We had a few posts on Kid-Lit by local authors, so we thought we’d focus this post on Kid-Lit in Chinese by local authors!
These are shelved next to the English ones in the Singaporean Collection (the National Library near Bras Basah has one too – hidden along the back wall perpendicular to the English fiction shelves), of the Children’s sections of the library.
Grandma’s Eightieth Birthday
There are some real gems, and Grandma’s Eightieth Birthday is our current favourite. Apart from the relatively straightforward and short sentences that come with hanyupinyin (which makes it great for Primary 1 kids), they have “lift the flap” words that reveal the English translations below. Totally tailored for Singaporean kids, whose mother tongue, more often than not, is English.
The storyline is simple, but heart-warming, about how the family pulls together despite being so busy with various commitments, to celebrate Grandma’s birthday. The illustrations by E’von LeAngelis S are engaging, and I personally love the warm hues and soft outlines. Definitely a book to borrow, if not to buy and keep.
That’s why I love the library – it has such a wide range of great books, and we can test the books for readability and ‘keepability’ quotient (whether the kids love it enough after the first few nights of reading, to want to purchase it for many reads thereafter).
Written by Pauline Loh, and published by Mandarina Kids, this $25 book comes with an audio-CD to help in the practice of the words featured too.
We found another bilingual ‘lift-the-flap’ book, called My Home. This one has illustrations that are more colourful, though I personally found it slightly garish. I think its bright colours appeals to kids.
This is a huge hard-cover A4 size book, so the words are big enough for little kids. I find books with high word-picture ratios unsuitable for pre-primary Singaporean kids (at least mine) because they don’t have a good enough grasp of the language to have the patience to hear the story unfold at length whilst looking at one picture. 1-2 sentences per picture is about as much as they can take.
We chanced upon two series of Chinese books that were perfect for my kids. The first two below, commissioned by MOE and supported by bilingualism.sg, are distinctive from their covers. Authored and illustrated by various Singaporeans, the text is simple and engaging.
I surfed around for more information on the series and found out that “最棒的派对” was first written in English by Ho Lee-Ling, and illustrated by Mike Foo (MOOF). Seems like these MOE-commissioned books are usually not for sale, and can only be borrowed from our libraries.
The other series comprises stories revolving around main character “布布“, an inquisitive and imaginative boy and his hilarious animal friends. Four year old B is not great in Chinese, but she loves these “布布“ books and frequently requests for them.
Written and illustrated by Lee Kow Fong, who calls himself “阿果叔叔“ as a pen-name, these books cater to ages 3-7. The author has impressive credentials, including a postgraduate diploma in Translation and Interpretation (one of my dream jobs) from NTU, as well as an MA in Children’s Book Illustration from a UK university. The books are really engaging, and I’ve always held that it’s more difficult to write a truly good children’s book, as opposed to adult fiction, for instance.
The final book pictured above, “此地无肉三百两” is a play on the idiom “此地无金三百两”, and is an interesting and rather humourous story about a greedy rat, who lives to rue his impulsive decision. The illustrations are unique as compared to the run of the mill children’s books, and the kids quite enjoyed it. The author Low Joo Hong, who also has an MA in Children’s Book Illustration from that UK university, has authored at least two other books based on Chinese idioms.
Here’s a look at the inside pages of the book mentioned above. The two books on the right are “布布“ books.
It was also a pleasant surprise to stumble on some Singaporean landmarks and yesteryear toys. Nothing like some subtle hints to watermark these books as one of our very own.
In our journey towards encouraging Chinese literacy and proficiency in the language of our forefathers, these books are a great help indeed.