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There aren’t a lot of children’s books in the market that tell the historical stories of Ethiopia. The children’s books that do exist are mostly fiction. Joseph Francis who has taught for over 29 years in Ethiopia wrote a series of children’s book on prominent Ethiopian figures like Emperor Tewodros the second, Emperor Menelik as well as Prince Alemayhu Tewodros who was the son of Emperor Tewodros.
All of the books are written both in English and Amharic. The simple language makes it easy and entertaining for kids. “When you write for kids, you have to use different words, find easier ways of telling the complex stories of these figures,” said Joseph.
All three books attempt to cover a lot of ground, including substantial part of the lives of key figures.
“It is not easy to put all that history on a few pages, you have to take out the most important events of people’s lives and focus on those,” the writer stated.
Currently the books that are in print are “Emperor Tewodros of Ethiopia” and “Prince Alemayhu Tewodros” but there are only few of them on the market.
“The printing cost is very expensive in Ethiopia, that’s why “The Battle of Adwa” which was published by Shama books is not in print anymore,” said Joseph” .
A foreigner writing children’s books about Historical figures in Ethiopia might be a little strange for some people, “Some people who look at the books say that I have neglected to put in other important information, the point was to make the story simple, so it was inevitable that I would not include some information, I wrote the books because I saw there was a gap and I wanted to fill it,” said the writer.
All three books include pictures and illustrations. The book “Prince Alemayhu Tewodros” include pictures of Alemayhu’s life in England and letters written by him which have never been published in Ethiopia before.