Fountain House men pen children’s book

Thomas Marthinussen, left, one of the authors of The Alien Adventures of Johnny and Jack, the Clowns, receives a copy of the book from Cleolaine Delmore, the senior librarian at Observatory library.

Two men from a home in Observatory for the mentally ill have produced a children’s book.

Thomas Marthinussen and Asenathi Ngcephe from Fountain House launched The Alien Adventures of Johnny and Jack, the Clowns, at Observatory library on World Mental Health Day, Tuesday October 10.

Fountain House is part of Cape Mental Health’s rehabilitation programme for adults with psychosocial disability.

The home’s administrator, Tasneema Davids, worked with the two men to brainstorm ideas for the book, which was illustrated by others from Fountain House and a volunteer, Volker Mann.

The book is about two clowns who at the end of their careers go on new adventures and make new friends. There are two stories in the book, The Clown and the ‘Martian’, and The Clown and the Travellers.

Cape Mental Health spokeswoman Barbara Meyer said the writers gave permission for a draft of their book to be introduced on World Mental Health Day.

“Observatory library hosted this very special event to celebrate the achievements of the two budding storytellers,” she said.

The book was the result of a five-month-long literacy project, started in March, in celebration of the South African Library Week theme, “Libraries: telling powerful stories.”

“The project was coordinated by the Observatory library in collaboration with Fountain House,” said Ms Meyer.

Fountain House members had been visiting the Observatory library for the past year on alternate Wednesdays to read books and learn about writing, she said.

Cleolaine Delmore, a senior librarian at Observatory library, developed a series of library activities that included a short novice-writing workshop.

Ms Davids said Mr Marthinussen and Mr Ngcephe now hoped to raise funds to publish more copies of the book. Ms Davids said the Friends of Observatory Library would help to print copies of the book.

She added that Fountain House members had also started The Fountain House Breakfast Book Club, which meets once a month at the library to read and review books.

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Asenathi Ngcephe, far left, co-author of The Alien Adventures of Johnny and Jack, the Clowns, reads aloud a page from the book displayed inside a business’s window in Observatory’s Lower Main Road.