Posts Tagged ‘Children’s content’

I finally met (or bumped) into my littlest and cutest reader ever! Declan is my dear, dear friend Jamie’s nephew and loves books. Jamie was there with him to buy an encyclopedia on ocean animals which he wanted. And that was just after she had read him my book Marky Polo in Tokyo at home.

“Which of Auntie Emily’s books do you like best?” Jamie asked her little nephew.

“Everything!” Declan declared.

Wah! First Prize answer. I asked for permission to take photos with him. 😊😄🤩

A coincidental meeting in matching dye tie clothing

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Marky Polo is in today’s Straits Times Life!

In ‘3 Things to Do Today’, Straits Times’ Stephanie Yeo recommends reading new local children’s books:

“Meet Marky Polo, an adorable pangolin who comes from a family of famous travellers with hilarious names (dad is Masala Polo and mum is Mala Polo and both are spice collectors). On his first overseas trip, Marky visits his cousin in Tokyo and gets into all sorts of adventures when his luggage is lost…

Marky Polo in Tokyo is a fun romp around the city’s attractions that is suitable for readers aged five to nine…

But what makes it more exciting is augmented-reality experience, which is accessible when you download the SnapLearn app. Take a selfie with Marky, see the Tokyo Skytree in a 360-degree photo and watch a rainbow cotton candy being made in Harajuku….”

Marky Polo in Tokyo is available in local bookstores and online at World Scientific’s online Lazada store page (currently at a promotional price).

The book is also available in our local libraries. Check it out with your kids and snap some selfies with Marky too!

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With the Covid-19 pandemic ongoing, Caleb wasn’t keen to go out like we normally would during the school holidays last November and December 2020. So, he alternated between having friends over for playdates and holing up in his bedroom bingeing and re-reading the vast collection of Big Nate comic books. He borrowed the books through Libby, our National Library e-book service, which we started relying on when the Covid-19 pandemic broke out and our libraries shut for a few months.

Some Big Nate titles

One mum was surprised that I let Caleb binge on comics. She said that she banned her son from comics as she thought comics won’t help his school composition writing. She said that since I’m an author and don’t see any problem with it, she will now allow her son to read comics.

Shortly after, a very close friend remarked that Caleb should start reading books without illustrations as he’s old enough and it will help his school composition writing.

I’ve always flowed with Caleb’s reading interest and am perfectly fine with his recent pivot towards comics and graphic novels, as well as his love of chapter books with illustrations. After all, I do write children’s picture books and these have illustrations on every page…haha.

I mentioned it to my good friend Desmond, a prize-winning author, poet, lecturer and multi-hyphenate and he made an insightful comment – that comics are good for learning the art of writing conversations.

That is so true. Caleb’s new interest in comics and our comic-strip style mother-son banter have sparked a new style of writing which I’ve incorporated for an upcoming children’s book.

Meantime, he is still re-reading the Big Nate series when he comes home from school and chuckling over the corny jokes and laugh-out-loud schoolboy humour.


Series: Big Nate Series

Author: Lincoln Pierce

Publisher: Andrews McMeel Publishing

Age range: 8-12 years old

What’s on the Plate?

Big Nate, a four-and-a-half- feet tall, 11-year boy, holds the record for the highest number of school detentions. That doesn’t stop him from dreaming big as he battles teachers, homework and school food.

What’s Delicious?

  1. It’s laugh-out-loud humour (which I can testify to because Caleb will burst out chuckling and read bits of it to me).
  2. Its themes and school setting are very relatable for kids and gives their funny bones a good tickle after their sitting six hours in school daily.
  3. Big Nate started as a comic strip. With its success, it was turned into a book series. And this 2021, TV channel Nickelodeon will be airing the animated cartoon series.

Read more about this series here.

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Hear! Hear! Little Godwit and Little Mole have just found their voices on Storytel!

Storytel is one of the world’s leading audiobook platforms with over 1 million paying subscribers.

You can download and try Storytel for a 14-day free trial and start listening to an unlimited number of great stories narrated to you and your kids. Check out Little Godwit Finds His Wings and Little Mole’s Awesome Star when you do!

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2020 has been a year like no other. And it’s brought a whole new lexicon of words into our vocabulary. Lockdown. Safe-distancing. Essential Services. Circuit Breaker. Swabbing. Zoom. And more.

It was a year of not writing-as-usual.

