Local mother and daughter team publish two children’s books

by Michele Collins

Sabrina Makhsimova was just nine years old when she asked her mother about a drawing her mom had made.

Inspired by her mother Dinara Mirtalipova’s characters from what she called “North Pole Village,” Sabrina wrote a poem that went along with the characters.

“It was a simple little paragraph, but just for fun,” said Sabrina. “My mom submitted it to Chronicle Books Publishing, and astonishingly, they accepted a nine-year-old’s work.”

That was 2020.

Since that time, the mother-daughter team of Dinara and Sabrina, who reside in Sagamore Hills, have published two books, with Sabrina writing and Dinara illustrating.

Their most recent collaboration is called “Merfolk Village.”

“Merfolk Village is a sequel to ‘North Pole Village,’ our first book,” said Dinara. “The concept is based on the idea of creating a ‘village’ out of three little houses where three characters dwell. ‘Merfolk Village’ is a summer-themed book for all kids who love being in the water.”

A variety of characters star in “Merfolk Village.” A mermaid spends her day taking care of the ocean floor and its habitats. A curious diver loves to take pictures and make friends with ocean creatures. A mercat spends its day being spoiled and doing absolutely nothing.

This is not Dinara’s first experience in artistic work as she is an award-winning folk artist, illustrator and surface designer. Born and raised in Uzbekistan, her art is influenced by Uzbek and Russian folk tales.

Through the writing and illustrating process, mother and daughter receive inspiration and positive encouragement from one another.

“From the time when I was little, my mom has always supported me with whatever I wanted to do,” said Sabrina. “From striving to become a ballerina-astronaut when I was four to stepping into the writing world, my mom has always been by my side. Working with her was a great learning point for me, we both brainstormed and critiqued each other’s progress, developing the characters almost entirely from scratch.”

Since publishing her first book, Sabrina’s writing knowledge has continued to grow, along with her confidence as an author.

“Ever since 2020, my vocabulary has expanded tremendously, as well as my general knowledge of literature,” said Sabrina. “But my proudest moment of this book would be the fact that this three-year long process ended with me learning and growing more than I had ever anticipated.”

Mother and daughter have had some exciting experiences as a result of their collaboration, including a book signing. Their two books are now available wherever books are sold, but locally, some signed copies are available at the Learned Owl Book Shop in Hudson.

Entering her last year of middle school, Sabrina is interested in possibly authoring another book that speaks to readers who are the same age as she is now.

“Looking back at the end result of what nine-year-old me made, I’m glad I did it. But I do not in any way want that to be the end of my passion,” said Sabrina. “Though I am not currently working on any projects, I always find time to just quickly type or write something down whether it be a quick poem or just an observation I made.

“Both of the books I’ve written so far are targeted towards a younger demographic, and though I do enjoy getting to explore in that age range, I would love to do a project targeted for teenagers to preteens. I find it easier to talk to people that are around my age.”

Dinara said she is also open to creating another village where a whole new batch of characters lives.

The writing duo said they both enjoy working, writing and publishing together.

But like most mothers and daughters, they also enjoy just being together – taking trips to the art museum, scouring art supply stores for just the right pencils and sitting and chatting in their living room.

Perhaps their next collaboration could take place in a little village named Sagamore Hills, where a mother and daughter have proven they can do tremendous things by working together. ∞

Sabrina and Dinara’s first book, “North Pole Village.” Photo submitted.

On our cover (photo): Sabrina Makhsimova (l) and her mother Dinara Mirtalipova attend a book signing for their newest children’s book, “Merfolk Village.” This is the second book the Sagamore Hills residents have written and illustrated together. Photos submitted.