I had the pleasure of kicking off the inaugural monthly storytelling session at Andersen’s Ice Cream at Jewel Changi Airport recently.

I was invited to read my Little Mimic’s Superpower to the children in a nice storytelling corner within Andersen’s Jewel Changi Airport outlet. What better place for stories since Andersen’s name is inspired by Denmark’s most famous author Hans Christian Andersen?  This renowned author wrote the Ugly Duckling, Princess and the Pea and The Snow Queen which famously inspired Disney’s Frozen movie.

I had the most amazing brother and sister seated up front who answered every question I asked through my storytelling of Little Mimic. The little boy, who looked barely three years old, even identified the little hermit crab who appears through the story although it is never mentioned.

This special inaugural storytelling session was followed by an octopus craft activity by Montessori teachers and ended with ice cream of course.

Andersen’s Jewel will be hosting free storytelling sessions on every third Sunday of the month.

Stories and ice cream are a lovely combination for an afternoon with young children.

Merli and Marky Polo travelled to Arts House over the weekend for the Singapore Writers Festival 2022!

I shared on Marky Polo’s backstory and famous family of travellers and the augmented reality elements that comes with our Marky Polo Travels series.

Nic shared on his creative process. I love the little video clip he put together of that.

We also did a book reading together for the first time. Nic read the part of Merli and our ‘little secret weapon’ – Nic’s 8-year-old daughter Phoebe – read the part of Merry Polo. She was cuteness-in-a-package as she did her first public reading so excellently.

After the reading, I invited the children on stage to draw alongside Nic for an up close experience with an award-winning illustrator.

A mum came to me with a copy of Bunny Finds the Right Stuff to autograph. She told me that they had bought it when they watched Bunny’s theatre adaptation at the Esplanade a few years back. It’s always encouragement of the right stuff to see families bringing my earlier books to these events.

Had a surprise drop-in from Desmond Kon – the multi-award winning poet/writer/indie publisher/multi-hyphenate and more importantly, my old pal whom I’ve known for 30 years and counting. We decided to end the evening with an impromptu dinner together, where we talked and reminisced about our many back stories.

Whilst we were having dinner, author Evelyn Sue Wong (who serves so actively with Book Council in its committees) came by! She had attended our session but we did not have the chance to talk then. So we caught up briefly and captured the moment too.

It was a lovely close to the evening for me.

I was invited to speak to a home-school group of mums and children recently. They were in the midst of working on their own book project and were hoping I could share with them about my writing journey.

When I walked into the clubhouse venue for this Meet-the-Author session, I was delighted and surprised with a book table displaying several of my books.

I shared about how I started writing and the inspiration behind some of my books. As I wanted an interactive session, I invited the children to ask questions along the way.

The first question that I was asked came I mentioned that I had written over 40 books:

A young boy piped up: “How old are you?”

“I’m quite young,” I replied.

“So, how old are you?” he pressed on.

The mums started to giggle.

“You know what’s interesting about women?” I said. “Once they reach 35 years, they remain 35 years old forever.”

The roomful of mums burst out laughing.

The boy looked perplexed and turned to his mum. “How can she forget her own age?”

I then shared about my journey of grappling with a voice disorder and how that inspired my debut book Prince Bear & Pauper Bear, and that little picture book summed up all that I had struggled to say through my decade of silence.

That was when I was asked two most thoughtful questions by a young girl who looked around 10 years old.

“So did you stop struggling after you wrote Prince Bear & Pauper Bear?” she asked.

Wow, I thought.

“Actually, I struggled a bit more,” I said. “It was after I completed writing The Tale of Rusty Horse, that I decided to keep writing and struggled less from thereon.”

When I ended the session and everyone went to the food table, the same girl came up to me.

“So how did you recover your voice?” she asked curiously.

“It was with God’s healing,” I told her.

Her eyes opened wide for a moment as she reflected on my reply.

Then, she nodded sagely, satisfied with the answer, and went off to join the others at the food table.

Before I left, the mums and children presented me an envelope full of the loveliest handwritten thank you notes and heartfelt words that left me feeling appreciated.  

Marky Polo rediscovers a cosy spot as a FREE event at the Singapore Writer’s Festival on Saturday 12 November from 5pm-6pm at The Arts House Gallery II.

