Getting kids reading and sparking their imaginations is really important to me. In fact, I gave a Tedx talk in Johannesburg recently on how stories allow us to be more than we are. 

It’s why we put together The Broken Monsters Charity Art Show, with kind sponsorship by Nando’s, that raised enough money for the awesome NGO, Book Dash to print 36 000 kids books for children who’ve never had one of their own.

So. when the ad agency for Bostik stationery approached me to come up with 20 wild and silly and cute beasties for kids to design as part of a competition, I was super-excited.

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Writing for kids is one of my favourite things! I was the head-writer and co-creator of the hit SABC3 kids cartoon, URBO: The Adventures of Pax Afrika and I’ve written for Mouk and Florrie’s Dragons for Disney. I also wrote a kid-friendly Wonder Woman short for DC Comics, “The Problem With Cats”, with art by Mike Maihack, which centred on a little girl from Orlando West, Soweto as the heroine of her own imagination. (It’s also been the only time my seven year old daughter actually appreciated what I do for a living.)

But the joy for me of the Bostik Book of Unbelievable Beasties, wasn’t just that I would get to invent crazy critters (including a vampire bunny that drinks carrot juice, a galumphing Blumf, and a googly-eyed Oogle among others in my silly and cute menagerie) – it was that kids would get to draw them, using paper and crayons and glue and, most importantly, their imaginations.

The twenty winning entries will be published by Bostik, in a limited edition book, to go to the winners and 500 copies to the Shine Literacy project, an amazing organization that provides one-on-one support to kids who need it in grade two and three, fostering a love of stories and boosting their confidence and literacy skills .

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We did a workshop with the kids from the Shine centre at Prestwich School in Cape Town last week and I was blown away by the wild variety of the critters the kids came up with and how they made it their own.

I developed the descriptions so there would be a lot of space to play. Open briefs, where you trust the artists to do what they do best, are where it’s at!

We’d all love to see it become a real book, that’s on the shelves, for you to buy, and I’m in talks with a major South African publisher at the moment to see if we can make that a reality, with proceeds to go to a charitable organization like Shine.

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The Bostik Book of Unbelievable Beasties competition closes 20 August. Entry forms, with the descriptive rhymes, a sampling of beastie parts for kids to use (only if they want to) are all over at www.bostik.co.za or head down to a Col’Cacchios pizza, where they have beastie packs for kids to design an adorable monster of their own.

It’s a book that’s in the making, but it’s empty of creatures.

It needs a bunch of beasties with wild and wondrous features.

 Download a page from our weird beastie book, print it out and create your own unbelievable creature.

I’m so excited to see what kids come up with!

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