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Caleb caught one bug after another since returning to school after the June holidays.

First, it was a horrendous flu bug from a classmate. He missed school for two weeks, and passed it to Ben and me by the second week.

Then he tested Covid-positive. As did four other classmates.

Unfortunately, this was the second time I isolated him in a month as we had initially thought his flu was Covid. So, this time around, he was even more miserable.

I tried to make it up to him by buying his favourite food and generally relaxing rules on him listening to music on the Discord App in his room.

He had a bad cough, mild grade fever and his taste buds were affected. But other than that, it was quite clear that he didn’t have Covid brain fog.

First, he wanted lunch from Din Tai Fung, his favourite restaurant for zhar jiang mian and fried rice.

I rushed to buy it after my 75-minutes Characters workshop session which I conducted.

I got home, put his plate on a tray, along with the takeaway box. Put on an N95 mask and gloves and delivered his lunch to his room.

After I settled down to start lunch, I heard a voice calling from upstairs:

“Mum, you gave me a metal spoon, not a porcelain spoon.”

I took a deep breath and said in a measured voice, “Well, just use it.”

“I’m just saying,” he said.

The next day, I bought his favorite I-steak Mac and cheese, chicken linguini and mushroom soup. I brought up two plates, one bowl and a set of fork and spoon.

As I sat down and was about to tuck into my lunch, I heard a voice calling, “Mum, can I have a bowl for my soup?”

“I gave you a bowl,” I said.

“The bowl you gave me is for Mac and cheese,” he said. “I need a soup bowl.”

“Why can’t you just use the plate?”

“Mac and cheese has to be in the bowl.”

I looked at my uneaten lunch, masked up and made my way up the stairs again. More handwashing.

The next day, I decided to pre-empt the plates and bowls saga.

“Which plate would you like for your wanton noodles?”

“The Star Wars plate with the ends curved up.”

Okay, I nailed it this time, I thought.

I delivered the correct plate with cutlery, came down. Took off my N95 mask and gloves, washed hands and settled down to breakfast. As I was about to eat…

“Mum, can I have chopsticks and the porcelain spoon? I don’t eat the noodles with fork and spoon.”

A close friend I told about this said that I would be receiving a feedback form from Caleb soon for failing at room service daily.

The following day, I was hoping to sleep in after several days of serving two in-house patients – my son and my domestic helper.

But at 6.45am, I heard Caleb yelling for me amidst coughs.

I jumped out of bed and rushed to his room bleary-eyed.

“What happened? Are you okay?” I asked.

“I’m lonely. I have no one to talk to,” he lamented.

I was thinking of my nice, soft pillow. But, I put on my N95 mask and sat at the entrance of his bedroom.

“I’ll stay here to talk to you, okay? I said.

“I hate Covid,” Caleb said.

Yah.

Real life imitating fiction as I followed my own advice to wedge the door ajar in what I wrote in What Do I Do if I’m Covid Positive? so I could check in on my Covid-positive son. And like the book’s character, Caleb also reached his emotional limit of self-isolation. I tested positive the day after I hugged him and so, I moved in to isolate with him.

On day 5, Caleb had reached his limit on self-isolation. “I have not been hugged by a living being for four full days,” He declared. “I need a hug right now. The word is ‘need’.”

I sighed. Then I said, “I have an idea.” I took out a disposable adult-sized raincoat for him to wear.

“What’s this?” Caleb asked curiously.

“It’s our hugging hazmat suit,” I said.

He put it on and I hugged him without skin contact. It filled his emotional tank.

The hugging hazmat suit Our meals together on his old preschool table

The next day, I tested Covid-positive.

Thankfully, my helper tested negative on the same day.

It worked out for the better. It saved me the masking, gloving, non-stop handwashing and repeated running to his room as he called for me throughout the day. And he had someone to talk to.

I isolated with him for the rest of the period till we both tested negative.

And I retired the hugging hazmat suit for barrier-free hugs.