Illustrator Nicholas Liem and I have planned a few things for our book launch:

  • Nic and I will share on our creative process and the inspiration behind our collaboration on Marky Polo in Singapore with Merli, the whimsical version of our Merlion icon.
  • I will be doing a book reading together with Nic and his 8-year-old daughter Phoebe.
  • Nic will do an art demo, followed by a special performance art segment which children can participate in, along with an accompanying art activity.
  • We’ll also be around to chat with the audience and autograph books.

So, mark your calendar and come rediscover Singapore Writers Festival and Marky Polo’s latest travel adventure!

Over the past two months, I had the privilege of working with World Vision’s Singapore office together with my writing buddy Pauline Loh on seven children’s stories for World Vision’s Gift Catalogue.

Illustrator John Lim (my collaborator on Little Godwit/Little Mole/Little Mimic series) produced the beautifully colourful artwork in record time.

Pauline and I with the World Vision Singapore office team

Pauline and I, as the writers, were presented with this challenge:

  • Can we write the stories of seven children who experienced mini-miracles in their lives (based on true stories)?
  • Can we help readers to see through the eyes of these children on how a gift of education, nutrition, water or livelihood brought life-changing impact to these children’s lives and opportunities for a better future?

For John, as the illustrator:

  • Can he bring to life these children (based on their real appearances) and the miracles that they experienced?

Between us, Pauline and I, we wrote:

Karie’s Garden of Goodness

Swangira’s Sachets of Strength

Sakina’s Supplies of Hope

Xiaoyang’s Water of Life

Majorie’s Shelter from the Storm

Lesly’s Timely Friendship &

Chileleko’s Multiplication of Goats

Here’s Chileleko’s story which I wrote and John illustrated:

I hope we have been able to do justice to the stories of these children and their families living in extreme need in different parts of Asia as well as the mini-miracles that they encountered through the help of many.

Download the World Vision Catalogue to read all seven stories!

This week marked the end of my Jubilee Year as I celebrated my 51st birthday.

When I approached my 50th birthday a year ago, I prayed that in my Jubilee Year, my writing would serve a deeper purpose and I would be able to contribute more towards the community, particularly for children.

That prayer was met with a few answers.

I Can Recover at Home

Just before my 50th birthday, I received a long text message from my son’s former paediatric doctor. The last time that I had taken Caleb to see him was when Caleb was in kindergarten six years back. He asked if I could help write a children’s booklet to explain the Covid Home Recovery Programme to children and families.

Together with fellow creative Josef Lee, we started on the book one day after my 50th birthday and published the e-book three weeks later. It was the fastest that I have ever written and produced a book, which could only have happened with God’s hand.

Our e-book I Can Recover at Home – A Covid Home Recovery Guide for Families & Kids went viral and the response from families and the medical community was over and beyond what we expected.

What Do I Do If I’m Covid Positive?

Not long after our first e-book came out, the Ministry of Health Singapore approached Josef and me.

Could we help produce a second Covid e-book to spread the message of health protocols moving towards GP and Family clinics taking on a bigger role in the Covid fight? We were asked.

Josef and I rushed that e-book out in one month. We released it quietly on Josef’s social media and through Dr Darryl’s and my contacts on WhatsApp. In God’s hand and perfect timing, the weekend of our launch coincided with Covid cases reaching all-time high. The e-book went viral and had more than double the circulation of the first e-book.

I Really, Really Cannot Catch These Words

I also received another call. It was followed by a texted message the next day. Which was followed by a personally relayed message the day after. It came from three different people – none of which was timed or coordinated.

I accepted the call with self-doubts about what I could contribute, but decided that if God called me to it, He would enable me. With that, I started volunteering with Epworth Community Services.

As I got to the ground to understand a bit more about Epworth’s work in literacy intervention programmes, I felt a prompting to help create more awareness of children with learning challenges and how literacy intervention can help make a difference.

I prayed for three signs to confirm if this e-book should happen.

Firstly, I needed Josef on board as my collaborator again.

Secondly, Epworth needed to see value in this e-book.

Thirdly, I needed a storyline to help explain learning challenges through the eyes of a child.

All three confirmations came quickly.

Out of that came I Really, Really Cannot Catch These Words, which we released earlier this month.

I’m reminded of how unplanned but well-timed the three e-books have happened, with the first e-book marking the start of my Jubilee Year and this 3rd e-book marking the end of my Jubilee Year. And I’m heartened by all the encouraging feedback that we’ve received on all three e-books.

Many other doors opened month after month through this past Jubilee Year.

I received invitations throughout the year to share on my books and personal story with children from 3 years old to 16 years old, conduct talks and workshops for educators both online and offline. I had taken myself out of the circuit for most of these for the past five years due to health reasons for myself and my parents.

