Images Courtesy of Maria Parenti-Baldey, Tina Maria Clarke and June Perkins
On the weekend BookLink member, and Magic Fish Dreaming Illustrator Helene Magisson and author Janine M Fraser launched a courageous book about peace and respect of others’ cultural and interfaith stories, Sarah’s Two Nativities at the Where the Wild Things Are Bookshop.
There were visitors from Canberra and Victoria in attendance as well as many locals, from many cultures and faiths. At least 80 people gathered, with a quarter of them being children.
Sarah’s Two Nativities is a story of a young girl who loves listening to both her grandmothers’ nativity stories – one from the Koran and one from the Bible. Young Sarah is concerned at first about which story is true because they’re so similar. She realises however, her family’s unity will never force her to choose between the two stories, but accept both.
Tina Marie Clark, CYA coordinator, launched the book as it was CYA which launched Helene’s illustrator career. She warmly endorsed the themes of the book and shared some of her experience as a South African familiar with the celebration of many religious festivals with friends and family.
Janine Fraser, the author, told the story of the background to her motivation for writing the book. Sharing that she had a challenging upbringing in a restricted spiritual environment, which later led her to leave that environment and become an ardent student of comparative religions. During her lifelong journey she observed many instances of multifaith families. She explained how she sees all religions as sharing the message of love and the question of the ‘mystery.’
Janine gave thanks to her family, especially her grandchildren and to Maryanne Ballantyne who championed the book as well as to the wonderful Helene for her illustrations which exceeded all her expecatations.
Janine read from the book in a gentle and softly spoken voice, with small musical interludes throughout provided by Marie Baguelin from France who played the guitar and Azadeh Shamee from Iran who performed the Oud (Arabic for wood). They brought a sense of both cultures at the event through their inspiring performances.
Helene shared journey to understand the background of the book more, and work on a sensitive way to illustrate it, respectful of both the Koran and the Bible. She did this through extensive research, with the goal of honouring both.
Helene thanked June Perkins, for being her creative sister and both June and Renee Hills who contacted other faith communities to invite them to the launch as well as the community, friends, neighbours and family present and the musicians at the event. She warmly thanked Janine for her inspiring story and invited us all to an exhibition of the art works on October 9th, which will include her work alongside other talented illstrators. There were a few original art works from the book available for people to view. Helene also gave a big thank you to the Where The Wild Things Are event coordinator Genevieve Kruysse.
Everyone was invited to craft their angels, with the assistance of Helene’s lovely daughter, and partake of koftas and delicious cupcakes. Many people decided to buy additional copies for their schools, libraries and friends.