Children’s author Sundari Francis-Bala knows her work has enduring qualities.
After all, her 39-year-old son is now reading the stories she told him as a boy to his own two children.
And now the former Richmond resident and retired English teacher, who still gives the odd lecture at the Richmond campus of Kwantlen Polytechnic University, is sharing them with a greater audience at a public reading of Olly Jolly Says: Count Your Blessings Saturday (Jan. 26) at 11 a.m. at Brighouse Public Library as a part of Family Literacy Week.
“This story, I actually wrote 30 or more years ago for my son, to entertain him and teach him some values,” Francis-Bala said, adding that at the time it was published in a local magazine in Bangalore, India where she lived before moving to Canada in 1996.
Despite being three decades on since she penned the book, Francis-Bala said the story has stayed with her.
“I have grandchildren now,” she said. “And after I retired in 2009, I decided I wanted to publish all the stuff — poetry and novels — that were sitting in my computer from so many years.”
The story follows a sad, young boy with a vivid imagination and love for reading and telling stories. The boy is visited by a magical bee named Olly Jolly who helps him count his blessings and get his smile back.
Before getting the book published she made a few tweaks here and there — changing Olly Jolly from an imp to a bee to convey the importance of bees to the environment.
But what she lacked was the patience to deal with publishers and the time needed to get a response on a potential book deal.
So, Francis-Bala went the self-publishing route and since last September Olly Jolly Says: Count Your Blessings has been available at Friesenpress.com, Amazon.ca, Amazon.com Barnes & Noble.com, plus more than 25,000 booksellers worldwide.
Two more books in the series are in the works, said Francis-Bala.
Sales are also helping with that as 50 per cent of profits from sales will go towards meeting the educational needs of children in rural India and Canada.
Family Literacy Week runs Jan. 22-26 at Richmond Public Library. For more information on programming, visit www.yourlibrary.ca/family-literacy/.