Meet 9-Year-Old Anaya Lee Willabus, Brooklyn’s Youngest Author

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Global News Centre

By Chris Butera

Submitted by Ace Knight

Brooklyn has a new author, and she’s only nine-years old.

On Saturday morning, the Mill Basin Library hosted Anaya Lee Willabus for a book signing of her first published work: “The Day Mohan Found His Confidence.” This book follows young Mohan as he struggles at home and school. He finally discovers that when he has the support of friends and family, he can accomplish many things.

Willabus, a born-and-raised Brooklynite and longtime patron of the Mill Basin Library, was joined by her own supporters, including State Senator Roxanne Persaud and City Councilman Alan Maisel, for the event.

“Writing a book is not the easiest thing in the world. I’m not sure if every kid will do that, but [Anaya] has definitely inspired them to read,” said Maisel. “I think it’s great for the library because the objective is to get kids into the library reading books.”

While the tall, shy grade-schooler has been writing since she was five-year-old, it wasn’t until the Summer of 2014, during a trip to her family’s homeland of Guyana, that Anaya was inspired to take up writing her first book.

“Our first trip to Guyana inspired me and I have the gifts that were needed,” Anaya said. “These events that happened to Mohan are not things that happened to me, but have happened to many other children. For example, many other children may have problems in school, many other children may have lost one of their parents.”

Once she set her sights on writing, the then eight-year-old Anaya wrote down her ideas in a scrapbook and her mother Dimple Willabus, who is the CEO of promotional company Rhythm Nation Entertainment, would type them on the computer. Although her mother helped, Anaya insisted on having total creative control – even in designing the cover; which features a photo of brother Brandon, 6 playing soccer.

“Whatever she told me I put down and it has to be exactly that otherwise she gets very upset,” said her mother. “There were about 20 different covers and she didn’t like any of them. She wanted this font, this picture and she had to have pink and purple (her favorite colors).”

Since “Mohan” was published last May, Anaya has been on a rocket ride over the success of the book. She has not only won three awards (the New York State Assembly Resolution Award, the Guyana Cultural Society award and the Guyana Day award), but she is also nominated for the Coretta Scott King award and has an award in her name in Guyana for children who excel in reading.

Her mother also said that the government of Guyana purchased 1,000 copies of the book to stock in school libraries.

Anaya said she plans to continue writing and has already begun work on her second book — though she is not sure if she wants to continue the “Mohan” series or to start a new one.

“You like to see your own accomplish greatness,” said Persaud. “ It’s great for the community [in Guyana]because other children can see what they’re accomplishing and it’s great for the community [in Brooklyn]because this is the library she always uses.”

“She could be the next Toni Morrison, you never know,” Persaud added.

This isn’t the first time the Mill Basin Library has hosted a young, up-and-coming writer. Last year, the branch brought in 14-year-old poet and two-time author Angela Content, said Neighborhood Library Supervisor Victoria Hill.

“The Day Mohan Found His Confidence” can be purchased on Amazon, Kindle and throughRhythm Nation Entertainment. You can support Anaya at her Facebook page.

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Anaya Lee Willabus sitting beside State Senator Roxanne Persaud, left, and City Councilman Alan Maisel. (Photo provided by Dimple Willabus)

 

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