I look back on my Jubilee Year with gratitude.

And as I turn a year older, I look forward to what this new spring season will bring.

“Forget the former things;
    do not dwell on the past.
 See, I am doing a new thing!
    Now it springs up; do you not perceive it?
I am making a way in the wilderness
    and streams in the wasteland.

Isaiah 43:18-20

Shin Min Daily interviewed me for my story as one of the recipients of this year’s Singhealth Inspiring Caregiver Awards 2022.

Shin Min Daily, Mon 17 October 2022

I did the interview in English. Lol. Some of what I was trying to say may have been lost in translation amidst me sharing about the two big chapters of my life (or that might have been Google Translate).

So, this is the gist of my sharing:

The journalist’s story was originally meant to be about my journey as a caregiver when my dad was diagnosed with Lymphoma last year. I told her that sharing that would only be telling her part of my story. So, she asked me to share the rest of my story. I shared about my journey of losing my voice to a rare voice disorder (Spasmodic Dysphonia) for over 10 years, how God saw me through that and led me to find a new voice in writing. All that shaped me and strengthened me through my own journey with cancer. Having gone through cancer treatment for a year from 2016 to 2017 and picking up new terminology that went with it, I had some familiarity handling the treatments and understanding a bit of the emotional turmoil from the standpoint of a caregiver to both my parents who were diagnosed with cancer consecutively after. Mum moved up to Heaven in 2019 and Dad recovered in 2021.

The little mustard seed of faith that lodged in my heart grew with God’s Word, and it is with God’s strength, that I got through these chapters in life.

I enter this new season with thanksgiving and a strengthened voice.

Praise the LORD, my soul; all my inmost being, praise His holy name. Praise the LORD, my soul, and forget not all His benefits — who forgives all your sins and heals all your diseases, who redeems your life from the pit and crowns you with love and compassion.

Psalm 103:1-4

We had a very good storytelling session for Marky Polo in Singapore at Times at Waterway Point recently.

It’s been a looooong time since I did a live book event in a bookstore. When it started storming an hour before our storytelling event at Punggol, I wondered if anyone would turn up.

When I arrive though, I was pleasantly surprised to see the storytelling space packed to the full.

“I was worried if anyone was going to show up with the thunderstorm,” I half-whispered to my publisher’s marketing person in relief as we stood at the back of the crowd just before the session started.

A lady standing next to me overheard. She turned to me and said, “If It encourages you, I drove here from West Coast with four kids.”

“Oh wow! That’s far. How did you find out about the event?” I asked.

“I read about it in the newspapers,” she said. “I’m a Christian. I like what you have been writing, with the Covid e-books and all…. I also started following your blog,” she said.

I was so uplifted by her encouragement. The downpour outside was a faded memory.

My friend Jean and her sons John and Luke kickstarted the session with the reading of Marky Polo in Singapore. They had done Marky Polo in Singapore’s reading video which National Heritage Board premiered on their Speak Good English Movement Facebook page. Jean and her boys were simply the most amazing storytelling family as they engaged the audience with their reading chops.

Nicholas Liem, the illustrator and I went up next.

Nic did an on-the-spot sketch of Marky and Merli (which I squirrelled home after the session).

We handed out 25 art activity sheets designed with Marky’s journal and polaroid page to the children and interacted with them.    

Finally, Nic and I autographed and took photos with several children. We were very heartened by the response and the number of books sold. Several families bought the full set of Marky Polo books which came with a free Merli plushie for that day only.

Nic and I also autographed additional books for Times bookstore. So if you missed the event and live closer to that area, you can still buy autographed copies there.

Very happy that Marky Polo travelled well to Waterway Point at Punggol on a wet afternoon, enjoyed Good Times and received a most lovely reception there.

Marky Polo in Singapore is available in all major bookstores, petrol station shops, Wildlife Reserves Singapore shops and a few selected tourist attractions featured in the book. You can also get them online from World Scientific Education’s online store.

Very chuffed to see the article I wrote for the upcoming Children’s Day in Sunday Times.


As we celebrate Children’s Day tomorrow, I’m reproducing my article here:

Our children need to see themselves in books that represent us culturally – how we look, how we speak and the way we live.

