Illustration Professor Cora Lynn Deibler has partnered with
a Pakistani author in London to create a children’s book that will raise
money to build progressive schools for impoverished girls and boys in Pakistan.
The UConn professor,
whose illustrations have been showcased at the Norman Rockwell Museum and have appeared
in print in the New York Times, Washington Post and regularly in children’s
publications such as Cricket, Spider and The Weekly Reader,
donated the illustrations for the 24-page children’s book, Mo’s Star, after
author Mahnaz Malik discovered her work online and approached her about the charitable
Mo’s Star, the story of a small penguin who firmly
believes he can reach the stars and, despite many setbacks, eventually
does, is the first creative work to be sold through Project Reaching
for the Stars, a new global effort created by Malik and being launched
by Cherie Blair, wife of British Prime Minister Tony Blair, in London
on Wednesday, June 15.
For its first initiative, Project Reaching for the Stars will raise funds for
The Friends of the Citizens Foundation, a registered British charity, which builds
and runs primary and secondary schools in Pakistan’s slum areas.
Today, nearly one-third of Pakistan’s 152 million people live below the poverty
50 percent of all Pakistanis are illiterate.
Malik, an international lawyer who was born and raised in Pakistan, conceived
of Project Reaching for the Stars because she is concerned that without access
to proper education today’s young Pakistanis are targets for extremists.
“If these boys and girls don’t grow up with access to a broad-based,
progressive education, we are in trouble,” Malik said. “You can only
imagine. It’s a demographic time bomb. We could have tomorrow’s terrorists
on our hands.”
For example, Malik said, of the 27 million children of primary school age in
Pakistan, 13 million are not attending school.
Malik said Deibler’s passion for the project changed her own impression of
Americans considerably and has the potential to restore America’s international
image, which has been tarnished because of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
international media, the generosity that Americans have long been associated with
is diminishing,” Malik said. “Cora Lynn’s personal contribution
reinforced for me a positive image of Americans. I grew up in Pakistan, but here
was Cora Lynn sitting in Connecticut with no connection to Pakistan, and she still
opted to take this on.”
Deibler said the
political implications of her involvement with Mo’s Star, not to mention
the emotions typically accompanying the completion of an illustrator’s first
book, were eclipsed by her excitement for the global project.
“As an educator,
what could be more perfect,” said Deibler, associate head of the art and art
history department in UConn’s School of Fine Arts. “Everything else has
somehow been lost in the midst of what the book can actually do.
“It doesn’t cost that much, by our standards, to send a Pakistani child
to school,” Deibler added. “I’ve seen that Mahnaz gets things done
and that this project is not going to languish.”
It costs $64,800, or £36,000, to build a Friends of the Citizens Foundation
primary school and $10,806, or £6,000, to run one for a year. Mo’s
Star, available online, costs $8.99 or £4.99. Proceeds from the first
1,000 copies printed will cover one school’s expenses for a year.
From character conceptualization to finished product, a children’s book of
this size typically takes an illustrator six months to a year to complete, Deibler
For additional details on Project Reaching for the Stars, go to www.reachingstars.com.
To purchase a copy of Mo’s Star, e-mail Mehvish Khan at The Friends
of the Citizens Foundation at Mehvish.Khan@FTCF.org.uk.