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Posts Tagged ‘Asian Festival of Children’s Content’

This has been a nostalgic period where curtains have closed, torches have passed and some of us open new chapters in our lives.

Raffles Hotel, flagship of Raffles Hotels & Resorts, the company where I previous worked for a decade, recently closed for major refurbishment under its new owner.

Over 25 of us, including three of our former company’s past-presidents plus old-timers like myself, gathered for Someone’s birthday dinner-cum-reunion at Raffles Grill to bid our farewell to the grand old dame. It was an evening that harked back to my fine-dining days working in the hotel industry.

 

RafflesHotelReunion

I got the waiter to take a long shot from my end

 

After a decade of working and growing up with the Raffles hotel group, I symbolically (and quite literally) crossed the road (Victoria Street to be exact) to Central Library, my new haunt since I found my voice as an author. 

I went from corporate suit and lobster lunches at Raffles Hotel’s Empire Cafe to sandals and cheeseburger at Hanis Cafe at the Central Library building. And I have been perfectly happy with my change in diet.

In this 10th year as an author, I bid a second farewell, on the Book Council front. Mr Rama, head honcho of our Singapore Book Council for several decades (and Founder of the Asian Festival of Children’s Content) has just retired. 

As a passionate books advocate, Mr Rama has brought the industry forward by leaps and bounds. He has also been significant in kick starting my writing life, from the time I became a winner of the Book Council’s First Time Writers Publishing Initiative 10 years back. 

So, of course, we had to catch up over kopi. Actually, kopi-kosong for him and teh siu tai & mee siam for me.

KopiWithRama.png

I also start a new page this month, after closing the chapter on 1 year’s cycle of antibodies infusion, on top of chemotherapy and breast cancer mastectomy & reconstructive surgery last year.

It’s a new chapter, a clean breast and a stronger stomach (flatter too…thanks to the stomach fat used for breast reconstruction). I am, figuratively speaking, a new creation in Christ! And I look forward to scribing new words with a higher purpose and heart impact.

And another kopi session with Mr Rama 😄.

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This year is the 1st time I am missing the Asian Festival of Children’s Content (AFCC) since it started 7-8 years back. My official AFCC babysitters ie. my parents, are away on holiday, cruising somewhere in Europe.

Although I’m not getting my usual one full week of pure adult, book-geek conversations, I do have one major highlight from the event.

My Slovakian publisher is a speaker at AFCC this year and we had a chance to catch up over lunch yesterday. She also brought with her, hot off the press, and air-flown….Slovak copies of my books!

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I managed to attend Petra’s 1st AFCC session where she shared about the Slovakian market and also read a few pages of Prince Bear & Pauper Bear in Slovak. Petra’s an ex-TV journalist, amongst many other accomplishments. She’s also an uber-cool doting mum of four kids. She brought two of them – teenagers! – along for the conference. Her son helped her through her powerpoint presentation. Her daughter took photos for her.

As I watched them, I wondered if Caleb and I will be like that in 10 years’ time. Something for me to aspire towards!

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The Slovakian editions of my two picture books Prince Bear & Pauper Bear and The Tale of Rusty Horse have just been printed!

I am eagerly looking forward to collecting my advance copies from my publisher who will be in Singapore as a speaker at the Asian Festival of Children’s Content 2017 next week.

 

Petra's daughter

My publisher’s daughter holding the advance copies of my books

 

I met Petra Nagyová Džerengová at AFCC a few years back when she attended a panel session that I spoke on. She had come as an invited guest. When she told me that she was the Deputy Mayor of Bratislava, the capital of Slovakia, I asked if she thought my books would be suitable in Slovakia. She said yes.

I did not know then that Petra (on top of being Deputy Mayor, bestselling author and proud mum of 4 kids) is also Managing Director of leading Slovakian publisher Verbarium.

Thanks to Petra, my books now have a voice in Slovakia! This is the 4th language that my Toy Titles have been published in.

(My books are now also available online at Verbarium’s website.)

 

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Benji, Yumi, Origami! is in the house! Literally. I’ve finally stocked some copies at home.

This picture book saw a splashy launch at Resorts World Singapore’s SEA Aquarium in end May. Then, I encountered a storm one week later with a breast cancer diagnosis and never got round to doing anything for this book.

Benji, Yumi, Origami! is a story about new perspectives and seeing beyond the imperfect.

