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Children’s Book – Mo’s Star - Launches New
Global Effort to Build Schools in Pakistan
Released: June 15, 2005

Release #05042
Cora Lynn Deibler, School of Fine Arts
(860) 888-7339

Beth Krane, Media Relations
(860) 486-3530

STORRS, Conn.— 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 project.

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 line and 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.

“In the 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 said.

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.


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