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I’m swimmingly delighted that Little Mimic’s Superpower has received a 5-star review rating from Readers’ Favourite with the following review:

“Little Mimic’s Superpower by Emily Lim-Leh is the story of an amazing little octopus. He has discovered that he can change his body to match what he sees. He can make polka dots, stripes, even rainbow colors but he doesn’t know why he has this ability.

He observes everything going on around him especially when a Damselfish attacks him, and he hides. Once the Damselfish is scared off, he continues exploring his ocean world. He discovers he can even change his body shape. When the Damselfish returns, he suddenly realizes why he has these amazing superpowers. Facts about the real mimic octopus are included at the end of the story.”

“Emily Lim-Leh has written a wonderful story based on the actual mimic octopus. Little Mimic’s Superpower showcases the wonders of the sea and the amazing abilities of the mimic octopus. It just might encourage kids to get to know more about the ocean and its creatures.

I love how the story showcases the real-life intelligence of this octopus and its incredible superpower. Kids will enjoy making the sounds when Little Mimic changes his shape: whoosh, swish, swoosh! They will also start to think about what their superpowers might be. The illustrations by John Lim are colorful and engaging and bring Little Mimic to life. This little octopus oozes personality and joins other memorable aquatic picture book characters such as the Rainbow Fish and the Pout Pout Fish. Fingers crossed that we will see more of Little Mimic in the future.”

Little Mimic’s Superpower is now in Kinokuniya, Popular and Times bookstores!

You can also buy your copy from Times Bookstore’s GoGuru online store!

Today marks the 2nd anniversary of Mum’s passing.

I interviewed Dad on his and Mum’s dating story which I compiled into a booklet for her memorial dinner this evening. I am extracting my favourite moments which I scribed down in his words:

“Mum’s mother Tng Chwee and my mother Tung Siew Lin were family friends from the same municipality in China. They already knew each other when they were in China.

I remembered first seeing Mum when helping my mother to sell cloth at Nelson Road market when I was in primary school.  Mum’s father was selling coffee, tea and bread at a stall opposite my mother’s cloth stall in the market. Mum’s house was then at Borneo Road, around the corner from her father’s coffee stall. Her family stayed in a rental room on the second floor. Sometimes my mother would visit them, and I would accompany her. Being so young at that time, I did not have any romantic notions then.

The first time that I set sight on Mum was when I was much older. I was a young police probationary inspector (about 22 years old) and she was a student nurse (about 18 years old). I was driving to work in my mini car. Mum was pillion rider on her eldest brother’s scooter when both the scooter and my car stopped at the traffic light. Eddy was sending her to work and was going to turn left into Singapore General Hospital and I was headed straight towards Central Police Station. Eddy pointed me out to her as someone their family knew. We set eyes on each other that day.

From there, a while after, Mum’s mother brought Mum to visit my mother and me at our home to formally introduce us. Both mothers encouraged us to see each other more often.

During our courting days, Mum gave me a whole set of Old Spice for my personal grooming – hair cream, cologne etc. This was the first time that I had ever used cologne.

The photo that Mum gave Dad of herself when they were dating, which he hung up on his bedroom wall

We went out so often that I could not remember a specific moment or where we were when I proposed. When we decided to get married, it was a natural progression of our relationship.

Mum was working at KK Hospital when she met her godmother-to-be. Mum was one of the nurses taking care of Godma. Godma took a liking to Mum because her family found her beautiful and thought she looked like a popular local singer Rita Choa. Godpa helped Mum and me to get the Mount Vernon senior police officer’s quarters housing as he was more senior and knew the Quartermaster.

Mum and I often went to Satay Club in our younger years. On one occasion, we were both seated on a stone bench at the Esplanade looking out towards the sea, where Marina Bay is now. This was a few months into dating, and Mum took my hand and suddenly popped a question to me. She asked if I would ever leave her. I said, “No, I will never leave you.”

