Putney author inspired by adventures for her latest book

Putney author Ruby Lovell hopes her vibrant new picture book will celebrate diversity and encourage curiosity of other cultures.

Her latest book Ruby Rides an Elephant is based on her experiences when she visited an Elephant orphanage in Sri Lanka with her children and rode Rani the elephant.

From feeding and riding rescue elephants, climbing landmarks like Sigiriya Rock, eating tropical fruit for the first time in bustling markets and learning to play traditional Tamil drums, the book will introduce children to new cultural experiences and spark their imagination.

Ms Lovell said: “My childhood spent in Sri Lanka and the experiences of my mixed‐race children, who are half Sri Lankan and half English, making their first trip to the island was the inspiration to write this book.

“Seeing how my children soaked up the culture such as learning to play the local drums, tasting coconuts and mangoes for the first time, seeing snakes, elephants and monkeys and riding in Tuk Tuks and on elephants was the catalyst to write this book.

“The aim was to capture our combined childhood experiences and take other children on an adventure story learning about the South Asian culture and the beautiful island of Sri Lanka.”

The author was inspired by her own experiences of teaching her mixed-race children about their heritage, after struggling to find picture books representing their heritage.

She said: “It is extremely important for me to inspire others through my stories.

“I’d like children to enjoy and learn about my South Asian culture and the island of Sri Lanka and all the amazing things it has to offer through little Ruby’s adventures.

“I also want to change the status quo of very little representation or diversity in children’s literature and hopefully open the flood gates to more writers exposing ethnicity in books whether it be Asian, African or Oriental backgrounds getting published.

“I arrived in the UK at the age of seven years old and I never felt represented as an Asian person in books and literature available both at school and in book shops.

“Even on Children’s TV programmes I didn’t see black or Asian characters.

“This feeling of being left out was also a major influence in writing my book Ruby Rides an Elephant.”

Ms Lovell has lived in in Putney, Wandsworth, for over 30 years, and it is where she met the illustrator for her book Zara Merrick.

She said: “Zara and I had both our sons in the same primary school and met very much by chance at school pick up.

“I gave her lots of family photos of our trips to Sri Lanka, so she could capture the feel of the island and characters and bring it to life.

“She is an amazingly talented and creative lady who has brought my book to life, it’s so eye catching, and children love it.

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