What inspired the story behind Chandani and the Ghost of the Forest?
Rosanne: We saw children forced into labour when we lived in Pakistan. Some children worked from necessity for a small wage as they wouldn’t have eaten otherwise. But this picture book is a voice for those children who are sold into domestic labour and their suffering is unheard. The charity, Compassion, states 168 million children are trapped in child labour. This is almost 11% of the world’s children.
Lenore: Stories may have a message but they are meant to be enjoyed. When my youngest daughter was 5, her favourite animal was a panther. She so wanted to have a picture book about a panther and a little girl.
Why did you think it was important to collaborate as a mother/daughter team?
Lenore: I so enjoy working with my mum. The opportunity to collaborate with her on The Wish Giver and Chandani has been such a privilege. For these projects, I've had the idea and wrote the first draft and then my mother waves her magic wand and transforms the story into a work of art! Together we have created special memories working on these projects that have knit us closer together as friends.
Why do you think people should listen to fables in today’s current political climate?
Rosanne: Originally, fables were often written to show how to live morally. In today’s society most people believe morality is outdated and people should just do what they think best as long as they are not hurting others. Even though Chandani’s story doesn’t have an obvious moral like the older fables, I do believe that it is not moral to enslave children; it’s not moral to mistreat children and it isn’t moral to trap and kill endangered animals.
Do you believe you have a Ghost of the Forest watching over you?
Lenore: Yes, to me The Ghost of the Forest is a symbol of God in some ways. He is constantly watching over us. He doesn't always take our painful situations away, but He sure does lead us through them and helps us to make hard decisions and teaches us to be overcomers rather than remain victims. He gives us the strength we need to stand up for what is right.
What is your connection to the Himalayan Mountains?
Lenore: I saw these mountains every day through the windows of my boarding school. The backyard of the boarding house was a forest, which was the inspiration for the setting of Chandani.
Rosanne: We lived in the Himalayan foothills in Pakistan when we were aidworkers. We often took the children higher in the mountains during school holidays. It was beautiful and we saw not only the Himalayan Mountains but the Karakorum Mountains and, in the distance, the Hindu Kush guarding Afghanistan. It was the amazing meeting place of three major mountain ranges, containing many of the highest peaks in the world.
What can we do to end child slavery (aimed for children)?
Rosanne: It is a human right of children to be safe, have a home & parents, education, medical help and be able to play. We need to show that not all children have these rights.
We can tell people about this by writing stories and drawing pictures.
We can raise money to rescue children from forced labour.
We can write letters to governments to make stricter rules to stop slavery.
Lenore: To end slavery, we need to become more aware. Through awareness, change can happen. We need people who are willing to stand up and be a voice for those who aren’t being heard. In the case of domestic labour, the families need help and education to escape their poverty so that there is no need to send their children away to work. In the West we have so many resources: so much wealth. If we could only share what we have … what a world we could have!
Chandani and the Ghost of the Forest is available to pre-order now.