Whenever Dad and Mum went out together, right through their later years, Mum was always many spritely steps ahead and Dad had to chase after her to keep up.

My parents were married for over 50 years and today, have been separated for exactly two years. Mum made her way to Heaven quicker. But we hold onto our assurance in John 11:25-26 of the Bible that we will have our family reunion up there one day.

Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die. Do you believe this?” – John 11:25-26

Related Link:

God Knows Leh #28- Parting with an Old Spice Alabaster Jar Miracle

I’m elated to see the 3rd book in my Little series, fresh off the press!

Little Mimic’s Superpower is about a little octopus with an inkling that he has some sort of superpower, except he doesn’t fully grasp it. More details will follow when the book streams into the bookstores soon.

Related Link:

Speak Good English with Little Godwit and read-aloud expert Suzanne Jung

Little Mole sniffs out 5 stars with Readers’ Favourite!

Today is Thank God Friday…. in time zones at least 16 hours behind Singapore!

The first day of Chinese New Year, yesterday, was markedly different from past years because of this Covid19 pandemic we are in.

Yet, there has been plenty to be thankful for in this Chinese Year of the Ox:

  1. Family visits

We visited Ben’s parents first thing in the morning on the first day, as with tradition. We skipped the usual visits to another 5-6 older relatives’ homes due Singapore’s Covid19 restrictions of a maximum of 8 visitors per household. Instead, we had Ben’s family over for a leisurely 2-hour lunch for a change.

We’ll see a couple more relatives over the days ahead in a more spread out, by-appointment timetable.

Caleb’s angpow artpiece hangs from the ceiling whilst my dear friend’s pot of pussywillows stands at our entrance

2. Gifts of Beauty

Caleb made two beautiful art pieces, each made out of 15 angpows stapled together, which I’ve proudly displayed in our home.

And a very dear friend surprised me with a pot of pink pussy willows after I made a passing comment that I loved the one I saw at another friend’s home.

This has been a quieter Chinese New Year. But that we can still celebrate is worth celebrating in itself. And perhaps, it’s meant to be a season for more introspection, less ‘oxpectation’ of worldly pursuits and more gratitude for the things that truly matter in this season of safe-distancing and masking up.

Ecclesiastes 3: There is a time for everything and a season for every activity under the heavens… a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing.

2021 has started with similarities to 2020, with countries going back into lockdown as the Covid-19 virus mutates and continues to spread stealthily.

Amidst all this, I want to count my blessings:

1.Thank God for Singapore

I thank God for the strong community spirit in Singapore in battling this Covid-19 pandemic, even as we continue to exercise caution through mask-wearing and safe-distancing. With Chinese New Year around the corner, I hope that we collectively continue to keep our guard up when visiting relatives.

2. Thank God for parenthood

I thank God for parenthood and the joy of seeing Caleb turn 10 years old this past week.

As Caleb announced, “Mum, I’m double-digit now.”

“Yes, but you are at the start of double-digit,” I said.

“But it’s still double digit. 99 is also double digit,” he said.

It’s been a joy watching Caleb grow so much since the start of this year. And I’m glad we are still continuing our mother-son banter, which has been ongoing since he strung his first sentences together as a toddler.

3. Thank God for fellowship

As an introvert, I’ve gotten too comfortable dining at home through most of 2020, in response to our government’s call to ‘stay home to stay safe’.

It’s good to nonetheless fellowship with friends face to face now and then.

I’m thankful for a wonderful dinner with my fellowship group last week over one of the best meals that I’ve had in a long time.

The food at Moonbow was flavourfully excellent, the food presentation was creatively excellent and the ambience and service was friendly and excellent too.

We had the pleasure of meeting Chef Heman who came out to say hello and oblige us with a photo.

After we learned from a waiter that Chef Heman is an Ironman triathlete, award-winning ceramist (whose plates we were dining off) as well as a Dr. in Psychology, we decided to google him.

We found his amazing story on Salt & Light.

