Baha’is see the young as the most precious treasure a community can possess. In them are the promise and guarantee of the future. Yet, in order for this promise to be realised, children need to receive spiritual nourishment, such as can be found in the children’s classes happening all around the world.
Abdu’l-Baha’s Little Brown Cat – A Children’s Book by Carolyn Sparey Fox
It’s a delight to hear from Carolyn again and this time it’s about a children’s book called Abdu’l-Baha’s Little Brown Cat, written in honor of the centenary of His Passing. Here’s what Carolyn graciously shared with us:
Baha’i Blog: Could you please tell us a little about your book?
Abdu’l-Baha’s Little Brown Cat is an illustrated story book for children of all ages, and for adults who like to read to them. It was written in commemoration of the centenary of the passing of Abdu’l-Baha in November 1921, and tells the story of His last years through the eyes and ears of His little brown cat.
Baha’i Blog: What inspired you to write it?
When my granddaughter was born in February 2019 I was inspired to start writing children’s stories, and I wrote two during the first year, both based on quotes from Abdul-Baha, and both with black and white illustrations for children to colour (one of those books is called Little Acorn). I then decided to write a short book in commemoration of the centenary of Abdu’l-Baha’s passing in November 1921, focusing on His final years; and since I knew that He actually had a brown cat at that time I was inspired to tell the story through its eyes and ears.
Baha’i Blog: What was something you learned in the process of creating this book?
Writing the book was very enjoyable and inspiring for me, because I really felt connected with the people and events I was writing about, as well as falling in love with Little Brown Cat! I suppose one of the most exciting things I learned in the process of my research was the extraordinary story of how the Shrines in Haifa and Acca came to be lit by electric light.
I also enjoyed working with my illustrator, Alan McKay, who is a Baha’i living in the Shetland Isles, right up beyond the northern coast of Scotland and the Orkney Islands. We would share ideas, then a few days later an email would arrive with his latest drawing, and I could hardly contain my excitement as I opened up to see what he had produced! All his illustrations are absolutely lovely, and so appropriate for what I’m trying to convey through my text.
Thankfully I have a publisher who is a perfectionist! We work closely together, and he has endless patience when it comes to a little change here or there; he’s also an amazing editor, which is invaluable.
Baha’i Blog: Who is the book’s audience?
I originally wrote it with children in mind, but I actually don’t think there’s any age limit. And certainly it’s perfect for adults to read to their children or grandchildren.
Baha’i Blog: What do you hope children and their families will take away from reading your book?
I really hope that readers get a sense of what life in Haparsim Street was like over the final years of Abdu’l-Baha’s life. I think people will also be interested in all the various visitors to Abdu’l-Baha’ at that time, so many different characters and personalities. Everything that happens in the book is historically recorded, and some of it is quite amusing; the only fiction in the book is what the Little Brown Cat thought or did.
Baha’i Blog: What words of encouragement might you have for other aspiring Baha’i authors?
If you feel inspired to write, then write! Initially I was writing Abdu’l-Baha’s Little Brown Cat just for my granddaughter, but as the text came to life I felt that I needed to make it available to all children. It’s the same with the other two stories, because I feel they offer insights into the potential which all children have if encouraged —- especially at this time when the future looks so uncertain and so challenging.
Baha’i Blog: Thank you so much, Carolyn, for taking the time to share this with us.
In her innermost heart, Sonjel is a stay-at-home parent and a bookworm with a maxed out library card but professionally she is a museologist with a background in English Literature. She currently lives on Prince Edward Island, an isle in the shape of a smile on the eastern Canadian coast. Sonjel is a writer who loves to listen to jazz when she's driving at night.