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I’m otterly delighted to share that Little Otter, Litter Trouble has just been published by Wildlife Reserves Singapore. This book is inspired by the true story of Toby, a smooth-coated otter pup that was left behind by his family after he ran into an accident.

I’ve had the pleasure of working on the book with Florence Chang, Wildlife Reserves Singapore’s Assistant Director of Education, and learnt a few important tips on how we should respond to otters in the wild. All that has gone into the story so read it there!

Left: WRS’s Florence Chang, Illustrator Cheng Puay Koon & me. Right: Toby!

 

Little Otter, Little Trouble is the 2nd book on local wildlife conservation, following Why Did the Pangolin Cross the Road?, both supported by the Lee Kuan Yew Fund for Bilingualism. These books, along with the 3-book Kia Kia & Jia Jia series which I wrote, are for sale on the Wildlife Reserves Singapore online shop here.

Pangolin Otter

Related Link:

Why did the Pangolin cross the Road?

 

A few people asked me why ‘Littworld’, the triennial global publishing conference, is spelt with a double “t”, and not as ‘Litworld’.

Although I’m on the Host team for Littworld 2018, I didn’t have the answer for the name of this triennial conference, now in its 33rd year this year. We’ll find out when the dust settles and there’s bandwidth for someone to unearth the history behind the name.

But as I pondered the question, this crossed my mind. Quite literally and visually.

To me, the 2nd “t” represents the 🎚 which stands in the center of our Lit World conference. Jesus’ cross takes centerstage, be it as a non-descript “t” or more prominently like a 🎚. Either way, we learn to make our words fresh as we convey the love of Christ and the hope and peace that He embodies.

Over the past week, I had a taste of a Lit World with the 🎚 at the centre of it all.

Last week, 254 participants from 52 nations came together at Littworld 2018 in Singapore. We started each morning singing praise and worship songs at 7.30 am. In between plenary sessions and workshops, we prayed for each other. And we sat together for all meals at our residential conference hotel in Changi Village, where we stayed for 5 nights.

Pre-LW 1

Packing Littworld welcome bags pre-conference with the Host team, volunteer friends and MAI President John Maust who flew in early to help out

LW22-Registration

All ready at 9am on Sun 28 Oct with a full team of volunteers at the registration desk to welcome  our 254 participants coming from 52 countries

 

 

 

From Top left: With Cindy Coloma (bestselling author) after her writing workshop, Jeremy Weber (Deputy Editor, Christianity Today) after his digital publishing workshop, Jeanette Windle (award-winning author), with Bishop Emeritus Robert Solomon (after his Plenary) & Bernice Lee, MAI Asia Chair

 

From Left: With volunteer Geok who helped manage my book table as I floated between organizer and resource leader duties, Conducting my workshop ‘Tell Your Local Stories through Children’s Picture Books’

The Host Committee: At the Littworld midweek outing at Botanic Gardens & at the Closing Dinner, where we could finally grin and “V” it. 

 At the closing dinner: From top left – With Dan Elliott (MAI International Board Chair), Byato (Writer, Mongolia), Wong Siew Li (MAI Asia trustee) & Miriam Adeney (Author/Professor & Recipient of MAI’s Lifetime Training Award), Pusonnam Yiri (Author, Nigeria), Aaron Lee (Poet, Singapore), Namiko Takahashi Chan-Lee (Artist/Dancer, Singapore), Tan Soo-Inn (Conference Chaplain), Bernice Lee (MAI Asia Chair) & Michael Collie (Sparklit, Australia), Julia Vishnivetckaia (Visson Publishing, Russia), Debbie Pederson (Tyndale House, USA)

 

With Dan Elliot (MAI International Chair), John Maust (MAI President) & Elizabeth,  friend/volunteer/1st time participant who granted us permission to use her Seedzstudio’s artist’s artwork for the participants’ welcome bags

LW 20

The Singapore Host team with the MAI US team at the Closing Dinner

 

From left: With Ben & Caleb who joined me at Closing Dinner, Caleb met his Arise! worship leader David Leong whom I roped in to volunteer with Littworld 

LW17-Circles Friend.shipjpg

Ending Closing Dinner with a symbolic Circles of Friendship – where 270 of us held hands and candles in remembrance of friendship and unity around the world

I’m still distilling my thoughts from this intensive but fruitful training conference. But as an author of mostly children’s picture books, one visual came clearly to me:
I saw a picture of the global Christian publishing world come together in literally every tongue and tribe. I met friends from Littworld 2015 and made new friends, all with a passion for the word that is rooted in God’s Word. We are “same same but different” – united in our faith but enriched by our cultural difference.

