By Kathy Rowe
“Everybody should see themselves reflected in literature” stated Saumiya Balasubramaniam when speaking about her two recently published storybooks for children.
Born and raised in Bombay India, Saumiya, her husband and two children have lived in Centennial for the past 6 years. Working as a full time software analyst Saumiya manages to make time for her writing during gaps in the day and evening. “Sometimes I will even write in the middle of the night” she admits. Saumiya’s writing spans a variety of subject matter. In addition to her charming children’s books she has written essays for the Globe and Mail and Readers Digest. “I write what comes to mind. I write about articles that I read in the newspapers, and I write poetry”.
Saumiya published her first book in 2019. When I Found Grandma is the story of a young girl born and raised in Canada whose grandmother comes to visit her from overseas. As their relationship grows conflicts arise due to their intergenerational and cultural differences. Saumiya explained “ eventually the two characters come together as they realize that it is family relationships that matter more than anything”. A sequel to this book is in the works. “The idea for the sequel is the reversal. The girl goes overseas to visit her grandma. It’s about the girl’s experiences in a new and different country”.
Saumiya’s second book ,Two drops of Brown in a Cloud of White, explores a child’s love of snow in her new country as she walks home from school with her mother. Beautifully illustrated by Eva Campbell, this gentle story is about a mother’s longing for her more tropical home and her daughter’s fascination with the beauty of the snow. As the story unfolds the daughter’s joy lightens her mother’s mood.
Saumiya’s natural talent for writing has certainly been rewarded. Both books have received high ratings on goodreads.com as well as critical acclaim from CBC books which listed Two Drops of Brown in a Cloud of White as one of the top Canadian picture books of 2020. The Globe and Mail listed When I Found Grandma in “Seven books to help kids make sense of the world”. Both books have been listed in Toronto Public Library’s First and Best of 2020 and 2019 respectively. The characters , subject matter and illustrations are very relatable to young readers. The stories are particularly aimed at readers who are adjusting to life in a new country such as Canada.
When asked about where her ideas come from Saumiya said “ my ideas come from everywhere. The ideas for the two stories are not based on real life, but they are drawn from real life and from my observations”. Readers will be pleased to know that Saumiya intends to continue writing for years to come, and that’s good news for readers everywhere.
Her books are available at the Toronto Public Library and can be purchased online wherever books are sold.