But as I do my traditional look-back of the year that’s passing, words have continued to play a big part of my year, whether writing privately for an audience of One or publicly for readers.

  1. Little Mole’s Awesome Star (February)

I was thrilled to launch Little Mole’s Awesome Star, the 2nd picture book in my ‘Little’ series, about a little star-nose mole’s tale of independence and first steps into the world.

2. Kueh Tutu’s Just Teddy dance (March)

Dance collective Kueh Tutu performed a dance interpretation of Just Teddy at The Art Ground to a lovely review in the Straits Times.

3. Failed Covid-19 picture book & Poetic Pause (April-May)

During Circuit Breaker (Singapore’s equivalent of a partial lockdown), I tried hard to write a Covid-19 themed picture book. I had hoped to use the book for fundraising purposes. But my writing was constipated and my pen was dry. I ended up shelving that and penning poetry, an art form totally not down my writing alley.

But then again, Singapore was in the thick of a pandemic and perhaps I needed to take a step out of my usual writing form.

4. NLB & NHB Storytelling sessions (May-August)

With Singapore going into Circuit Breaker mode (the equivalent of a partial lockdown), our National Library and National Heritage Board created storytelling videos to entertain the little ones staying at home over the months ahead.

Minister-of-State Sim Ann read The Tale of Rusty Horse for National Library Board’s Storytime programme. National Heritage Board premiered my friend, former Channel News Asia producer-presenter Suzanne Jung’s storytelling videos of Little Godwit Finds His Wings and Little Mole’s Awesome Star on its Facebook page.

5. My Father’s Tales (July-August, November-December)

After Covid-19 was talked ad-naseum, I decided to interview my dad and record his life stories for our family. The interviews have been completed. Now comes the editing and layout stage.

Our first trip to Europe when I was 9 years old

6. Sewing Stuff to Sow Good in SG (August- October)

I put my laptop aside for a sewing machine to sew for a few months. Following a providential introduction to an artisan mum and artist daughter, coupled with divine inspiration, we collaborated on Sew Sow Good Stuff SG, a fundraising initiative for non-profit Child at Street 11, a quality childcare centre for children from low-income families. It was a meaningful few months of new friendships, sewing fellowship and purposeful fundraising. And God multiplied our little mustard seed efforts over and beyond what we could imagine.

Daryl, Chiao Lin and me with the completion of the postcards and stuff toys for fundraising sales with my books

7. Moderating at AFCC, Zooming with SUSS (October)

I had the pleasure of moderating the opening session of the Asian Festival of Children’s Content. It was a meaningful discussion based on the topic Children’s Books in Times of Crisis and Change.

The panel speakers and me with Book Council Executive Director William Phuan just before the Festival opening

Two days later, I spoke to the graduating class of preschool educators at Singapore University of Social Sciences. I was very blessed through that session with SUSS’s kind support of my fundraising initiative Sew Sow Good Stuff SG.

8. Book of Hugs (October)

My newfound poetry muscles led to my first published poem in the Book of Hugs, a collection of stories, letters, poems and illustrated pieces by 45 authors and illustrators in Singapore. The Book of Hugs was published in October through the collective effort of author Lelia Boukarim, illustrator Dave Liew and Denise Tan of Closetful of Books as a fundraising initiative for this pandemic period.

9. Macaques in my Estate (October)

Macaques in my Estate, my fourth book in this local wildlife series, was published by Wildlife Reserves Singapore and distributed to all preschools in Singapore to raise awareness of living with macaques in our estates.

10. Little Godwit zooms into SWF (November)

Little Godwit zoomed into Singapore Writer’s Festival’s children’s programme with a Zoom performance. Literally.

11. Signing with Scholastic Asia (November)

After placing top three at the Scholastic Asian Picture Book Award last year, Scholastic Asia offered my collaborator Alycia and me a publishing contract for My Grandfather’s Rojak, which was inked this November.

12. Just Teddy turns Taiwanese (December)

My Christmas present came early and in the most unexpected form with Our Daily Bread Taiwan publishing 33,000 copies of the Taiwanese translation of Just Teddy: Psalm 139. “Ordinary Extraordinary”, the Taiwanese title translation of Just Teddy sums up what this launch into Taiwan has been for me.  

