Writer Adaeze Ogechi Ugwu from Pretoria, Gauteng is enjoying the accomplishment of being a published writer.
Her first book, “The Duck Who Thought It Couldn’t Swim”, was published last year before her 10th birthday by AuthorHouse, an international self-publishing company.
Ugwu is the publisher’s youngest author.
The book was written in 2015, when the then seven-year-old Ugwu was struggling to swim.
“I was learning how to do the backstroke and I just couldn’t do it. It was harder than freestyle swimming. You have to keep your face above water, but the water still splashes on you. I didn’t like the feeling of water on my face. I kept thinking I was going to drown. It was scary,” she recalled.
Ugwu used her pen, paper and coloured pencils to express her feelings, and two months later, she had completed writing and illustrating “The Duck Who Thought It Couldn’t Swim”.
The story tells the uplifting tale of Fluffy, an adorable duck who has to find the courage to swim after having ducklings.
“The moral of the story is that courage beats fear. I overcame my own fears while swimming and now the backstroke is my favourite swimming style. I wanted to encourage people to do the same,” she said.
Ugwu’s parents Phindile and Emeka considered laminating the book for her to keep as a memory, but knew the story’s motivational message had to be shared. Phindile approached the publishing company, who also saw the book’s potential.
The soft-spoken Ugwu was excited when she received the first copies of the book.
“I was happy but confused, because I never thought it would happen. At school, my principal was so excited and everyone congratulated me. The book was showcased at Book Week and there are copies of it in the school library. It’s nice knowing that people like my book.”
The book has already been showcased at book fairs in Germany, New York, Mexico, China and England. Ugwu has also donated her book to charities and a public library in Barberton, Mpumalanga.
“It is important for children to read. It helps develop your thinking, your knowledge of words and writing, and it helps you with your homework. Reading for pleasure is wonderful. Your personality grows when you read,” she said.