Today, I had the pleasure of doing two book reading sessions at Brighton Montessori’s 20th Anniversary celebrations. Between the two sessions, I read Just Teddy, Bunny Finds The Right Stuff and screened the animation for my books as well.

Caleb, my Tiger-Bunny, had a field day at the many activity stations throughout the pre-school, from the balloon sculpting station (where he got his balloon bow & arrow) to the tattoo station (where he had Optimus Prime and Bumblebee water-tattooed on each arm). He also watched the dramatization of The Gruffalo twice.

Brighton Montessori 1

Author Sarah Mounsey read her Paw Prints books. (Sarah, you’re a natural storyteller!) I enjoyed listening to her and seeing Jade Fang’s amazing Paw Print illustrations. (Jade also illustrated my Tibby picture book series).

After much effort to leave (I said goodbye to the Montessori folks four times only to have to chase after my Tiger-Bunny who disappeared into another activity room), we finally did.

Sarah Mounsey, Pen Pal Whiz folks & me

Sarah Mounsey, Pen Pal Whiz folks & me

Kudos to Brighton for organizing this as a charity initiative to distribute books to children of lower-income homes, talking pen Pen Pal Whiz distributor JLB who invited me, and Closetful of Books for their lovely pop-up bookstore, which I zoomed in on in between sessions.

Breathe…Okay, now onto preparing for the next few events coming up in what has been a busy few weeks and weeks to come.


Yesterday, I had the pleasure of conducting a 90-minute workshop for over 50 educators at the Early Childhood Conference 2015, organised by the Early Childhood Development Agency (ECDA). I was pleasantly surprised to see that the moderator Irene who volunteered to assist in my session is a student from Wheelock College who attended a talk I gave to her class earlier this year. She was a great help!

I wanted to use picture books as the basis to encourage children to imagine new stories so I cobbled up my “Draw-Lots-of-Stories” technique. The educators would experience the technique first-hand and hopefully be able to do the same with their kindergarteners. First time for everything, right?

ECDA 2015 Workshop

I split participants into 10 groups and had them review 1 picture book per group. So in all, we reviewed 10 picture books with the Classic Story Structure which we broke down by character/story setting/story problem.

ECDA 2015 Worshop 2

Those 10 characters, 10 settings and 10 problems went into bags and each group drew lots for a mix-match of 1 character, 1 setting and 1 story problem. From there, each group brainstormed new story solutions. We ended up with 10 new stories from the 10 groups!

ECDA 2015 -workshop4I also had the pleasure of running into ECDA Senior Assistant Director Angela Anthony who had, a few months back, invited me to do an interview with ECDA’s Beanstalk magazine.

I also popped over to the Early Childhood Conference Exhibition where I bumped into two famous faces whom I know reasonably well since I wrote their stories.


At the Wildlife Reserves exhibit, Kai Kai and Jai Jai were also lounging by their tent, each with a book I wrote of them – The River Adventures of Kai Kai and Jia Jia and the recently launched The New Face at River Safari.



ECDA 2015 - KKJJ4

Across from them, I was pleased to see my four picture books published by Seed Institute (in bilingual edition – The Very Big Storm, Little Otter Goes Fishing, Under the Sea, The Really Really Hot Day) featured by the Lee Kuan Yew Bilingualism Fund, alongside books by two author friends – Shekinnah Linn (Asian Spice Kids) and Evelyn Sue Wong (The Naughty Mynah).


At the Book Council exhibit, I said hello to Carlo and Alicia who were there to share the Council’s good work.
Across from them were Denise & Kelvin of Closetful of Books with author David Seow.

Author David Seow & I with each others’ books. Then it’s not blatant self-promotion, right?

I could not resist and ended up buying three books for myself and two for Caleb (well, author David Seow bought Green Lantern for Caleb).

ECDA 2015 book loot

“What’s the PSI now?” I said out loud. Pollution Standard Index, not the Korean rapper of Gangnam Style.

“Very low,” Denise said. “It dropped to under 100.”

Singapore was hazed out to hazardous levels the past 24 hours from the illegal forest fires raging in Indonesia. In an unprecedented move, our Ministry of Education shut all schools for haze reasons yesterday for the first time ever.

I paid up for my book loot and rushed home, thinking I could take Caleb out for some outdoor fun. Alas, it hazed up again by the time I reached home.

So I cuddled up with my little superhero over Lego movie League of Justice: Battling the Legion of Doom, for an animated end to my Early Childhood immersion day.

I had the pleasure of giving four talks at St. Joseph’s Institution International’s Book Week this week.

The School’s Book Week was on local authors as part of their SG50 focus.

As it turned out, the Elementary classes I visited, ranging from 4-7 years old were learning “Animals” and Toys” modules. Both are exactly what my stories revolve around.

SJI Book Week

So with the Prep 1 children, I did a book reading of Tibby & Duckie and talked to the children about eaglets and ducklings.

I had the children guess how Duckie could help Tibby fly before I showed them the final spread of my story:

“Use Tibby’s ears as wings”

“Put feathers on Tibby’s paws”

“Give him a glider!”

“Put Tibby on a rocket and shoot him off!”

