A 9-year old boy from Oak Park is now a published author. Akili Raphael, a fourth grader at Hatch School, has, with the help of his co-author and mother, Harriet Lewis, written two children's books that deal with global issues.
What's the division of labor between the co-authors?
"She's management, I'm labor," Akili said in a recent interview.
That's not quite accurate his mother says.
They split the duties. In the first book, Malik and the Malaria-Carrying Mosquito, Akili did the first draft, all the illustrations and some of the coloring. Lewis edited the book and helped out with the coloring.
On their second book, Malik says "Turn off the water!" Lewis did the initial draft, which Akili edited and added to. Once again Akili did all the illustrations.
The books center on Malik, a boy from the U.S. who loves to travel and flies around in his own one seat airplane to faraway places to help people and solve problems.
The books are aimed at young readers ages 3 to 8.
Akili came up with the idea for writing a book earlier this year when he read a story in a Highlights magazine about a girl who was raising money to buy bed nets to send to Africa to fight malaria.
"I said I want to do something like that so we started a foundation," Akili noted.
Lewis and her husband, Rudly Raphael, who both work in market research, set up a family foundation called the AkAsha Foundation named after their two children. Proceeds from sales of the books will be split between the foundation and organizations that fight malaria and groups that promote water conservation, respectively.
"The idea was that we would start a foundation and make decisions as a family as to where to give," said Lewis.
The books — there are more to come — aim to be entertaining, raise awareness on issues and teach a little geography.
"It's about friendship; it's about service, partnership, and all the series will have those elements in it, dealing with global issues such as disease or the environment or hunger," Lewis said. "Things like that. There will always be a global aspect to it."
What does Akili hope readers will get out of his books?
"I hope that they will think it's a good book and maybe inspire kids to volunteer," he said.