Archive for the ‘Chapter/Middle Grade Books’ Category

The Asian Festival of Children’s Content is 1 week away! And I’m looking forward to it on several levels.

As an author, it’s my big book-candystore outing where I get to meet a diverse group of children’s content creators and buy an array of books from the Festival Bookstore and collect autographs on the spot.

As a stay-home mum to my preschooler, it’s my annual 1-week childcare leave ie. I get to leave my child with various family members for 7 full days where I can indulge in adult conversation!

This is my final shout-out for AFCC where you can still sign up for a Full-Day or Full-Festival Pass!

China Artist Qing Feng's Art

China Artist Qing Feng’s Art

Final Kid Portion Highlights:

1) AFCC ‘s country of focus this year: CHINA

After 30 years of development, China has achieved its unprecedented golden era in children’s publishing trade. In 2014, the China market has shown a 10% growth; this anticipates it will continue to rise in the next ten years. In all various picture book markets, China possesses the largest growth among countries.

A delegation of Chinese authors, illustrators and publishers will be at AFCC on 4th and 5th June as well as hold an exhibition at the Central Library Exhibition Area.

AFCC 2015’s Guest Illustrator is Cai Gao, once named China’s most outstanding children’s artist.


More on the China programme of events at AFCC’s Country of Focus Page.

2) Media Summit

As content creation in today’s marketplace is going 360 degrees strategy-wise, AFCC will also have a 1-day Media Summit, with speakers whose profile includes producers, television/film executives, commissioning editors, screenwriters, authors, publishers, app developers, animators, filmmakers and content creators.

Storytelling from an App

“Storytelling from an App” will see our panellists discuss more about augmented reality, book markets for story apps, “real” and “fictional” worlds, and the future of story apps!

ERIC_HUANG_200_250_90_s_c1Eric Huang, Development Director at Made in Me, an award-winning company in London,  was previously the Managing Editor at Penguin in Melbourne, a Publisher at Funtastic, and Head of Licensing at Parragon Books in the UK.

Shirin_Yim_Bridges_-_WIC_200_250_90_s_c1Shirin Yim Bridges, Head Goose  of Goosebottom Books, Gosling Press, is an Ezra Jack Keats award-winner  for her first book, Ruby’s Wish, The Umbrella Queen made TIME magazine’s Top 10 list for 2008, and she is also publisher of Booklist Top 10 Nonfiction Series Dastardly Dames.

Saad-Chinoy_200_250_90_s_c1Saad Chinoy, Chief Geek, Tusitala (RLS) Pte Ltd.) is charged with Technology for Tusitala, where he’s been developing a digital publishing platform that leverages mobile devices to create unique user experiences.



 Connecting with Children through Transmedia Storytelling

“Connecting with Children through Transmedia Storytelling” will see UK producer Alison Norrington (Founder of Storycentral) highlighting examples from animation, broadcast and blockbuster movies, and telling us more about children’s consuming stories and transmedia storyworlds that resonate with them.

Unleash Your Potential with Online Platforms

Finally, I will be on a closing panel for the AFCC “Unleash Your Potential with Online Platforms” with three other panellists (creators and participants) behind NaNoWriMo, 52-Week Illustration Challenge, 24-Hour Comics Day, and the 12×12 Picture Book Challenge – discussing how online challenges push illustrators and authors to discover their maximum potential.


So, here’s my final goodie bag offering:

4 Toy titles

Share this final post on Facebook or your Blog and stand a chance to win an autographed complete 4-book set of my Toy Titles FREE! For postage reasons, this is open to participants living in Singapore only.

Closing Date is Fri 29th May so share away now!

Also check out AFCC’s programme offerings here.

Earlier AFCC Kid Portion posts:

Kid Portion 1

Kid Portion 2


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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.




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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Today, I am taking part in the It’s Monday, What Are You Reading? meme hosted by Jen of Teach Mentor Texts and Kellee of Unleashing Readers.

mondayreading1Monday Reading2

I’ve been glued to my Kindle over the past week or so, after having ignored it for months because of a terrible book recommendation from Amazon which left me disappointed.

After reading Dragon Rider by Cornelius Funke, I went through several middle grade reads which didn’t dazzle me.

Knowing I have been seeking a worthy follow-up read, my book buddy Hwee suggested Dragon Slippers. A girl and a dragon did not sound enticing but I decided to check it out anyway.

Dragon Slippers

I loved it! And went on to download Dragon Flight and Dragon Spear.

Dragon FlightDragon Spear

Dragon Slippers Trilogy

Jessica Day George


7 years and up
It’s a worthy follow-up read to Dragon Rider. And interestingly, I only realised later that like Dragon Rider, it is published by Bloomsbury. (Note to self: check out more middle grade reads from Bloomsbury).

It is highly readable, with engaging characters and a great plot.

And I love the foreword where the author said she wrote this in pockets whilst caring for her toddler.

Something I can aspire towards in my early attempts of moving from picture book writing to middle grade writing, amidst taking care of my 4-year old!

