Timun Emas is an Indonesian folktale of a woman who longed for a child. Her wish was granted by a giant but there was a price. When the child has grown, the giant will come for her. That seemed like so far away and her desire so great that the woman agreed without further ado. The giant gave the woman some cucumber seeds with instructions that she should plant and take good care of them. The woman did as she was told and one day, one of the golden cucumbers ripened and inside was a beautiful baby girl. The woman named her child Timun Emas.
This folktale is similar to the story of Thumbelina from Denmark where a little child was born from the flower of barley corn. In another way, it is also similar to a German folktale, Rumpelstiltskin where a goblin helped a woman but the price was her firstborn.
How these stories come about, we can only guess. Folktales certainly reflect our shared humanity and much have been written about them and their meanings and significance. As an example, this story has been interpreted to mean the empowerment of women for in all cases, the women found a way to overcome a bad situation.
We are happy to present Evi Shelvia's retelling of this Indonesian folktale and she has added a delightful creature, the Kuda Kepang. Evi's gorgeous illustrations make this story all the more delightful and the book will be one to keep and treasure.
The publication date for this book is 30 December 2016 and will be made available for online purchase at www.oyezbookstore.com.
Have you ever sat in a train and looked through the windows and wondered where everyone is heading? Who are your fellow travellers and what are the places you have passed? And then you arrived at your destination almost with regret for the journey was certainly part of the pleasure.
Well, Lucia Hiratsuka thought about this too and wrote and illustrated a book, Na janela do trem which translated from the original Portuguese language into English is, Through The Windows of a Train.
Of Japanese descent, Lucia was born and raised in Brazil. She grew up on her father's farm which was called Asahi meaning 'morning sun' in Japanese. The farm was located in Duartina in the countryside of Sao Paulo. She first traveled by train with her grandmother and since then has always enjoyed traveling by train and looking through the windows.
Here are a few illustrations from the book.
This story is not finished yet as Oyez!Books is bringing this lovely book to Malaysian children in Bahasa Malaysia. In November 2015, Oyez!Books rights director, Lei, went to the Shanghai International Children's Bookfair. There she met Antonio Erivan, rights director of Cortez Editora. Antonio showed her many books including Na janelo do trem. At the same time, Oyez!books was looking for suitable books to translate and we have also received information from the Brazilian Embassy in Kuala Lumpur that we may apply for a translation grant from the Fundação Biblioteca Nacional which is the National Library of Brazil.
After much deliberation, (on the shortlist were beautiful illustrated books on the animals of the Amazon) we selected Na janelo do trem because we love Lucia's simple illustrations and because the story is one that a Malaysian child can relate to.
In October this year, we were informed that our application for a translation grant was successful. It was enough to cover the translation and editing cost (which was from Protuguese to English to Bahasa Malaysia as we couldn't find anyone suitable who could do a direct translation from Portuguese to Bahasa Malaysia.)
We are now in the process of getting the book ready for publication early next year. Can't wait! Stay tuned for further update!
Hans Christian Andersen was born on 2 April 1805 in Denmark, an only child. His father encouraged his love of literature and his mother, although uneducated herself, believed in and encouraged her son. Hans was a weak child with poor health. His mother spent a lot of time with Hans, telling him stories, often using puppets and a makeshift theatre. Hans grew up loving stories and the theatre and decided he wanted to be an actor.
He went to Copenhagen to find work as an actor but was not successful. He was tall and ungainly and not a particularly good actor. After many failures, Hans tried his hand at writing. His first book, a collection of fairy tales which was published in 1835, was not an immediate success. But Andersen did not give up. He continued writing. Ten years later, his stories began to receive recognition and were translated into other languages. His fame and his stories began to spread all over the world.
One of Hans's more popular stories is The Ugly Duckling. This story is almost like the life of Hans Christian Andersen. Hans's success is a tribute to his parents who looked at the ugly duckling and saw a beautiful swan.
Less known here but also one of Hans Christian Andersen's popular stories is The Last Dream of the Old Oak Tree. This story tells about the long life of an oak tree and all that it has witnessed. Compare that with the life of a mayfly which was only one (human) day. However, for the mayfly, the one day is a long life and it is measured in many moments. This story was published in 1858 when Andersen was 53 and already famous. Writing this story, Andersen must have been thinking of his life and how much he had to be thankful. For in the end, this story ends on a hopeful note, recognising the beauty and inevitability of life.
The Last Dream of the Old Oak Tree was republished by Oyez!Books in 2015 and illustrated by Chooi Ling Keong. Chooi Ling used a combination of medium including colour pencils. She loved using colour pencils for their soft and gentle feel although it took a long time to achieve the effect she wanted.
Take a look at the book and you will see the love that has gone into the illustrations. We think Andersen would be very happy with the illustrations, don't you think?
Trivia: Do you know, Hans Christian Andersen was a contemporary of Charles Dickens. Hans loved visiting England and he enjoyed Dickens's company. He would turn up at Dickens's house and unfortunately, he would stay so long and outstay his welcome.
We want to add a special thank you to our authors and illustrators who have continued to produce excellent new material for us to publish. I am referring to Emila Yusof, Evi Shelvia, Heidi Shamsuddin, Lay Koon Lim, Rossiti Aishah Rashidi, Chooi Ling Keiong, Yusof Gajah, Nor Azhar Ishak, Mohd Khairul Azman Ismail. A special thank you to you all!
2017 will bring new challenges as foreign books are being increasingly dumped in Malaysia at little more than the cost price to the publishers. However, at Oyez!Books we have a special niche in that all our books are quality publications, mostly in English, and mostly written and illustrated by Malaysians. I believe we are the only publisher to specialise in this field and many of those who come across our books express surprise and pleasure in finding such books. However, having said that we are constantly exploring the foreign markets to see if we can find picture books to publish that will bring pleasure to Malaysian children. Some of these will be available next year.
On a personal note we will be welcoming Emila Yusof who will be joining us in January as our Creative Development Director. Among her other roles she will be launching our new initiative ‘Books & Gifts’. Books make the best gifts - they last a long time and can be 'used' and treasured over and over again. They can also be passed down. They reflect the values and thoughtfulness of the giver in selecting just the right books that will bring pleasure to the receiver.
Finally, I wish everyone Happy Christmas and Happy New Year!