Barnboksveckans gäster 2016 : Fauzia Aziz Minallah

Som barn älskade Fauzia bilderböcker och som 18-åring illustrerade hon sin allra första bilderbok. Men det var när hon fick egna barn som hon på allvar började skriva och illustrera barnböcker. Hon ville ge sina söner berättelser som inte var stereotypa och hon skapade den tecknade figuren Amai - The bird of Light, den lilla fågeln som förvandlas till en stjärna.

IB: Why did you become a children’s books author/illustrator? Where you interested in stories and pictures as a child, or was it your own child that needed stories, or is it a way to make the world a better place to live in?

Fauzia: All the tree reasons you have mentioned. I loved picture books as a child and I illustrated  my first picture book at the age of 18 it was Zarina- The Pakistani Paper-doll. In 1991, when I finished my Msc Communications Design from Pratt Institute in New York and returned home I started a cartoon strip for children "Babai and friends' through which I told children stories around social issues I continued it for 2 years. But it was after 9/11 that I really worked on writing stories for my own two little boys who were 4 and 6 at that time. I felt that the world is going to change for them, they will just become stereotype. So I developed a cartoon character Amai - The Bird of Light. She is a tiny bird but changes into a shooting star and take children on amazing adventures. She is my vehicle through which I show children the beauty of this world.

IB: Do you write/illustrate also for adults?

Fauzia: I have worked on two coffee table books for adults. " Glimpses into Islamabad's Soul' is a photo documentation of the natural and cultural heritage of my city Islamabad. I have mostly focused on the documentation of the old trees of Islamabad, because I absolutely love old trees, and in Pakistan there is no law protecting them. " Chitarkari and Banyans- Pursuit of identity" is also photographic documentation of the cities I have lived as a child and how they have changed for the worse for my children. Whether it is the environmental degradation due to the misplaced notion of 'development' which simply means gigantic concrete buildings or roads at the cost of losing the natural beauty of many of those cities. Or on the other hand whether it is the worsening security situation due to terrorism and radicalization that has not only caused the loss of lives but destruction of artistic heritage of Pakistan. So in this book I focus on how we have lost a lot of our rich artistic heritage over the years.

IB: Do you believe that children’s books should be read by grown-ups as well?

Fauzia: Yes of course ever since I read  "The Little Match Girl" by Danish poet and author Hans Christian Andersen, and "The Happy Prince" by Oscar Wilde as a child they have always stayed with me even as a grown up I have them. These are not just stories for children but a reminder to adults about what is hurting humanity , where there is more poverty and many match girls die in deplorable conditions. The Happy Prince reminds me of the importance of sacrifice , it is also the heart touching heroism of the Prince and the Swallow, in helping people in abject poverty. 

IB: Do you remember when and where your first text/illustration was published and how it felt?

Fauzia: As I mentioned before it was was Zarina- The Pakistani Paper-doll , I was 18 at that time this was in 1980

IB: Do you have a favorite among your books?

Fauzia: I really cant say each book I have produced from the heart and they are like my children one cannot really tell for sure which one.

IB: What are you working on right now?

Fauzia: Right now I am working on two books from Amai series, Amai, Baba  and  Bibi Edhi This will be a simple picture book with valuable lessons from Pakistan's most cherished philanthropist who died recently, Abdul Sattar Edhi's life. Since in all my books girls and boys are equal, in this book his wife Bilquis Edhi will be important too. Because she has been an incredible source of strength for their organisation which was featured as one of the largest in the world by Guinness world record. The Edhis never discriminated anyone based on their religion, their charity welcomes  everyone who is the poorest of the poor. The other book I am working on is Amai and Jugnoo. Jugnoo is the Urdu word for fireflies. This book is on the environment and how due to its degradation we are losing the most beautiful living creatures like Jugnoos . My childhood memories in Lahore  are filled with chasing the beautiful junoos but they have died in so many parts of the country due to pollution.