And to that, I say…resiliently excellent!

Caleb turns 10 this weekend. I asked my boy what wording he wanted on his birthday cake.

“How about ‘Wham! Bam! Caleb’s 10!’?”

“It sounds like someone pushed me against a wall and punched me,” Caleb said.

“Hmm…How about ‘Shazam! Caleb’s 10!?”

“Sounds like I’m a superhero with muscles. But I have no muscles,” he said.

“How about we just have ‘Caleb’s 10!’?”

“No… think of something before it,” he said.

“Then…Caleb’s 10!” I said.

“It sounds like a drama movie, when we reach the ‘Finally!’,” he said.

“Oh man, Caleb’s 10!” I said.

“It sounds like it is so difficult to reach 10,” he said.

“Sure can! Caleb’s 10!” I said.

“It sounds like you are asking the government for approval to celebrate my birthday. And they say “Sure can”, because I am 10,” he said.

“Abuthen, Caleb’s 10!” I said. “That’s Singlish for ‘Obviously’, since you always use ‘Obviously’.”

“Only English,” Caleb said.

I scratched my head. “Okay, since you have rejected everything, we’ll go with the last wording I can think of.”

“What’s that?” Caleb asked.

“Amen! Caleb’s 10!” I said.

He shrugged. “Okay.”

So, after our verbal sparring, we came to the perfect word for Caleb’s perfect 10.

And to one decade of parenting my witty, cheeky, wordy, quippy, funny kid, I say Amen!

Related Link:

Inside-Out Kid #13: Oh Divine, Caleb’s 9! 

With the Covid-19 pandemic ongoing, Caleb wasn’t keen to go out like we normally would during the school holidays last November and December 2020. So, he alternated between having friends over for playdates and holing up in his bedroom bingeing and re-reading the vast collection of Big Nate comic books. He borrowed the books through Libby, our National Library e-book service, which we started relying on when the Covid-19 pandemic broke out and our libraries shut for a few months.

Some Big Nate titles

One mum was surprised that I let Caleb binge on comics. She said that she banned her son from comics as she thought comics won’t help his school composition writing. She said that since I’m an author and don’t see any problem with it, she will now allow her son to read comics.

Shortly after, a very close friend remarked that Caleb should start reading books without illustrations as he’s old enough and it will help his school composition writing.

I’ve always flowed with Caleb’s reading interest and am perfectly fine with his recent pivot towards comics and graphic novels, as well as his love of chapter books with illustrations. After all, I do write children’s picture books and these have illustrations on every page…haha.

I mentioned it to my good friend Desmond, a prize-winning author, poet, lecturer and multi-hyphenate and he made an insightful comment – that comics are good for learning the art of writing conversations.

That is so true. Caleb’s new interest in comics and our comic-strip style mother-son banter have sparked a new style of writing which I’ve incorporated for an upcoming children’s book.

Meantime, he is still re-reading the Big Nate series when he comes home from school and chuckling over the corny jokes and laugh-out-loud schoolboy humour.

Toppings:

Series: Big Nate Series

Author: Lincoln Pierce

Publisher: Andrews McMeel Publishing

Age range: 8-12 years old

What’s on the Plate?

Big Nate, a four-and-a-half- feet tall, 11-year boy, holds the record for the highest number of school detentions. That doesn’t stop him from dreaming big as he battles teachers, homework and school food.

What’s Delicious?

  1. It’s laugh-out-loud humour (which I can testify to because Caleb will burst out chuckling and read bits of it to me).
  2. Its themes and school setting are very relatable for kids and gives their funny bones a good tickle after their sitting six hours in school daily.
  3. Big Nate started as a comic strip. With its success, it was turned into a book series. And this 2021, TV channel Nickelodeon will be airing the animated cartoon series.

Read more about this series here.

Hear! Hear! Little Godwit and Little Mole have just found their voices on Storytel!

Storytel is one of the world’s leading audiobook platforms with over 1 million paying subscribers.