Creel is an poor orphan girl whose ditzy, screechy aunt decides to offer her up as captive to a dragon, in a mindless plot to get rich if a Prince or knight in shining armour rescues her. Never mind that dragons are mere legends and no prince would want to rescue a poor average-looking young girl.

But as it turns out, Creel does come face to face with a real dragon, takes its pair of dragon slippers, starts a war between two cities and falls in love with a Prince.

I love how the dragons have great personalities. Instead of hoarding treasure mindlessly, they have their own collections, with the first dragon Creel meets being a collector of beautiful shoes, Creel’s best dragon friend Shardas collecting stained glass windows, Feinul is a collector of dogs as pets, another dragon has a love for ancient text books and scrolls.

Fearless Creel also turns out to be a magnet for adventure and later, her wedding dress a harbinger of calamities even as she saves kings, dragons and fulfills her dream of running a bespoke gown tailoring shop.

Thoroughly enjoyable series and now one of my favourite middle grade reads. I will be checking out Jessica Day George’s other titles for sure.

Thanks Hwee’s Book Share Club!

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Today, I am taking part in the It’s Monday, What Are You Reading? meme hosted by Jen of Teach Mentor Texts and Kellee of Unleashing Readers.

mondayreading1Monday Reading2

It’s been a busy Chinese New Year week of visiting relatives, eating, visiting relatives and more eating.

My Monday Reads this week:

Warriors Outcast

Warriors -Outcast

Erin Hunter

Harper Collins Children’s Books

I bought one book of the Warriors series when I saw it at Bookaburra’s pop-up store as I have been trying to incorporate more middle grade reads into my diet. That this is the #1 National bestselling series in the U.S. of course caught my eye.

I picked this particular book of the series because it was about some ominous prophecy shaping the lives of three warrior cats in a cat clan which sounded intriguing.

The book is well-written and built the world tightly for the warrior cats who are well-described. But I’m afraid I got lost in the huge cast of cats and their clans (at least 30 cats or more mentioned) and so I did not finish the read.

My bookworm niece did however mention to me previously that this series was one of her favourite middle grade series reads when she was about 12 years old.


A Mother for Choco

Keiko Kasza

Puffin Books

My non-writing friends have slowly come to realise that I’m happiest receiving books. This was a birthday present.

This book is about a little bird who doesn’t have a mother. He searches for one, approaching Mrs Giraffe, Mrs Penguin and other animals who do not wish to be his mother. Until finally he finds the one…

My girlfriend Tania who gave me this book is Founder of charity Blue Sky Healing Home in China which helps orphans with medical needs get the treatments and surgeries they need to lead a more fufilling life. They care for the orphans till a stage where their lives are more normalised, then help arrange for their adoptions. Blue Sky celebrated their 10th anniversary last year with a roadtrip to the U.S. where Tania and Dr He (her amazing administrator running the homes operationally) met with over 15 families who had adopted children from Blue Sky.



The Book with No Pictures

B.J. Novak

Dial Books for Young Readers

This was my other birthday present from Lynn over the same lunch with Tania. It’s a brilliant concept (why didn’t I think of that?) and a reminder to writers like myself that we don’t always need to rely on pictures to tell a good story. Picture book publishers will have a different view of that but that’s another story. Laugh-out-loud funny!









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Today, I am taking part in the It’s Monday, What Are You Reading? meme hosted by Jen of Teach Mentor Texts and Kellee of Unleashing Readers.

mondayreading1Monday Reading2

The Hen Who Dreamed She Could Fly

Sun-Mi Hwang

One World Publications

The Hen

I’m a sucker for enticing book covers, front cover taglines like “#1 International Bestseller” and “More than 2 million Copies Sold”. And this book had both. Along with a picture book style cover illustration and title.

A hen named Sprout is not content laying eggs on demand only to see them carted off to the market. She glimpses her future through the barn doors where other animals roam free and she hatches a plan to hatch an egg of her own.

My heart broke many times over. As Sprout went on a hunger strike, refusing to lay another egg in captivity. When she was rejected by other hens that looked down on her in the pecking order of animals in the barn. Her resolve to live free, even if that meant starvation. Her joy at finding an unguarded egg that she nurtured and hatched – into a duckling. I won’t talk about the ending but it ended in great melancholy and sacrifice.

1st published in Korea in 2000, it stayed on the bestseller list for 10 years and inspired the highest grossing animated film in Korean history.

Sprout’s story is a complete tearjerker that will rival top Korean drama serials. I would say this is Charlotte’s Web with a gallon more melancholy. Sniff sob.


Cynthia Kadohata
Simon and Shuster

Kira Kira

This Newbery Medal Winner caught my eye at Bookabura’s atrium pop-up store given my new interest to read more Asian fare.

I loved this!! Cynthia’s main character Katie Takeshima has a voice that is a blend of Totto Chan (one of my all-time favourite books) and Kate DeCamillo’s Because of Winn Dixie (my favourite author).

This is another tear-jerker, but with many light moments.

Katie’s family is forced to move from their Japanese community in Iowa to the less welcoming Deep South of Georgia. Her older sister Lynn – her best friend, guardian and companion as their parents slave long hours to eke a living- makes things glitter even when they are ostracized and stared at. “Kira-Kira”, meaning “glittering” in Japanese, is the first word Lynn teaches Katie when she first speaks as a baby.