Over the past 2 weeks, I gave talks as guest speaker, to 400 preschool teachers over 5 sessions across 5 days on the subject of Characters in Picture Books. It was part of a full day Inferring Characters workshop by Dr Donna Lim. Donna is a senior lecturer at a tertiary institution. She was also Chief Judge of the 2022 Hedwig Anuar Children’s Book Awards, the most prestigious children’s book awards in Singapore.

I shared about the inspiration behind how I started writing (yes, I wanted to win a publishing grant from the Book Council’s First Time Writers Publishing Initiative).

I shared why I submitted a picture book entry (because it required only 500 words whereas middle grade and Young Adult required up to 20,000 words, and it was the same prize money).

Although I started out in a very Singaporean style of evaluation, I fell in love with picture books and found a passionate new voice, after grappling with Spasmodic Dysphonia, a rare voice disorder, for a decade.

I took participants through the character journeys of Prince Bear & Pauper Bear and Little Godwit who finds his wings.

I dived into character-driven picture books like my Tibby the Tiger Bunny and Marky Polo’s Travels series.

I had participants discuss character journeys. I brought a suitcase of 20 picture books which the 10-12 groups selected from.

And I rounded up on the big picture in picture book writing.

It was educational for me to see the educator’s perspective through Donna’s session, where she selected Prince Bear & Pauper Bear for a deeper character study. I also had a chance to see what the participants took away from my teddy bear tale.

“Are all characters equal?” Donna asked, as she delved into major and minor characters.

No.

Yet as I discovered, the boy (a minor character) who repairs both Prince Bear and Pauper Bear, emerged a big favourite amongst two sessions of teachers, with one group voting the boy as their overall favourite character.

Why? Because the boy showed love and grace to both tattered bears and restored them.

And that’s when a minor character can make an unequally major impact.

I’m hopping with elation with Our Daily Bread Ministries Taiwan publishing Bunny Finds the Right Stuff in Chinese translation.

When I wrote my 4-book Toy Series (with this Bunny book being the 4th title), I self-published it under my Mustard Seed Books imprint. It was my hope and aspiration that these little picture books, like the Parable of the Mustard Seed (Matthew 13:32), would grow in reach and purpose.

Bunny Finds the Right Stuff is my 2nd Toy title that has been adapted in collaboration with Our Daily Bread Ministries. My little mustard seed book, baked into Daily Bread, hopped out of the printing oven with 40,000 copies. I’m grateful for the stuff of multiplication in my Maker’s hands.

And yes, it’s out in Taiwan first!

Singapore…akan datang.

“As the rain and the snow come down from heaven, and do not return to it without watering the earth and making it bud and flourish, so that it yields seed for the sower and bread for the eater…”

Isaiah 55:10

Last Friday, I received an overflow of Grain and a package of Unmerited Grace.

Grain sent a wholesome catered meal for 5 persons, compliments of Singhealth.

A courier also delivered a box filled with unmerited grace:

  • A beautifully book produced for Singapore Health’s Inspirational Patient & Caregiver Awards 2022. The book is a compilation of all winners and their personal stories as patient or caregiver
  • A plaque with the page spread of my caregiver story and photoshoot
  • Grocery vouchers (which, in the words of Joel 2:24, can fill the vat with oil and wine 😊)
  • A personalised letter from the healthcare institution that nominated me (this being National Cancer Centre)

My story, which Singhealth published in its Inspirational Patient & Caregiver Awards 2022 book:

After my father found two small lumps on his right cheek, I brought him for several medical examinations. He was subsequently diagnosed with lymphoma in March 2021. He did not take the news well. My mother had passed away from Stage 4 pancreatic cancer in 2019, so his cancer diagnosis brought back sad memories. However, his doctor at the National Cancer Centre Singapore was very helpful and reassuring. He told us that Dad’s prognosis for recovery was good as he had been diagnosed early.