All great ideas! I said.

“Make a basket of leaves, let him sit inside and have a few birds carry him!”

Wait, can you repeat that to the class again? I said. That girl nailed the ending exactly as I had written.

SJI Book Week

For the Grade 1 children, I focused on my four Toy Titles.

I asked the children to guess why I chose teddy bears as my main characters in two of my books.

One girl was spot-on with the answer: “Because most children will know teddy bears.”

I had my own little English lesson in how one asks questions may elicit answers on a different track.

“Was it easy or hard for Pauper Bear to help Prince Bear?” I asked.

“Easy! He just had to pull Prince Bear very hard from the puppy’s jaws.”

“Hard! He had to pull carefully because the puppy was much bigger than him. Otherwise Prince Bear might be torn apart!”

Fun new perspectives.

What I had intended to ask was whether Pauper Bear’s decision to save Prince Bear came easy or hard to him. (Note to self: Rephrase question.)

We ended the session by talking about our favourite toys, which elicited lots of hands up in the air.

“Teddy Bear!”


“Helicopter toy!”

“ipad!” Okay, that was just one child and a sign of a gadget savvy generation.

“I had a Teddy Monster with one eye!”

Hey, that’s a great story idea for me, I thought.

With that, I wrapped up, said my goodbye to Closetful of Books’ Denise and Kelvin who had organised my talks at SJI International, and headed home to get my Huggy Bear ready for Kindergarten.

Being from a typical Singaporean family, I was never very expressive in showing affection. Then Caleb came along and things changed. I’ve enveloped him with countless hugs and kisses ever since he was a baby and he demands them if I fall short of the count these days.

Although he is my Kung Fu fighting kick-ass little superhero, he’s likewise never fought shy of lavishing affection on me.

Masked Superhero

Masked Superhero

During his Taekwando class, when he was practising kick-ass high kicks and punches, he would run across the room to whisper “I love you Mummy” quite loudly. The first time he did that in class, I was in the middle of typing an email and was caught surprised. I looked up to see two mums nearby go “Awww….”

In recent weeks, my four-year old superhero incorporated an add-on to his “I love you Mummy” routine. He would blow me a flying kiss which I had to catch and in turn, I would have to blow a kiss back. He would then dive to catch my flying kiss, like a goalkeeper saving a goal, catch it dramatically in the air whilst mouthing “Got it!”

If we were in the bedroom, he would roll across the bed, slow motion Hollywood-movie style, clutching onto the kiss as if catching a baseball.

His well-timed actions over the past year have also surprised me on many occasions. Just before he turned three, he rummaged through my cupboard and found an old cassette tape. It was an old voice recording that I had kept as a record of how bad I had sounded when I was struggling with Spasmodic Dysphonia years back.

“Mummy, what’s this?” He had asked. Cassettes are like dinosaurs to today’s kids. He then proceeded to pull out the reel.

Initially, I reeled. “That’s my only record of my voice at one of its worse times.”

Then, it dawned on me quite quickly after. Why do I want to hold on to something like this as if it had any value? “It’s okay, you can pull it out.”

And he did, unraveling the tape with great relish for a good half hour till it was a huge pile of black tape.

Ninja Caleb

Ninja Caleb

Not long after, he  suddenly said to me, “Mummy, how come you have a nice voice?”

“Really?” I said. No one has ever told me that since I was afflicted with Spasmodic Dysphonia 15 years ago. All I ever heard was:
“Are you sick/are you having flu/asthma/laringithis?” Because of the breathy nature of an SD voice.
“Are you nervous?” Because of the shaky quality of an SD voice.

My preschooler, oblivious to my voice journey, was telling me how nice my voice was (and many more times since).

The symbolism of new life, ie my son, dislodging me from my “past” that I had stored in a cassette and finding beauty in my highly imperfect voice caught me right there. Quite speechless.


He quickly caught on, from my smile, that a few well-placed words could help turn a situation around.

So, on a few subsequent occasions when I was in the middle of scolding him, he suddenly said, “How come your voice is so nice?”
“You mean my voice is nice when I am angry?” I huffed.
“No, when you are happy,” he said, looking at me with big manga eyes. Then he added, “Are you happy?”
I paused, undecided whether to finish scolding him. “I’ll be happy if you listen,” I said.

“Mummy, be happy!” he chimed.


The plurality of the English language is a real bane when you are trying to inculcate grammar rules in young children. And being an author doesn’t help because I feel like I need to edit our conversations.

“If it is one, there is no “s”,” I always say. “1 bus, 2 buses.”
“I like buses and truckses,” he equipped.
“No,” I said. “Truck, trucks,” I corrected.
“Bus, buses. Truck, truckses,” he quipped back.
“Yes, the English language is inconsistent,” I moan.

When we were watching Cat in the Hat encounter cacti in the desert, a new problem surfaced.
“Look Mummy, so many cactuses,” Caleb said.
“It’s one cactus, two cacti,” I explained.
“No, it’s one cactu, and two cactuses,” he replied.
He was logically right.