Benji is a kid who wants to get everything perfect. When he receives an origami present, he sets out, very much by the book, following each step methodically from Page 1.

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But origami is a craft that needs skill and patience, and Benji fails to fold his paper animals perfect.

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Just as he reaches the point of giving up, he meets his new neighbour Yumi, who gifted him the origami set.

With Yumi’s encouragement, Benji starts to see his imperfect creations with fresh eyes.

His crumpled frog isn’t really crumpled. That’s his reflection in the water ripples.

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From there, a beautiful friendship unfolds as Benji works on his new creations with new perspectives.

Benji, Yumi, Origami! is now retailing at Kinokuniya Singapore.

I’m also offering autographed copies with free delivery (within Singapore) for a limited period only! Send your orders to me through a private message.

Related Links:

Reader’s Favourite awards 5-star rating to Benji, Yumi, Origami!

Benji, Yumi, Origami makes a Splash at RWS’s Sea Aquarium Fairytale Launch

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I’m excited to share that I have signed a translation rights agreement with leading Slovakian children’s book publisher Verbarium who will publish two of my children’s picture books in Slovakia. This series comes under my self-published Mustard Seed Books imprint.

The two titles, Prince Bear & Pauper Bear and The Tale of Rusty Horse are part of my bestselling 4-picture book Toy Series which has sold over 45,000 copies to date. Slovakia will mark the first entry for my books into a European country and the 5th country to publish my Toy Series, following Singapore, Korea, China and Malaysia.

Children's Picture Book on friendship, forgiveness & second chances

Children’s Picture Book on friendship, forgiveness & second chances

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

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

Vebarium is the only publishing house in Slovakia that offers high quality children’s literature of awarded contemporary and classical authors. It aims to strengthen the diversity of high quality literary works for the young in Slovakia and to reach new audiences by introducing quality children’s literature from Asia.

Vebarium is helmed by Managing Director Petra Nagyová Džerengová, the ex-Deputy Mayor of Bratislava and still the member of city parliament and city cultural and social affaires committees. Petra is also a bestselling author for adults and children’s books in Slovakia.

Petra says, “I was an invited guest to the Asian Festival of Children’s Content 2014 in Singapore and met Emily Lim when I attended a panel that she spoke on. I found her books very appealing for our Slovakian market. We look forward to successfully launching her books in Slovakia next year and introducing our children to quality children’s literature from Singapore.”

Book Council Executive Director Mr Ramachandran accompanying Petra Nagyova Dzerengova, Deputy Mayor of Bratislava, Slovakia on her visit to Minister of State, Prime Minister's Office & Ministry of Culture, Community of Youth, Mr Sam Tan during AFCC 2014

Book Council Executive Director Mr Ramachandran accompanying Petra Nagyova Dzerengova, Deputy Mayor of Bratislava, Slovakia on her visit to Minister of State, Prime Minister’s Office & Ministry of Culture, Community of Youth, Mr Sam Tan during AFCC 2014

 

I received Petra’s offer terms a week before my breast cancer diagnosis and worked through the contract within a few weeks. I’m thankful for my lovely literary agent Andrea who helped me get the contract work in place quickly in the midst of me signing consent forms for my mastectomy and reconstruction surgeries!

As I lift my eyes up to what’s ahead after my chemotherapy is over, I am thankful for this rainbow that brightens my horizon. I believe there are more good things to come.

 

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Last week, I had a fairytale book launch when Benji, Yumi, Origami! was launched at Resorts World’s S.E.A Aquarium as part of the Asian Festival of Children’s Content’s (AFCC) Japan Night.

Benji & Yumi cover (low-res)

My book was one of two titles specially published by AFCC and sponsored by Genting Singapore to celebrate 50 years of friendship between Singapore and Japan (SJ50).

The Singapore-Japan collaborative effort was to have 1 Singapore author and 1 Japanese illustrator work on one book. The other book, Monster Day on Tabletop Hill, was in turn written by 1 Japanese author and 1 Singaporean illustrator. Both books are in English-Japanese bilingual edition.

Both Books.png

I chose to write my Friendship-themed story around a Singaporean kid who becomes friends with his new Japanese neighbour after she gifts him with an origami activity book. Beyond the friendship theme, I also chose to write a story about imperfection. Benji is focused on getting his origami paper animals perfect and reaches a point of giving up when he fails to achieve that. His new friend Yumi shows him a surprising new way to view his imperfect origami creations.

