Emila Yusof is a popular author, illustrator and blogger. She blogs at emilayusof.com. Her first picture book, My Mother’s Garden has been published in English, Malay, Chinese and German, in both print, digital and animation formats. Other books by Emila include the bestselling Legendary Princesses of Malaysia, and colouring for adults series, Colourart by Emila Yusof. She has written and illustrated a series of eight craft books for children.
1. What is your favourite food?
Nasi lemak, tosai and claypot chicken rice.
2. Why do you think children should read?
Children should read because it enriches vocabulary and imagination!
3. Draw or doodle an image of yourself doing something you enjoy.
4. What is your favourite story and why?
J’attends Mamy. I fell in love with this book when I saw the cover at the Frankfurt Book Fair 2014. Bought it right away. It was in French and thanks to online free translation, I managed to understand the story. The story is beautiful and poetic. A little girl’s granny leaves the house but she was told that her granny would be home soon. Waiting for granny to return, the little girl spends her time outdoors talking to the trees, ladybug, dragonfly and many more. One day, her father explains that her granny was dead, that she was not coming back. The girl eventually understands that a new phase of life begins; life without Granny. I personally love the illustrations which were done in pencil where some elements were tinted red. The illustrations really complement the story and there was a moment, or two, that I broke into tears.
5. Tell us something about yourself that no one knows.
I am afraid of cockroaches! And all in the creepy-crawly category.
2. Why do you like children's books?
Children's books have the best, most outrageously funny stories and characters.
3. What is your favourite food?
Durian. No! I'm joking! have lots of favourite foods, but at the moment I am crazy about Mango Sticky Rice.
4. Draw or doodle a self portrait.
Sure, but I have to warn you that I'm not a great drawer of things.
5. What inspires you?
What inspires me? Everything - family, friends, people who annoy me, places I've travelled to, things I've read and random conversations.
1. What inspires you?
As far as I can remember, I have always loved looking at pictures and making one. My father loves art and my mother is the creative one. My sisters helped shape my interest in children’s books. But as time went by, I fell in love with children’s picture book. They look simple yet there is a great deal of thought and effort that goes into making one. We need more picture books which children enjoy, get inspired with, are heartfelt and also thought provoking. I am inspired to create more of such. There are so many children books that I find inspiring but Dr. Seuss books often touch me deeply.
2. What is your favourite story and why?
Some of my favourite children’s books are the ones written by Enid Blyton especially the Faraway Tree stories. I also love reading folk stories from Malaysia and around the world. Some of my favourite books include the Cerita Cerita Rakyat collections which my sisters often borrowed from the National Library Malaysia back when it was located at Wisma Sachdev. There were also books on similar stories published by Dewan Bahasa & Pustaka which I kept (and read!) until today. What attracted me most about these stories are the richness of what is beyond our known little world and how exciting the mind is when opened up to infinite possibilities!
3. Draw or doodle your own self portrait.
4. What country would you like to visit and why?
I am fortunate to have been able to visit a number of countries so I do not have any in particular at the moment. However, I would love to take some time to explore more of what Malaysia has got to offer!
5. Why do you think children should read?
My favourite author-illustrator, Eric Carle once said that picture books are an introduction to literature for the very young reader. I hope to be able to encourage children to see how wonderful it is to be surrounded and touched by books. Books are rich in many ways and reading them will inspire children, encourage them to think creatively and critically and perhaps offer companionship during difficult times.
1. What is the best day of your life?
I don’t know, it’s just great to be alive!
2. Why do you like writing children’s books?
Well, they are fun to write. You can let your imagination run wild. You are not constrained by facts. For instance, I have written a series about a young stegosaurus (dinosaur) and a young elephant who meet in the forbidden forest when they are hiding from T-Rex. The dinosaurs died out 60 million years before the first elephant appeared on earth. But that doesn't matter to a six year old.
