At the tender age of seven, Stacey Fru wrote her first book, Smelly Cats.
She’s now 10, with a second book Bob and the Snake on the bookshelves and a third, Smelly Cats on Vacation, due to be published this year.
Smelly Cats went on to qualify with the national department of basic education as supplementary learning material at primary schools. Fru has since won several Young Leader awards and Academic Achievements awards for her writing and for being a motivational role model. Last year she became the youngest founding member of Wits University Centre for Multilingual Education and Literacy.
She’s spoken to audiences at Unisa, University of the Witwatersrand and the University of Johannesburg and addressed more than 800 matric learners at the AngloGoldAshanti Career Expo in 2015. In 2016 she officiated at a graduation ceremony for 300 learners at Mvelaphanda Training Centre in Limpopo.
There’s a funny story behind why she began to write, says Fru. “My mum wrote her masters’ thesis and I saw her book and I was very jealous that she could write a book without telling us, and I thought ‘if my mum can do it, so can I’. So I started writing the book Smelly Cats.”
Her mum edited it, then sent it to be professionally edited and illustrated. When it was ready to be printed some professional publishers turned it down, so they decided to self-publish. Her books are now sold in regular bookshops and online via Fru’s website.
She has formed the Stacey Fru Foundation to run a campaign called A Child, A Book to encourage people to buy and donate her books to kids who would otherwise never own a book.
Meanwhile her mother, Victorine Mbong Shu, has published two books of her own about parenting, and together they make a popular mother-and–daughter team for events and TV talk shows.
Despite her success, Fru has other ambitions. “I want to become a medical doctor. I still want to be an author as well as a doctor, so I’ll write in my spare time,” she says. “My friends are very proud of me, but we don’t bring it up much at school because I just want to enjoy school. And I don’t stand out, because we each have our own talents.”
— Lesley Stones