About J.D. OOSTHUIZEN
J.D. (Johan) Oosthuizen was born in Grahamstown, South Africa. In his mid-twenties he studied graphic design, eventually spending a good part of his creative career as a stylist in the textile industry.
In the early 2000s, as an extension of his creative voice, Johan discovered his love of writing and illustration.
Filled with new energy, he immediately began crafting his debut work, Meeko and the Malefic Morphis. An engrossing and exciting tale inhabited by wondrous characters and bursting with good-natured humour, this work was carefully crafted both visually and aurally, making it suitable to be read out loud as well as quietly to oneself. It also allowed him to convey to his young readers something he feels very strongly about: the importance of protecting our forests and, by extension, our planet.
This author’s motto is: Hold on to the child in you – and you will remain in awe of the universe.
Johan is currently working on his second children’s book, a novel in which he addresses the issue of litter in his unique and memorable way.
It all started when...
Meeko and the Malefic Morphis
A book that will absorb, entertain and satisfy children from 8 to 80!
When puffy-cheeked river pebbles burble anxiously at a crab carrying two bright crimson stones in its burly pincers, trouble rumbles its arrival in the Magmakamma Forest. A tired and thirsty young fisherman witnesses this incident. He plucks the stones from the stream.
The boy stores the stones deep inside a pocket and clambers up the embankment to find shelter from the storm. Soon he nods off – but not before he has inspected his magical find. As he sleeps, his fertile imagination turns his awesome discovery into a vivid dream.
In this striking fantasy realm, lightning cracks across the knuckles of a giant wild fig known as the Dungeon Tree. Its tired old roots relent and lose their grip on the mossy forest floor. Its only prisoner, the feared Malefic Morphis, escapes! From the moment he tears himself free of his root-shackles, fortune smiles on the blind and embittered creature. He procures the two fiery stones and threatens to destroy the entire forest and all the creatures living in it.
One of them is Meeko, a gentle manikin. He learns of the monster’s escape and consults the wise Sprite Queen. Soon Meeko finds himself at the centre of a plan to recapture the monster. He asks his best friends, Sputz and Frip, two competitive and mischievous Squelshees, to assist him. The playful pair introduce him to their friends, Droople and Schloffa. Meeko invites them all to a secret meeting at his home.
That night, while a pale-yellow moon struggles to break through the soft clouds, a spotted eagle owl, perched high in a yellowwood, announces the arrival of the manikin’s guests. In a cosy room deep under a tree, the creatures formulate a cunning plan.
Meeko, a pair of Amfibeos, the two Squelshees and Doctor Dubious, the forest healer and herbalist, set off at daybreak to set a trap for the Malefic Morphis. They manage to set up something that promises to work well. Soon they hear the desperate, hoarse trumpeting of the pumpkinhorn, a signal from the Molluskop sentries that the Malefic Morphis is heading towards the trap. The Squelshees race back up the tree to which the trap is secured. Meeko and the rest of his team dive behind a log. Everyone’s heart is pounding as they wait.
Some distance from the log, a leafy curtain of thicket is slowly drawn aside. A set of appalling claws hovers briefly in the air; then rakes the early-morning light. A leathery forearm digs firmly into the path. Two red eyes glow in the shadows. The monster is beyond terrifying!
As this tale unfolds, we discover whether Meeko and his team succeed in saving the forest and we realise that things aren’t always as simple or as complicated as they seem.
Meeko and the Malefic Morphis is an unforgettable, entertaining fantasy dealing with real issues. It is designed to celebrate the reading experience both visually and aurally; and to bridge the young reader’s transition from picture books to short-chapter novels.
REVIEW BY LEIGH BARRETT, SKAMBHA VILLAGE:
The moment lightning bolts crack the knuckles of a Dungeon Tree, you know you're going to be whisked away on a special quest and Johan Oosthuizen patiently creates layer upon layer for the reader to delve into a magical world - and in no time at all they're in a story that is as deep and complex as it is wonderful.
Subtle messages of environmental concerns, empathy, responsibility, and bravery fill the pages as every character questions, in their own way, "What made us think we were strong enough for this?" With Sprites and Squelshees and Manikins, and Molluskops, and all the other fantastical characters playing their special roles as members of a forest community deeply concerned about the future of their home, it is also a message to us: no matter what the risk, it takes uniting as a community to save it.
Oosthuizen's artwork is breathtaking: colorful illustrations that carry depth and magic in each one and brings the tale to life in an almost 3-dimensional way. A beautiful offering for kids of all ages.