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Inspirational mum Reem from Ossass-Stories.

July’s inspirational mum is Reem, author and publisher from Ossass-Stories.

 

What is your career background?

After studying English at university, I started working as a translator and researcher in Jerusalem, mainly with The New York Times. In 2006, when I was 26, the Israel-Lebanon war broke out, and I urged my boss to let me go to the frontline because I knew the area well. It was my first major journalistic assignment. I realised that being fluent in Arabic would be even more of an advantage in video than in print, so I taught myself how to film and edit video. In 2009 I started doing videos for The New York Times, going into the field, interviewing people, filming them, writing my own scripts and editing together the video reports. In 2012 I moved to New York, and was hired as a staff video journalist by The Wall Street Journal. I mainly covered Middle East affairs, the war in Syria and Iraq, the rise of ISIS and the refugee crisis.

 

How did your career change after having children?

I put my career on hold twice, both times after giving birth to my daughters. After my first, in 2011, I waited 9 months before going back to freelance video journalism, although I was able to do some translation before that. I really enjoyed being a mother, but I also loved my work as a journalist, and I was happy that I could be both. I was happier and more fulfilled, and although I had originally intended to stay at home longer to bring my daughter up bilingual in Arabic and English, it very quickly became clear that she was learning more words and language skills when she was at a nursery interacting with other children her own age and other adults. There was a similar pattern after my second daughter was born in New York in 2015. I left my job at The Wall Street Journal when I was 9 months pregnant, spent the first 18 months with her – and settling my family into a new life in London. I only recently started freelancing again, but I have spent the last few months working on building up my small business, which publishes Arabic books for children.

 

Where did the idea for your business come from?

“Necessity is the mother of invention.” Or, in my case, the mother who invented. Arabic has two registers: formal and colloquial. All books, newspapers, magazines, radio and television programmes  – even for children – use the formal version of the language. That was very frustrating to me as a child, to read children, animals and cartoon characters talking like lawyers and newspaper editorials. When I became a mother I just couldn’t read those books out aloud to my children. So I decided to write children’s books in colloquial Arabic. Things are changing in the Arab world – satellite television channels have familiarised people with other Arabic dialects, and social media has got people accustomed to the idea that it is all right to write as you speak. Other mothers and fathers in the Arab diaspora told me they felt the same, and that it was more important for their children to learn to speak to their grandparents and cousins than to struggle their way through high, formal Arabic texts.

I talked with my husband about this idea in March 2014 and we published our first book in December 2015. When I got the first actual solid book in my hands, it really was a huge feeling of achievement, an affirmation that we were doing something new, and a little bit revolutionary.

 

What drives you do what you do?

It’s something I’ve wanted to do for a long time. It was always in the back of my mind, but I never really formulated a plan. But then the world changed around me and I realised that we were living in an era of mass migration of Arabs to Europe, America and elsewhere.

As someone who lives in the Arab diaspora I saw these new arrivals turn up – as a journalist I even went to interview some of them – and it became even more important to me that we should have a new children’s literature in Arabic, featuring the contemporary world. Our books feature a confident, outgoing young Arab girl who feels entirely at home in places like New York. Because it is her city. That is how our oldest daughter defines herself if anyone asks her where she is from: she says “I am from New York City.” I love that. And I want books that show Arabs living in the West comfortably, being an integral part of the scenery, fluent in the language and culture. It’s a passion to me.

 

How did you move from idea to actual business?

I was really surprised by how quickly an idea became a real product. It all started one evening in March 2014. I was frustrated after reading a bedtime story to my daughter in formal Arabic. I went to the living room and told my husband that I wanted to write children’s books in colloquial Arabic. It was a eureka moment, it was so obvious to me that this needed to be done, and I had no doubt in my heart or mind that I was going to do it. My husband was so positive, encouraging and very excited about the idea. I started with my research work that evening. I contacted an illustrator the next day after seeing his work on the internet. We found a lawyer to help us set up our own publishing house, we signed a contract with the illustrator two months later, and our first book was published a year and a half after the idea was born. We’ve just published our second book, and I couldn’t be prouder.

 

Who is your target audience?