13. Christmas @ Home (December)

I was roped in to help with the finale of Christmas@Home, a Christmas online programme for children and their families for the school holidays leading up to Christmas. I helped with the programming and also shared about how I started my writing journey with my debut book Prince Bear & Pauper Bear.

I’m grateful for the experience I gained working with new friends Anne Soh and Sook Neo who initiated this programme, and already-friends David Leong and Angie Maniam for this session. And I was very encouraged by the response of the families and children who zoomed in with us.

14. A New Series, A New Publisher (October- December)

It’s fortuitous how when I decided that I wasn’t going to write this year, I was then approached to write a new children’s book series soon after. Given that “hybrid” has become the modus operandi word for many, I decided to go hybrid in my new series. More on this in the weeks to come.        

15. New Voice, Clean Breast (December)

I was given the opportunity to share my personal journey with Methodist Message, the newsletter for the Methodist Church of Singapore. Writing this article allowed me to reflect on God’s goodness in my life.

I’ve been reading through my personal reflections that I wrote in my spiritual journal this past week and that will remain for an audience of One. I can only say that 2020 is truly a year where we need to re-look at our world with new vision, and with that hopefully re-imagine and re-write the script for a better world.

Related Links:

2019: A Mourned Chapter, Poured Pages, New Prose & God’s Word

2018: A Year of Writing Wilderness, New Frontiers and Fresh Manna

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Over a month ago, I found myself confronting a philosophical question from my 9-year old.

“Why must I study?” Caleb asked.

Caleb belongs to the 1st batch of students whose exams were scrapped for Primary 2 final term and Primary 3 mid-term. I remember that fateful morning in late 2018 when I read the Ministry of Education’s announcement in the newspaper. The rationale for this decision, as explained, is to move students away from the focus on only grades and help them discover the joy of learning. (“No Exams for P1, P2 students from 2019”- Yahoo News)

“Yay!” Caleb and I exclaimed as I read the news to him. Then, we went back to happily eating breakfast. He was in Primary 1 then.

As I have taken a hands-off approach to school, Caleb did not take well to my sudden interest in his schoolwork a month ago.

“I’ve never studied in Primary 1 and Primary 2. I didn’t study this year and I’ve done well in all my tests. Why must I study for this final test?”

I floundered for an answer. “Because it is good practice, and soon you have to study for your exams,” I said, but I wasn’t certain how and where to get him started.

I decided to pose my own philosophical question to my bestie when I arranged her birthday breakfast at my place three weeks before exams. “Where do I start?”

“Get him to do past year exam papers,” Gail replied. She’s mum to four kids who have gone through plenty of exams.

Through Caleb’s recent exams, I learnt 5 things:

  1. I’ve had no gauge of how much Caleb has understood from school lessons, until now.  
  2. Caleb did well in his first exams based on his own effort and merit. And without doing any assessment books for his first three years of school.
  3. I should check in on what Caleb is doing in school and not leave it to the last moment.
  4. I couldn’t do his math problem sum. One week before his exams, I thought I should take a look at a couple of Caleb’s math questions. I’m embarrassed to say I couldn’t do his P3 math.
  5. Caleb wrote me into his exam composition: The mother is an author. The girl reads aloud from favourite book which opens with “Crick, crack. Little Godwit burst from his shell!”

Well, at least I can say that my books and fostering of his reading habit has visible impact in his writing!  

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SEED Institute recently organized an outdoor event: “Walking Story” on 27 August 2016 at Pasir Ris Park, using materials from the 4-picture book commemorative collection that I had written for the Year of the Co-operatives in 2012.

Various routes were planned for the 4 books and about 50 Chinese preschool teachers participated in an enriching story walk around the park to learn more about using the outdoor environment to enhance their story telling techniques with preschool children.

I was invited to do an autograph session with the participants at the end of the event as each of them would be given one of the books as a gift. I was unable to attend as I’m undergoing chemotherapy. But I did love the idea of the teachers being gifted a copy each so I pre-signed the books at SEED Institute’s office a few days before.

On the Monday after “Walking Story”, I received a phone call from my 5-year old’s Chinese teacher. As it turned out, she was one of the participants. She was especially pleased to receive the autographed copy of my book.

I was also delighted to receive a lovely photo collage from SEED Institute last week.


The Singapore National Cooperative Federation first published this series, followed by SEED Institute who re-published it as a bilingual series, with support from the Lee Kuan Yew Bilingualism Fund.

