“We dedicated it to the late Prince Sadruddin Aga Khan, who had won our admiration and esteem for his outstanding work, thinking in particular of his love and his efforts for all the flora and fauna of our natural environment.”
– Diana Miserez,
author of trilingual children’s story book
“The Three Little Fox Cubs”
“Prince Sadruddin Aga Khan: Humanitarian and Visionary”
“When Princess Catherine Aga Khan gave me a copy of a children’s book – “The Three Little Fox Cubs”, written, in three languages by Diana Miserez with her daughter, Claudia, who did the illustrations, and dedicated to the late Prince Sadruddin Aga Khan.
I immediately ordered from her, eight copies of the book for my family and grandchildren. Diana delivered them to the prince’s town offices.
She told me of her experiences, during her remarkable career, that involved working with Prince Sadruddin and how she had spoken with him about a biography when he was alive, he had told her that he did not want a biography before he was seventy years old.”
– Nicola Spafford Furey
Vice President of Earth Focus Foundation
Genesis of The Three Little Fox Cubs
When my daughter Claudia was little, at her bedtime I invented some little stories about fox cubs, that are born in the Versoix forest in Switzerland. This forest runs between the lake we know as Lake Geneva, and the Jura mountains, that are some of the oldest in the world. At the time, we were living in Western France, and we missed the Swiss forests, lakes and mountains!
At the beginning of the story, Mrs. Fox is out hunting, knowing that she will very soon give birth to cubs. When three tiny cubs are born, they are almost black and, like new-born puppies, they are blind at first. When their mother is out at night, they’re hungry and call for her, and attract the attention of Mr. Badger – a big black and white gentleman who is rather cross! Badgers hate noise, but this is his house after all, for foxes often share the dens of badgers, who are very good at creating tunnels that have several entrances and exits – very useful if you are being chased.
As the little cubs grow, they want to see the world outside and start meeting other forest animals. Their fur soon turns to red. But they begin to be rather naughty, and their mother sends them to the forest school, where their teacher is Mr. Heron. They have quite a few adventures from this time on, and Mr. Heron tells them all about African animals.
Claudia loved the stories so much – there were 6 episodes altogether – that I decided to type them up, and to translate them into French, thinking that they might be useful for the schools for early learners of a foreign language. In the case of French children, it would be English of course – starting at the age of only six. Claudia was growing up using both French and English, and we thought that a two-language book could help children to get interested in the foreign language they would have to start learning. I gradually introduced numbers, first one to five, then the next few numbers, and so on throughout the book. The same technique was used with colours, and with the names of animals: words repeated several times in the course of the book. We devised some games to go into the last few pages of the future book. But it is always difficult to find a publisher, and I soon put the material in a drawer and we forgot about it for about 15 years. In the meantime, we moved back from France, where we had been living for several years, to Switzerland.
Claudia, who by now had become an adult, was interested in illustrating the stories, and we chose the first three of the six episodes or stories to do first. On our shelves, we have plenty of nature books, and we selected a large number of photographs and drawings of animals to base ourselves on. Now we decided that it would be useful for children to have German too, most of Switzerland being German-speaking. So we had three languages, English, French and German, and decided to put the French and German on the left-hand pages of the future book, English on the right-hand pages.
Claudia spent many hours whenever she found time to create rather lovely watercolour pictures, adding a few Indian ink illustrations, until we had a total of about 80, and she took care of all the graphics. Meanwhile, I wrote to a few publishers, explaining the thinking behind the book and enclosing sample pages, but we then decided to publish the book ourselves. We dedicated it to the late Prince Sadruddin Aga Khan, who had won our admiration and esteem for his outstanding work, thinking in particular of his love and his efforts for all the flora and fauna of our natural environment.
An excellent printer in France, one that specialises in art books, printed 3000 books for us that were delivered to our home. Thanks to some newspaper coverage, we rapidly sold several hundred books to families, and we took a supply to the Geneva Book Fair and to several Christmas markets. Before very long, half the stock had been sold, and we received some very pleasing comments from parents, grandparents and those school teachers who had placed orders and used the book in their classrooms. They were delighted to have the books as teaching aids, using the stories as a basis for work over 3 weeks or so, in which the children would do their best to write out part of the story in the language they were learning, illustrating it themselves. They apparently loved this work. We made up a CD in which the three episodes were read by people of French, German and English mother tongue.
We have since had great pleasure in giving copies of the book, and sometimes the CD, to people who we knew could appreciate them. We have also presented two boxes of twenty books to the Red Cross.
Diana and Claudia
5th May 2017
Get a copy of the book
- About the book: thttp://www.sourcesriaz.ch/index_an.htm
- Book extract: http://www.sourcesriaz.ch/anglais/livre_extrait.htm
- Book order form: http://www.sourcesriaz.ch/anglais/livre_commander.html
Research, Insight & Perspective by A. Maherali
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