As a cancer survivor myself and having taken care of Mum’s medical treatments when she was ill, I have some familiarity with cancer treatment. Even then, Dad’s cancer journey was still difficult.

Since Mum’s passing, Dad has gone from one health issue to another. He went through pacemaker surgery, followed by a severe bout of eczema for many months. To ensure that I could manage all his conditions and follow-up, I take notes at every consultation with the doctors.  For his first chemotherapy session, I created an Excel spreadsheet checklist to keep track of all his medications. I also administered his steroid injections at home. The support of family and friends uplifted him through challenging stretches. He is in remission today.

As for myself, I draw strength from my Christian faith. I am also very fortunate to have a loving husband who journeyed with me through my own health issues, from spasmodic dysphonia (a rare voice disorder) to breast cancer, as well as my family’s health challenges. My young son is my happy pill and constant source of joy.

Recently, illustrator Josef Lee and I created two children’s picture e-books, packed with the latest health protocols and reassuring words, for Covid-positive children and their families. We produced I Can Recover at Home! in collaboration with Dr Darryl Lim, who helmed a volunteer paediatric team for Covid-positive children. For What do I do if I’m Covid Positive?, we collaborated with Ministry of Health. It’s been meaningful to be able to collaborate with healthcare folks in these Covid times.

This is especially since I deeply appreciate the amazing healthcare support that my family has received through the years and Senior Staff Nurse Alex Huang who has been such a blessing to us through Dad’s treatment.

“Emily was meticulous in taking down notes during clinical consultations and coordinating care for her father. It was reassuring to have someone like Emily care for Mr Lim as we knew we could count on her to ensure everything went smoothly.”

Alex Huang

Senior Staff Nurse, Nurse Clinician Department

National Cancer Centre Singapore

Thank you to Singhealth for making us caregivers feel so privileged and cared for by the same healthcare system that has cared for us and our families. I know there are so many caregivers out there who have gone through more challenging caregiving situations than me. So, I can only say that this has simply been an overflow of Grain and outpouring of Grace for me, for which I am grateful.

“The threshing floors shall be full of grain; the vats shall overflow with wine and oil.” – Joel 2:24

Today, Ben and I drove overseas for lunch to mark the anniversary of when we went ‘steady’.

‘Overseas’ was over at Sentosa.

‘Steady’ was our 80’s lingo for committing to a relationship.

‘Anniversary’ is for our 31 years together as a couple.

Our paths first crossed when we were 14 years old.

Literally.

The road where Ben’s home was crossed the road where I lived.

After I moved away, our paths crossed again.

Figuratively.

He was in the army and I was in university.

It was unplanned on the day we decided to ‘go steady’.

I gave him a greeting card that I crafted.

He gave me a wooden log that he carved.

And the log marked the fateful (and faithful) day.

What can I say about our 31 years together?

It’s been a most eventful journey.

With mountains and valleys,

sickness and health,

brokenness and restoration.

The grace and right hand of God has steadied us through it all.

And we are very blessed.

“And [so] he brought me up from [the] roaring pit, from the miry clay.

And he put my feet upon a rock; he made my steps steady.” 

Source: https://bible.knowing-jesus.com/Psalm/40/2/type/leb

This week, I had the pleasure of visiting Odyssey, a Global Preschool, as Mystery Author!

The children were confident, curious and spontaneous and had me right at Hello!  

Literally.

Right at when I said “Hello, I’m Emily and I write children’s books.”

Immediately, a five-year-old boy piped up, “Do you have a husband?”

I knew right then that we were going to have a very fun and interactive session.

The children participated enthusiastically in my reading of Little Mimic’s Superpower – the book selected for the Mystery Author book reading.

They caught the heart of the story and wiggled and boogied along with Little Mimic.

They also peppered me with lots of questions about my vocation.

“How long does it take you to write a book?”

“How many books have you written?”

“Are you working on any more books?”

“Do you enjoy being an author?”