You can download and try Storytel for a 14-day free trial and start listening to an unlimited number of great stories narrated to you and your kids. Check out Little Godwit Finds His Wings and Little Mole’s Awesome Star when you do!

As we end the first week of a brand new year, the problems that 2020 brought into clear vision have not gone away with the entering of a new year. From the Covid-19 pandemic to climate change threats. From living unsustainably to inequalities and suffering all over the world.

There are no simple solutions and it will require our collective resolve to make our world better.

I do want to start my year remembering that God is sovereign over everything and be thankful for all that we have:

  1. Singapore

I’m thankful for Singapore:

  • for good leadership, united people and an amazing healthcare workforce who have worked tirelessly to keep us all safe.
  • that we have come together as one people as Covid-19 awakened our collective conscience as a nation to help those in need.
  • that most of us have been keeping up with safe distancing, masking up and the other Covid-19 measures to keep our overall community well.
  1. Family

I’m thankful for family. Through Circuit Breaker in April and May last year, we’ve stayed at home and spent more time together, and in that process learn to give each other emotional space. We’ve continued to stay at home much more and keep to smaller social bubbles, cognisant that my dad, who has pre-existing medical conditions, lives in the same home.  

Celebrating Christmas with half of our fellowship group whilst the other half met at another home, in view of Covid-19 visitor limits.

3. Friends

As an author and introvert, I have to say that I’ve taken to social-distancing too well. As such, I have been very intentional in meeting up with several groups of friends the past month of December. I’ve enjoyed the smaller group gatherings, which lend themselves to one conversation, rather than multiple criss-crossing conversations which are sometimes hard to keep up with.

Singapore’s move into Phase 3 of Covid-19 measures on 28 December 2020, which permits 8 visitors instead of 5 visitors in Phase 2, also allowed our MGS gang to finally catch up as one group on New Year’s Day.

I hope that we will continue to be renewed in perspectives through this new year and make choices that makes our world better for our children’s generation.

Catching up with more friends over New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day

2020 has been a year like no other. And it’s brought a whole new lexicon of words into our vocabulary. Lockdown. Safe-distancing. Essential Services. Circuit Breaker. Swabbing. Zoom. And more.

It was a year of not writing-as-usual.

But as I do my traditional look-back of the year that’s passing, words have continued to play a big part of my year, whether writing privately for an audience of One or publicly for readers.

  1. Little Mole’s Awesome Star (February)

I was thrilled to launch Little Mole’s Awesome Star, the 2nd picture book in my ‘Little’ series, about a little star-nose mole’s tale of independence and first steps into the world.

2. Kueh Tutu’s Just Teddy dance (March)

Dance collective Kueh Tutu performed a dance interpretation of Just Teddy at The Art Ground to a lovely review in the Straits Times.

3. Failed Covid-19 picture book & Poetic Pause (April-May)

During Circuit Breaker (Singapore’s equivalent of a partial lockdown), I tried hard to write a Covid-19 themed picture book. I had hoped to use the book for fundraising purposes. But my writing was constipated and my pen was dry. I ended up shelving that and penning poetry, an art form totally not down my writing alley.

But then again, Singapore was in the thick of a pandemic and perhaps I needed to take a step out of my usual writing form.

4. NLB & NHB Storytelling sessions (May-August)

With Singapore going into Circuit Breaker mode (the equivalent of a partial lockdown), our National Library and National Heritage Board created storytelling videos to entertain the little ones staying at home over the months ahead.

Minister-of-State Sim Ann read The Tale of Rusty Horse for National Library Board’s Storytime programme. National Heritage Board premiered my friend, former Channel News Asia producer-presenter Suzanne Jung’s storytelling videos of Little Godwit Finds His Wings and Little Mole’s Awesome Star on its Facebook page.

5. My Father’s Tales (July-August, November-December)

After Covid-19 was talked ad-naseum, I decided to interview my dad and record his life stories for our family. The interviews have been completed. Now comes the editing and layout stage.

