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Life lessons from an eight-year-old

Hyderabad-based Trisha Rao launched her book 'Believe in Yourself' in Istanbul to inspire Syrian refugee kids with her story of hope and happiness

April 18, 2016 03:23 pm | Updated August 16, 2017 07:30 pm IST - Chennai

Trisha Rao Photo: Special Arrangement

Trisha Rao Photo: Special Arrangement

“If you are sad and blue, just do something that you love.” That’s what two adorable baby elephants say as they sing and dance in the wilderness. “You should make your wish come true by yourself,” insist two chirpy ants as they cross mountains, balancing a massive log. “Believe in yourself, and you can do anything,” declares a round-faced butterfly and a smile-inducing caterpillar in the backdrop of a brightly-coloured forest.

These are some of the picturesque pages in Trisha Rao’s book Believe in Yourself , launched in Istanbul in the midst of Syrian refugee children. “I watch the news with my father, and we also read the newspaper every day on the way to school. I felt sad that these children do not have homes, schools, food and money. I wanted to take my book there and read it out to them,” says the author-illustrator and Class III student of Shriram Montessori School, Hyderabad.

In Believe in Yourself , Sunshine the pup and Papa Dog inspire and engage readers, as they navigate difficult terrains and unravel the hidden power of character through their animal friends. From lessons on courage and gratitude to persistence and positive thinking, the short and simple speech bubbles in the book bring out big life-enhancing lessons.

The starting point for the book was an eloquent poem written by Trisha in 2015. Profound in thought and charming in its choice of words, it was appreciated by all. The book came into being when Trisha created an array of drawings and paintings to match her thoughts. “The poem came from my heart. These are life lessons that I learnt from my school and family. It’s a book about my experiences with people around me, Nature and animals. I have learnt a lot from my dog Sunshine too.”

Trisha started painting at the age of two. Her early years were spent in San Diego, where the vivid landscape inspired her to create over 300 acrylic works. Besides showing at exhibitions, she has also used her art to support causes. In 2009, when Andhra Pradesh was devastated by floods, her paintings were printed on greeting cards and the proceeds from the sale went towards funding scholarships instituted for flood-hit children in Kurnool.

“I love having fun with colour. I’m not formally trained in art. I just paint from my heart.” That’s not easy to believe, given the little artist’s keen sense of form and palette. While the landscapes, ranging from scorching deserts to cool mountains, reflect her bond with Nature, the animals in her book are fascinating for their expressions. The vivid visuals form an integral part of the narrative.

The book, brought out by R.A.R.E Global, has bagged the Gold Award in the 2016 Independent Publisher Book Awards (children’s e-book category). It is available on Amazon, where it has been receiving encouraging reviews. But for Trisha, happiness came from meeting and sharing her work with the refugee kids at the Istanbul Centre for Support to Life. “I felt very happy to meet them. They liked my book and wanted it to be translated into their language. I learnt that in tough times it is important to stay positive. I’m grateful to have a home. Many of these children were smiling despite their troubles.”

Incidentally, the Istanbul Centre for Support to Life has offered to translate the book into Arabic. For every book that’s sold, one book will be given to a refugee child in some part of the world.

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