This last philosophical question gave me pause before I answered.

I also shared about my journey as a writer and the inspiration behind my debut book Prince Bear & Pauper Bear. After the children watched the 2-minute animation clip of this book, they chorused, “We love the story!”

And the ultimate gem came.

“I wish I could be in your book,” 5-year-old Nadia said.

“Oh wow…” I said. “Which part of the book would you want to be in?”

“The part where Pauper Bear saves Prince Bear,” Nadia said. “Then I can help.”

“Aww…I wish you are in my book too,” I said, heart melting at this priceless gem of encouragement.

Such are the mysterious joys of being an author – when a child wants to literally step into your book. 🙂

I spent this past Thursday through Sunday at the Asian Festival of Children’s Content 2022 at our Central Library building. It was a hybrid event, with in-person sessions for the first time since Covid infected our shores in 2020.

It was refreshing to catch up with my write tribe and new friends at the conference, scheduled and unscheduled at the various sessions and tea breaks.

My highlights:

  1. Spinning on Singapore Stories, from plots to styles to themes

 I had the absolute pleasure of speaking on the panel with author pals Low Ying Ping and Pauline Loh, with our session moderated by one of my closest friends Hwee Goh. None of this was a coincidence.

I responded to AFCC’s Call for Papers and cobbled our panel together. With this being our first-in-person session at AFCC in two years, my criteria was FUN. I wanted to do this with friends and have fun preparing for the session.

During Q&A of our session, when author Daryl Kho’s 2nd saw our foodie photo in our presentation slides, he asked, “Where were you eating?”

I had to answer this very pertinent question to our panel preparation: “Daryl, we had economy beehoon.”

(L) At our Q&A segment and (R) With author Daryl Kho who asked that important kidlit question. lol. Daryl’s brilliant novel Mistbound won the Hedwig Anuar Book Award for Best Middle Grade category the next day.

I gave a quick overview of our entire Singapore picture book market and shared how I spun ideas for my picture books.

Ying Ping dived into middle grade and Young Adult, which is her thing.

Pauline shared on her own writing experience across all genres and wrapped up with tips for writing children’s books.

Hwee kept us in line and on time, on top of firing off her Channel News Asia style questions to us, a product of her CNA producer and journalist years.

(Top left: Getting our group photo before the session started, Top right: Waiting to start as Hwee introduced us, Bottom left: Starting with an introduction to the Picture Books market, Bottom Right: World Scientific Education’s publisher Ruth Wan, editor Daniele Lee and authors Lianne Ong and Janice Khoo who attended our session)

2. Kidlit & the Write Tribe

I relished the opportunity to see old friends and new friends at sessions and at the level 3 café, where the Festival Bookstore was situated.

(Top left: With Dawn and Donna Lim. Donna was one of the 3 judges for this year’s Hedwig Anuar Children’s Book Awards this year. Top right: With former ST editor and friend Alan John, Bottom Left: Our girl pals from earlier plus Vivian Teo, author of My BFF is an Alien, which was shortlisted for the Hedwig Anuar Children’s Book Award this year, Bottom right: Lunching with Hwee and Pauline on Day 2.)

3. Through child-like eyes

No AFCC is complete without the Festival Bookstore run by Denise Tan and Kelvin Ng, the dynamic duo behind Closetful of Books, who have continued chugging along through challenging times in their online cum pop-up bookstore, for the love of books.

I autographed a stack of my books and bought a stash for myself, of course.

(Love these shots that Denise took when Dave Liew and I were handed a stack of books to autograph. We looked like we were in remedial class as we sat, head down, doing our homework on our little preschool chairs! All Festival bookstore photos here are taken by Closetful of Books and I’m delighted to spy several of my books amongst the displays.)

