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Archive for the ‘Books’ Category

On 31 October, I had the pleasure of being on the Singapore Writers’ Festival children’s books panel together with Book Council’s Deputy Director Kenneth Quek, author Adeline Foo. Denise Tan, co-founder of Closetful of Books, moderated our panel in a lively sharing of our favourite books.

When there were zero people at our talk 10 minutes prior, I joked that we could talk to each other. But when we got on stage, the room miraculously filled up!

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We three panelists were supposed to pick four favourite books each and Denise would decide the final 10 books, which would be gifted in a set to one lucky member of the audience.

I picked four books in the picture books and middle grade category. Adeline picked four Young Adult books. True to his calling as a books advocate, Book Council’s Kenneth had so many favorite books that he ran through an entire list!

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Kenneth also displayed a hidden talent as a storyteller when he did two impromptu book readings of David Seow’s If I were a Blue Kangaroo and Sarah Mounsey’s Purple Paw Prints. Now I know who to call when I need help with storytelling :).

I’ll get down to listing my absolute 10 favourite books when I have more time over the next few weeks and am not reading Star Wars readers to my Jedi son. The Force is strong with my little one.
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(Thanks to David Seow for all four photos!)

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Today, I’m pleased to post the first of a two-part feature involving a soon-to-be launched children’s book based on Mr Lee Kuan Yew, the Founding Father of Modern Singapore. Part Two will be a High Chair Conversation Special with the author Hwee Goh.

Timmy & Tammy Discover Series for Young Readers

Timmy & Tammy Discover Series for Young Readers

There’s been a proliferation of books on Mr Lee over the past couple of years. However, there’s been a dearth of quality children’s books on Singapore’s pioneer leaders. I think Armour Publishing’s Little Knights imprint fills this important gap with its excellent debut book from its new Timmy & Timmy Discover series.

Timmy & Tammy’s bite-sized facts on Mr Lee are presented in colourful spreads to engage even reluctant young readers. As a adult, I too found it a fun read and gleaned interesting nuggets on Mr Lee.

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We have read how our nation’s founding fathers were known for their thrift. But it’s personal anecdotes like these that really remind us of how Mr Lee and his team lived simply whilst shouldering huge responsibilities in nation-building.

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With Singapore’s Jubilee Year this year, National Day a month away and Mr Lee’s recent passing, I feel books like this one becomes an even more important read and keepsake as we parents share with our children about our country’s past, even as we guide our young ones to forge their way forward as Singapore’s future.

It’s likewise a great resource for educators to engage students on what Modern Singapore’s Founding Father has done for our Little Red Dot.

I’m doubly proud that Timmy & Tammy Discover: Lee Kuan Yew is written by my dear friend Hwee Goh. A former political journalist of 16 years, Hwee was in the press corp that travelled with Mr Lee and covered the news on his overseas trips. More on that in Part 2 of this feature soon.

Meanwhile, Timmy & Tammy Discover: Lee Kuan Yew is now available for pre-orders till 10 July 2015 and will come autographed and with FREE delivery! Check out how you can order your copies here!

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As part 2 of AFCC Kid Portions (my countdown to the Asian Festival of Children’s Content), I will be giving away 2 titles from my Toy Series! More of that later in the post.

Meantime, the 3-day Asian Children’s Writers and Illustrators Conference track of AFCC looks bookelicious!

I, will for one, be going for a few yummy items on the menu:

Candy-Gourlay_200_250_90_s_c1Why Asia Needs more Writers for Children & Young People

Candy Gourlay will provide give this Keynote speech on how young people seeing themselves in books will empower them, while providing the rest of the world with a window to our diverse cultures.

Based in London, Candy’s debut novel Tall Story was nominated for the Carnegie Medal and shortlisted for 13 awards. It won the 2012 National Children’s Book Award in the Philippines as well as the 2011 Crystal Kite Award for Europe. Her second book SHINE won Candy her second Crystal Kite Award last year, and was nominated for the Guardian Children’s Fiction Prize.

ACWIC_Ying_Chang_Compestine_200_250_90_s_c1Children’s Books by the Asian Diaspora and their Relevance to Asian Children

Ying Chang Compestine will also give a Keynote speech, sharing her journey from East to West and discussing challenges an Asian author faces in the Western world.

Based in the U.S., Ying is the versatile and prolific author of 20 books and named one of “50 Great Writers You Should Be Reading” by the Author’s Show in the U.S.. Her highly acclaimed novel about her life growing up in China during the Chinese Cultural Revolution, Revolution Is Not a Dinner Party, has received over 33 national awards.

