THE FRIENDLY BANYAN TREE by Sybil Wettasinghe
Sybil Wettasinghe was a children's book writer and an illustrator in Sri Lanka. Considered as the doyen of children’s literature in Sri Lanka, Wettasinghe has produced more than 200 children's books which have been translated into several languages. Two of her best known works are "Child In Me" and "Eternally Yours"
Sybil Wettasinghe was born on 31 October 1927, the second of five siblings. She spent the first six years of her childhood in the village of Gintota in suburban Galle, where she started the primary education from Ginthota Buddhist School. Her family then moved to Colombo where she entered the Holy Family Convent, Bambalapitiya at the age of 6. Her grandfather was a sculptor. Her father was a building contractor and mother was an artist with lace-making.
In 1952, while working at the Janatha newspaper, Wettasinghe made her first attempt to write stories. She produced a narrative called Kuda Hora for the children's page of the newspaper in 1952. This story eventually developed into a book that won critical acclaim both locally and internationally. Inspired by the success of Kuda Hora, Wettasinghe applied herself to writing as well as illustrating and proceeded to produce over 200 children's books over the course of her career.
During her career, Wettasinghe has won much international acclaim and her children's stories secured awards both in Europe and Asia. On 6 March 2020, Wettasinghe's name was entered into Guinness Book of World Records for the book with the most number of alternate endings. It was shared with schools in all three languages. The book Wonder Crystal received a total of 20,000 endings from children all over Sri Lanka, out of which the 1200 best entries were featured in a printed version to coincide with World Children’s Day.