Dare to dream, they say. Well, eight-year-old Bontle Ndhlovu sure did and today she stands proud as the author and publisher of her very first book, The Oceanic Oxy Rescue Mission.
According to the young author, an episode of Netflix’s Octonauts served as inspiration for her book. She was only seven years old at the time, hence her family’s support (and her mother’s typing) was of great importance in the publishing process.
Once the story was typed up, Bontle’s mother, Refilwe sent it to illustrator, Maxine Naidoo who did wonders in transforming Bontle’s words into pictures.
Bontle says: “When I saw the illustrations for the first time, I was so excited because it was exactly what I had in mind. I am so glad that we worked with Maxine. She had creative freedom, but she understood that the characters had to look like my family.”
The Oceanic Oxy Rescue Mission tells the story of Nyla and her family who are attacked by sharks during a boat ride. They are rescued by Oxy and the dolphins. “It’s a fun book about adventure,” says Bontle. “I think people need to read it because it is cute. There are also fun activities at the end of the book.”
The little author has loved stories from a young age and says that her mother has been reading to her since she was little. “It made me love books,” she says.
Refilwe says that Bontle has always dreamed of seeing her own book on bookstore shelves. “I told her that anything is possible and that if she wrote a book, it could be published and sold in shops. I think that motivated her.”
She says that when Bontle asked for help with her story, she wanted to make her dreams come true. “We received the printed samples a few days before Bontle’s eighth birthday. It was a long process, but to see the happiness on her face when she received it, made everything worth it.”
The talented author might have a knack for stories and language, but don’t be fooled. She’s also a great reader, swimmer, singer and dancer. The release of her first book was not only a dream come true, it also saw her being identified as H&M’s local role model in their Role Model campaign, an initiative which aims to empower young, local voices.
The Oceanic Oxy Rescue Mission is a symbol of hope and inspiration to young and old and although a great accomplishment, it might be a mere step to what Bontle aims to achieve in life. She says she wants to save lives, but she also wants to be the first scientist to discover something great. “I also want to become a teacher to help children,” she says.
With still many years to go and ample time to decide on a career, Bontle Ndhlovu says she has already started writing on the next book in the Adventures with Bontle series.