 

Transmedia Publishing and Publishing in the Digital World

Alison-Norrington_200_250_90_s_c1Alison Norrington will compare the traditional book and transmedia stories and how transmedia stories has helped children enjoy reading. Sarah Odedina will discuss the changing landscape of publishing in the digital age and exciting innovations that affect readers, writers and publishers.

Alison Norrington is a writer, producer, CEO and founder of storycentral, a London-based entertainment studio that incubates and develops transmedia properties with global partners.

Sarah-Odedina_200_250_90_s_c1Sarah Odedina served as publishing director of the children’s list of Bloomsbury Publishing – including overseeing and managing the Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling. She is the founder of the successful and award-winning Hot Key Books publishing company.

 

 

 

The Nuts and Bolts of Self-Publishing: The Good, the Bad and the Fabulous

Finally, I will have the pleasure of moderating a panel of three self-published Singapore-based authors Sarah Mounsey, Emma Nicholson and Hidayah Amin who will advise on the nuts and bolts of the business, including designing, printing and marketing.

Hop over to the Asian Festival of Children’s Content 2015 to check out the full menu!

 

Children's Picture Book on friendship, sacrifice and self-acceptance

Children’s Picture Book on friendship, sacrifice and self-acceptance

Children's Picture Book on identity and individuality

Children’s Picture Book on identity and individuality

To stand a chance to win my award-winning titles The Tale of Rusty Horse and Just Teddy, simply share this post on your blog or Facebook page. Leave a comment here with the shared link.

Closing date is 17 May and I will randomly draw 1 winner for the 2-book giveaway.

So share away with your friends about the the Biggest Festival on Children’s Content in Asia!

 

The Random Draw Winner is Robert Sim!

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The Biggest Festival of Children’s Content of its kind will kick off end of May! Now into its 5th year, the AFCC (Asian Festival of Children’s Content) has continued to grow in reach from home base Singapore.

As a local author and someone who has grown with the Festival right from its infancy, thanks to Book Council Executive Director and AFCC Founder Rasu Ramachandran, I’ve decided to do a series of book giveaways as I count down to AFCC which starts in 30 days.

Here are two Kid Portions which I hope to chew on as I attend the AFCC’s Preschool & Primary Teacher’s Congress this 30th and 31st May:

 

Dilip-Mukerjea_200_250_90_s_c1Visual Mapping for Young Children to Enhance Their Learning Capabilities

As a picture book author, I think visually when I write. Thus, I am very interested to hear Dilip Mukerjea, Owner & M.D of Braindancing International and Buzan Centre (India), speak on how we can maximise our children’s visual intelligence given that 80% of the brain is dedicated to visual processing.

Dilip has been publicly acclaimed as “phenomically creative and one of the world’s top 10 Master Mind Mappers” by Education Guru Tony Buzan.

 

Quin_200_250_90_s_c1Code-Switching & Language Development: Exploring Bi-literacy in Books

Given my half-past six Mandarin which I switch between my stronger suit, English, I have concerns about how best to develop my preschooler’s love for Mandarin.

I will look forward to hearing Yow Wei Quin, Asst Professor, Singapore University of Technology & Design,  speak on Code-switching, the alternation of two or more languages within a single conversation. This session will include some of the latest findings with regards to code-switching in bilingual children on spoken language, as well as the use of two languages in children’s literature.

 

So with all this talk of visual learning and literacy, I am giving away 1 FREE autographed copy of my picture book Bunny Finds The Right Stuff.

 

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Bunny Finds The Right Stuff has received the following accolades:

– Silver Medal, IPPY Awards 2010 (the world’s largest book awards)

– Hedwig Anuar Children’s Book Shortlist 2011

– Honorable Mention Award, Writer’s Digest Self-Published Book Awards 2012

 

 

To take part in this Book Giveaway, all you have to do is share this blogpost on Facebook and leave a comment on my Blog Post with your shared link.

Closing Date is 8 May 2015 and open to those living in Singapore (for postage reasons). Winner will be picked randomly.

So, share away and also check out AFCC 2015 where you can attend with a 1-day pass through full Festival Pass!

The Random Draw Winner is Florence Chia!

 

 

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Lots has been said about parenting. And every other parenting book you pick up says something else.

Keep-Calm-and-Mother-On-2D-Copy

“Keep Calm and Mother On” is perhaps the best generic advice to a mum.