Our books are mainly designed for Arab children living in the diaspora. But since we started selling, we have also seen interest from college and university students, who are studying colloquial Arabic, but can’t find books to practise it. The book is now on the shelves of public libraries in New York, Norway and Sweden, and in bookshops in cities around the world where there is an Arab community.Our books are for everyone who enjoys a good story. We’re even thinking to translate it into other languages, including English.

 

How do you spread the word about what you do?

Most of it is done on social media. We have a Facebook page, and Twitter and Instagram accounts. We also have people who subscribe to our emailed newsletters. We have held readings in schools and colleges and we have a pink business card in the shape of a bookmark that we send out with every book, and encourage people to tell a friend. We are right now preparing for an Arabic cultural street festival in New York – where we had a stall last year – and for our first one in London. I tell everyone I meet about our books, because I am very proud of it, and also I would like people to spread the word. It’s a lot of work.

 

What’s been the biggest obstacle you’ve had to overcome?

I think that there aren’t enough hours in the day to manage to be a mother and a business woman. There’s so much work to do when it’s your own business, every little decision from deciding the name of your company, to designing your logo, to choosing the paper thickness of the books, to writing the best promotional post on Facebook. Much of it is up to me, although my husband does help as much as he can while doing a full time job in journalism. Publishing involves a lot of back and forth with printers, smoothing out the text and pictures with the illustrator, and with the friends and colleagues who are more fluent in, say, the Egyptian dialect than I am. My husband and I both post the books personally – those sent from London, at least – which takes up time but provides an enormously satisfying moment when another envelope gets sent on its way.

 

So, I would say that time is my biggest obstacle. Being a mother to an 18-month-old toddler also means there are some feelings of guilt. Am I giving my younger daughter enough attention? But I also see that my older daughter is immensely proud to see her life chronicled in books that are – loosely – based on her life. And I am proud to see a small publishing house that started from nothing growing every day.

 

And your proudest moment/biggest success so far?

I think the happiest and proudest moment for me was when I first saw the first copy of our first book. I was 9 months pregnant, very heavy, and it was an incredibly emotional moment. We had worked for months on the story, the illustrations, the backstory, the rollout plan. It was more than anything a lesson that you can do anything with persistence, hard work and big dreams. Nothing beats the feeling of working for your own company. Seeing it all come together… it was almost like giving birth. But much less painful.

 

Who inspires you?

I admire ambitious women. I remember a few years ago I used to follow a New York Times video series featuring business women from different backgrounds who started from zero and built their business empires. And I remember so clearly looking at their stories and thinking “I want to do the same! I want to have an idea and turn it into a successful business model.”

NEWSFLASH
Reem will be appearing at some amazing cultural festivals over the summer. To find out more read her newsletter.
Full name: 

Reem Makhoul

Author and Publisher

 

Company: 

Ossass-Stories

(Publishing House | Children’s books in colloquial Arabic)

 

Facebookhttps://www.facebook.com/OssassStories

Twitterhttps://twitter.com/OssassStories

Instagramhttps://www.instagram.com/arabicbooksforchildren/

Website: www.Ossass-Stories.com

Emailcontact@Ossass-Stories.com

 

AniMalcolm book review

Hi my name is Jasmin and I am 9 years old and I am Emily and I am eight years old today we will be doing a review of a book called AniMalcolm by David Baddiel It is a very good book and we enjoyed it very much. It is a good book for boys and girls.

The main character is Malcolm. He is ten years old.

All the people in Malcolm’s family (Malcolm’s mum, dad and sister) are animal crazy except for Malcolm who does not like animals at all. Malcolm’s mum is a vet.

Malcolm did not get what he asked for on his birthday He wanted a computer a FYZ Apache 321 computer but instead got a chinchilla .He probably felt disappointed because he was really looking forward to have a computer. Malcolm was angry and frustrated when on his birthday his parents did not give him the present he wanted.

My funniest part is when Malcolm gets Monkey poo all over him. He was a lot younger and he was visiting to the Zoo with his Grandad and his family. They were laughing with him because he was covered in Monkey Poo.

Malcolm did not want go the the year six trip was to the farm because he does not like animals. His parents wanted him to go on the trip so he could learn more about animals and to like them more.

