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Sunday, July 17, 2016

Asian Festival of Children's Content 2016!

Country of focus: Japan!

Hot on the heels of Pustaka Bookaroo 2016 came the Asian Festival of Children's Content 2016 in May. This time, the country of focus was Japan. I travelled to Singapore alone by bus - a surprisingly comfortable experience except for having to go through the immigration and custom's checkpoint. 

I had a pleasant surprise at this year's AFCC. I knew that Teoh Choon Ean, Heidi Shamsuddin, David Liew and Emma Nicholson would be there, but I did not expect Eric C. Forbes, Senior Editor from MPH Publishing to turn up as well! I found out that his middle name, always represented by a C. is actually Clifford. Anyway, MPH books did well at AFCC 2016 and managed to garner a few awards... as we shall see. Another surprise was meeting Hong Kong-based Nuri Vittachi in person after all those posts about him on Facebook. I'm begining to understand his celebrity. 

The country of focus being Japan, Naomi Kojima was of course one of the main movers behind the scene. She worked tirelessly to put together this amazing exhibition:

So why did I decide to attend AFCC 2016? Apart from attending the line-up of talks, I had something to do - a double book launch. Phoenix Song by Lantana Publishing and the Malay translation, Lagu Cenderawasih, by Oyez! 

Buy book at

The book launch of Phoenix Song and Lagu Cenderawasih took place on 26 May at the Exhibition Room of the National Library of Singapore. Attendance was rather disappointing but Singapore friends, Chow Peng, Soon Kuan and Kim Wah turned up.

We paid a visit to Closetful of Books, the official bookseller where Chow Pang and Soon Kuan bought copies of Phoenix Song. I was heartened to hear from Denise Tan, that Lagu Cenderawasih was selling surprisingly well. Denise had brought in all the Lantana books, including Joyce Chng's Dragon Dancer. Earlier on Joyce and I bought each other's books and got them signed. 

This was followed by lunch with Chen Soon Kuan, Ho Chow Peng and Kim Wah at Saveur Restaurant on Purvis Street. Lunch was not disappointing and the Duck Confit is highly recommended.

Despite the lacklustre book launches, several friends won book awards and lucrative cash prizes. These include: Melanie Lee and David Liew's Squirky the Alien #3, Who Is The Red Commander? which won the Crystal Kite Award.
Melanie and Dave also won the Samsung Kid's Time Award for Squirky the Alien #4 Where Is My Mama? The Squirky the Alien book series is published by MPH Publishing in Malaysia, even though both Melanie and Dave are from Singapore. The books' main theme is actually about being an adopted child.
Old friend, Teoh Choon Ean won two Samsung Kid's Time Award for the following books: Keong Mas, an Indonesian folktale.
Old is Gold, a Malaysian folktale. I think I've read this story before... as a Chinese folktale. Both Keong Mas and Old is Gold are published by MPH.
The big winner was probably Emila Yusof, who won prizes for several of her books, including the best selling Legendary Princesses of Malaysia, published by Oyez!
I had another surprise at AFCC 2016 - a meeting with the people from Marshall Cavendish Asia. She-Reen Wong (Editor) and Lee Mei Lin (Associate Publisher) expressed an interest in republishing my very first book, Timeless Tales of Malaysia! The idea is to re-position the book as a middle-grade crossover YA book, with illustrations in black and white. 

To be re-positioned as a middle-grade reader?
To round up, both Swati Roy and Venkatesh from the Bookaroo Trust turned up on the third day! And thus this picture:

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