LW24-Notebook

This is nothing poetic but I couldn’t resist scribing in something Singlish for the Littworld notebooks which went into the participants’ welcome bags

P/s Found out what the extra “t” stands for – “training” – which is at the heart of MAI’s and Littworld’s mission. For me, the “t” is also undergirded by the ✝️, which stands at the centre of our training, writing & publishing ministry.

Related links:

Littworld 2018- Words for a Wounded World 

Littworld- Books that change lives 

Littworld 2015- Spirited Melodies, Sober Keynotes & Personal Highs

 

Today, I had the pleasure of seeing of my picture book Just Teddy cross platforms into a special dance performance for 2-4 year olds by millennial dance troupe The Kueh Tutus as part of the Singapore Writer’s Festival 2018.

I was delighted to watch this 45-min dance theatre show which had kids bring along their teddy bears. This fresh interpretation of my book in dance form had parents and their young children interact with the dancers at various segments of the performance. From helping to patch up Just Teddy to unraveling him from the string which had him all knotted up.

KuehTutus2KuehTuTus1

At the book signing table after the show, I chatted with a parent who bought my books. She told me that she had gifted one of my Toy titles (Bunny Finds the Right Stuff) to a friend who had gone through a miscarriage. She shared that this picture book had brought comfort to her friend.

I was amazed to hear that a little picture book could speak to a person hurting in such a situation. Although I self-published this 4-book Toy Series (which includes Just Teddy) under my Mustard Seed Books imprint, I’m reminded that this has to do with less of “self” and more of God. After all, I am Just Human. I can scribe the words but only God can reach the heart.

Related links:

SWF for Families 2018 – Create Your Own Dance Story with Just Teddy

Bunny Finds The Right Stuff at Esplanade Theatre

When Caleb was two years old, he assembled the toy boxes in his room as his makeshift drum set. Over the years, he continued to bang on any box that emitted a sound.

It was no surprise that Caleb, now seven, picked drums when he recently started music lessons for the first time. Caleb is a fast learner and has great sense of rhythm. But he discovered that a good ear for music did not translate into him being a natural drummer.

His drums classes have led to important lessons beyond music alone. It’s taken him several weeks to get the hang of hitting the drums the right way. He’s been learning that it is fundamental to get the basics right, such as:
• he should use his wrists more, rather than swinging his entire arms up and down
• he needs to relax and not freeze his body or lock his arms
• he needs to listen to the song and follow the beat, not rush through it

Caleb also learnt that enthusiasm alone wasn’t enough for good drumming. A month into his lessons, we found a second-hand drum set on Carousel. He was thrilled and practised enthusiastically every day.

When he went for his drums class a week later, he discovered that he had been practising incorrectly. He spent the entire lesson un-learning the wrong habits he had reinforced through self-practice. That day, we learnt that practice and practising the correct technique are equally instrumental.

We are coming to three months of drums lessons. Caleb’s picked up drumming to several songs, and valuable character-building lessons along the way. For this reason, I would certainly like my boy to keep drumming…to the beat of greater patience and perseverance.

TeacherJane

With Teacher Jane after drums class at Aureus Forum

This week, I asked Aureus Academy a few questions about their school:

Mummum: How did you decide on the name Aureus?

Aureus: We chose the name Aureus as it means the “Gold standard of hearing”.

Mummum: In 1 sentence, sum up Aureus’s music/teaching philosophy.

Aureus: Aureus provides quality music education that is tailored to engage each student in a way that suits their learning style.

Mummum: Share 1-2 interesting facts about Aureus Academy.

Aureus: 1. We are a Singapore-based company founded by concert artists.
2. Unlike other music schools in Singapore, all our teachers are full timers and possess at least a Bachelor Degree in Music.

Cool. I did not know that. 🙂

Mummum: How many students do you have as you cross your 5th birthday?

Aureus: As Singapore’s leading music school, Aureus now has over 4,000 students enrolled between its 9 centres.

Mummum: Any birthday promotions?

Aureus: We will be hosting another exciting piano fair at the Forum Atrium. Come see why over 60% of our latest piano collection has already sold out. This will be the last chance to enjoy Aureus’ 5th birthday sale, on top of exciting giveaways!

Promotion 1: ENJOY an additional $500 off towards already reduced pricing for all acoustic piano purchases
Promotion 2: ENJOY 50% off on return delivery for all rental pianos

Date: 4th October 2018 – 8th October 2018
Time: 10AM – 8PM (Weekdays) / 9AM – 7PM (Weekends)
Address: Forum the Shopping Mall, 583 Orchard Road #B1-Atrium

For enquiries about the Forum Roadshow, click the link here.

 

Also, here’s an exclusive promotion on my blog:

Aureus is offering 2 free lessons upon enrolment if you mention that you read about the offer here at “Mum Mum’s the Word”!

