Today we talk about Mirrors and Water, a book by Oussama Safraoui published with our publishing house Europe Books.
Europe Books had the pleasure of interviewing the author Oussama Safraoui to get to know him better as a writer but also as a teacher; his main concern to build a strong and positive personality in children and where he found the inspiration to write his book Mirrors and Water.
Below you can find our interview. Take a seat and enjoy your reading!!!
- Where did you find the inspiration to write this book for children?
The main inspiration for my book was the Legend of Zelda. Since I was a little boy, I loved playing the Legend of Zelda on NES and Gameboy. And still, my favorite Zelda games are the first NES game and Link’s Awakening! I loved the idea of having an adventure that leads to explore various beautiful natural landscapes. I am a lover of nature and outer space, from the little ant and bee, to the huge mountain, to the expanding universe with its countless galaxies. The geography of my country was very inspirational too. I live in a beautiful country, with a diversity of ecosystems: beaches, forests, rivers, mountains and hills, snow, beautiful caves, green plains, and oases which are part of the great Sahara Desert. I was inspired by the ecosystems in my country to choose the locations of action in my book. I am also a big fan of Sir David Attenborough. I enjoy watching his documentaries, and I admire how he urges people to take care of the planet and be aware of the dangers of global warming. One of my concerns in my book was to motivate the little readers to take care of nature, be friendly toward it and explore it further and further, as nature has always beautiful mysteries and amazing discoveries to offer us. I talked more about global warming in the sequel «Keys to Air», which will be published soon.
- What are the elements to consider when writing a book that narrates children’s stories?
In my opinion, the most crucial element should be the constant strive to build the child’s personality in a positive way. This means that the story should teach moral values and life skills. When writing a story for children, there are many types of plots such as: A quest for something valuable, a rescue for someone in trouble, a journey to vanquish a monster, a voyage with various situations and circumstances, a contest to win a prize, a rebirth of the character, from rags to riches, etc… Whatever the plot may be, I think that the most important element to take into consideration should be how to build the personality of the child in one way or another. The story should be so powerful it would mark the kid’s personality and trigger creative thoughts in his mind, a love for learning in his heart and optimism and ambition in his soul. Besides, another crucial element is avoiding the use of magic and violence. There is an obvious, constant use of magic and violence in stories for children and cartoons. First, I think that we should teach kids to always rely on themselves and make their own efforts to reach their goals, and that there are no magical tricks that will get them to their goals. If you have a goal, you should think about it, plan your steps toward it, and then put them into practice, with patience and diligence. Second, we should teach kids tolerance and forgiveness, because there is always a peaceful way to deal with situations. Violence brings more violence, whereas forgiveness brings peace and happiness.
- What you would like to hear from your little readers?
I try to instil the love of learning and develop the sense of curiosity and creativity in my little readers. Questions I would be glad to hear from them would be: How does the bee make honey? Where does water come from? How different sharks and dolphins are they? How can I be successful in life? How can I choose a good ambition? How can I participate in protecting the environment and wildlife? What I would like to hear too: “I would like to become like Mohab: smart, strong and kind.” “I learned from Mohab that every problem has a solution, and no violence is needed.” “I want to always think of nice ways to deal with problems and bad people.” “I want to always laugh at life’s problems.”
- You are a teacher and work with children every day. How much has this helped you in writing your book?
Teaching is my passion. It helped me access the universe of children, understand how they think and feel, what motivates them and what catches their interest. I always say that, in order to deal with children, one should be humble, understanding and patient. It is crucial to communicate with kids at their own mental and emotional level, to use words and meanings they can grasp, to understand their thoughts and feelings, and to encourage their sense of curiosity and creativity. Dealing with children teaches us that they have a high level of creativity, and each child is smart in his own way. Creativity is an intrinsic element to childhood. In fact, the creative adult has the heart of a child and the mind of a scholar. Charles Baudelaire says: “Genius is childhood retrieved at will.” Ursula K. Le Guin says: “The creative adult is a child who has survived.” Aldous Huxley says: “The secret of genius is to carry the spirit of the child into old age.” Working with children also helped me understand their expectations. Children have high expectations and prove to be very keen in assessing the material we present to them.
- Are you planning to work on a new book for children or are you thinking of focusing on another genre of writing?
These days I am putting the final touches on Mirrors and Water’s sequel, Keys to Air. I don’t intend to write for adults. I only intend to write for children, and my main concern is to build a strong, positive personality in them. I really like this short story by Paulo Coelho:
A father was trying to read the newspaper, but his little son kept pestering him. Finally, the father grew tired of this and, tearing a page from the newspaper – one that bore a map of the world – he cut it into several pieces and handed them to his son.‘Right, now you’ve got something to do. I’ve given you a map of the world and I want to see if you can put it back together correctly.’He resumed his reading, knowing that the task would keep the child occupied for the rest of the day.However, a quarter of an hour later, the boy returned with the map. ‘Has your mother been teaching you geography?’ asked his father in astonishment.‘I don’t even know what that is,’ replied the boy. ‘But there was a photo of a man on the other side of the page, so I put the man back together and found I’d put the world back together too.’
I once learned from a great teacher that the greatness of a person comes from the positive impact they bring to life. The bigger the circle of the impact is, the greater the person is. Someone who does positive efforts to help and give back to their small community is a great person. A greater person contributes to the progress of their whole country. But the greatest person is someone who puts his creativity and intellect to contribute to the welfare of all humanity, with open-mindedness and positivity.
Europe Books thanks the author Oussama Safraoui once again for taking the time and answering our questions. We are really pleased to have walked alongside him on the editorial path that led to the publication of his book Mirrors and Water. We wish him the best of luck for this novel and for his future works.
To you, my dear reader, I wish you to enjoy the story and the adventures of Mohab, the leading character of the book, that will not only brighten your reading, but also will offer you lots of life lessons which can solicit your daily reflections. And remember, children’s books have a lot to teach us all, no matter how adult we are!
So, my dear reader, I just have to wish you a good and pleasant reading!