Co-op series bilingual.jpg

SEED has also been using these books in their teacher training workshop “Creative Teaching Ideas for Character Development in Early Years” to promote the teaching of character building in preschoolers.

I’m happy to see how far these 4 books have walked over these few years. 🙂


Related Posts:

When the President and 15,000 breezed through A Very Big Storm

A Very Big Storm in 17 locations in Rochdale Manchester

Bilingual Children’s Picture Books for all Singapore Pre-schools



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Caleb would usually have “sleepovers” in my bedroom a few nights a week. It was a treat for him because we would play board games before bed, I would read him books and he got to sleep later, like a real sleepover party.

During my 9-day stay in hospital following the mastectomy and reconstruction surgery, Caleb spent most of his time with my parents ie. his grandparents, and missed his sleepovers with me terribly.

Even after I got home, we did not resume his sleepovers in my room for a while. He is a roller when he sleeps. I could not risk him accidentally kicking me or rolling onto me.

About two weeks after I had been home from hospital, I heard a wailing downstairs in Caleb’s bedroom when my mum was trying to put him to bed. After it had gone on for some time, I went down to see what was happening.

Caleb was standing a foot away from his bed, refusing to get on. His eyes were red from crying and he was at the end of making a long teary protest speech when I walked in. “…I’ve spent enough time with Grandma. I’m not getting into bed anymore until I sleep with Mummy again. I want to be with Mummy till infinity!” And then he broke down inconsolably.

My heart broke.

But it wasn’t the right time to give in because it might send the wrong message that a protest speech would get him what he wanted. I spent some time placating him and eventually got him into his bed.

That night, Ben and I discussed about re-starting Caleb’s sleepovers in our bedroom. But it would need to come with some temporary rules.

Usually, he would climb onto me and hug me to sleep. Then, I would transfer him onto the giant cushion on the floor next to me. In the wee hours of the morning, half awake, he would automatically climb onto me, hug me like a koala bear and fall back to sleep again.

That had to change temporarily till I recovered from my surgery wounds.

So, we worked out a couple of new rules:

#1 – Caleb could only sleep on Papa’s side of the bed.  

That meant that Ben and I had to switch the sides of the bed that we normally slept so that Caleb would be next to him, not me. I moved to the right side of the bed and Ben to the left.

#2 – We built a wall of pillows which divided our bed into two. Caleb had to stay on the other side. And he could not sleep on me like a baby koala for the next few weeks.

We pilot-tested the next night. In the wee hours of the night, Caleb automatically climbed up to my side of the bed and slept on Ben. The pillow wall stayed intact and we were all systems go for his regular sleepovers again.


Goofing it up in my room during a quiet day at home


With my chemo-cycles now, we’ve still kept some of these temporary rules. For every 1st week of a new chemo cycle, Caleb has to forgo any sleepovers in my room. Given the amount of medicine pumped into me at each chemo/post-op session, I abstain from kissing him for a week till I flush out all the chemicals from my body. My oncologist said it usually takes two days to flush it out of the system but I prefer to buffer it up to a week where Caleb is concerned. Once that week passes, my routine with Caleb goes back to normal and I give him infinity kisses till he begs me to stop.

That said, I have explained to him that I cannot be with him till infinity because one day I will grow old and no longer be around. But I tell him that we have the assurance of God’s Word in the Bible that we will eventually be together in eternity in Heaven.

And Eternity is better than Infinity and beyond.

Related Links:

Inside-Out Kid #5 – “My Mummy is a Botak Head! But she covered it up.”

God Knows Leh #10 – Three Wise Women with Gifts of Frankessence, Mastec & Go

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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.


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


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.


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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Over the past 2 months or so, I’ve been finding and stumbling upon ways to help my 5-year old cope with my breast cancer diagnosis, surgery and recuperation period and now chemo and post-op treatment.

I found the 6 best things that have worked well with him to date:

1. Preparing your Kid in Advance

From the moment I received my diagnosis, I spoke to Caleb about it and prepared him for my upcoming surgery. All in age-appropriate terms.

“Mummy will need to go for surgery and stay in hospital for a week or so. The doctor will cut out the bad cells which are making me sick. I will be well after that.”

I also prepared him for my hair loss from chemotherapy so he wasn’t afraid or confused when I went bald.

I spoke to him several times and answered all his questions about it so he had an understanding of what was to come.


