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Author Reena Bhojwani Shares Her Story in Creating "Surprising Mrs. Rhubarbson"

Author Reena Bhojwani shares more about her process to create her book, Surprising Mrs. Rhubarbson, Book one of her book series Marble Mangosteen's Good Deed Collection.

Surprising Mrs. Rhubarbson follows the character Roxy Rhubarbson who is upset because it’s her mum’s birthday, but her mum can't celebrate because she’s too busy taking care of everyone else. Roxy asks her friends Marble Mangosteen and Shooz Starfruiter for help to create a surprise so they can make her mum realize that she’s special too!

I hope kids get some edutainment - educational entertainment- from my books. -Reena Bhojwani

Reena explains, "The writer in me wants kids to enjoy the story because of the witty food-related character names, but the teacher in me wants young readers to pick up subtler messages about being kind and empathetic to our caregivers and elders. I want “good” to be the new “cool” and I want to inspire children to create their own good deed collection and realize how easy it can be to do! And more importantly, how much happiness it can give others!"

What is the message for kids and parents in this story?

Be kind and always choose kindness. Whether it’s helping others or sharing the load or making someone feel they are special. It’s important.

Inspiration Behind the Story

There was a moment when I was teaching when I got to witness a student treat his grandmother with disrespect. He made her stand and carry his heavy bag while he sat on the sofa and played a game on his phone. Then, he made her open his water bottle for him and that really angered me - his complete disregard for her age or any apparent concern for her welfare.

I went over and asked how old he was. He said 10. I asked him if he knew how to open a water bottle. He said yes. I asked him if he realized his grandma might also want to have a rest and he turned to her and said “Sit.” As if she were a pet dog. It was very troubling to witness this and it made me realize the upcoming generation is really taking its caregivers for granted.

I wanted to try - subtly - to point out how as a society we should respect our elders and make them feel special too. Instead of using a granny, I chose to create the Mother character who works at an old age home (the Old Tree Home) in my story.

What was the hardest part of your journey in creating this book?

At first, I thought putting all the components together was hard, but then balancing time for promoting and marketing the book through author visits seemed harder. Just when I thought I had figured it out, my family went through the death of a loved one in 2017 and another in 2020.

Those were the hardest moments because they took away the will and drive to do anything. However, I saw the pride in my family's eyes for pursuing my publishing dream and they showed me unconditional love, support, and guidance.

Soon after the loss in January 2020, Covid hit, shutting down school visits for the foreseeable future. I pivoted and started putting my books on Amazon which was also a challenge.

What was the most inspiring part of your journey in creating this book?

Doing the author visits and sharing the story with the students - my actual audience - has been inspiring and empowering. Seeing them look at the book and want it is very touching, but seeing them understand the message of offering kindness and thinking about others, and showing compassion has been a wonderful gift that has come through all of this!

Who helped or inspired you through your journey as an author?

My whole family, for different reasons. The book is dedicated to my mother, the inspiration behind Mrs. Rhubarbson. My sister helped with book-production-related troubles, my brother helped navigate shipping and some legal matters, and my father showed me that I needed to prove myself because he was nervous I was pricing my books too high (around US$12.75) and that drove me to work hard enough so I could show him that it was a fair price.

The day we received an envelope full of cheques in the mail from an order through a school he realized I knew what I was doing. It was a very proud and wonderful moment for us all! My niece for being my audience as I practiced telling the story and my sister-in-law and the entire family for their guidance and support along the way.

Reena Bhojwani is a writer as well as an active member of the Hong Kong Writers Circle and PEEL Street Poets. In 2018 she won a Poetry Slam contest! She has been teaching creative writing for over 12 years. She lives in Hong Kong with her family.

Where Can You Get the Book?

You can find the book on Amazon or reach out to Reena Bhojwani directly on social media or her website!


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