By Momodou Ndow
My new book, The Mischievous Mosquitoes of Banjul, is now available for pre-order today!
Order your copy just in time for the holidays, here: https://fyenetwork.com/?post_type=product&p=26296&preview=true
Official release is this November 2022! Pre-order it today to add to your library and be one of the first people to enjoy this beautiful love letter to our city of Banjul!
I wrote the story of the Banjul mosquitoes about a decade ago but was recently encouraged by a friend to turn it into a children’s book. I immediately fell in love with the idea, but then I realized that it might be challenging for me to change from an adult audience to a younger one so I decided to recruit my niece, Saffie Jagne, to help me make that transition.
Of course, she said, yes! I’m her uncle and when I say “jump”, she says “how high Uncle Mo Ndow.” Saffie is a wonderful writer in her own right. I would have described her as a brilliant writer, but the word “brilliant” is the word most abused by the British. Apparently, everything in the UK is “brilliant” except for the weather.
The Mischievous Mosquitoes of Banjul is the first of five books in my “Memories of a Gambian Child” series under my “MoBooks” brand. The books will be published by Fye Network, a media company that specializes in curating African inspired content for children. Look out for the next book in the series called “Zoo Keeper” which will be coming out next summer.
My desire was to work with a publisher who can help me deliver the book in the proper context. Fye Network delivered that and more. We knew this was a match made in heaven from our very first Zoom meeting. There was an instant connection and a mutual excitement that our collaboration would be unique. At the end of the meeting, we gave each other High Fives, Zoom style.
My vision for the MoBooks children’s series is to help improve reading culture by making reading a pleasure, especially for children in underprivileged homes, more so on the African continent. For example, UNICEF Gambia estimates that 2 thirds of ten-year old children in The Gambia can’t read and understand simple texts.
This book series will help by bringing diversity, context, and representation to the table, all of which are relevant components in making reading and learning to read fun and enjoyable. The books some of us read as children did not represent us, so reading became more like a chore instead of something to look forward to.
For most of us, our parents never read us bedtime stories. We began to learn to read in grade school. My late father was an educator, but I don’t recall him reading to me as a child. Reading is just not part of our culture even though early reading in any language is fundamental to cognitive development.
The fact that English is a second language for most is also another setback. I’m somewhat convinced that most of us are only operating at 70% or less of our potential because of our lag time in learning to read.
The Memories of a Gambian Child book series seeks to contribute toward changing this by making reading fun, whilst providing much needed context and representation at the same time. I can guarantee that parents will be more than happy to read my books to their children.
For all those who are not African, I would like to tell you that this book transcends race, color, and creed. It has a universal message that will resonate with anyone, no matter the geographical location or national origin. And, it will add flavor to your bookcase at home. Get it for your children, nieces, nephews, and grandkids.
Parents, get your own copy too. You are never too old for a good bedtime story otherwise; you’ll end up stealing your child’s copy. Don’t forget to get a copy for grandma and grandpa too. Kindly share this with your family, friends and loved ones! Your colleagues too. They say that the role of literature is to instruct and delight, and I believe this book series has achieved that.
Finally, my deepest gratitude to my family for the infinite support and encouragement. I would also like to express my appreciation to my employer, Johnston, Kinney & Zulaica LLP (JKZ). Everyone at the firm has been very supportive throughout this process.
Some will quickly pop into my office for a brief update. Others will ask me when they see me in the corridors or when they catch me in the kitchen scavenging for an afternoon snack. Others have even allowed their children to be part of my sample readers and they provided me with invaluable feedback. Their support was part of the motivating factors during the process, and I truly appreciate that. I’m indeed lucky to be part of the JKZ Family.