“In this case, cactus is one, cacti is more than one,” I explained. “One cactus, two cacti, three cacti…”
“No, one cactu, two cactu-ses, three cactu-se-se-ses and four cactu-se-se-se-ses!” Caleb quipped.

(Editor note: I decided to google this language controversy as I typed this blog. As it turns out, in Latin, the plural of ‘cactus’ is ‘cacti’ and in English, it is ‘cactuses’. Well, the things you can learn from kids…)

And this morning, Caleb was upset with me over something or other.

“I am angry to you!” he said, frowning and his arms akimbo at his side, looking much like someone.

“I am angry with you,” I corrected, “not ‘I am angry to you.'”

“Then it means you are angry and I am angry,” he said.

“Okay, then use ‘I am angry at you’,” I  replied. “Then it sounds one-way.”

“You are wrong!” he said. “You said ‘with you’,” he said.

“You can use both,” I said, wondering who on earth set all these language rules.

“You dunno,” he said. “You have to go back to school.”

I was totally ‘with’ him on this.


Since turning 4 years old, one of Caleb’s favourite phrases has been:
“Look at me, Mummy! I can…”

“…wear my underwear on my head like this!”
Urgh. Used underwear.

“…use my pen as a gun. Bang bang bang!”
“Very talented,” I deadpan.

“…touch my nose booger with my tongue!”
“Okay, very talented,” I deadpan again.

And a few weeks back, he displayed the ultimate combination of creative art and writing in his bedroom. He pulled some dried booger out of his nose, stuck it on the glass door and spread it out.

“Look at me, Mummy! I can write number 7 with my booger!”
“Seriously talented!” I said, almost fainting.

But I think he finally detected the irony in my voice over dinner sometime later.

“I want zero pork,” he said, as he navigated his tongue around his mouth to pick out a pork bit from his macaroni. “See Mummy, I spit out the pork!”

I squinted at the pork bit that looked the size of a full-stop. “It’s just a dot… very talented.”
“No, not talented,” he replied. “Very easy!”

I need a new line.

Emily Lim-Leh:

Desmond Kon, Poetry Editor of Kitaab, award-winning author, poet, multi-multi-hyphenate and very dear old friend, sits me down for a Lounge Chair Interview! Thanks Dez and KITAAB!

Originally posted on :

By Desmond Kon Zhicheng-Mingdé

emily lim Emily Lim, at Singapore Writer’s Festival 2013 with Poetry Editor Desmond Kon & her munchkin (not the Poetry Editor)

Let’s get down to brass tacks. Why do you write?

I struggled with a rare voice disorder for over 10 years. In 2007, when I wrote my debut children’s book Prince Bear & Pauper Bear, I found my voice, both literally and literary-ly. I write because I believe it is what I am meant to do in this chapter in life.

Tell us about your most recent book or writing project. What were you trying to say or achieve with it?

My latest picture book Tibby & Duckie is about uncovering one’s gifts and talents. Tibby, a bunny with tiger traits, helps Duckie, an ugly duckling of sorts, who is unable to swim like the other ducks. When Tibby helps Duckie to uncover what she is made to be…

View original 635 more words

Almost one year ago, I was pondering about whether there was a publishing project I could get involved in to make a small contribution to Singapore’s Jubilee Year. I wanted to do something different so I wasn’t looking to publish my own book.

At that time, St. James’ Church Kindergarten approached me. The SJCK Principal had a very clever idea for a book project. She wanted a compilation of children’s short stories created around four Little Red Dot characters, later named Didi Dot, Dishon Dot, Dana Dot and Danny Dot. Would I be able to help them publish it? Its target audience of preschoolers was right down my alley and it would be part of SJCK’s contribution to the SG50 celebrations. So I said yes.

One year has past since I started working on this project and I’m happy to now hold the newly published books in my hands, in  time for Singapore’s 50th birthday.

Little Red Dots (front cover)Little Red Dots is a compilation of 8 selected stories from the 29 entries submitted by SJCK children and their families. Based on four Little Red Dot characters Didi Dot, Dishon Dot, Dana Dot and Danny Dot,  the stories are inspired by our Singaporean culture, places and identity. The books have just been distributed to all 1,200 SJCK children and will also go to all kindergarten and childcare centres in Singapore.

Patrick Yee, bestselling creator of the Harry Lee Kuan Yew picture books, illustrated brilliantly for the stories, bringing them to life in whimsical black line drawings, dotted with red.

We managed to capture many Singapore scenes depicted in the stories.

Inside page1 (edited)

Inside page2 (edited)

And we also squeezed in iconic scenes not mentioned in the stories, like the famous Dragon playground.

Little Red Dots Inside Page1


All 29 submitted entries have also compiled into a second book Little Red Dots Story Collection, which has been given out to all 1,200 SJCK families as a keepsake.

Little Red Dots Collection (front cover)When I came to the back matter of the book, I thought it would be fun to depict Patrick and myself as Little Red Dots too. I asked Patrick if he could sketch us into Red Dots. Within minutes, he texted me his sketch.

Little Red Dots Emily and PatrickHappy 50th Birthday Singapore! May we stay united as one people, one nation, one Little Red Dot that shines brightly and honours one another.


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