3. What are your top 3 tips on writing stories for children?
You can dream up an idea or see something that sparks an idea and then just let you imagination run wild. Let your characters take you where they want to go. This is what I do and in the end I often have enough material for more than one book which is great because children love series. They love spending their time with their favourite characters. With this in mind I develop my characters and engage them in more and more adventures. But there is one important thing to remember. Children are very observant and they need their characters to be realistic and consistent. As you develop your series your characters will change as you grow to know them better. It is very important, therefore, that at the end of writing your series you go back through the earlier books to make sure your characters are realistic in a child’s mind.
4. Tell us something about yourself that no one knows.
5. What do you do when you are not writing children's books?
Life is great when I have a new idea for a children’s book and I can let my thoughts rip. But you can’t write all the time and I enjoy reading historical novels and scientific facts about rare animals and creatures that have long since disappeared like dinosaurs.
2. What makes you laugh?
Fun chat with friends and family.
3. Who is your favourite author/ illustrator and why?
I like the simple creative ideas of Oliver Jeffers and Emily Gravett, meticulous sketches of Shaun Tan, intriguing illustrations of Mattias Adolfsson, Jill Barklem for gorgeous details, Lat for bringing culture smoothly into comics.
4. Why do you like children’s books?
I love reading the pictures on children's books.
5. Draw or doodle of yourself doing something you enjoy.
OK. Here I am having tea with 2 characters I made, The Turtle and The Silly Monkey.
Approximately 40 people attended the Oyez!Books group book launch held on 27th January at our favourite bookstore, Silverfish, on the second floor of Bangsar Vilage II. The press was supportive and we welcomed reporters and cameramen from Berita Harian and The Star.
Oyez!Books Chairman, Mr Peter Duke introduced the new books for January 2016:
Three of the books were in preview format, meaning they have not gone into mass production. We will be having more preview sessions in the future where we will invite the press and our buyers. The preview sessions will help us obtain feedback from the audience and to decide on the print run.
"In a rapidly developing market, such as children’s books in Malaysia, Oyez books cannot stand still. We have to keep pushing the boundaries," said Mr Duke.
We thank and congratulate our authors for their wonderful work and encourage them to keep on excelling and to aim for world class work. Oyez!Books will continue to support them and aims to bring their books to the international stage.
The key message Hayati wanted to convey in her book was that when we read, we can travel everywhere in our imagination; there are no limits. Hayati was delighted when she was informed that Evi Shelvia will be illustrating her book. In fact, they are a perfect match.
Hayati is a graduate in Electronics- Computer & Information Engineering, International Islamic University Malaysia (IIUM). She is a full-time homemaker and writes on a freelance basis. She lives with her husband and two young and lively boys in Selangor.
You may find out more about Hayati here:
Evi's next big adventure is to write and illustrate her own books and she has planned a series called Little Friends. The first book is completed and judging by that first book, we are really excited. Here's the cover and a page inside - we hope you are excited too. Publication date is planned for 9th November 2015.
Coming soon, Susanna is completing a book full of her drawings. We promise you there will be lots of children. You can use the book for colouring, for doodling, for inspiration or for a giggle as you become a child again in Susanna's fun world. And if you like, we can organise a colouring class for adults (children allowed) at our bookshop with Susanna.
Early November, Yusof Gajah and his wife, Zakiah, will be off to Basel, Switzerland for two weeks. Yusof has been invited by the wonderful Swiss publisher, Baobab Books who published the German edition of Yusof's Where is My Red Ball? first published by Oyez!Books. The German edition, called Wer hat den roten ball? is printed on environmentally friendly materials that are safe for very young children who love books so much they often try to eat them.
From the Swiss press:
»Elefanten sind groß, grau und haben Stoßzähne. Oder auch nicht. (...) Jeder von ihnen sieht aus, als könnte er sofort loslaufen und spannende Abenteuer erleben, gefährliche Situationen meistern, ganz besondere Dinge tun. Dafür sind die da. Sie locken in ihrer Pracht sich ganz andere Geschichten auszudenken, ganz eigene Fantasien zu entwickeln.« schreibt Andrea Wanner in Titel kulturmagazin.