Author and owner of Book Circle Capital, an independent bookshop focusing on African literature, Sewela Langeni, is passionate about literacy, especially for children.
The avid reader and reviewer of local books who holds a Master’s Degree in Strategic Marketing and Consulting (Cum Laude) from the University of Birmingham recently bagged her first-ever award.
The mother of two was honoured to receive a silver Pendoring award for the design category of her children’s book, Making Friends With Feelings.
Her book is a compassionate story encouraging boy children to express their feelings.
According to Langeni, the book was inspired by raising boys in a world where she has often heard people say ‘boys don’t cry’.
“All human beings face pain and disappointment, and it is natural to express it through tears. Sometimes my boys have a bad day, like experiencing a bad fall at school or performing badly at a sporting event or a test they thought they did well. I would see how they restrain themselves in fear of what I or other people would say,” she said.
“I am saying through the book, create space for boys to express their feelings and work through them so they can build that resilience to deal with the challenges of life in a more healthy way.”
Langeni’s journey to become an author was born from being a bookseller.
“Through monitoring sales trends at my shop, Book Circle Capital, I can identify my customer needs. For example, I get parents asking me ‘Where are local young boys on the covers of books that our boys read’. This sparked my interest to write this book,” she explained.
When Langeni wrote the book, she said she did not have awards in mind, adding that she just wanted to tell the story.
“I kept wondering if people would get the message I was trying to send and am grateful that my publisher, Dusanka Stojakovic, found the story viable to be published by New Africa Books, who have published many other great children’s books,” she said.
She wrote the story at the end of 2022 and submitted it to the publisher at the beginning of 2023.
Before submitting it, she worked on it with Lorato Trok, a prominent children’s book author for guidance.
“Another process started when she shared it with her editors within the company and the illustrator Subi Bosa. Subi then came back with black-and-white outlines of the story, which we needed to approve. Once we were happy, he added colour and more flair to the illustrations we see today in the book,” Langeni said.
The story has resonated with parents, teachers and caregivers across the country.
Langeni said, “It is the brilliant illustrations by Subi which bring the story to life and the keen eye of my publisher who has years of experience in the children’s book publishing space. She knows which stories will work. The book is available in all 11 South African languages.”
She thanked God for the experience and her publisher at New Africa Books.
“God willing, there will be more books in future about the main character in Making Friends With Feelings – Lubabalo ‘Luba’ for short.
Orders can be placed with Book Circle Capital or New Africa Books.
For enquiries email email@example.com,” she said.