Simerg’s Special Series on Books by Ismaili Authors: “Little One, You Are The Universe” by Zeni Shariff of Toronto

Publisher/Editor SimergBarakah and Simergphotos

This is the 2nd in our bi-weekly series “Books by Ismaili Authors.” The series began with Justice Bertha Wilson Pushes the Boundaries of Humanity by Shamas Nanji of Edmonton, Canada. We ask each author to introduce their book(s) to our readers by answering a series of short questions. In this post, Zeni Shariff of Toronto, Canada, responds on her latest title “Little One, You Are The Universe.”


Simerg: What is behind the naming of the title of the book? 

Zeni Shariff: The meaning behind the title Little One, You Are The Universe is that the Universe belongs to all living beings and it is incumbent upon all living beings to look after the Universe and one another.

Simerg: Why would you want me or my family members to read the book, and what will we all learn from it?

Zeni: I would like you or your family members to read the book for the following reasons:

(1) It will connect you with the child within you; and
(2) It will connect you with your parents and grandparents in a very personal way.

For those of who you who have not been to different continents, I believe you will understand, through the story of the elephants, what kinds of struggles living beings go through as they are relocated from one continent to the other, overcome struggles, adjust and live in new environments, and find joys in the small things of life.

Simerg: What inspired you to write the book?

Zeni: My grandchildren and the legacy I wish to live for them.

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Front cover of Toronto Ismaili writer’s book “Little One, You Are the Universe;” published by Bublish, Inc., USA, 2020; 38 pp, available in hardcover, eBook and paperback.

Simerg: How can I purchase the book and what are its available formats?

Zeni: Little One, You are the Universe is available in three formats: eBook, paperback, and hardcover. Details of where and how to purchase including prices are at my updated webpage link

You can also buy it through Amazon sites worldwide. In North America, Little One, You are the Universe is available on (Canadian site) and (for U.S. and international purchases).

Simerg: How did you find a publisher for the book?

Zeni: I contacted several publishers and used the one that met my budget criteria. I went with Bublish, Inc.

Simerg: Did you hire an editor, an illustrator or did you do all the work by yourself?

Zeni: I requested our youngest son Naguib to edit my work. I did all the illustrations and writing.

“This book [Little One, You are the Universe] is a heartwarming and beautiful story kids are sure to love. It also teaches about history, geography, and the environment making it more than just a read aloud for kids — it’s a great book to grow with. The illustrations are fantastic and compliment the story perfectly.” — DD reviewer, from author’s website

Simerg: Which was your first book and how many have you written?

Zeni: My first book is a photographic book entitled Alter Your Heart beats in an Oasis, and it is about a visitor going into and around the Aga Khan Museum in Toronto, Canada. My second book is How Things Grow. It teaches young children how things grow and where the food we eat comes from. Its inspiration was tending to a garden that grew strawberries in Toronto. And Little One, You are the Universe is my third book and, as mentioned earlier, it is published by Bublish.

Simerg: How long did it take you to write Little One, You are the Universe — from start to finish and to begin marketing it?

Zeni: It took me approximately 9 years. The illustrations were painted by myself first, and then I wrote the book. Covid-19 was one of the incentives for having the book published.

Simerg: Tell us a little bit more about Little One, You are the Universe.

Zeni: While crossing the Yamuna River in their home of northern India, elephants Lotus and Adia are separated from each other and captured by humans. Lotus is sent to Tanzania in East Africa to work on the railways.  Adia is sent to the Ashantee Forest in West Africa to carry heavy loads for the miners.

The book is an invitation to you to join Lotus and Adia on their journeys.

Date posted: February 25, 2021.


Zeni Shariff author of Little One You Are The Universe
Zeni Shariff

Zeni Shariff completed her education at the Aga Khan Girls Secondary School in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, and later studied at Ryerson, in Toronto, Canada. She loves to read and share stories from the journeys of her late grandparents and parents from one continent to another. Their stories and experiences have taught Zeni to be kind and decent to everyone and to never give up hope.

We encourage Ismaili writers to introduce their books in a similar format as Zeni’s book described above (or see Nanji’s post). Please also see the series launch article and submit your answers to Malik at All submissions will be acknowledged. If a writer has published multiple books, each book will be highlighted in a separate article, and not combined with other books into one post. Please also include your brief profile, with a photo.

We welcome feedback from our readers. Please complete the LEAVE A REPLY form below or click Leave a comment. Your letter may be edited for length and brevity, and is subject to moderation.

Before departing this website please take a moment to review Simerg’s Table of Contents for links to hundreds of thought provoking pieces on a vast array of subjects including faith and culture, history and philosophy, and arts and letters to name a few. Also visit Simerg’s sister websites Barakah, dedicated to His Highness the Aga Khan, and Simergphotos.

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