DRAMA doyenne Michelle Brandenburger has turned her creative powers towards children’s books. She launched her first book, Zeb & Zera – The Zebra Twins, at her East London home on Tuesday night to warm applause from an audience of about 60 arts lovers and local intellectuals, who also queued up to purchase a copy of the self-published book.
It will retail for R118, but the book cost R90 at the launch.
Self-publishing had been a hard road of learning for her. The greatest lesson had been the value of going local.
Her initial foray saw her pay a “substantial sum” of pounds to a British firm, which did not deliver services according to Brandenburger’s wishes and desires, and had to be forced through legal intervention to return her lump sum – minus a hefty penalty.
She turned to East London cartoonist Dave Edwards and his wife, Mandy, for illustrations and artwork, and used a Cape Town digital printer for the rest.
She was inspired to write the book after a visit to a local lion park with her grandchildren – six-year-old Jessica and four-year-old Amy.
They’d asked her to write a book – and from there the project was on, despite Brandenburger’s knowing nothing about self-publishing. “I was totally naive!” she said. Much research, rewriting, redrawing, editing and proofing later, and the book was ready to be collected from Cape Town.
The first book shop they visited in Cape Town immediately agreed to buy copies.
Brandenburger praised her local co-creators, friends, family and, especially, her husband, Charles, for putting up with her demands. Also, they chose to launch the book at their home because of all the warm memories, she said.
She said it was deeply rewarding when Jessica, who lives in Sydney, Australia, read the entire book to her over Skype.
The book will also come out in Xhosa and Afrikaans and there are plans in the pipeline for a song and CD.
The work is peppered with African animal characters, such as Boet Baboon, Gerry Giraffe and Willie Wildebeest.
It tells of two competitive Zebra twins that appoint judges to count their stripes.
The work illustrates the value of negotiated, creative and peaceful solutions to potentially conflictual problems.
Brandenburger’s husband praised his wife, but quipped: “Instead of seeing stars, I’m seeing stripes.”