4. GIF! It’s Little Mimic’s Superpower

AFCC’s Closing Night saw the handing out of awards for the best cover design and GIF design based on selected books. This competition was organised jointly by Singapore Book Council and Lasalle College of the Arts’ Puttnam School of Film and Animation. Students were asked to design book covers or create GIFs based on selected children’s books. The winning entries are designed off books which include Lianne Ong’s and Janice Khoo’s Sing a Song of Hawker Food, Pauline Loh’s Lion Boy and Fire Girl and my book Little Mimic’s Superpower!

(Top row: Winning entries based on Little Mimic’s Superpower. Bottom Left: With Charmaine Chong, the 5th prize winner who designed a GIF based on Little Mimic! Aiyah, I should have recorded the video of the full GIF! Bottom right: With fellow authors, whose books the winning entries were based on.)

4. Closing full circle with Rusty Horse

This year’s AFCC closing ceremony was especially meaningful for me on a personal level.

Book Council launched the inaugural AFCC Circle project, which aims to raise awareness of AFCC and extend the Festival’s aim to establish the platform and communities in other Asian countries to promote Asian literature for children.

The first installment of the AFCC Circle 2022 project was launched at AFCC 2022’s Closing Night, with the theme of Friendship. Two Singapore authors and two Thai authors were featured (on the back of Thailand as Country of Focus at the online AFCC 2021). 

I had the privilege of sharing the stage with Josef Lee, my collaborator on our two Covid e-books which we produced pro-bono for our community.

(Photos taken before and after AFCC Closing Night)

Josef read from his book Bear with Me and I read The Tale of Rusty Horse.

I went into an existential crisis when Covid struck our shores in 2020 and felt writing children’s picture books was a non-essential occupation. I felt that one had to a medical worker, educator and frontliner to be essential.

My God-given relevation on my role through picture books came when I was approached in late 2021 to write a medical booklet for our paediatric doctors to support their telemedicine consults with Covid-positive kids. Our e-book I can Recover at Home! was well-received by families and doctors alike.

That led to Ministry of Health Singapore approaching us, three months later, to produce a 2nd e-book based on the latest health protocols. We released What Do I Do If I’m Covid Positive? Both e-books went viral and we received a lot of positive feedback.

My existential question was answered in a God-given way and it was doubly meaningful that I worked with the medical community, who have been right at the forefront of battling Covid. Through these two voluntary e-book initiatives, I found renewed purpose in writing children’s picture books.

Josef and I did not know each other when I first reached out to him to collaborate. But we became friends through working together and had the shared privilege as the two invited local authors to read our picture books at Closing Night on the theme of Friendship.

The Tale of Rusty Horse being chosen as the book to be read and for me to share my backstory was equally fortuitous. I wrote this book (my 2nd book) 14 years old in 2008 when I was in two minds about whether to be a one-book author and return to corporate work OR to take the road less written. My first existential crisis as a new author. At the encouragement of my husband Ben, I wrote and published The Tale of Rusty Horse even though I was completely lacking in confidence about my writing. It won the Moonbeam Gold medal and I became the first in South East Asia to win the US-based Moonbeam Children’s Book Award. It felt like Heaven’s nod to my station in life. I have not looked back and have since written over 40 children’s picture books.

I see God’s hand in my writing journey and saw God’s hand in the symbolism of my participation in this AFCC Closing Night, with both existential crisis (one 14 years ago in 2008 and another in 2020) all coming together in full circle on one night.

That can only happen by the creative genius of the bestselling Author of all time, whose Book has been translated into the most languages on earth. Because…In the Beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God.

I spent a big part of 2021 in and out of hospital with my dad last year, first seeking his diagnosis and then taking him for his many consultations, blood tests, CT scans, PET scans, biopsies, chemotherapy treatment, radiotherapy and so on. I think it worked out to effectively one trip to hospital a week for the entire year.

But God is good and we were blessed with amazing doctors, nurses, radiologists and a host of wonderful medical folks at National Cancer Centre, Singapore General Hospital as well as at other medical facilities.