Our first trip to Europe when I was 9 years old

6. Sewing Stuff to Sow Good in SG (August- October)

I put my laptop aside for a sewing machine to sew for a few months. Following a providential introduction to an artisan mum and artist daughter, coupled with divine inspiration, we collaborated on Sew Sow Good Stuff SG, a fundraising initiative for non-profit Child at Street 11, a quality childcare centre for children from low-income families. It was a meaningful few months of new friendships, sewing fellowship and purposeful fundraising. And God multiplied our little mustard seed efforts over and beyond what we could imagine.

Daryl, Chiao Lin and me with the completion of the postcards and stuff toys for fundraising sales with my books

7. Moderating at AFCC, Zooming with SUSS (October)

I had the pleasure of moderating the opening session of the Asian Festival of Children’s Content. It was a meaningful discussion based on the topic Children’s Books in Times of Crisis and Change.

The panel speakers and me with Book Council Executive Director William Phuan just before the Festival opening

Two days later, I spoke to the graduating class of preschool educators at Singapore University of Social Sciences. I was very blessed through that session with SUSS’s kind support of my fundraising initiative Sew Sow Good Stuff SG.

8. Book of Hugs (October)

My newfound poetry muscles led to my first published poem in the Book of Hugs, a collection of stories, letters, poems and illustrated pieces by 45 authors and illustrators in Singapore. The Book of Hugs was published in October through the collective effort of author Lelia Boukarim, illustrator Dave Liew and Denise Tan of Closetful of Books as a fundraising initiative for this pandemic period.

9. Macaques in my Estate (October)

Macaques in my Estate, my fourth book in this local wildlife series, was published by Wildlife Reserves Singapore and distributed to all preschools in Singapore to raise awareness of living with macaques in our estates.

10. Little Godwit zooms into SWF (November)

Little Godwit zoomed into Singapore Writer’s Festival’s children’s programme with a Zoom performance. Literally.

11. Signing with Scholastic Asia (November)

After placing top three at the Scholastic Asian Picture Book Award last year, Scholastic Asia offered my collaborator Alycia and me a publishing contract for My Grandfather’s Rojak, which was inked this November.

12. Just Teddy turns Taiwanese (December)

My Christmas present came early and in the most unexpected form with Our Daily Bread Taiwan publishing 33,000 copies of the Taiwanese translation of Just Teddy: Psalm 139. “Ordinary Extraordinary”, the Taiwanese title translation of Just Teddy sums up what this launch into Taiwan has been for me.  

13. Christmas @ Home (December)

I was roped in to help with the finale of Christmas@Home, a Christmas online programme for children and their families for the school holidays leading up to Christmas. I helped with the programming and also shared about how I started my writing journey with my debut book Prince Bear & Pauper Bear.

I’m grateful for the experience I gained working with new friends Anne Soh and Sook Neo who initiated this programme, and already-friends David Leong and Angie Maniam for this session. And I was very encouraged by the response of the families and children who zoomed in with us.

14. A New Series, A New Publisher (October- December)

It’s fortuitous how when I decided that I wasn’t going to write this year, I was then approached to write a new children’s book series soon after. Given that “hybrid” has become the modus operandi word for many, I decided to go hybrid in my new series. More on this in the weeks to come.        

15. New Voice, Clean Breast (December)

I was given the opportunity to share my personal journey with Methodist Message, the newsletter for the Methodist Church of Singapore. Writing this article allowed me to reflect on God’s goodness in my life.

I’ve been reading through my personal reflections that I wrote in my spiritual journal this past week and that will remain for an audience of One. I can only say that 2020 is truly a year where we need to re-look at our world with new vision, and with that hopefully re-imagine and re-write the script for a better world.

Related Links:

2019: A Mourned Chapter, Poured Pages, New Prose & God’s Word

2018: A Year of Writing Wilderness, New Frontiers and Fresh Manna