In March of 2012 I travelled to Sri Lanka with Habitat for Humanity and built a house in a small farming village in the central province. The family I worked with are wonderfully hospitable and I felt a bond between us.
The homeowner is a 54 year old woman, building a house for her son, his wife, and their two sons. One son is an infant and Sithum is 8 years old. He is a strong, handsome and gregarious guy, enthusiastic and he did his best to chip in whenever he was on the work site after school.
Sithum's young cousin Ashen was excited and curious, very funny, and couldn't quite conceive that I didn't speak Sinhalla, the native language of the Singalese people in Sri Lanka. He was at the work site every day, due to his age. He was only three years old and didn't attend school yet. This was great for me, because I got to know the little guy! I named the character in this book Ashen, but he will be a nice composite of both the boys at the site. Sithum's enthusiasm and big-boy attitude will help motivate my character to get into some trouble and help out building the house, while Ashen's curiosity and gregarious nature will help endear him to readers. Enjoy the work, and remember to check back as research and art progress.