One person, in particular, was a lifesaver for me through last year – senior staff nurse Alex Huang at National Cancer Centre. Right from Day 1, he impressed me with his meticulous explanation of what Dad had to expect for his first chemo treatment. And I constantly checked in with him on Dad’s many appointments, side effects and medication. At times, I wondered if I was bugging him with too many questions and check-ins. But I’m results-oriented so I did it anyway.

So, it was with great surprise when Alex nominated me for the Singapore Health Inspirational Patient & Caregiver Awards 2022.

What he wrote in that nomination form moved me to tears. I didn’t need any further validation.

On my end, I had also been wondering what I could do to thank Alex in a memorable way.

That opportunity came when I worked on What do I do if I’m Covid Positive?, the second e-book which illustrator Josef Lee and I worked on in collaboration with our Ministry of Health Singapore.

We had featured several doctors for our first Covid ebook, I Can Recover at Home! and several more in our second Covid ebook What do I do if I’m Covid Positive?

I wanted to include a nurse in our second book to represent our nurses. Senior Staff Nurse Alex Huang was the first face who came to mind.

So, I got Josef’s help to draw Alex’s likeness into our ebook, as a tribute to him and the nurses who have worked so hard through Covid.

Yesterday, I was very privileged to be one of 37 recognised by Singhealth in the Inspiring Caregiver Awards 2022. I listened to the stories of the other caregivers in a Zoom ceremony and feel humbled and privileged to be counted amongst those amazing people who frankly, have a much heavier task in caregiving. My receiving this award is God’s unmerited favour for simply doing my duty as a daughter.

For that, I am grateful, blessed and feel cared for and I thank God for this.

SingHealth produced a commemorative book for the winners, with a short write-up of each of our stories. This is being printed and given to us. You can also read the e-book version here.

It’s Thank God Friday!

As Singapore opens up with loosened Safe Management Measures, I’ve also loosened up on meeting with wider circles of friends.

  • Big & Small Makan Socials

This May is filled with socials and fellowships – the first time in over two years that I’ve packed my social calendar for the entire month.

Celebrated Mother’s Day with Hai Di Lao Hotpot for lunch!

Celebrated three friends’ birthdays over three bigger social groups.

Been having many meaningful one-to-one or one-to-two fellowships with many friends, and more to come.

Been eating lots and writing not.

And I am looking forward to my largest social to come.

  • The Big Write Social

The Asian Festival of Children’s Content will be an in-person event this 26-29 May for the first time in two years.

I’ll be speaking on a panel with my writing pals Pauline Loh and Low Ying Ping. We’ll cover the breadth and depth of our local children’s books in our session A New Spin on Singapore Stories.

It will be moderated by one of my dearest friends Hwee Goh in her inimitable TV journalist style. 😊

With Hwee and Pauline at the Asian Festival of Children’s Content 2018, which feels like such a distant memory and different world

We’re all still be masked up. But we’ll be able to see each other’s smiling eyes when we meet face to face to talk about books and all the write stuff. As I enter Singapore’s new chapter of living with Covid in this new-normal, I remember that God’s mercies are new every morning.

The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end;
they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.” Lamentations 3:22-23 (ESV)

After taking a five-year break (+/-) from school visits, I had my big outing at Nexus International School’s Book Week last week. This wordy, whirlwind adventure of 9 book talks over last Thursday and Friday kickstarted my new season/chapter with the warmest of welcomes.

Firstly, I was greeted by a poster and screens that announced Book Week to all who stepped onto the long walkway leading to the school building.

I met the Deputy Head of School who brought me to the 12th floor, where a storytelling room had been set up for my use for the next two days. I learnt that amazing parent volunteers had decorated the room around a forest theme to match Tibby the Tiger Bunny’s story, the main story that the school had requested for the storytelling segment.

Still, I did not expect to see what I saw when I stepped into the storytelling room – my parking space for the next two days.

Wow! I felt like I had entered the most fantastical page of Tibby the Tiger Bunny’s story!

