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  • Writer's pictureSophia Huang

The journey

"What made you start writing this series?" is a question I'm often asked. It was 2016 and I was home alone with my second born during maternity leave. The stillness and quiet of my home during those mundane days provided the right conditions for inspiration to flow. I had always wanted to write. Even as a young child, I proudly proclaimed to my mother that I wanted to "travel the world in a caravan and write books". I wanted to capture the best parts of my childhood with my mom. My mother always had her special way of making magic and turning things around when I was throwing a tantrum, or unhappy with something. We didn't sleep with air conditioning in the past. One night was particularly hot and I was complaining like any child would. Mum said, "shhhh... be still, when you're quiet, you can feel the cool wind." I did pipe down after that! Mum knew what to do and say to change my mindset about things.

In the Nature Playtime series, Emma changes and is transformed by her grandmother's love, in the same way that Mum always managed to show us how to make lemonade out of lemons! Mum has always had a wild fascination with nature. One day she went to the beach and came home with lumps of different coloured clay that she dug out from the ground. She is always picking saga seeds and pods from the broad-leafed mahogany (even consuming the latter). She would teach us to play with touch-me-nots, rubber seeds and to drink nectar from flowers. As a child, I thought my mom was pretty strange! In the early days after my son was born, it was my firstborn daughter's turn to hang out with grandma and pick saga seeds with her (pictured). My first book, The Saga Tree, was written for the two most precious ladies in my life. While writing the book, I was somehow inspired to write that the tree where Popo brings Emma to pick seeds is the same one from her childhood. In fact, my mother lives right opposite a saga tree that sits on the land where her primary school was sited. Mum still picks saga seeds from the same tree that existed when she was a child. It was a sheer coincidence that fiction imitated fact! At the back of the books, I share some simple crafts, hoping to encourage parents to bring their kids outdoors and bond with them through hands-on activities. It is my wish that my readers, young and old, will be able to share a bit of Popo's magic, and create happy childhood memories for time to come.

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