2. Keeping to routine

As it was during the month-long June holidays when I was in hospital and then recuperating at home, I kept Caleb to a fixed routine for the entire month. He went to Chinese enrichment class for 3 hours daily in the mornings (similar length of time as his Kindy) and visited me in hospital in the afternoons.

He also continued his gym, taekwondo classes and Sunday School.


3. Finding something he could latch onto

Ben bought a few big Star Wars Lego sets, which Caleb built in my hospital room every day. It was the thing he looked forward to doing when he visited me daily, along with us watching a Pixar or Disney movie together.

My mum bought him a junior monopoly set which he loved. That became his game with grandpa every day for my 9 days stay in hospital.

Interestingly enough, the moment I returned home from hospital, he stopped playing monopoly and switched to building Lego in my bedroom while I rested.

With Christopher

Godbrother Christopher, who was supposed to be studying for PSLE, came over to give Caleb a Superman Lift-off


4. Letting him have a voice

Caleb was very chatty with friends who visited me in hospital if he wasn’t in the middle of a movie.

When my friend Hwee visited me the day after my surgery, he introduced her to my hospital room because he was so familiar with every nook and corner.

He greeted Hwee with, “Come, I show you my mummy’s urine packet!”

Fortunately, Hwee is very well acquainted with Caleb’s personality from all the anecdotes I’ve shared with her.

She very sportingly followed him as he led her to the left side of my bed and obliged when he asked to her squat down to get acquainted with my urine packet.

“I feel like our friendship has just moved to a more intimate level,” I told Hwee.

with Angel & Christopher

Having a playdate with God sister Angelina and God brother Christopher


Two days into visiting me, Caleb met the lift attendant when he and his grandparents were on the way up to my ward. Someone before then had pressed all the lift buttons so the lift attendant came in and dis-enabled the buttons. My dad told me that Caleb watched intently as the lighted buttons all went off.

“How did you do that?” He asked the lift attendant.

Amazingly, the lift attendant taught him.

The next day, armed with his newfound knowledge, he put it to use.

They pressed the 10th floor to where my ward was. My mum then pressed level 2 because she wanted to go buy lunch at the food court.

Caleb did not want the lift to stop because he had to run to my toilet. He dis-engaged the 2nd floor stop so the lift went straight up to my floor!

Unfortunately he applied his newfound knowledge the next day too, which stopped a nurse going to another floor.

After I explained to him that he shouldn’t be stopping other people from going to their floors, he settled into a more lift passenger friendly routine.

My parents told me that he took on the role of a lift attendant. He asked every person who came into the lift where they were going. He pressed the lift buttons for them, and pressed door open and door close for them.  He also engaged some of them in conversation. “I’m visiting my Mummy. Who are you visiting?”


5. Informing his Kindergarten

Once Caleb returned to Kindergarten, I notified Caleb’s teachers about my situation and sought their help to keep a close eye on him through this period, especially if he had any emotional issues in class.

His teachers got his class to pray for me and also read him stories which helped him relate to my situation. His teacher also called me a few times to update me on how he was doing in class. I was relieved to hear that he was very settled in and happy in class and had in fact matured even more in his social interactions with his classmates during this time.


6. Encouraging Expression of Emotion & Openness 

I reminded Caleb several times that it was fine for him to tell me how he felt. Caleb’s Inside-Out board helped him express his feelings well in the first week I returned home.

For the next couple of weeks, he also had at least one emotional outburst a day on something seemingly unrelated where he became angry or sad. I just let him get it out of his system and he was fine after.

I knew he was expressing and saying what was on his mind (in a healthy way) when I sent him to Kindy for the first time in 7 weeks since my surgery.

When I reached the drop-off point for him to enter the Kindy gate, the staff opened the door for him to get out. The first thing he said to her was, “My Mummy is a Botak Head. But you cannot see because she covered it up!”

Later, when he returned home, I spoke to him about it. “Caleb, so have you told everyone that Mummy is a Botak Head?”

“Only that teacher (at the drop off point), my class teacher and ….my whole class.

“Oh, that’s all?” I said.

“Yah, that’s all,” he said.

Well, that was definitely all.


Related Links:

Inside-Out Kid #4 – I’m Happy & Loving You! The Inside-Out Board

Inside-Out Kid #3 – Mummy, you can take out your Pretend Hair at Home

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