June 18, 2023 will mark 40 years since 10 Baha’i women were hanged in Shiraz. Their only ‘crime’ was their refusal to renounce their beliefs in a faith that promotes the principles of gender equality, unity, justice, and truthfulness. This collection highlights Baha’i Blog content relating to the ongoing persecution of Baha’is in Iran.
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.
Robbie’s Special Calling – A Storybook About Our Unique Gifts
I’d love to introduce a new Australian author-illustrator duo: writer Charissa Soh and artist Louisa Kwan-Shabani! Their debut picture book, Robbie’s Special Calling, is now on family book shelves and it is a sweet tale for little ones.
Here’s what Charissa and Louisa kindly shared with us about how their book came into being:
Can you tell us a little about yourselves?
Charissa: I started writing as a hobby because I really enjoy reading. This is the main reason why I enjoy writing. It’s amazing how a few words on a page can have a lasting impact on someone.
I met Louisa in 2016. Then in 2017 we thought to combine our talents together to create a picture storybook.
Louisa: My background is in design and I worked as a graphic designer for some years. During that time I developed a great interest in illustration. When I found out my friend Charissa enjoyed writing we thought it might be a great opportunity to see what we can come up with!
Can you tell us a little bit about Robbie’s Special Calling?
Charissa: Thanks for asking. Robbie’s Special Calling is a picture storybook. It’s about how we are all different, and have our unique gifts that we bring to the world. Robbie questions his place in the world. I’m sure many of us can relate to this. At times, we may feel discouraged, or lack self-esteem to see the beauty within ourselves. We may feel taken aback by what other people have and so we may want to change ourselves in a particular way to be more like them. I think this book is sharing how we can be inspired by people’s differences, and also own what is unique about ourselves. This is the beauty about diversity and unity.
What inspired you to write this story?
Charissa: I wrote this book as a comfort to those who feel misplaced, unheard, or have lost faith in themselves. The quotation by Abdu’l-Baha stood out,
“Consider the flowers of a garden. Though differing in kind, colour, form and shape, yet inasmuch as they are refreshed by the waters of one spring, revived by the breath of one wind, invigorated by the rays of one sun, this diversity increaseth their charm and addeth unto their beauty.”
This serves as a reminder to appreciate what makes us who we are.
What was something you learned in the process of compiling this book?
Charissa: What I’ve learnt is that it takes a long time to piece everything together, and it is not as simple as it may be. Working with Louisa has been a blessing as she was able to use IngramSpark to complete the formatting. We’re still figuring out the complexities of the book world. Thankfully the book is out there for all to enjoy.
Louisa: It definitely was a long process and one that challenged our patience, determination and perseverance. Without these we could have easily left it aside but it was one of those things we believed needed to be shared so we persevered throughout the years. I was inspired by Charissa’s fortitude in her service and it gave me encouragement to not give up and try to bring to life this story she had envisioned for the book. In a sense it required both of us to remain focused on the message within the book and let its purpose drive us from concept to publication. Now that it is available we are so eager to hear the responses and feedback!
Thank you both for telling us about your unique gifts and about this special book!
You can purchase Robbie’s Special Calling from a variety of book retailers such as Bahaibooks.com.au in Australia or from Amazon.
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.