By Eleanor Wilson
Ninety-year-old Nina Collins smiled as she opened an old, red leather hymn book to reveal pages peppered with pressed bird feathers.
“Two of her favourite things, her church hymn book and the feathers she puts in them,” her daughter Marlene Laporte said.
As they sat in the living room of Mrs Laporte’s Lynbrook home surrounded by copies of her debut children’s book, Heather Treasures Feathers, there is no doubt where the book’s inspiration came from.
“My mum loves nature and she loves collecting all kinds of things from the park, mostly feathers,” Mrs Laporte said.
“I just thought to myself it would be a nice thing to get a book out and dedicate this book to mum in particular, to acknowledge her love for nature and the things she’s actually taught us through nature and how to appreciate the little things that people take for granted.”
Growing up in Hyderabad in India’s south, Mrs Laporte attests life was hard for the family.
“My mum has been a great inspiration to us, I lost my dad at a young age and she brought us all up,” she said through teary eyes.
“She did a marvellous job and you can see how well she’s looked after herself.”
Working full time as a stenographer while raising six children on her own, Mrs Laporte recalled her mother didn’t have time to enjoy the simple pleasures of life, like going for a leisurely stroll in the park to admire her surroundings.
“My husband died on 4 September and our last baby was born 10 days later,” Mrs Collins said.
“She was like a mum and dad to us. Life was very hard,” Mrs Laporte added.
“It taught us a lot back then and we’ve learned to appreciate being in Australia. It’s a wonderful country I must say.”
The family migrated to Melbourne’s south east in the early 2000s and said they had received “so many blessings” since then.
“There’s never been a moment we cannot be thankful for being in Australia, you know I never would have dreamt about writing a book,” Mrs Laporte said
An aged care worker, Mrs Laporte came up with the idea to write a children’s book while in isolation with Covid in January.
“I was isolating with Covid at home, feeling very bored and I started typing up some stories and Heather Treasures Feathers crossed my mind,” she said.
Despite being approached by a publishing house from the UK, Mrs Laporte decided to tackle the task of self-publishing, with the aim to present the book to her mum for Mother’s Day.
Remarking the book as awesome, Mrs Collins has already taken a liking to her copy of Heather Treasures Feathers.
“I put my name on my book, its a beautiful book…any young child who reads it will love it,” she beamed.
Mrs Laporte said proceeds from the sales of Heather Treasures Feathers would be split between three charities dear to her heart, including Save the Children, Kids With Cancer Foundation and a Children’s orphanage in Cambodia.
Heather Treasures Feathers is available for order as an e-book on Amazon at amzn.to/39D9dvB
To purchase a hard copy of the book, Mrs Laporte welcomes contact at firstname.lastname@example.org