Reading is a wonderful way to explore new places and ideas and to find inspiration – and this is exactly what it did for 11-year-old Leo de Beer from Cape Town.
When his mom, Danielle de Beer (44), read him a book about a football player, it inspired Leo to start writing. And today he is a published author of his very first book, Barcelona Boy.
“We read him an amazing book called Striker Boy by Jonny Zucker. He was really taken with it and about a week afterwards he said he wanted to start writing a book,” Danielle tells YOU.
She didn’t think much of it, but Leo’s determination to finish his book was astounding, she says.
Barcelona Boy is an inspirational book about a young boy’s ambition to become a soccer star. It’s a quick and easy read for girls and boys aged eight to 12, especially football fans.
Leo, who has been playing soccer since he was two, is an avid fan of FC Barcelona.
He realised he enjoyed writing when he began the process so that made it fun too, he tells us.
“It just felt amazing coming up with all of these ideas and characters.”
While he had an idea where the story was going, it changed as he went along.
“My favorite part was creating a book and coming up with these really cool ideas, the characters and seeing how it turned out.”
Leo’s grandmother, Mirna Lawrence, who edited the book, says the entire process took about 18 months.
Leo’s younger brother, Tommy (8), took the action photo on the back of the book.
“We sent it to a DTP [desk-top publisher] in Johannesburg, who put the whole thing together and made it look absolutely marvelous. [Self-publisher] Porcupine Press printed it and it was ready for me to give it to him for his 11th birthday in August 2020. That was his present,” Mirna says.
It felt “amazing” to hold a printed copy of his book, says the Grade 6 learner who attends Herzlia Highlands Primary School.
“I never thought I would write a book,” Leo says.
Mirna and Danielle agree that the process was an important lesson for Leo.
“He really did an awesome job on it because he didn’t just write it, he did the proper research in terms of the using the correct soccer terms and he went back to rewrite things because there were many changes.
“He is so young, and to see how he went into the story and that he wanted to learn and change things when I pointed out the things that there were perhaps not linking, was great. He didn’t just give up, he really wanted to understand,” the proud grandmother says.
“We hope that young kids will find Leo’s books inspirational, in that you have to work hard and apply yourself to reach your dreams. I think that is very much what his story does,” she says.
Danielle says she is very impressed with her son’s debut work.
“I am astounded by him and the diligence it took to finish the book. I was so impressed . . . I knew he was creative, but I didn’t know he had the determination to complete the project. I am just immensely proud of him.”
Leo, who plays for Grass Boots FC in Cape Town, hopes to play soccer professionally one day.
His other hobbies include drumming and making TikTok videos with his brother – when he’s not working on his follow-up book.
Leo’s book is available from Porcupine Press, email firstname.lastname@example.org. Cape Town readers can order it from email@example.com, at a price of R70, with 25% of proceeds going to Leo's soccer club, Grass Boots FC.