Our mascot, a happy mouse

Sasha Alyson

A new career for an old publisher

Sasha Alyson, our token blond (or is it gray?), was born in the United States. He now spends most of his time in Laos as the volunteer advisor for Big Brother Mouse, where he and Khamla bring together their complementary skills to form the management team.

Sasha reads to a boy sitting on a tamarind tree. Sasha has written several of our books. The first ones he wrote in Lao, before he could speak the language, using a bilingual dictionary and his knowledge of Thai grammar (which is similar to Lao) to write two short and easy books: Polar Bear Visits Laos and Eggs, Eggs, Eggs.

In first grade, Sasha had trouble learning to read and didn't particularly want to; the school was using a dull series called Alice and Jerry. Then his parents brought home The Cat in the Hat, by Dr. Seuss, and he quickly became an avid reader. That experience shaped his belief that learning to read can be fun, and should be fun. The Dr. Seuss Beginner books have provided inspiration for a number of our books, in which we've used the underlying concepts of the original books, while applying Lao experiences and words. These include the two books mentioned above, New, Improved Buffalo, and Tha Thao's Picture Dictionary.

Sasha received this handmade gift from Sonesulilat (on left) when Big Brother Mouse had a birthday
party and baci ceremony for him in Luang Prabang. Sasha was the first person in his immediate family who didn't go to college. Instead, he worked at jobs that interested him, and got experience writing, editing, printing, and typesetting, then started his own publishing company when he was 27, and later an adventure travel company. He was also an award-winning children's book writer, and was named Publisher of the Year in 1994 by the New England Booksellers Association. Sasha sold the last of his businesses in 2002, and moved to Southeast Asia the following year.

On his first visit to Luang Prabang he was struck by the absence of any books in Lao. That's when he first got the idea for Big Brother Mouse, although it took almost three years of planning, preparation, and discussions before any books appeared. His only regret, Sasha says, is that he didn't come to Laos sooner.