Pauline Loh, award-winning author and my writing buddy, recently put together a compilation of 399 Best Things Ever Said About Motherhood (published by Armour Publishing).

Of these, I found my favourite quotes from children’s books:

“And Max, the king of all wild things, was lonely and wanted to be where someone loved him best of all…

and he sailed back over a year and in and out of weeks and through a day

and into the night of his very own room

where he found his supper waiting for him

and it was still hot.”

                                                  – Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak

Where the Wild Things are

 

“Mother said that if I’d just waited for the apples to ripen, I wouldn’t have become sick. So now, whenever I really want something, I try to remember what she said about the apples.”

The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini

 

“It has been a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day. My mom says some days are like that.”

   – Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day by Judith Viorst

Alexander

 

“Your mother died to save you. If there is one thing Voldemort cannot understand, it is love. Love as powerful as your mother’s for you leaves its own mark. To have been loved so deeply, even though the person who loved us is gone, will give us some protection forever.”

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone by JK Rowling

 

You can read more of Keep Calm and Mother On by Pauline Loh at Armour Publishing’s website. Buy a copy for yourself, your mother and your husband’s mother!

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Today, Mummum is pleased to speak to Marjorie Coughlan, Founder of Mirrors Windows Doors, an online magazine spotlighting children’s and Young Adult books with cultural diversity, as resource for librarians, educators, parents and caregivers.

Marjorie was previously editor of the well-regarded Paper Tigers. I first met Marjorie at the Asian Festival of Children’s Content where she was invited as speaker. She returned to AFCC this year to conduct a book review masterclass with renowned children’s books critic Leonard Marcus.

MarjorieCoughlan

Marjorie: Hello, Emily – thank you for inviting me to take part in your wonderful High Chair Conversations series.

1. What are 2 things you want everyone to know about Mirrors Windows Doors? What inspired the name?

Marjorie: MWD celebrates multi-cultural diversity in children’s and YA literature from around the world, and promotes good books that open young people to an increased sense of empathy with the world, whether close by and familiar or across the globe.

MWD is aimed chiefly at adults – parents, teachers, librarians – choosing books for young people, though it would be great to introduce an area on the site for young readers at some point down the line.

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Mirror_SuzyLeeThe name Mirrors Windows Doors is taken from the metaphor that children need to find themselves in books, as well as gain an outlook on different worlds, whether real or imaginary – and that books provide a conduit for young people to go out into the world confident of their own place in it; stretching out their hands in friendship; and respecting and celebrating the rich diversity of our wonderful human race.

I give a bit of background to this metaphor, and why I love it, on MWD’s About page.

 

2.How is it different from PaperTigers which you were previously with?

Marjorie: In terms of the ethos of the site, it is no different; and indeed, I hope that MWD will be able to build on PaperTigers’ legacy – and I’m grateful for the support that MWD has received from the wonderful network of PaperTigers supporters in the kidlit world. Like PaperTigers, MWD has a global outlook, highlighting good books in English, wherever they are published, and their creators and publishers, as well as literacy promoters across the world. The PaperTigers site is still available as a very rich archive, and MWD will certainly link to it on a regular basis.

TheHelloGoodbyeWindowA few years ago, PaperTigers set up the Spirit of PaperTigers project, which sent out specially chosen sets of books to schools and libraries in different parts of the world. This aspect of PaperTigers has evolved into the non-profit WaterBridge Outreach (http://www.waterbridgeoutreach.org/) , which combines water projects with the book giving, still at a grass roots level. I am sure that MWD will maintain strong links with WaterBridge Outreach, as regards the books chosen for the book set, and perhaps with more active support in the future.

I suppose the difference, really, is that while PaperTigers was a project of Pacific Rim Voices, MWD is independent. This means that the last few months have been a steep learning curve for me on the technological side! So, on a personal level, it’s great to be able to concentrate on the books properly again, now that the site is up and running.

 

OldmanAndHisDoor3. What kind of books are you interested to review?

Marjorie: I am interested in reviewing books from any genre and written for any age-group from 0 to YA that exemplify one of the three aspects of the Mirrors Windows Doors metaphor, with a particular focus on ethnic diversity and opening up the world. This often means that a book’s setting may be in a particular country/culture, but the themes will be universal. I don’t usually review books that I don’t like – not because I won’t write a negative review, but because the purpose of MWD is to promote good literature and I have a limited amount of time to write my reviews. I am open to reviewing self-published books, as well as books in English or bilingual with English from publishing houses anywhere in the world.

