Priya N. Hein’s children’s books fly off the shelves, unlike her flightless main character, a Mauritian dodo called Feno who features in her three published stories.
Priya, a proud Mauritian who now lives in Germany, became inspired to write about the extinct Mauritian bird when she looked everywhere for a children’s story about a dodo. She wanted to teach her children about the unusual bird so she eventually decided to make up a story of her own. The tale delighted Priya’s three-year old daughter so much that Priya decided to send the story, A Little Dodo Called Feno, to a publisher.
Priya spent her childhood in Mauritius and London. She studied for two prestigious degrees. Priya holds a Bachelor’s (Hons) degree in Law with French LLB from Manchester Metropolitan University and L’Université Robert Schuman, IEP Strasbourg. She also holds a bilingual Master’s degree (MA) in International Politics and Law from L’Université Libre de Bruxelles.
This is an unusual background for children’s writer but Priya always loved to read and write. Even as a child, she “devoured one book after another”. Finding the courage to approach a publisher took time, however. Priya was encouraged by her daughter’s interest in the story and thought that other children might also enjoy it.
Priya was “over the moon” when the book received the Coups de Coeur FNAC, Paris shortly after its release.
Priya’s two young children motivate and inspire her to keep writing her books. She said that: “Even my colourful vibrant illustrations are heavily inspired by my children”. Priya’s daughter gave her plenty of invaluable advice on the illustrations for her third book, Little Dodo’s ABC Book, for example. Priya and her daughter completed the illustrations together. They used the collage technique and hand-painted paper for the attractive illustrations.
Priya wanted to teach her daughter the alphabet and decided to devise an unusual teaching exercise to make it more fun. This eventually became Little Dodo’s ABC Book. Priya said that she found writing this especially enjoyable.
The author was thrilled when she sent a couple of illustrations and the text of Little Dodo’s ABC Book to Les Editions Orphie in France and they expressed interest in publishing the book. The publisher asked her for the rest of the illustrations and Priya rushed to finish them. Priya was “over the moon” when the book received the Coups de Coeur FNAC, Paris shortly after its release.
Priya has just finished the second edition of A Little Dodo Called Feno which was launched at the Salon du Livre et de la Presse Jeunesse in Montreuil, Paris last November. This charming children’s book, set in beautiful Mauritius, is filled with typical Mauritian animals, including monkeys, tortoises and goats. Priya also used some Creole names to make the story distinctly Mauritian. For example, the name Tikabri is Creole for little goat.
The book’s illustrated by Lynda Nelson, a prize-winning professional illustrator who specializes in children’s books and whose work has been featured by the BBC.
The talented children’s writer and illustrator has a big presence in France as well as Mauritius. This is important to Priya because she likes her books to be available in Europe as well as in Mauritius. Organisers of book fairs in France often invite her to participate. For example, in December 2011 Priya participated at the Salon du Livre et de la Presse Jeunesse on the ‘La Re du Livre Stand’. In March 2012 Priya was invited to participate at the Salon du Livre de Paris on the Editions Orphie stand and on the stand of ‘Le ministère de l’outre-mer’ as author and illustrator. She’s also invited to attend book fairs in Mauritius.
Priya thinks that attending the Salon du Livre et de la Presse Jeunesse in the Paris suburb of Montreuil is an exciting opportunity for her to launch her book and promote Mauritius in France.
The successful writer’s books are available in Europe, France and Germany. She wanted her books to be published in English and French because these languages are taught in Mauritius and she likes to reach a wide audience.
Kreol Morisien has been taught in Mauritian schools since January 2002. Priya was happy to learn that one of her books, Feno the Little Dodo’s Rainy Day Picnic, has been set by The Mauritian Kreol Unit of the Mauritius Institute of Education to feature in a forthcoming school text for primary pupils as learning material.
The prolific author has just completed a new children’s book, Blue Bear. Indeed, she’s just returned from the Mauritius book launch. Here, at the Salon du Livre International Confluences 2013 on the Culture et Avenir Stand (Bureau du Premier Ministre), she met with Mauritius Prime Minister, the Honourable Dr Navin Ramgoolam, and his Cultural Adviser Mr Alain Gordon-Gentil.
Priya was happy to learn that one of herbooks, Feno the Little Dodo’s Rainy Day Picnic, has been set by The Mauritian Kreol Unit of the Mauritius Institute of Education to feature in a forthcoming school text for primary pupils as learning material.
Priya’s experiences of being a foreigner living in Germany inspired her to write this book to teach her children about acceptance. Dr Walter Sauer, linguist at the prestigious Heidelberg University and founder of Verlag Edition Tintenfass in Germany, is publishing the book not only in English and German but also in Kreol Morisien (translated by Shenaz Patel).
Priya certainly has a shining career as a writer of popular children’s books. We hope to read more of her delightful books at future bedtimes.