Once upon a time, more than 15 years ago, Singapore had very few local children’s books.
Then, in 2006, the National Book Development Council of Singapore and the Media Development Authority of Singapore started the First Time Writers & Illustrators Publishing Initiative for children’s books. This four-year initiative brought forth a small crop of children’s book writers, including myself, who have continued writing to this day.
I won a publishing grant from this Initiative for my manuscript Prince Bear & Pauper Bear, and self-published my book as there were hardly any children’s book publishers at that time.
Children’s book publishing in Singapore has since grown by leaps and bounds, with several local publishers producing quality kidlit.

The number of local children’s books authors and illustrators have also quadrupled, creating books that are diverse and reflective of who we are as a people.

To quote renowned children’s literature scholar, Dr Rudine Sims Bishop, who has been called the “mother of multicultural literature”: “Literature transforms human experience and reflects it back to us, and in that reflection, we can see our own lives and experiences as part of a larger human experience. Reading, then, becomes a means of self-affirmation, and readers often seek their mirrors in books.”

Thus, the development of our children’s books market is important for a few reasons. Children need to see themselves in books, as with a mirror. Our books represent us culturally – how we look, how we speak, and the way we live.

Quek Hong Shin’s The Incredible Basket depicts a young boy in olden-day Singapore who, together with his friends of different races, show creativity in their use of everyday objects like the woven basket. David Seow’s Sam, Sebbie And Di-Di-Di series shows local children having adventures in modern-day Singapore.

Lianne Ong and Janice Khoo’s Sing a Song Of Hawker Food introduces hawker culture into well-known nursery rhymes, with Jack and Jill grilling satay on a hill.

Engaging with our past and present
Our children’s books can open doors to our past and help make meaningful connections for our children. Through stories, we can share our experiences in a memorable and engaging way.
In Si-Hoe S.S. & Sim Ee Waun’s The House On Silat Road, Si-Hoe recounts her vivid memories of living through the Japanese occupation as a child in Singapore. She wrote the book so that readers will remember the courage and sacrifice of those who lived and perished during those times.

In Hidayah Amin’s The Mango Tree, the author laments the loss of her prized family tree from her childhood which was cut down. Her picture book was shortlisted for the Singapore Literature Prize in 2014, an accolade that flies the flag high for local kidlit.

Our children’s books open windows to challenging subjects and societal issues in a culturally reflective way. They offer our children a safe space to read about child characters who face challenges and overcome obstacles.
Daryl Kho’s Mistbound was inspired by his father who had dementia before the author’s daughter was born. In this empowering tale, Kho made his daughter the main character in the story so she could meet Grandpa in the book and go on a quest to collect ingredients for memory glue to piece back Grandpa’s memories. Ames Chen’s The Invisible People is based on essential services workers, such as bus drivers, domestic helpers and construction workers, in jobs that are deemed unseen and undesirable in our society. She wrote it to build empathy and make these workers visible to our children.

Growing children’s literature
Several initiatives have helped seed the growth in our home-grown kidlit. The National Arts Council offers support through grants and has programmes like its Words Go Round, where schools can book literary events and programmes with visiting overseas authors and local authors.
The Singapore Book Council has many initiatives, including the Asian Festival of Children’s Content, the leading festival in Asia for children’s stories and young adult fiction. The festival actively promotes the creation and appreciation of quality Asian children’s literature.
Whilst we have progressed from the early days, I suggest that more can be done to help our local children’s books flourish.
The Ministry of Education (MOE) and Ministry of Culture, Community and Youth can work together to set aside a budget for the purchase of local children’s books for preschools and schools and perhaps initiate a SingKidlit Library Week annually. This could be held in August, during the month of National Day celebrations, and pre-schools and schools can focus on local children’s literature through readings and activities.

Based on my checks with four major local children’s book publishers, it appears that only a few titles have been used sporadically in schools.
MOE can consider including our children’s books in the reading curriculum for preschools and schools on a more concerted basis based on a curated list that schools can select from.

Our arts, culture and heritage all contribute towards the soul of our nation and nation-building. It can come from the songs we write, the stories we tell, and the art that we create.
Our local children’s books play an important role in this respect. Stories entertain, but local stories also reflect our culture and our identity, creating mirrors of local narratives.

So, for this Children’s Day on Oct 7, why not buy a local children’s book and read it with your child? Expose our children to more local kidlit so they can see more of themselves in the books they read. In the process, nurture the growth of our local children’s books so these local stories can thrive for our children.

Have a great kidlit-filled Children’s Day.

(This article was first published in the Straits Times)

New Book release today!

Download this FREE e-book here: https://mummumstheword.files.wordpress.com/2022/10/i-really-really-cannot-catch-these-words-2-oct-22.pdf