 

4. What’s your favourite book from childhood? Why?

Marjorie: Oh dear, one book? I am definitely going to have to cheat on this one! There are quite a few books from my childhood that still resonate with me as an adult but I’ve whittled it down to these few… I grew up with Beatrix Potter and Alison Uttley’s Little Grey Rabbit books (illustrated by Margaret Tempest) and I still love the illustrations especially. As a child, the stories and the characters really lived for me. I still think of Timmy Tiptoes every time I see a grey squirrel; and teasel will always be Little Grey Rabbit’s hair brush (http://www.plantlife.org.uk/wild_plants/plant_species/teasel). It probably helped that I was surrounded by the English Lake District/countryside landscapes they were set in too. Some of our family’s copies had belonged to my mother, mostly, and some to my father, when they were children; and even when I was small, I loved the thick, old paper that had blank pages – I think my love of the physical book, and especially old books, right down to the smell, started then.

Gobbolino the Witch's CatI loved all the Babar stories – my Dad’s old Babar and Father Christmas, a much bigger book to hold than any of my own, was at my Grandad’s house. I remember vividly the day I was finally able to read the strange curly font for myself, rather than getting Dad to read it to me – and elephants have always been my favourite animal.

I read and re-read Ursula Moray Williams’ Gobbolino the Witch’s Cat and The Little Wooden Horse – their terrible ordeals and their consistent faith that they would get through them – and the fact, of course, that they did – and without their characters being blighted – are all aspects that I must have lived at the time, though I might not have been able to say it then. The books both made me cry when I read them to my sons a few years ago.

I suppose the stories that have stayed my companions since first reading them as an older child are Anne of Green Gables, Emily of New Moon, and Little Women – I read them and their sequels every two or three years. I think Anne, especially, has offered something new at every reading as I have got older and I empathise with her at the different stages of her life. And one day I will visit Prince Edward Island!

 

5.What’s the first word that describes your reading style?

Marjorie: I would say ‘absorbed’: within about five seconds of getting my nose in a book, I become oblivious to my surroundings. This can be annoying for the family and has its inconveniences like missing train stops, but is great when you’re waiting in a long queue!

Thank you, Emily, I’ve enjoyed ‘chatting’ with you and look forward to welcoming you to MWD.

 

Mummum: Marjorie, thanks for sharing about your exciting new site. I look forward to seeing myself in the mirrors, looking through the windows and walking through the doors of your impactful book reviews!

I usually end with a photo of Caleb on my High Chair Conversations post. But thanks to Marjorie, I’m putting a different face to childish behaviour here.

Marjorie3 (DavidSeow&me)

Eagle-eyed Marjorie glimpsed how kidlit rivalry can get when children’s authors get “up in arms” trying to get “ahead” of one another and captured this storyboard through her reviewer lens.

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When Caleb was born, he looked like a 100% Ang Ku Kueh imprint of Ben, with the only part resembling me being the nostrils. His features changed as he grew.

On Caleb’s 2nd birthday, I commented to Ben about how Caleb now looked like me.

At that, Caleb chimed in, “Don’t look like Mummy.”

“Then, do you look like Papa?”

“No.”

“Then, who do you look like?”

“Caleb look like Caleb.”

Right from a young age, Caleb had a sense of his own individuality and identity.

Children's Picture Book on individuality

Children’s Picture Book on individuality

And that brings me to the picture book Crysanthemum by Kevin Henkes, which celebrates individuality.

“She was a perfect baby. And she had a perfect name. Crysanthemum. When she was old enough to appreciate it, Crysanthemum was old enough to appreciate her name. And then she started school.

“I’m named after my grandmother, “said Victoria. “You are named after a flower.”

Crysanthemum wilted.”

And of course it didn’t help that her other classmates had regular names like Sue, Bill, Tom etc.

The story has a happy ending when the school teacher, Mrs Delphinium Twinkle, reveals to the class that  she too is named after a flower.

Crysanthemum loved her name and her individuality. But that changed after her classmates laughed at her and teased her. She lost confidence in herself and what she stood for.

I think it’s very important for us parents to always remind our kids that they are “fearfully and wonderfully made”, especially on tough days when they wilt and just want to just want to blend in with the crowd to the extent of losing who they are.

That said, in Asia, we parents sometimes do give our kids the most out-of-the-world names which stand out for the wrong reasons. Think twice about doing that. It’s hard enough growing up without being teased about being Frangipani Lian or Ai Jia Jua (“skive” or “eat snake” in Hokkien translation), since your kid may not end up with a teacher with a similar name to give that happy ending.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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