On the school trip to the farm he meets K-pax is a magical goat who was rescued from the Himalayas. He is wise and powerful. When Malcolm asked K-pax a question he turned Malcolm into a animal. Malcolm meets Benny and Bjornita who are his tortoise friends when he turns into a animal.

Malcolm’s parents feel sad and depressed when they find out Malcolm is missing and they search the farm for him. They cannot find him because he is an animal.

When Malcolm is trying to get home (when he is a pigeon) he is surprised to find out that his chinchilla speaks Spanish (Espanol) and Malcolm is surprised and wonders why he speaks that language instead of English.

Malcolm’s mum and dad take him to the vets (he is a Chinchilla) When Malcolm turns back into a boy he is laying on a operating table at the vets. They were shocked and surprised to see him there.

When Malcolm turns back into a boy he likes animals more than he did before as he knows what life is really like as an animal. One year after Malcolm turned back into a boy the next year six went to the farm for a trip we don’t know what happened next… .

Check out this short trailer to find out more

Disclaimer
We were given this book for free for the purpose of review.
These are our own thoughts and opinions.

Goth Girl and the ghost of a mouse book review.

Hi my name is Jasmin and I am nine years old. Today I will be doing a review of of a book called Goth Girl and the ghost of a mouse and it is by Chris Riddell.

I chose to review this book because it looked like an interesting book and because I have not read/reviewed any of the Goth Girl books. I would like to read another Goth Girl book. It has detailed and awe-inspiring illustrations in it.

The main characters are Goth Girl [Ada] , Lord Goth [Ada’s dad] and Ishmael [a dead mouse].

Ishmael [a dead mouse ] is very cheeky and mischievous and likes exploring.

My favourite character is Goth Girl [Ada] because she likes exploring like me and because Goth Girl is very mischievous.

The book is about Goth Girl [Ada] and she finds a dead mouse called Ishmael and they go on an adventure and find a person called the polar explorer and they find out that Maltravers is up to something.

My least favourite character is Maltravers because he is scary and likes capturing animals for other people to hunt.

My favourite bit of the story was when Goth Girl saved the siren sesta , the fawn and the goat from Maltravers because I like animals.

I would recommend this book because it is very interesting , exciting and uses a wide variety of description.

Goth Girl has to wear big clumpy boots because Goth Girl’s mum[Goth Girl’s mum was a tightrope walker] died so her dad doesn’t want Goth Girl to die like Goth Girl’s mum did.

If I could write the ending for this I would write that Ishmael [a dead mouse] stayed with Goth Girl forever and looked after Goth Girl [Ada].

This book took me one hour to read because it is a very short book and when I like a book I read it quickly.

I liked the book so much I am saving up to get another Goth Girl book.

Disclaimer: We were sent this book in exchange for a review. These are our honest opinions.

Lingo book giveaway

It’s not long until the Polyglot Gathering. I’m so excited to be going for the first time.

My husband went along to the Polyglot Gathering in Berlin last year. Read all about it here. 

In October he also travelled to Thessalonki in Greece for the Polyglot Conference.

One of the Keynote speakers was Gaston Dorren, author of LINGO- a language spotters guide to Europe. His talk was insightful and inspiring.

 

We read the book Lingo over a year ago (an inspired birthday gift) and learned an awful lot about the crossover of the European languages.

 

This is my favourite quote.

“Two languages in one head? No one can live at that speed! Good Lord, man, you’re asking the impossible.”

“But the Dutch speak four languages and they smoke marijuana.”

“Yes but that’s cheating!”

Eddie Izzard

 

It is an intriguing and entertaining book looking at the more than fifty European languages and dialects. I really enjoyed it and think it is a MUST READ for all linguists and Polyglots.

 

We’ve one copy to give away below. If you have a copy, have a go to win your friends one.

Good luck!

 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

 

Would you eat a Ratburger?

Hi my name is Jasmin and I am 9 years old. I will be reviewing Ratburger by David Walliams. The reason I got this book is because I have never read it before, and I like David Walliams’ books.


My favourite character is Zoe because she likes animals and she wants to train them to do tricks. Zoe had a hamster but it died, so now she has a pet rat which is a wild rat. She dreams that one day she will travel around the world with her animals that do tricks.