This book launch evening had the makings of a swimmingly great tale:

1. The opening line 

One of the keys of writing great children’s books is the opening line of the book- it has to hook the reader.

The event was held inside Resorts World’s S.E.A Aquarium – the World’s largest aquarium and maritime museum in the world. The venue of the evening had me hook, line and sinker.

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2. The story setting 

How an author sets the scene for the story makes all the difference in pulling the reader into the pages.

The setting was a 4-course sit down formal dinner right in the viewing gallery of the Aquarium’s star exhibit – a 7-8m high floor to ceiling fish tank.

My table

3. The story structure

As with all good children’s books, there has to be a beginning, middle and an end. Strong plot is key in moving the action forward. 

Menu (higher res)

The beginning of the evening kicked off with speeches from the VIPs. Book Council Chairperson Claire Chiang,  delivered an impeccable paragraph of greeting in Japanese which she had picked up only one week before. The Japanese Ambassador followed on to speak about the 50 years of friendship between Singapore and Japan.

Dr Mohamad Maliki Bin Osman, Senior Minister of State, Ministry of Defence & Ministry of Foreign Affairs graced the event.

BookLaunches (higher res).png

 

   

 

The middle part of the story must have enough action to sustain the reader’s interest to the end.

We were treated to feast that whet our appetite on two levels:

– a 4-course sit down dinner, with the aquarium as our movie screen

– musical performances by a talented array of child performers.

4. Story Climax

All great stories must take the reader to a story climax.

For me, that was right after the 2nd course of the evening when the VIPs were invited on stage to touch an interactive screen.

As they did, two divers descended into full view from above with…. waterproof versions of the two books launched.

ST_20160528_NAJAPAN_2322659 (Straits Times photo of Benji, Yumi).jpgPhoto Credit: Straits Times 28 May 2016

Japan Team.png

Our collaborative teams – Illustrator Dave Liew, Translator Cathy Hirano, Me, Illustrator Kazumi Wilds, Translator Yumiko Fukumoto & Adviser Naomi Kojima

This was the moment that my heart felt so full with unspeakable joy.

Following on, Resorts World announced the launch of Asia’s richest book award. Yes, all $30,000 of it!

ST News Article

5. Satisfying Ending

Good story endings must bring things to a close in a way that leaves the reader satisfied.

Renowned Japanese singers entertained us with well-known Japanese children’s songs that my Japanese illustrator grew up with.

Soprano-soloist Lauren Yeo showed us why she’s a child prodigy.

The fairytale evening came to a close, much like the final page of a delicious children’s read.

My table (comprising myself, illustrators, translator) stayed to savor the last moments.  We took final photos, chatted and lingered to the end.

6. The Final word

My final word as the author?

I could not have written anything better than how the evening’s story had unfolded. 🙂

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Meeting my illustrator Kazumi Wilds for the first time! together with translator Yumiko Fukumoto

 

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Our creative team with Book Council Chairperson Claire Chiang

 

 

 

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For the Asian Festival of Children’s Content this year, author Linn Shekinah wrote an extensively researched essay on the Picture Book landscape in Singapore. She also covered how local Middle Grade books have successfully made their mark here.

Linn, thanks for coining me as one of the New Millennium Pioneers in Singapore’s Picture Book landscape. I feel a little old hearing that but that’s okay. I’m under 65 (in year and age :)) and write for young children, so it keeps me young at heart :).

Picture Book Story page

Page extract from Asia: Land of Perennial Stories

Picture Book Story Pg2

Page extract from Asia: Land of Perennial Stories

Linn’s essay was published in the recently launched AFCC Publication Asia – Land of Perennial Stories, a collection of essays for AFCC. Read more of Linn’s essay here.

 

ASIA Land of Perennial Stories cover

Asia: Land of Perennial Stories is edited by Dr Myra Garces-Bacsal, Assistant Professor at the National Institute of Education, Nanyang Technological University in Singapore. Myra is also Founder of esteemed books website Gathering Books. This is Myra’s third edited book for the AFCC Publications, which include personal reflections from picture book makers, artists, graphic novelists, poets, and middle-grade and young adult fiction writers coming from Asia. The series also includes perspectives from publishers, literary agents, members of the book industry, in addition to academic reflections on Asian children’s literature. 

Asia – Land of Perennial Stories is for sale from The National Book Development Council of Singapore.

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