On this note, I like to end with my thanks to Aureus Academy for offering Caleb complimentary music classes. It’s been a valuable learning journey for him!

My entire Tibby picture book series has now been translated into the Tamil language for the Singapore market by Crimson Earth! I had the pleasure of collecting my author copies at AFCC 2018 and, as always, it was a thrill to see my books in another language.

I hope my Tibby books will continue to hop to new places and more bookshelves.

TibbyTamil

 

I’ve attended every Asian Festival of Children’s Content (AFCC) since it started, including its predecessor ACWIC (ie the Asian Children’s Writers and Illustrators Conference).  Except for AFCC 2017, which I was not involved in for health reasons.

I enjoyed returning back into the book scene last week with my participation in AFCC. It was a lovely place to talk shop about books and catch up with industry friends.

But my journey with AFCC 2018 actually started several months earlier when I was invited to the judging panel for the Hedwig Anuar Children’s Book Award 2018. It was a privilege to judge this prestigious and rich prize recognizing the best Singapore children’s book published in the last 3 years ($10,000 to the winning author/illustrator). More on that in a later blogpost.

As always, my memories of AFCC go beyond words:

1. With fellow panelists after our session How I started: A Writer’s Journey

My Writer Journey

With Rilla Melati, David Seow and our moderator Sarah Mounsey

 

2. Caught up with author friends who were there for their author-teacher speed-dating session.

HweePauline

With Hwee Goh & Pauline Loh, ex-journalists and now prolific authors

 

3. With educator friends after we attended the panel session Giving a Voice: Inclusivity in Singapore’s KidLit

Dawn

With Donna and Dawn

 

4. Getting autographs from author & illustrator Satoshi Kitamura after his presentation.

Satoshi Kitamura

5. After the session Making a Mark: Iconic Children’s Characters in Singlit, which I moderated

Iconic panel

With panelists Lesley-Anne, Ruth Wan-Lau and Adeline Foo

 

6. At the AFCC closing dinner at Fullerton Hotel Clifford Pier with fellow judges

HABA judges

With author David Seow and Pushkin Books Editor Sarah Odedina after the awards announcement

7. A surprise encounter with dear old pal Desmond Kon, now a multi-award winning poet and amazingly prolific author

with Dez

8.  With AFCC Chairperson Claire Chiang and other industry friends

with Claire

Book Council Chairperson Claire Chiang turned up for the Council’s 50th anniversary despite her recent accident. She commanded the floor with her poise as always.

 

I enjoyed the conversations, moderation and judging-reading a huge box of entries.

And now, after a long break from new writing, I look forward to renewing my relationship with my first love – children’s picture books. After all, my first encounter with the published word came with my debut book Prince Bear & Pauper Bear, and with it, a picture of God’s love.

I’m kicking off an ad-hoc blog series spotlighting local children’s literature. And I’m starting with Hwee Goh’s first early chapter book. The Plano Adventures series is an early chapter book series that combines adventure, action and twin characters in a story that incorporates scientific research on short-sightedness and device dependency. (Hwee has a pair of twins so you can see how writing is very sub-conscious).

 

 

The baddie Lord Myopic is all set to cover Murktown in fog and take control of the residents. Only Professor Plano can stop him with his Clear Vision potion. He runs into a pair of twins along the way and the kids become instrumental to saving the day.

What better way to combine the twin mission of combating myopia in young children and empowering young readers than through an engaging early chapter book series with large fonts and fully-coloured illustrations?

Inside page 1

inside pg 2.jpg

The Plano Adventures series is co-written by scientist Dr Mo Dirani, an advocate for managing smart device use and myopia in young children and ex-political journalist-turned-children’s book author Hwee Goh. David Liew’s illustrations, with its fun comic-bent, matches perfectly with the story in this fully illustrated book.

I asked Hwee 2 questions about her book.

Me: Sum up your book in one sentence.

Hwee: Trouble in Murktown is a fun fantasy tale with a serious message – it empowers the reader to take charge of his own eye habits when reading a book or using a device.

Me: Tell me 1 thing about your writing process or 1 thing you enjoyed about writing this book.

Hwee: Dr Mo Dirani marked the key messages based on science, David Liew doodled on his iPad, then I set to work on the storyline. I love that our characters came to life and we and our beta readers want to see them continue on in this series.

Speaking of beta readers, my 7-year old pilot-read the book. When he finished, I asked him if he enjoyed it. He said “Yes. When is the 2nd book coming out?”

Yah, Hwee, when is the 2nd book coming out? 🙂

Trouble in Murktown hits the Singapore bookstores this week.

Related post:

High Chair Conversations: Journalist Hwee Goh travelled with LKY