Children’s book homes in on digital world

Author Murray Hunter

An Observatory man has written a children’s book about a baby-tracking robot.

Boris the BabyBot, by Murray Hunter, 33, was released at the end of October.

The book is aimed at kids aged 3 to 8. It tells the tale of a baby-tracking robot called Boris who must find new purpose after coming across a baby who can’t be tracked.

“So the robot works for a big data company and tracks babies for them, and then one day when he comes across a baby he can’t track he needs a new goal in life,” says Murray, who has previously worked with the Right2Know Campaign.

He says he’s fascinated by how much power governments and organisations have to access people’s personal data through social media and their smartphones.

The book is fun for children, says Murray, but it does explore something adults should take seriously – digital privacy.

“The issue of digital privacy is one that I am worried about. It’s so connected to everything we do in our life. More and more of our public life is moving to a digital space.”

The digital space of today has influenced how we interact with our loved ones, how we do our shopping and how we do our work, he says.

He chose to write a children’s book because he wanted to have a conversation about what’s going on in the digital world in a non-threatening way.

“Children aren’t aware of privacy issues, but adults don’t want to talk about these things because it fills us with fear, and I wanted to see if I can root this topic in the magic of a children’s story.”

He started writing the book in June and by August he was crowdfunding to get it published. He says he reached the R90 000 he needed in six days and sent the book to the printers in September.

Friends visited Murray and his wife, Katie, earlier in the year and their baby, Elidh, became the inspiration for the baby character in the book.

Murray is donating 10% of the book sales to the non-profit Nal’ibali reading campaign in Salt River. He has also donated a few copies to the Claremont and Observatory libraries.

The book is available at boristhebabybot.org or at selected Exclusive Books,Bargain Books and Wordsworth Books stores.