Only 9, but she's a published author
Nine-year-old didn't find suitable brick-building book, so she decided to write one
During playtime, Sofia Chen, nine, noticed her six-year-old sister, Natalie, who has Down syndrome, struggling to follow the instructions in brick-building sets.
Unable to find a book catering to such children, she decided to come up with one herself and landed a deal with an American publishing house.
The book, Amazing Animals: Creative Brick Building With Step-By-Step Ideas, will be launched in Books Kinokuniya and MPH Bookstores here next month.
Already available on Amazon, it will also be sold in major retail outlets such as Target and Barnes & Noble in the US.
The Singaporean girls live with their parents Ronald Chen, 42, an analytics consultant, and Ann Kositchotitana, also 42, a social entrepreneur, in Arcadia, California.
They moved to the US in 2015 to seek early intervention therapy for Natalie in Los Angeles.
Sofia told The New Paper at her grandparents' home in Tanjong Katong: "There weren't many books that could help guide my sister, so I wanted to publish one myself."
Early last year, Sofia's mother introduced her to a family friend, designer Paul Bacio Jr, 44, who helped to co-write the book.
He designed the structures while she decided on the animals and test-built the sets to ensure the steps are child-friendly.
Using bite-sized information and detailed illustrations of how to build 30 brick animals, the book aims to incorporate learning into playtime and guide children in brick building.
Each activity teaches concepts such as recognising and naming colours as well as the counting, sorting and grouping of common objects.
American business author Soon Yu, who saw a draft of the book, introduced it to independent publisher Post Hill Press, which is distributed by Simon & Schuster.
Post Hill Press publisher Anthony Ziccardi said in a press release: "It took just one day for me to offer the authors a publishing contract as I immediately saw value in the product."
Madam Kositchotitana, who is project editor of the book, said: "Sofia is caring and protective of Natalie. She wants to make a difference by helping other kids like her sister."
She added that playing with bricks had helped Sofia develop fine motor skills and visual conceptualisation.
The next volume of the book, which has a holiday theme, will be launched in September.
Sofia said: "It makes me feel great that I can help little children like my sister who need more help to play and build bricks."