 

The main characters are Zoe, Zoe’s dad and Sheila (Zoe’s stepmum).

The character I would like to be is Zoe because she gets to try new ice cream flavours that her dad makes.

Sheila (Zoe’s stepmum) is very lazy and she only eats prawn cocktail crisps and makes a big mess. She is unkind to Zoe and and asks Zoe to pick her stepmum’s nose which is disgusting.

Zoe’s dad is very poor because he lost his job but at the end of the book he gets his job again.

Tina is a bully and lives next to Zoe.

Raj is a shopkeeper and gives things to Zoe for free because Zoe doesn’t have any money.

My least favourite character is Burt because he kills rats and makes them into burgers.

 

My favourite bit of the story was when Zoe’s rat did a trick for Zoe’s school talent show because everybody liked Zoe’s rat.

My least favourite bit of the story was when Burt wanted to kill Zoe because Zoe went into Burt’s warehouse to try and free the rats.

If I could change the ending of Ratburger I would change it to  Zoe’s dream coming true. She would travel around the world with her animals that do tricks.

 

The book was sad and a little bit scary because Burt wanted to kill Zoe and also Zoe’s hamster died.

I would recommend this book because it is very enjoyable and it is a very interesting book.

 

It was such a good book that it only took me one day to read it and I couldn’t put it down because I wanted to know what happened next.

 

Check the link below to get your own copy.

 

 

Do you need some Calm?

As a mum and entrepreneur I find that running my own business is incredibly rewarding but also very stressful. During a recent difficult spell we looked into some of the meditation apps on the market. Many have a day or two’s limited access to trial them, but the Calm app really caught our eyes.

In case you are not convinced of the value of slowing down, here are a few quotes from Michael Acton Smith and Alex Tew, the founders of Calm. These are from their Calm book.
Entrepreneurial life can be a chaotic, restless and intense experience. Few of us do anything to train and nurture our minds. Pretty much everyone has an inner voice that does not shut up. Taking time to calm the mind has a huge range of benefits.

In the Calm book, Michael and Alex share their stories of what led them to launching Calm in 2012. “By stepping away and stilling my mind, I was able to fully appreciate the power of calm, we are now on a mission to help the world find more calm and less stress through mindfulness meditation.”
So we downloaded the calm app and bought the book.
The app consists of meditations, bedtime stories and simple deep breathing exercises.

So here are our family’s thoughts on the app:

Sarah:
As soon as the app is opened, it says to take a deep breath then shows you a beautiful, natural scene with the relaxing sounds of nature. I found even to open the app make me feel calmer.

My favourite part of the Calm app was the Emergency Calm, which has proved invaluable to me in restoring a peaceful mind following fraught moments, particularly on difficult mornings after fighting to get the kids to school on time (or not!). Emergency Calm promises to provide immediate relief when feeling overwhelmed or stressed. There is a choice of 2, 5 or 10 minute sessions. It starts with deep breaths, focusing on the body, and some positive affirmations.

The bedtime stories section was a lovely way of finding some calm before sleep. I love to listen to stories: the first time I used it, I was asleep in minutes and did not remember the story. The second time I used it was during a particularly restless night. The story incorporates lots of deep breathing and, at the end of the twenty minutes story, I felt much more relaxed.

There are three different meditations for preparing for sleep. My personal favourite is deep sleep relax. I had encountered this idea before and it worked well for me.

The Breathe section is great when you need to be grounded again; it helps you take slow deep breaths, slow down your thoughts and be more grounded in the now. It has sound to it so can even be running in your pocket, quietly reminding you to simply breathe.
My daughter was having a bit of a meltdown one school morning so I gave her my phone with the Breathe running, whilst I drove her to school. It worked for her. We arrived at school with her in a much calmer place.

Maik:

I think this app does what it says. From the moment the app is opened it creates a sense of calm.

I liked the selection of sleep stories. I listened to them together with Sarah,< who fell asleep within seconds.
I liked the selection of meditations designed to help you relax to sleep and felt they worked for me.

Jasmin and Emily:
The girls enjoyed the sleep stories and meditations specific to their age groups. My youngest really enjoyed the warm heart meditation and managed to follow the instructions well. The blowing candles one was a useful concept when she had her ears pierced recently and we had to clean her ears each evening. The blowing candles idea helped her to focus whilst I cleaned her ears.
Both of my girls enjoyed all of the sleep stories, but the clear favourite was Ella’s lagoon.

