generations craving the Modern in all things, rather than the classic tales once told around the fire by village storytellers. There was a certain skill in entertaining both young and old with animal stories, poking fun at the characters of the villagers, often including a relevant moral lesson.
The Hadithi books are presented with easy text, fine humour, and illustrations to delight both adults and children, and as such they have become remembered milestones of childhood for over a million readers worldwide.
I still enjoy the stream of mails from kids worldwide who tell me how they learned to read with my books, and parents who know the words off by heart after nights of the same requested story! (‘If I have to read Greedy Zebra one more time…’ is a familiar refrain)
So far, the Hadithi books have been translated into Afrikaans, Chinese, Danish, Dutch, German, Japanese, Shona, Xhosa, and Zulu.
The Wild Fluffalump was published in hardback in 2017, the story that makes baby elephants irresistably cuddly! I wrote this for Tusk Trust, to make elephants more huggable for future generations.
Coming out soon in paperback.
Meet the Author
Libraries and Schools play a major part in my readership, and the stories do make wonderful templates for original stories and also school plays, with costumes and dressing up.
For classes learning about Africa, the illustrations are as inspiring as the words, each book offering many avenues for discussion, and soon every child wants to tell a story about their pet or their favourite animal.
One of my most successful interactions with classes is to show them the stages a book goes through, from original idea to outline, to Illustrations to illustrated storyboard, to fitting text to picture to editing, to printing and final publishing.
With modern technology a class can now produce their own printed pourquoi story, inspiring the strengths of those who like to write, or to draw, or use a computer, or just to organize, and the quiet kids do like to be the editors where their opinions suddenly matter.
Discussing narrative themes and devices is something for older kids, but for every child the aim is to fire up imaginations, and to encourage them to consider their own roles as writers/illustrators/actors/etc.
I am happy to help with this whenever I can.