Mother Çağrı and daughter Zehra create their first children’s book, ‘Little Girl with a Big Heart’

It’s not every day that bedtime stories get turned into a children’s book, but for one mother and daughter duo, that’s exactly what’s happened. London-based Çağrı Oral and her young daughter Zehra Aziz have just had their first book, The Little Girl With A Big Heart, published.

The story, which is in English, centres on a little girl who heard “a sound beating within her left side. Ba-dum ba-dum ba-dum ba-dum”. The young girl sets off “on a journey into the land of her heart” where she is able to discovers herself. The book is dedicated to “all who want to find themselves within their hearts.”

Mum Çağrı wrote The Little Girl With A Big Heart, while 7-year-old Zehra illustrated the 42-page book. It was released last month by independent publisher Press Dionysus.

In an interview with Turkish daily paper Hürriyet, Çağrı explained how the book came about. The Ankara-born advertising copywriter was used to creating short stories for others.

When her daughter Zehra was born in 2016, Çağrı turned her talents to entertaining her infant child with made up stories. Some she would adapt from fairy tales she had heard growing up herself, but more often than not she would make them up entirely.

“I did film studies at university. I worked as a copywriter in Turkiye for many years. I am someone who likes to tell oral and written stories. I’m a big believer in the power of stories.

“When it comes to children’s books, the main driving force was my daughter. I was telling her stories, reading books, making up fairy tales. I was changing the parts of the classic fairy tales we knew that I didn’t like. But mostly I was making things up and my daughter liked the tales I was telling her.”

Çağrı Oral with daughter Zehra Aziz


Zehra adored her mum’s stories, giving Çağrı the idea that perhaps she should capture them as a book.

“One day I thought to myself, ‘I improvise and make up different stories every night [for Zehra] at bedtime. Perhaps I should put them on paper. If my daughter likes them so much, other kids might too. Then, one evening, I sat in front of the computer and this book started to emerge.”

Zehra’s part in the production of the book might have been limited to inspiring it. However, when Çağrı got upset after she was let down by an illustrator who had initially agreed to provide pictures for the book, her young daughter, who was six at the time, decided to step in and help out, making her mum a beautiful offer she could not refuse.

“Mum, don’t be sad, I’ll draw the pictures for the book!” Zehra told her mum confidently. So Çağrı went over the stories with her daughter, and Zehra drew all the illustrations and that was how The Little Girl With A Big Heart came about.

Initially, Çağrı had hoped to publish the book in Turkish. However, all the publishers she spoke to in her native Turkiye were wary of taking a chance on an unknown author who also lacked a large social media following

Çağrı decided to translate her book into English and was introduced to Turkish-owned Press Dionysus in London, who were more than happy to publish her debut work.

For Çağrı, her daughter’s role in the book and the fantastic pictures she produced are what makes her most proud about the project.

“As the author of the book, I feel secondary. Zehra’s drawings took precedence over the story, which makes me very proud”, she told Hürriyet, adding, “Everyone who reads the book loves it! Zehra now has lots of fans”

The book’s appeal, however, is not just limited to children. “A child therapist said, ‘A complete therapy book has a very strong message and gives this message in a very simple way.’ I really liked this…This is not just a children’s book; adults should read it too. That’s right, we adults have a lot to learn from children’s books. They remind us of things we forget as we grow up.”

The Little Girl With A Big Heart is available from Amazon, Foyles, Waterstones, and all good bookshops in the UK. It’s also available in the US. Alternatively, you can order online direct from the publishers Press Dionysus for £9.90 + packaging and postage.