I thought we were familiar with quite a number of Singaporean children book authors, but my recent visit to the library has debunked that notion! Apart from seeing familiar favourites that we love from Linn Shekinah, Melanie Lee, Aurelia Tan and Lianne Ong, I found a treasure trove of books from other authors that I’ve heard of but so far have not read. All in a set of shelves labelled “Singapore Collection”. Really love our libraries.
Lately, my youngest imp has taken to posing for photographs with her hiding behind standees.
I felt compelled to introduce the kids to “The Adventures of Mooty” cos I have so many great memories of reading about this mouse when I was in primary school.
Am glad that K enjoys Mooty too! ^_^
One of the gems I discovered was David Seow’s books, beautifully illustrated by Soefara Jefney. In fact, I think her illustrations are my favourite, amongst all the other books pictured in this post.
The local elements in these books are awesome too – the crab in “At the SEA Aquarium” is called “Mr Chili Crab”, haha! And in the special book written to coincide with the royals’ recent visit to Singapore – “A Day with the Duchess” (pun becomes clear by the end of the book), I found it simply too cute that the pet hamster was named “Duchess Kate”, and then cleverly weaved into the plot.
Next I found five books from the Timmy & Tammy series, which are quite famous, but which our little family had somehow not been acquainted with as yet. But now we are!
The Level 1 and Level 2 books are simple enough to be read aloud to kids from ages 2-4, and easy enough for those aged 5/6/7 to read independently.
But what K and I really enjoyed was the Level 4 book by Ken Spillman, “Emily’s Heart of Gold”. The story tugs hard at the heartstrings, and deftly handles difficult emotional topics, in a simple, unpretentious writing style that relates perfectly to 6 and 7 year olds. The author brings home the main point of the story, without sounding moralistic in the least. K said that she really enjoyed this book.
It was written so well that I am going to borrow every single book of Ken Spillman’s that I can get my hands on, the next time we visit the library. Sometimes, the simplest books are the hardest to write well.
We borrowed a bunch of other books too (I loved Adrian Pang’s “Hansel and Girl Girl” – hilarious and slightly disturbing but still child-friendly), and the ending of Ovidia Yu’s “The Mudskipper” made me cry in the MRT train during peak hour. So. very. malu. But I loved it, and gave it 5 stars on Goodreads – the first book I’ve awarded 5 stars to in years!
Since Singapore is all about heading towards inclusiveness, I’ve included Neil Humphrey’s book in this post. It’s funny/cute/entertaining, especially if you are okay with wacky fonts.
Lastly, I picked up this book mainly because I wanted to read it – gotta a love a book pitched at children on a subject matter that you are interested in, since it means that it’ll be easy to understand, and presented in the least boring way possible!
But I was surprised that K sidled over as I was reading it, and was interested enough to pore over it together with me, at some length. I loved how Sara Siew introduced ASEAN artists in such a simple yet comprehensive fashion, educating the reader about styles, techniques and history. It will probably best grip the attention of those 8 and above, since this large A4 sized book is still rather wordy.
I felt partial towards the Singaporean artists of course, and great masters such as Chen Wen Hsi, Georgette Chen, and Lim Tze Peng are certainly worth learning about.
I love books by Singapore authors because there is just something about the shared history, shared places, shared food, that just resonates. I suppose sometimes, most authors would prefer to transcend nationality labels, and simply be known for writing good literature. But for me, there is a special place in my heart for writers who are also fellow countrymen.
So conversely, there are so many good writers, but being Singaporean sometimes just lends that extra oomph to a good read!
What are your favourite picks from the National Library lately?