Remedial teacher Jessica Da Silva has released a beautiful book for children that was inspired by the children in her life.
Mom to two little girls – five-year-old Isla and three-year-old Mila, Jessica has taught at Maris Stella (where she herself attended high school) for the last 11 years. She says writing a book has been a dream since she was very young. “I’m an avid reader and going into book stores and seeing all the beautiful books is always a treat,” she says. “As a young mom, I collected books for my own girls from way before they were even born. Books by Julia Donaldson were always my favourite and I was inspired to write something that both the children I teach and my own children would love and choose over and over again.”
Jessica explains that as a remedial teacher, the children she works with don’t always fit into a certain mould. “They often have difficulty in the classroom, but over the years I’ve realised these children are often the ones who are super creative and who would shine on stage!” she says.
Jessica’s book, Hanna Holly: The Dancing Hippo, was inspired largely by her students. “I want children to believe in themselves and never let people underestimate them because with hard work, determination and self-belief I truly believe they can do anything,” she explains.
The book tells the story of a hippo who doesn’t fit in. One day, after seeing a little girl in ballerina clothes, she decides she wants to be a ballerina too. She uses the things around her to make her own outfit. After lots of practice, she finally gets her chance to perform and the people love it! “It’s a book about encouragement, believing in your dreams, hard work, determination and perseverance,” says Jessica.
She says living on the North Coast has also impacted the book. “I was inspired by the beautiful people in our community,” she says. “I wanted to have a book that represented South Africa and the people. I want everyone to know that no matter what their circumstances or background, people can still dream big and achieve what their hearts desire.”
When it came to choosing an illustrator, Jessica wanted to keep it local. She worked with Cristy Zinn, who lives in Glenashley. “I knew she was perfect for the book. She knows the community and I feel like she was able to really bring the story to life.”
Since the release of Hanna Holly: The Dancing Hippo, Jessica has written two more books that she hopes to publish soon. “I’ve received so much love and support for my book, and I feel really inspired to continue with my dream. In a weird twist, Hanna Holly has made me realise all my dreams can come true too.”
Details: IG: @the_creativebutterfly