Shaikha Al Dharahi plans on writing another book this year about spy kids discovering the underwater world.
At an age when children just about begin getting engrossed in reading books we have eight years old Shaikha Al Dharahi, who has got her first book published. Shaikha is a student of Aldar Education’s Al Mamoura Academy which went all out to support the young writer and her book The Spy Kids and Momo that made it to the Sharjah International Book Fair 2019.
The book addresses an Internet hoax from last summer, with the author cautioning children from across the world to be cautious while navigating the World Wide Web.
“Aldar Education recognises individual talent and develops all aspects of a human being. This holistic approach towards education has encouraged many students such as Shaikha to accomplish incredible feats of achievement,’’ says the school, clearly proud of their ward.
Shaikha spoke to Panorama about what inspired her to pen the book and her plans to create the next adventure with words.
Can you explain the Momo challenge that prompted you to write the book?
Momo Challenge that appeared on YouTube last summer is about a hacker. I understood that it was a hoax encouraging people to do dangerous and violent things. It made me sad to learn that most of the victims of the challenge were children about my age. I could also see that most of my friends were terrified and through my book I wanted to reassure them that the challenge is not real and fear is not going to help them, unless they decide to fight their fears.
The best way a child can overcome fears is by talking to an adult or a friend, Shaika says.
Can you briefly narrate the story?
The story is about two girls, Olivia and Emma, who live in the UAE and decide to go to Japan to find out who created Momo and why. Their ultimate aim is to destroy Momo and return victorious to their nation.
Which character in your story do you like best and why?
I like Olivia the best because I based her character on my own. Olivia clearly has shades of me in her, which also made the writing easy, for in a way I was writing about myself.
How do you think children can overcome their fears?
The best way to go about it is to speak to an adult or a friend. Suppressing fears or silently suffering in total terror will help nobody. While writing this book, I realised that what we see on the Internet might not always be true. Asking an adult what is correct helped me understand the difference between what is real and what is not.
Did the writing help you with your own inner fears?
The book gave me courage to accomplish anything. I am now confident that I can achieve what I want and without being afraid of challenges.
Was the writing done after school hours or during weekends?
I started writing this book after school hours. It took me about four days to finish writing the book for I couldn’t stop myself. The words would pour out, the thoughts would not stop. And I could not rest till it was all there in front of me.
What kind of family support came your way?
I enjoyed the support of all my family members. In fact it was their encouragement that made me feel I could do it and when done gave me a sense of accomplishment.
How did your school respond to having a young author in their midst?
My school was so happy and proud of me. They posted so many pictures about it on social media which made me feel encouraged to begin work on my next book.
So how did the idea of getting the book published happen?
It was all due to my father, who insisted I follow my dream of writing a book and turning into a young author. He found a publisher and helped make my dream a reality.
How was the experience of having your book in Sharjah International Book Fair?
I was happy and amazed to see my book among so many others. I got the chance to meet writers from different parts of the world and I thoroughly enjoyed listening to their stories and experiences.
Do you have plans to write a second book?
Definitely! I plan on writing another book this year about spy children discovering the underwater world. Through this book, I want to talk about environmental issues. I am also hoping all my books will carry some message to other children my age.
What is your advice to aspiring child authors?
Try your best and work hard in school too. Never give up; never lose faith in yourself.
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