In colorful markers, Oummu S. Kabba neatly wrote “O.S.K,” adding a smiley face inside the “O,” during her book-signing event at Barnes & Noble bookstore in Grandville’s Rivertown Crossings Mall.
Catering to a steady stream of shoppers, the Discovery Elementary fifth-grader was selling stacks of the three books she has already published for $10 apiece.
“I feel excited about all the people who care enough to come,” Oummu said. She was joined at the signing table by her father, Brima Kabba; brother Alpha, a third-grader; and sister Rugui, a sixth-grader.
Oummu published her first book, “Charlie the Talking Dog,” at age 8. Now 10, she has since published “The New Girl” and “The Chicken Man.” Her next book, a 150-plus page novel called “Battle for My Brother,” will be released in the near future.
The young author is the daughter of refugees who had no formal education. Brima Kabba was born in Sierra Leone. He was a refugee in Guinea when he met and married his wife, Fanta. They eventually settled in Malta and were part of a group chosen by the U.S. government to come to America in 2009, when Oummu was a toddler.
“I always tried hard to help my kids read and write their names,” Kabba said. He said he didn’t know his daughter would turn those skills into books. “I’m so proud of her.”
‘You Can Express How You Feel’
Kabba said he first realized his daughter’s passion for writing when she was 6 and he came across her journal, where she had begun “Charlie the Talking Dog.” He promised to publish the book when Oummu finished. True to his word, he did, through Chapbook Press at Schuler Books, where her other books have also been published.
Oummu said she loves the creativity of writing fiction. “You can express how you feel through different characters and no one can tell you what to write. No matter what, the story is yours.”
Oummu is in the gifted-and-talented program, PEAKS, at Discovery Elementary. Her parents are putting any profits she makes from books sales into an education fund. She hopes to go to Harvard University and become a doctor, but she said she will always make time for writing.