Josh:
My teenage son listened to the meditations aimed at 11 to 18 year olds, but found the Emergency calm most helpful.

We found this app helpful for creating a calm space in the day and restoring some order in thoughts.

The accompanying book is illustrated beautifully with gorgeous pictures and fluid text which flows around the pages. You can dip in and out of it, or leaf though it when you are feeling overwhelmed. I found exploring the book an adventure it itself. It has space for interactions, creativity, journalising, and is crammed full of tips for living more mindfully. It makes a beautiful gift for yourself of others.

Disclaimer: We were given a week’s free access in order to review the app.
We have since decided to pay and subscribe for ourselves.

Betty and Cat – Hennie’s Multilingual writing adventures

This week I have a real treat in store for you. An interview with the amazing Hennie, author of the Betty and Cat books.

Could you tell us a little about yourself?
I was born in Holland, immigrated to Montreal, then lived in Toronto, moved back to Holland when I had a mid-life crisis, and now spend my time between Holland and France.

How many languages do you speak?
I speak Dutch, French, and English. I studied German, but for some reason, the words won’t come out of my mouth properly! My current thing is learning Spanish.

Have you always been keen on languages?
I’ve always been keen on communicating, and sometimes it takes another language. At home, languages were always a thing – my dad was keen – he spoke four and started learning Spanish at an advanced age. He also thought Esperanto was the way forward and learned that.
Living in Montreal at a time when the English were in power, we were the only family I knew that had Francophone friends. We were different, they were different, and the people we lived among (the Anglophones) must have thought that we were different. Somehow, that ended up making us more tolerant, and I think more interesting in the long run.

Could you tell us a little about your language learning journey as a child,
Learning English (there were three of us kids; my parents already spoke school-English when we immigrated) was always fun at home. We shared stories, we showed off, we were shown off (I remember my dad having me recite Humpty Dumpty into a tape recorder for the folks back in Holland). It was never considered a chore, hard, un-fun, or extraordinary.
New year’s day we had Dutch friends for lunch and ended the day with French friends. My husband is American. So: we started the day in English, nattered in Dutch over lunch, spoke French all evening, and then went home talking English. There are millions of people all over the word who live like this, and were probably never taught to make a big deal of it. It just happens.

Could you tell us a little about your career background?
I was a copywriter all my working life. My greatest joy was writing a two-part children’s story for the newspapers around the Santa Claus Parade, sponsored by the department store I was working for. I even got a fan letter.
What inspired you to write and publish your books?
A friend here in France, an illustrator who has grandchildren growing up bilingually in Brussels, asked me if we couldn’t collaborate on a bilingual kids’ book. She ended up being too busy to illustrate it – but I caught the bug, and did it. Not for a second, though, did I consider a translated book – the Betty & Cat books just flopped out in two languages.

Anything else you’d wish to add?
There are so many people around the globe working with kids – and adults – teaching second, third and more languages it gives you hope for the future. Tout comprendre c’est tout pardonner. And one way to truly understand is to learn the language.

Find out more about Hennie’s amazing books at bettyandcat.com

Friendly Mermaids and Snotty Dinosaurs a One Third Stories book review

As a proud mummy I’m so pleased to present my Emily’s bilingual book review

What is the book called?
The great Français word search

Who is your favourite character and why?
My favourite character is (la sirene) the mermaid because she is beautiful and I want to be a mermaid so it makes me want to be in the story.

What do you like about the book and why?
I liked the bit when (la fille) the girl meets (la femme) the woman because she uses a paintbrush to paint (la femme) the woman so (la femme) the woman had some colour.


What do you not like about the book and why?

I didn’t like the bit when (le dinosaure) the dinosaur was snotty because I don’t like green slimy snot.

Why is this book special?
It is special because it’s in French and English and not many books are in French and English.

It would be even better if …
It would be even better if (la sorcière) the witch, stole her words and she hid the words at (le cirque) the circus.

Reading with little ones (and bigger ones too) is a a massive part of their language and vocabulary development. I hope this blog has inspired you to share stories with your little one, however young or old they are.

