If the name Don Bosco sounds familiar, it could be because you’ve come across his other Super Cool Books such as Lion City Adventures, and Diary of Young Justice Bao.
He started Super Cool Books in 2011, after his two sons challenged him to write a fantasy series for children, set in Singapore and Malaysia. My guess is that his books read so well because his kids are the alpha testers, and a writer probably can’t get harsher critics than his own kids, since you can count on them to tell you the whole truth.
The new complete Sherlock Hong series was recently acquired by publishers Marshall Cavendish, and will be released first in Singapore (paperback version in Nov 2015), then internationally as an ebook (Dec 2015), and subsequently in the UK/US/Worldwide as paperbacks (Feb 2016)! Really happy to hear a Singaporean author going international like this.
And the books do deserve a large audience – 7 year old K really enjoyed them and here’s what she said when I ‘interviewed’ her.
I like reading these books. They are so interesting that I don’t want to stop even when it’s time to sleep. My mummy says, “Time for bed!” and I say, “But it’s so interesting!”
I have finished The Nightingale, The Peranakan Princess, and now I’m reading The Scroll of Greatness. I can’t really pick a favourite because I like them all.
I think both girls and boys will enjoy reading these books. Before this, I mainly read books written for girls, but I really like this series because the stories are so exciting.
The cool cover illustrations are by Singaporean artist Ann Gee Neo.
I’ve dived into two of them so far, and can see why K enjoys the series so much, though her plaudits are somewhat non-descriptive. She’s embarked on a few other mystery books before, but none have absorbed her as much Sherlock Hong’s super cool adventures.
The stories are fast-paced, full of intrigue, with large doses of the fantastic (plus dashes of humour) thrown in.
Alchemy, chronomancy (time travel), legends and minor magicians – together they concoct tales that draw you into the author’s flights of fancy, as you dash alongside his young protagonist from Singapore to Malacca.
The books are easy enough for a Primary 1 kid to read, with vocabulary that is varied enough to pique the interest of a 9 year old. The stories are short, with no self-indulgent prose, written principally to delight a young reader.
It took me a while to realise why he was Sherlock Hong (Hong, Holmes, Hong… ahhh) but the British semblance ends there. This son of Chinese Physician Hong is as Singaporean as he could be.
I particularly enjoyed the many local references, to Singapore landmarks and the like. As a child, I read books mainly set in the UK or the US, since there was a dearth of engaging children’s fiction written by Singaporean authors then.
When I grew older, picking up books set in Singapore, by local authors, always hit home (pun intended, hur hur) in a special way. Something resonates when you read about places you walk by frequently, or familiar food and phrases.
As such, I am so pleased that my kids will have books like these to grow up with.
I must say that I enjoyed getting to know Don too, and I feel like I can tell how sincere and personable he is, simply through his writing and through the emails we exchanged. And that’s the mark of a great writer, isn’t it? Presenting your self genuinely and vividly through the written word, even if it’s just within an email or blog post.
It was only through his Wikipedia entry that I found out that Don has a PhD from NUS in Youth Culture studies (that’s Dr Don Bosco to you). But he doesn’t mention it on his website, use it on his book covers, or even mention it in interviews. Most writers would milk the title for all it’s worth, so all the more credit to him for not doing so.
‘Nuff said. If you’d like to get your hands on a set right now, you can purchase them here, or from all good bookshops.
Don is giving away a complete set of 4 books in the Sherlock Hong Adventures series to one winner.
To enter, complete all the steps below:
- Like LilBlueBottle’s Facebook Page
- Like this Facebook post, and leave a comment there with:
a) your email address;
b) tag 3 friends; and
c) tell us why your kids like reading (or would like to read) mystery books by Singaporean authors.
The giveaway ends on 2359 hrs on 20 Nov 2015, and winners will be informed via email. The usual terms and conditions apply. All the best!
[CLOSED] The winner is Robert Sim! Thank you all for participating.