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Book Review: Sibo Looks Right, by Ginny Stone and an Interview with the Author

Coming up trumps for road safety in Sibo Looks Right (Lets Look; ISBN: 978-1-77570-229-0) is Ginny Stone, in her rhymed book for South African youngsters, but most specifically for South African tweens. Stone has written an entire series based around the character of the learner, Sibo, and the various challenges that she faces in her life. In this particular full-colour work, she shows how children can make a significant difference, not only in terms of becoming more road safety aware, so as to protect themselves and other children from harm, but also how they can impact on the life of adults in their community and beyond, as far as motivating them to heed the rules of the road for their own safety goes.

Starting off with Sibo’s conscientious, law-abiding family having an outing in their car, with seat belts on, and properly checking to see that everything is in order before they set out, they encounter a group of children who, heedless of the darkness of the night, gambol across the road, all dressed in black. Her father shouts out a warning to the youngsters that, when crossing the street at night, they should wear bright clothing, so that they are distinguishable to motorists in the dark. He then ponders the problem, and acknowledges the solution:

“Road safety is essential – there are some basic rules

How I wish these could be taught in all schools

Imagine being dead when you could still be alive

because you don’t understand the rules to survive.”

However, it is left to Sibo to set the appropriate action in motion, which she shortly does by initiating a Road Safety Campaign at her school. How she sets about doing this, and eliciting the help of both children and adults, in the awareness campaign makes for a great story that children will love, and from which they are likely to gain a great deal.

The empathy that Stone has with her characters is remarkable, and her sense of humour is effectively conveyed both through her text, and through the accompanying full-page illustrations. Her keen social awareness reveals itself through her consideration of all road users, whether pedestrians or private car / public transport users. As Sibo grows in her awareness of other users of the road, so, too, does her own social awareness, making Sibo Looks Right far more than a rhymed guide to precautionary measures to be taken by all road users, in story form, but, rather, a broader conscientising text that is brought to life by Stone’s lively visualisation of life from both a child’s and an adult’s perspective.

Full kudos go to Stone for her desire to spread the message about such a key issue that impacts on the daily life of so many young people. From her initial use of crowdfunding (thanks to which the book is permanently available for free here), through her accessing of funding by way of the generosity of Mike Ward at Nash Nissan in Alberton, she has handled the publishing of this colourful introduction to the rules of the road outstandingly well. In short, she is a force to be reckoned with, with her other books in the series also being well worth reading, and making available to as many children as possible.

An Interview with Ginny Stone, Author of Sibo Looks Right

Welcome to our guest Ginny Stone, author of fourteen books in the Sibo series, who combines a hectic home life with being secretary/treasurer of the Southern African Association of Science and Technology Centres (SAASTEC).

Lois: Good day Ginny, and thanks so much for participating in our interview. Please explain the background to your writing of Sibo Looks Right.

Ginny: Both Peter Sanderson (Let’s Look Publishers) and I are very passionate about road safety, and are horrified by the terrible statistics each year. We badly wanted to do a Sibo title on this topic.

Lois: Please provide a synopsis of the plot of Sibo Looks Right.

Ginny: Sibo and her parents are leaving the shopping mall one night, when they nearly have an accident – it’s not even their fault! This gets Sibo thinking about road safety, so she asks her teacher to organise a talk at the school to highlight the do’s and don’ts, and all other road safety aspects. Then, one day after school, Sibo gets a surprise visit and receives an amazing gift – a bike. Her dad teaches Sibo and her friend the rules of the road, so that they can ride safely to school.

Lois: What were your major challenges with writing Sibo Looks Right?

Ginny: Getting funding. We had interested people who just disappeared into thin air. Eventually I crowdfunded, using Thundafund as a platform. This was an interesting experience, all on its own. I did the typical ‘me’ thing and just dived in, without having had a careful Twitter campaign or anything. Still, it worked out well in the end, due to the generosity of friends and family.

Lois: What were your highlights with your writing of Sibo Looks Right?

Ginny: We raised enough money to illustrate and publish an e-book (freely available worldwide) and to print 700 copies. This was mainly due to the generosity of Mike Ward at Nash Nissan in Alberton, who contributed R36 000 two days into the campaign. This year (2017), we did another road safety drive to gather money and received R50k from Super Group Dealerships, which meant that 3000 copies of Sibo Looks Right could be freely handed out at toll gates over the Easter weekend.

Lois: What has your feedback about Sibo Looks Right shown in terms of the impact that it has had on your target audience? Please give concrete examples of such, if possible.

Ginny:  We’ve had a lot of positive comments from teachers and people all over the country. Some Grade 3’s read the book and wrote book reviews.  They gave comments like:

“What I have learnt was to wear my safety belt the whole time.” – Makayla Potgieter

“I thought at first that road safety rules were not important, but you’ve shown me what the importance is of road safety.” – Ashlin L. Taylor

“I think that other people should read this book, because it is the most amazing book that I ever had. I really enjoyed this book!!!” – Kamva Mbolompo

“I learned not to walk on the road.” – Megan Zaayman

“I think the book was incredible – it was so amazing, I could pop!” – Simone Klaaste

Lois: What effect has your writing of Sibo Looks Right had on your writing career?

Ginny: This book was totally instrumental in getting me commissioned to write the fourteenth title in the Sibo series. We also had a radio interview with Radio Today.  It’s great that Super Group sees that it’s a worthwhile cause to invest in. They got some good marketing out of the project too. We hope that they will invest in future projects as well.

Lois: Thank you so much, Ginny, for granting me this opportunity to interview you. Sibo Looks Right certainly deserves the hype that it’s received. BookPleasures.com wishes you all the very best with your future Sibo books.

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