Mahvash K Moht’s beautifully illustrated children’s books – ‘Curious Animals’ and ‘More Curious Animals’ are part of a series and are a collection of short, rhyming tales about absurd, funny, quirky creatures that live in our world.
Mahvash talks about how she’s noticed that children tend to learn and retain information much better when there is rhyme and metre to the written and spoken word. As she says, “We are ultimately all creatures of rhythm right from the start!”
These collectibles have little stories from the grumpy caterpillar, to the shy tomato, to the shrimp who is a boxing champion, to the spider who loves to entertain the ladies. These short tales will entertain, inform and also bring out a giggle or four! Both children and adults are sure to enjoy this beautifully illustrated, lyrical story-telling. In fact, you can pick any tune and make each of these poems into your own little song.
Talking about her inspiration for the stories, Mahvash says, “I grew up on Hans Christian Andersen’s tales like ‘The Ugly Duckling’, ‘The Princess and the Pea’, ‘The Little Mermaid’, ‘Thumbelina’, and ‘The Little Match Girl’. These were big, beautifully illustrated books that were my pride and joy. I think I was about six when my mother got me a collection of these fairy tales, and since then, I’ve been a reader.”
“Also, we live in a big beautiful world where digital media and the information super highway has made so much about our world available to us. These little lyrical tales build in some substance, specificity and humour into the animal world, especially the oddball, lesser-known ones. That, I think, was my main inspiration for writing my children’s books.”
Mahvash was a part of the financial services industry for close to fifteen years. She specialised in financial customer experience and process optimisation. In other words, she battled mostly for the cause of the customer in an otherwise bottom-line-fuelled enterprise.
Then she decided to take a sabbatical of sorts a few years ago. What was supposed to be a year off from the corporate halls of slog, turned into seven with still no end in sight! AS Mahvash says, “I absolutely love living between Sri Lanka and Karachi, and writing.”
Mahvash spent most of her childhood in a boarding school under the tutelage of Irish catholic nuns in Murree, which is a mountain resort town in the northeast of Pakistan, so she’s had a bit of a hybrid approach to her upbringing. “I love Christmas as much as I love Eid celebrations. I’ve always had a penchant for writing but I only ever did so while in the throes of high emotion. So really, I wrote when I felt great euphoria or then, great despair. There was nothing in between,” Mahvash says.
Like so many recent writers, Mahvash too began her actual writing journey during the pandemic. In fact, she wrote her first piece on her brand-new blog just before Sri Lanka’s first Covid lockdown. And then amid all that home boundedness, the blog took on a life of its own and here we are today: with two children’s books, a book of short stories, ‘The Girl With The Paisley Dupatta’ and a book of poetry, ‘Shimmering Scraps of Poetry and Madness’, published and available in Sri Lanka and in Pakistan.
Mahvash’s anthology of short stories was in the making for about two years – since the start of the pandemic in fact and was finally published in January 2022. He collection of poetry was very recently released just this November.
Says Mahvash, “I’ve always wanted to write, but life and its many practical expectations got in the way and so I wrote some poetry once in a great while when I was in the depths of some deep emotion. Otherwise, I stayed away from blank notebooks. To me they were like rabbit holes that would pull me in making me leave my real life behind!”
Aren’t we glad that Mahvash has taken the journey into spinning tales that draw more young readers into the wonder of the world and its creatures around us! These short, funny rhymes are chock-full of information that are bound to astonish the reader in its quirkiness.
And Mahvash is not done yet. She has plans for more children’s books in the near future and we cannot wait to see what is next from this amazing and versatile author.