The IT technician and sound technician wired me up, adjusted for mood lighting and got my presentations up on screen.

And then, the first session began…

With every age group, every session was different. I had prepared a few formats for the different age groups to flow with the children.

The first classes of 6-7 year olds were so participative that I simply could not call on everyone to answer questions. A pair of twins brought my first hard cover edition of Prince Bear & Pauper Bear (that’s almost 15 years old, twice their age!).

When they held it up to show me, I just went “Awww…”. I simply had to take photos with them after the session. And I autographed the book for them.

It was followed by the 3-4 year olds and 4-5 year olds, for whom I did storytellings. I also played the animation clips of Prince Bear & Pauper Bear and The Tale of Rusty Horse as I shared the inspiration behind my books.

What blew me away from the children’s answers on the first day?

I asked, “Can anyone tell me what does an author do?”

A 6+ year old girl said, “An author is a person who writes books and expresses herself.”

“Wow, you are so right. I do express myself through my writing,” I said.

“Were the other rabbits mean to Tibby?” I asked as I showed the page with the rabbits hiding behind a rock and watching Tibby.

A child pointed out, “Actually, they didn’t say anything.”

“That’s very observant. Maybe they were scared or uncertain of how to talk to him?” I said.

Then, we reached the part where the wild boar was about to spoil the other rabbits’ picnic. 

“Should Tibby help the other rabbits?” I asked. “After all, he hadn’t been invited to the picnic.”

A 6-7 year old girl seated right in front replied, “He should do the right thing, even if the others don’t want to be friends with him.”

My second day of talks was the last day of Book Week. I was the only author that day and I had the privilege of walking right into Dress-Up Day. Teachers, staff and students were dressed up as characters from books.

I met Harry Potter and other wizards, three Dog Man, Optimus Prime, Olaf and many, many more characters who streamed into my sessions. It was such a treat to see.

On day 2, I was blown away in a different direction. This time, it was by the questions that I was asked. The 6-7 year olds peppered me with so many questions right from my introduction slide that I decided to do things differently. That entire session became one big Question & Answer session, without any storytellings or any of the stuff that I had prepared.

And the questions came fast and furious.

“How do you decide a book title? The book title must be very important, right?”

“Who puts the words and pictures together?”

“What if the book has a mistake?”

“Why did you start writing?”

“How many books have you written?”

“Are you going to write chapter books?”

“Are you going to write comics?”

“Are all your stories about animals and stuffed animals?”

 “How long does it take to write and publish a book?”

“When did you write your first book?”

And many more.

Two other memorable quotes that I will remember from this visit.

A young boy seated in front addressed me as “Emily Lim” every time he wanted to ask a question, beginning with “Emily Lim, are you the author?”

And at the end of a session, I pulled out a book dummy (a completely blank book) to show the kids. It always brought on lots of reaction.

“Oh no! Where did the story go?” I asked the children. “What happened to the words and pictures?”

A little girl seated near the front explained, “The book isn’t born yet!”

“That’s right,” I said. “It’s waiting to be written.”

A teacher asked her class to share with me what they liked most about my session with them.

A boy said, “I liked the Prince Bear & Pauper Bear story.”

A second child said, “I love all three stories.”

A third said, “Everything!”

“Thank you. I love hearing that,” I said.

For my final session on the last day, I shared my personal story to an auditorium of about 150 youths between 15-16 years old about how I lost my voice and found it again through writing children’s books.

The last page of my memoir Finding My Voice still says it for me even as I emerge from yet another season:

Pauper Bear was restored and given a voice. My voice too has been restored. And it came back strengthened in the Word. It is a voice found in God’s Word.

“My new chapter in life has been one better than I ever dared to imagine…”

“And so, I encourage you all to imagine how your next chapter in life can be.”

And that brought to a close Nexus International School’s Book Week and its theme: Imagined World.

*One class presented me with the artwork that they did based on my characters Pauper Bear & Just Teddy.