And it is this same spirit that makes Lynn the beautiful big sister, straight-A student and finally tragic cancer-stricken child whose wasting away is heartbreaking.

Two things stuck on me as I read this book. The immense sibling love that Lynn and Katie had for each other (as opposed to the usual sibling rivalry, pesky young sister trope), the sacrificial love of the parents who took on multiple work shifts to provide the best for the two girls so they could have a better future than themselves. And how their mother and her fellow factory workers had to wear adult diapers whilst working in a factory because the money-grubbing multi-millionaire owner did not allow unscheduled toilet breaks.

Beautiful and up there in my list of top 10 favorite novels.

Sniff. Sigh. Immensely satisfying.

Bring out the Kleenex for these Monday Reads.

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Today, I am taking part in the It’s Monday, What Are You Reading? meme hosted by Jen of Teach Mentor Texts and Kellee of Unleashing Readers.
Monday Reading2mondayreading1
Over the past two months, I hardly did any writing – I didn’t write any new manuscripts and hardly blogged. My writing time-out. But I have been reading and am now also itching to catch up with my writing on all fronts.
For my birthday a few months back, I received a present I really wanted – a Kindle. Okay, I told my husband to buy it for me so he didn’t have to read my mind. So off that, I’ve read two books so far – Inkheart and Fablehaven.
Inkheart cover
By Cornelia Funke
I found the story very familiar and then realized that I had watched the movie version starring Brendan Fraser (duh). 12-year old Meggie’s father is a booksmith – a restorer of old books.  Her mother went missing years back for reasons unknown and related to that, her father had since never read a book out loud to her. When a shifty character appears and calls her father Silvertongue, Meggie discovers her father’s gift of bringing story characters to life (literally) when he read aloud and the mystery behind her mother’s disappearance.
I like Cornelia Funke’s voice even though this wasn’t a book I was hooked on.


DragonRider cover

Dragon Rider
By Cornelia Funke
Published by Chicken House

Coincidentally enough, I then came across Dragon Rider by Cornelia Funke at Popular Bookstore soon after. Whilst I did not love Inkheart, I liked Cornelia’s voice and so I bought this book.
I absolutely love Dragon Rider, which is now my benchmark against other similar fantasy middle grade books that I will read. First published in Germany in 1997, Dragon Rider was translated into the English language by Chicken House in 2004 and has since sold over 2 million copies. Chicken House publisher Barry Cunningham is of course best remembered as the editor who famously accepted a manuscript about a boy Harry who goes to wizard school from a then struggling new author.
Dragon Rider has a simple straightforward plot. When humans start to encroach the valley of the dragons, a brave young dragon Firedrake decides to venture out to find a safe land when dragons can live in peace and stop hiding. He goes in search of the mythical and elusive Rim of Heaven, a place where an earlier generation of dragons was believed to have once lived. Firedrake and his Brownie friend Sorrel pick up a lonely boy Ben along the way. Together, they encounter a host of adventures, new allies and also an evil villain who hunts dragons for food.
I wondered why I found this such a compelling read when it was really such a simple plot. And I realized that it boiled down to compelling characters. The main characters Firedrake and Ben were incredibly likeable and I rooted for them all the way. Sorrel, the caustic Brownie, was slightly annoying but it was fine because she was a sidekick and served her purpose well. The whole host of other characters were extremely intriguing, especially the villain – The Golden One – whom you love to hate. There were lots of adventures, obstacles and mythical creatures that made this such a page-turning read.
Brandon Mull
I was “led” to Fablehaven by Amazon’s recommended reads as something I might like after Inkheart on my Kindle.  After reading Dragon Rider, I found what I did not like reading in Fablehaven, the first book of Brandon Mull’s New York Times bestselling fantasy series.This is a story about two kids who stayed with their grandfather whilst their parents took a vacation. The kids soon discover that Fablehaven is a haven for fairies and other magical creatures, some of whom are very dangerous.
I personally found the characters a bit too dark and creepy for me.Whilst it is imaginative with lots of plot, it simply wasn’t a page turner for me. It took way too many chapters to get into the story problem and I found that all the scene building and descriptions slowed the read for me. I skimmed the pages to get to the end.
Then I went back to re-read Dragon Rider, a book which left me wanting more.
Dragonology Chronicles
The Dragonology ChroniclesThe Dragon Prophecy
Douglas A Steer
Templar Publishing
After my infatuation with Dragon Rider, I picked this up at Bookaburra because it has dragons in it.This is the 4th book of The Dragonlogy Chronicles. Written in first person, a young boy Daniel and his sister are trained by Dr Drake, the Dragon Master, in the ways of dragons. The trio must save dragon-kind from an evil villain who is enslaving the dragons to serve her purpose.
I think there is enough plot and action for children to enjoy this.But again, I ended up skimming through this to get to the end. The voice and writing style didn’t quite appeal to me.
I hope I will “hit” more books that I love as I get more familiar with middle grade books so I maximise my precious reading time.

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