We were so pleased to receive the second installment of the Squirky series of books by Singaporean author Melanie Lee. Ever since we read the first book “Why am I blue?” (which is one of MPH’s best-sellers), we have been wondering and wondering about “What happened to Planet Q?”. We can’t wait for the entire series of six books to be published and own the complete set!
When I told K that another Squirky book was in this envelope, kindly sent to us by the lovely author for review, she wanted to read it immediately. And she gobbled it all up in one sitting!
As before, the illustrations are gorgeous and heart-warming, and I thought Dave Liew’s portrayal of Queen Stella (whom the children very politely call “Auntie Queen Stella” as any well-behaved Singaporean or Malaysian kid would), conveyed her sadness and beauty exquisitely.
I also found this book perfect for children aged 5-7 since it is simple to read, yet lengthy and complex enough in plot not to be brushed away as “too kiddy”. For pre-readers, they love looking at the illustrations as the book is read to them.
As we went through the story, I had a chance to explain adoption to them once again. The central thrust of the Squirky series is to address the difficult topic of an adopted child’s search for his birth parents.
Life is always complicated, and there are so many reasons why a child can be placed for adoption. I thought the premise in the Squirky series of a natural disaster was one of the most simple for children to accept, and also a realistic one in this day and age where earthquakes and typhoons sweep the earth.
But the conclusion that the book brings us to, and which is reiterated within each installment, is that the child’s adopted parents love them intensely. And whilst circumstances might have made it extremely difficult for his or her birth parents to have kept on caring for them, it does not mean that they did not love them. I for one, cannot imagine any birth mother easily placing her child for adoption. It must be such a heart-wrenching decision of body and soul, regardless of circumstance, and I am sure that her thoughts must magnetically revert to that child, all throughout her life.
Even though adoption is complicated, and often borne out of the pain of two couples, yet its conclusion is also beautiful. It fulfills the intense longings of a couple who has great capacity to nurture a child, and the other couple who lacks that capacity can still bring a living child into the world and let him or her thrive on.
For every society in the developed world with a plummeting birth rate, and whose citizens are not reproducing enough to replace themselves, that society’s abortion rate is likely to be correspondingly high. This is a topic that has been raised in our own Parliament, with the requisite statistics.
I believe that if we can embrace adoption more widely as a society, and give the necessary support to those who would rather place their children in adoptive care than take the course of abortion, the birth rate would go up, and scores of couples who are more than ready to welcome children into their homes would be filled with such joy. They would no longer need to adopt from abroad, which is another process fraught with high cost and complexity.
These are weighty issues, but simple childlike books like those in The Adventures of Squirky the Alien, bring such topics to the fore. We can educate our children about adoption from a tender age, teaching them to be sensitive to other families, to embrace adoption and internalise that acceptance. Hopefully, we will be able to bring up the next generation to eschew the discomfort and insensitivity that currently surrounds the topic of adoption, and create a society that speaks of and looks upon adoption as the wonderful act of grace and love that it is.
Author Melanie Lee is generously giving away three copies of “The Adventures of Squirky the Alien #2 – What happened to Planet Q?” up to three readers of this blog.
To participate, complete all three steps below (the additional two steps are optional, and will give you more chances to win).
(1) “Like” Lilbluebottle on Facebook
(2) “Like” The Adventures of Squirky on Facebook
(3) Like and comment on this post on the Lilbluebottle Facebook Page, telling us why you’d like to win this giveaway.
(4) Optional: Comment on this blog post, sharing your thoughts on adoption, and how they might have changed over the years.
(5) Optional: Follow @littlebluebottle on Instagram, repost the Squirky photo with the hashtag “#squirkygiveaway” and tag a friend.
Entries may be submitted until 15 December. Winners will be chosen by random generator, and contacted via email. The usual terms and conditions apply.
It is also available at all MPH Bookstores at $10.70 a copy (what a steal!), and for my lovely malaysian readers, you can purchase it online at MPH Malaysia’s site here.