This book is available in German, French, Spanish and Italian. A beautiful book and inspiring a love of language from a young age which has massive long term benefits. Buy your own copy at OneThirdStories via this link

https://goo.gl/49z9KP

Percy the Pigeon – Katie’s first book

family-katieI love to celebrate the achievements of other mums in business. This month we have an inspirational interview with full time mum Katie who has just fulfilled her dream of writing a children’s book.

Hi Katie, could you tell us a little about yourself?

My name is Katie Budge, I’m 25 years old and I live in the town of Stevenage in Hertfordshire. I live with my two young sons and my boyfriend of five years. My sons – Gerrard-Anthony (2 and a half) and James (7 months) are my whole world and my full time job is getting to spend every day with them being their mum.

I’ve previously worked in schools but stopped working when my first son was born. That’s where most of my inspiration came from when writing children’s stories. I started writing children stories years before, when I was in college studying a ‘diploma in child care and education’ course, we were asked to write a story that helped to teach children valuable life lessons or had some sort of moral to it. I got wonderful feedback both from my tutors and peers and I thoroughly enjoyed writing them.

What was your biggest challenge in writing you first book?
My biggest obstacle was getting published by a publishing company, unfortunately I didn’t manage to find anyone and had to self -publish my book. Although that was my biggest obstacle it meant I got to choose my illustrator, who drew in a way that I liked, which I wouldn’t have got the chance to do, had I been published by a company. I also got to take my time, keep editing my book along the way and at the end of it, I could say, I did it myself. Which is a fantastic achievement and one I’m very proud of.

What would you say is the most important thing when working from home?
Balance is a very important thing when writing stories and having my two boys. Whenever they are taking a little nap or fast asleep in bed by half past seven each night (they’re very good boys) I use that time to write and re write my stories. I’m very lucky that I have so much inspiration around me everyday from my two beautiful boys, but I haven’t yet bought myself round to writing a book about eating snot, which is a daily occurrence with a two year old!

percy the pigeon

Could you tell us a little about your book?

Percy the Pigeon was written after I spotted a very aggressive and greedy pigeon scoffing all the bird food put out in the garden while I was washing up. The story about a very greedy pigeon who doesn’t like to share food with his friends which eventually gets him into trouble. The story follows Percy and his over indulging ways and we find out whether he eventually changes his ways, or if he always puts his belly first.

I really hope people enjoy reading it, especially all the boys and girls out there, and I would love to hear feedback from anyone who purchases it. My book can be found and bought at:
http://www.blurb.co.uk/b/7500674-percy-the-pigeon

It’s been a pleasure to chat to you Katie, thanks so much.

This beautiful book would make a love Christmas present. It’s lovely rhyming book about the value of sharing and friendships. I’m sure you’ll enjoy snuggling up to your little one to share this story. Let me know what you think.

Detecting with Dotty

Detecting with Dotty

Detecting with Dotty

Reading is a brilliant way to improve language skills. As a parent I love to encourage my children to read.  This is our Emily’s first ever book review. I’ve interviewed her to keep it simple.

What did you think of the book?
It was interesting. The part where Dotty has to guess the hidden code is very funny. (She was laughing out loud at this point!)

What do you think of the cover?
It was clever as she is called Dotty the detective and there are gold shiny dots. The cover matches her top in the picture.

What was your favourite bit and why?
The part where Dotty tries to guess the hidden code and gets it wrong and when McClusky joins in the singing on the stage.

Who is your favourite character and why?
I like McClusky (the dog), Dotty and Beans. McClusky is my very favourite as he saves the day and is very cute.

How would you persuade your friends to read this book?
I would say, “It’s good because there are some funny bits and some bits you’ll really enjoy”.
I think it is a book for boys and girls because McClusky is a boy and Dotty is a girl.

When I first showed Emily the book she was a bit intimidated by the length of it but, I suggested we could sit together and I would listen to her read a few chapters each evening. This worked really well and she really enjoyed the book.

Have we inspired you to read this book?

Get your copy here.

 

 

We were sent this book to review by  the Big Shot. The opinions given are entirely our own.

What does your family like to read? Let us know in the comments below.

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