Children’s book author releases tale of cheeky cat


Vanaja overcame many challenges to publish her second children’s storybook.

AFTER a lengthy hiatus, journalist and PR consultant Vanaja Dhanan has finally published her second children’s storybook — Chi Ki Cat Comes Home.

The story revolves around a cheeky cat that has an adventure of a lifetime. During this awesome journey, he is given an opportunity to send a message to his friends on earth, which he does without hesitation.

“The book celebrates universal love, the magic of childhood and the value of good, caring friends, ” said Vanaja, better known as Aunty Van in children’s story-telling circles.

“The theme is very simple and meant to encourage children to allow their imagination and thoughts to flow freely. It also shows children how friends can contribute to a happy and meaningful life.”

The book itself was an adventure and challenged the writer at every turn.

“Writing it was the easiest part for me, ” said Vanaja.

“The challenge began with finding the right illustrator for it, and that took more than a year. Almost eight to 10 foreign and local illustrators were given a chance before the right match was found in Abigail Andrew, a Malaysian animation artist.

“The illustrations are wonderful and add much intrigue and colour to the book. The artist has never worked on a children’s book project before, yet has managed to produce outstanding work.”

She added that Andrew took almost a year to complete the first draft.

“Once the layout was complete, I showed it around hoping to raise funds for printing. My idea was to get a corporation to buy a page and advertise its services or products.

“But this didn’t take off and more time was lost. Finally, early this year, a good friend, Qualitas Medical Group founder-chairman and managing director Datuk Dr Noorul Ameen Mohamed Ishack, came to my rescue and donated money for the print-run, ” she said.

She added that he preferred to remain anonymous but hoped that by sharing his goodwill, others in similar positions would also reach out and help those trying to pursue their goals.

“His gesture truly shows the value of friendship and may give others struggling to fulfil their dreams some fresh hope, ” she said.

“In life, we come across many people. Some can be a blessing and others, who only want to take advantage of situations, a challenge.

“Be encouraged by the good, keep going and do your part to generate compassion and kindness and create a difference in the community we live in.”

Through this book, she said, she aimed to support groups that trap, neuter and re-home strays.

“I am currently working with the initiator of such a programme in Universiti Malaya, which is selling my books to raise funds for his mission.

“Another animal rescue organisation we have linked up with is SPCA. I am happy to work with other groups who are in need of help and make whatever difference I can no matter how small, ” she added.

Chi Ki Cat Comes Home is priced at RM20. Vanaja’s first book, BenO Comes Home, was based on her own rescue dog and was published in 2003.

Her cat, named Chi Ki, was also homeless and now lives happily with the author and another pet dog that used to be a neighbourhood stray.

Vanaja is hopeful that corporations and organisations will keep the art of reading alive by buying books in bulk and donating to children in schools or underprivileged communities.

Her books are available at Silverfish Books, Gerakbudaya Bookstore, Kinokuniya, SPCA Ampang, Animal Ark, The National Stroke Association Of Malaysia, and from rizal@um.edu.my (who is driving the trap-neuter-release-manage programme at UM).

Non-governmental organisations and charities selling the books will be given part of the proceeds from sales. For details, email chikibeno.stories@gmail.com

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