Ms JENNY AITCHISON (Maitland)—A heartfelt desire to bring cheer to sick children in hospital has led six-year-old Laila Sarki to become possibly Australia's youngest published author.

Laila lives in Gillieston Heights with her mother Dr Saira Chandio, father Dr Shahid Sarki and little sister Nooriya. Due to the family's medical connection, Laila has developed a deep interest in, and empathy for, sick children who find themselves in hospital. When the COVID-19 pandemic struck and hospital visitor numbers were restricted, Laila told her mum she wished she could read a story to children in hospital. Her mother encouraged her to enter her school's Book Week story competition. And so began the tale of Hop Pop the Flying Unicorn.

Laila, who is in Kindergarten at Hunter Valley Grammar School, wrote and illustrated the content herself, hand-scribing each letter in a different colour. An independent publisher turned the work into book form. The family is awaiting confirmation from the National Library of Australia about whether Laila is indeed our country's youngest author/illustrator of a children's book.

I commend Laila's empathy and initiative, and look forward to her continued development as a writer, as an illustrator, and as a compassionate young woman.