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The Boy Who Cried Ninja

Alex Latimer chats to Malu Lambert about his first children’s book

Capetonian, Alex, knew how to write, but had to teach himself to draw to publish his first book. After many wonky attempts; The Boy Who Cried Ninja has arrived, and is an entertaining, beautifully illustrated read.

What's the book about?
It's about a boy named Tim who gets blamed for everything and his parents won't believe his excuses. The thing is that when he says a ninja ate the last slice of cake, or a pirate drank all the tea - he really is telling the truth. Eventually he figures out a way of proving his innocence.

How did you settle on this idea? Did you have any others?
I'd written a few other stories, but none were really good enough to spend the time drawing them up. When I wrote The Ninja, I knew it'd be a winner - it was then just a matter of finding the time to draw it.

If the ninja were a real life person, who would it be?
Your neighbour who accidentally took your newspaper and returned it folded all wrong.

The moral of the story is...
The story deals with the theme of lying - but it doesn't explicitly say 'Don't lie'. It raises the topic and allows parents to discuss it with their children.

Have you always wanted to be an illustrator?
No, I always wanted to be a writer. But now I'm both.

What were some of the problems that cropped up along the way?
I drew a swimming pool in the first version - but the book was published in England, where swimming pools are rare. So I replaced it with a vegetable patch.

Did you find it difficult to get published?
I didn't find it too difficult, though I realise I was lucky. The real trick is finding an agent - because if a decent agent will take your work, so will a publisher.

Any other children's book authors in the family?
My dad wrote and illustrated a children's book in 1982 dedicated to me and my brother it's called The Expedition to the Rainbow's Heart.

You've recently become a dad yourself; would you do the same thing?
My second book is dedicated to my daughter Lily. And I look forward to reading her my stories when she's older - I hope she likes them. 

What's next?
Next is my second book, then my third. And on and on for as long as my publisher will have me.

Where can you buy the book?
The Book Lounge.
(71 Roeland Street | Gardens Cape Town | +27 (0)21 462 2425)

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