He thought his daughter might sell about 30 books at R5 each to her classmates. But six-year-old Maya Enslin’s story has spread like wildfire on social media.
Suddenly Maya’s dad, Stefan Enslin, had 300 orders. Stefan, a writer, was in a toy shop when a Lego set with a pirate theme caught his eldest daughter’s eye. “I told her the Lego set is way too expensive and that Daddy can’t buy it now – if she wanted it, she’d have to buy it herself,” says Stefan, who lives in Cape Town.
He was only teasing Maya, a pupil at Van Riebeeckstrand Primary School in Melkbosstrand, near Cape Town, but she asked him where she was supposed to get the money. “I said I’d teach her to do business,” Stefan says, thinking that was the end of the matter.
But later that evening Maya brought her dad a story she’d written about a lost teddy bear. So father and daughter decided to put together a little book she could sell to her classmates.
“She’s always loved ‘writing’. She actually just draws the pictures and then tells me the story that goes with it,” Stefan explains.
While his daughter was telling him the story, he typed it out and added pictures on the computer.
“But while I was typing, I was editing a little too,” Stefan says. But Maya was unhappy about that. “She immediately noticed what I was doing and asked why I wasn’t writing it as she was telling it. I realised the essence of the story is in the innocence with which she’s telling it.”
For fun, Stefan shared the little book with his Facebook friends. “I was just joking when I said we were taking orders.”
But the next morning Stefan was inundated by people wanting to buy Maya’s book. It garnered so much attention that Stefan realised he couldn’t distribute the book with the internet pictures because of copyright issues.
“So I asked a friend of mine’s nine-year-old son, Simon Venter, to draw all the pictures – so Maya pays him R2 per book she sells,” Stefan explains.
The new version of Maya’s book has a brand-new cover and Stefan has even found a sponsor to pay for printing as the home printer can’t handle a larger print run.
Stefan says they’ve had orders from as far afield as Wolmaransstad in North West to even England and the US. There have also been orders from a library and a bookshop. “We stopped with 300 – but Maya has already written three more books.”
Die Verlore Teddie [The Lost Teddy] is about a little boy called Jack who loses his favourite teddy bear at night in his darkened room.
Stefan says she’ll be sending off the books to their new owners next week.