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Malaysian Author Pens Children’s Book Exploring Society

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The Three Village Boys of Al Haidar is an adventurous tale that teaches children about good moral values, social justice and diversity. By Afia R Fitriati.

As vice president of compliance at a foreign Islamic bank in Malaysia, Liza Mydin has written numerous articles on corporate governance and ethical behaviour. Her experiences and observations taught her that good manners and ethics are best instilled from a young age. This realisation led Liza to write her first children’s book, The Three Village Boys of Al Haidar, a joyful adventure that encapsulates lessons on justice, kindness, and fairness.

‘I wanted to create a piece that would give a sense of adventure to the children,’ Liza reveals. ‘It comes from an observation that we do not have many conversations or exposure of adventure with our young ones these days.’

The Three Village Boys of Al Haidar is a story about Youssef, Zayyed, and Omar, three nine-year-olds who have never travelled outside their little community of Al Haidar. One day, the boys decide to explore nearby villages. Their travels, albeit short-distanced, open up doors of discovery about different ways of living and various characteristics of people. Zayyed, for instance, meets angry-looking people who like making weapons. Youssef and Omar encounter social and economic disparities in other villages. Set in the desert of Arabia, the book promises an enchanting tale peppered with wit and enlightenment.

Liza explains the messages behind her first children’s book: ‘Whilst its aims are to cultivate children’s imagination and pique their curiosity, the book also touches on key issues that we face in today’s society, such as glaring income disparity between the rich and the poor, and unjust rulers. My hope with this book is for children to have guided conversations about these issues with their parents.’

Two of the book’s main characters, Youssef and Omar, are named after Liza’s grandfather. ‘He was full of spirit and an adventurer himself when he was young,’ Liza fondly recalls.

Despite juggling the writing of the book with work and family responsibilities, Liza, who is currently pursuing a doctorate degree in Islamic finance, managed to finish the book in only six months.

‘It was indeed challenging to juggle writing with the needs of my family and my studies, on top of full-time work at the bank. The book required a lot of work, especially because the publisher and illustrator were based in Singapore and I was in Malaysia. It took constant management of priorities and deadlines.’

The Three Village Boys of Al Haidar is available as both a book and an e-book. It can be purchased through Barnes and Noble, Amazon and its publisher, goindiebooks.com. ‘We are in the midst of having it available here at the local bookstores,’ Liza adds, referring to Malaysia and Singapore.

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