World Book Day: Cape Town author's 'Oaky' book series goes viral
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A Cape Town author and philanthropist has
written a children’s book to help them
better understand the national Covid-19
Author of the 'Oaky' series Athol Williams,
from Century City, and his wife, illustrator Taryn
Lock, put their heads together to help many parents and children struggling to understand why
they need to stay at home.
In the last week their free digital publication
of 'Oaky and the Virus' and the 'Oaky Virus Song',
sung by Ielmah Bardien, six, from Pelican Park,
have gone viral as it is being shared on WhatsApp
and other social media.
“Since children love Oaky we thought that
perhaps they would listen to him,” said Williams.
Read to Rise, a literacy organisation which
reads to children, distributes the Oaky series
for free to pupils in Mitchell’s Plain, where Mr
Williams is originally from, and pupils in Soweto.
The couple co-founded and co-directs the
organisation, which offers fun, interactive class
programmes for pupils to create a generation
Williams and Read to Rise also hosted the
first Cape Flats Book Festival in Mitchell’s Plain
Their seventh book in the series tells the story
of Oaky and his sister Oaket, who have to stay
indoors because a “bad virus came to town”.
It took Williams a day to write the story and Lock four 10-hour days to draw Oaky and style
Oaket, who makes her debut.
“We worked on the book non-stop over
Easter,” Williams said.
The book includes a set of questions, which gives parents an opportunity to discuss the issues
with their child.
Williams had heard from parents and
teachers that children were struggling to
understand the lockdown. “Also many parents
were not engaging with their children about the
He said they would like the free book to be
passed on. “It is our contribution to both literacy
and the fight against the coronavirus. Children
must sing the song while washing their hands
and parents must discuss the questions with their
children,” he said.
“This book is dedicated to all health care and
emergency workers around the world fighting the
In a WhatsApp voice note to the Southern
Mail, Ielmah said: “I love singing. Oaky makes me
happy. I love Oaky”.
For more information or for a free digital copy,
email [email protected]; download the
PDF at www.theartpressbooks.com; or to listen to
the Oaky Virus Song go to www.youtube.com/