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Number of Pages: 32
|Publication Date: 2008|
Author: Kim Stegall
Located in: Greenville, SC
Submitted: December 03, 2008
Tell us a little about yourself. I am a wife and mother who has been a secondary English teacher and a writer of secondary English textbooks for twenty years. I enjoy travel and running and Shakespeare.
What was your motivation behind this project? I got the idea for Mumsi Meets a Lion from a Kenyan friend of mine named Sawaya. He is a Samburu (a tribal name) who grew up in the area that I describe in the story, a mountainous region of northern Kenya. He mentioned to me, quite matter-of-factly--as if talking about crossing the street--that every young child in his village learned what to do if they ever came face to face with a lion. My curiosity was peaked, and I asked the obvious question to which he replied that you don't do anything. In fact, the phrase that Mumsi hears over and over and repeats to himself, "Don't move, don't breathe, and whatever you do, don't run" is almost verbatim what Sawaya told me. I asked him if he'd ever been that close to a lion himself, whereupon he told me about the time that his father had experienced a stand-off with a simba much like Mumsi's encounter. Of course, I embellished the whole experience with more animals, sights, and sounds--but the core story is from real life, only it happened to an adult, not a child like Mumsi. Sawaya also told me many things about Samburu life in Kenya, which varies greatly depending on the part of the country, and many of the details of the story are things that he relayed: the toothbrush sticks (mswaki), the games the children played, the mud-mixing, the berries in the woods, the single strand of green beads on the young boys, and so on. I also did a lot of research on my own--about the climate, the topography, the people, and plant and animal life. For example, when I included the part about the joka, I looked for not just any snake but one that was quite dangerous, native to northern Kenya, a forest floor-dweller, and nocturnal. (The snake in the story is a puff adder.) I wanted the story and the illustrations to be accurate but not unimaginative, and Kimberly (Batti, the illustrator) did a great job capturing the flavor of the people, the place, and the storyline.
What do you hope folks will gain from this project? I have children myself, and I want them and my readers to learn the same lesson that Mumsi learned: Listen to wise advice (Proverbs 1:8). Then do the hard thing because it's the right thing.
How were you personally impacted by working on this project? I was motivated to pray more--for the people of Kenya, for Sawaya (he's in med school in the US now to go back to his tribe), for missions, for my own response to authority, for my children . . . and I became so aware of how much we in America have to be thankful for!
Who are your influences, sources of inspiration or favorite authors / artists? Wow. Where to start . . . I usually love whatever good author I'm reading at the moment. Of course, I love the classics: Shakespeare, Dickens, Austen; but I've come to enjoy a number of modern authors as well: Jaime Turner (how does she know?), Sharon Creech, Billy Collins. My biggest source of inspiration is usually what's going on in my life spiritually--what I'm struggling with or learning. I figure if I'm struggling, other people are, too.
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