We have seen and read many children's books on animals and are absolutely thrilled with this new Borneo Animal series written by Beverley Hon and illustrated by Lim Lay Koon.
Firstly, these are animals which are found in our backyard, so to speak. Secondly, the books are beautifully written and thirdly, the illustrations are just right. We start with three books in the series: the binturong or bear cat, the tapir and the slow loris.
We expect three more titles to be added later this year including the pangolin and the orangutan with more to come. If you want to make sure an animal is not missed out, just put it down in the comments below.
Note: these books are printed entirely on thick card and sewn in the centre, with wraparound cover. They are in a good square size, making them friendly for both children and the adults reading to them.
The long-awaited book, Pak Belang the Tiger, will be ready on 18th March. Author Rossiti Aishah Rashidi has had a string of successful animal and environmental-themed books for children. She wrote this one as if she is having a pleasant chat with children, making her text simple and easy to understand.
Rossiti personally chooses the illustrators she wants for her books. This does not always work well as authors do not necessarily make the right choice - or at least the publishers do not think so! The right illustrations in a picture book are critical and many publishers prefer to choose their own illustrators. Fortunately for Rossiti, she has a successful formula and is sticking to it. Simple text combined with outstanding realistic and detailed illustrations make her books winners. Pak Belang the Tiger is no exception - the illustrations by Indonesian artist Widiyatno are breathtaking.
Pak Belang, as many of us know, is the Malay nickname for tiger and means Mr Stripes. Pak Belang is the King of the Malaysian forest. He is a carnivore and a top predator. But one animal is not afraid of him. Guess which? Pak Belang is a good swimmer but is not so good at climbing. He kills his prey instantly with a bite on the neck. However, Pak Belang has one great enemy – humans. Today, there are not many tigers left in the wild. Pak Belang, the Malayan tiger is on the list of critically endangered animals.
This information and other fascinating facts are found in the book. Whether reading alone or being read to, children are likely to find the book engrossing. Teachers and educators may also use the book as an additional resource. Rossiti is a frequent speaker on environmental issues. Write to us at firstname.lastname@example.org if you wish to invite her to your school.
Add this valuable and beautiful book to your home or school library.
In Malaysia, no word is more evocative and nostalgic than the word kampung. It comprises all things good that belong to the home and to an earlier more innocent time.
Elly Nor Suria has sought to capture scenes around the kampung especially in the different types of houses and the life around them. This can be seen in the sarongs hanging out to dry and the neatly planted plants and pots of flowers. In one colouring plate, houses are grouped together higgledy-piggledy on winding road tracks while in another, a house stands proudly with concrete stairs and floral curtains.
Whether you love colouring or not, you will want this book in your collection. Each page is printed on one side only with the reverse blank. Pull out the page after you have coloured it, frame it or make a card with it. They are also beautiful by themselves in black and white. Perfect as a gift or get it for yourself and keep the kampung close to your heart.
Hearts, her latest picture book, is a wordless book. Done in her favourite medium, water colour, the illustrations have softer colours and feel. Appropriately so, the story is about a girl finding a bottle of hearts and returning each heart to the owner. When she finds one heart broken, she mends it carefully. Unable to locate the owner, she wears the heart on her sleeve hoping that somehow the owner may recognise and claim it. Meanwhile, the 'heartless' owner is angry and destructive.
There are many layers to this story and the use of metaphors in the illustrations is rather clever. While not strictly for children, a child will enjoy the more direct messages of the story. Read into it whatever you wish and it will probably speak to you in different ways at different times and that's the job of a good book.
Emila's illustrations for Puteri Gunung Ledang uses the motifs of Malaysian batik sarongs which can be seen in the repeated floral and plant designs placed symmetrically. However, unlike the bright colours of batik, Emila uses primarily red, yellow, grey and white, resulting in a subdued effect.
The story is told in poetry which gives it drama and pathos, suitable for a play. This is definitely one book to add to your collection if you are a fan of folktales and a collector of beautiful picture books.
Note: We would like to take this opportunity to acknowledge the editor, Datuk Hjh Zaiton Ajamain.
By Peter Duke
It certainly was not your average book fair. This was something quite different. It was a community and family affair. I was certainly impressed by the number of families that came in the morning for the first storybook reading followed by an activity then lunch and back again for the afternoon sessions. The children were excited and happy. Parents were delighted to find somewhere they could entertain their children whilst relaxing in a pleasant environment.
The centrepiece of the event was the striped bell tent which naturally attracted children. What was inside? What was going to happen? Then there were the dinosaur cut outs dotted around. It was all so thrilling and the children obviously love the dinosaurs.
The authors and storytellers joined in the spirit of the event. They prepared for their sessions with care and produced many supporting props and ideas to get their listeners engaged. Every morning and afternoon, there were activity sessions where illustrators and authors brought cut outs, painting and drawing materials to excite the young. Some of the activities was so intriguing that mums and older siblings joined in the fun.
Then there were the books. The range was wide, from simple early readers to storybooks for tweens. The books were of good quality, colourful, with attractive content. Most of the stories were written and illustrated by Malaysians and many had some cultural content. The books excited a wide range of eager readers from five to twelve years old. Many of the adults who bought the books told us that they were surprised to find so many good Malaysian books for children.
It was fun especially, during the last weekend when young children from between five and eight provided the audience with highly entertaining story telling sessions as part of the storytelling competition. Many of the youngsters dressed up as the main character in their story. Everyone proclaimed this to be the highlight of the week! On Sunday morning, visitors were entertained by the winners of the writing competition who were between 9 to 12 years old who read their own stories, stories that they dreamed up and wrote themselves.
Now it’s all over. However, we are already planning for next year. We hope to extend the range of books for sale and the number and types of activities for children. We want to make it more interesting for mums and dads, possibly including some sessions directed at them.
But whatever we do, we are determined to keep to our mission that parents and children should enjoy themselves and we will provide books that children will treasure for the years to come.
1. Tell us something about yourself that no one knows.
I like to make my own bed. It's a very personal thing. Even in hotels I make my own bed. I feel it's embarrassing to leave a messy bed.
2. What makes you laugh?
My cats at home make me laugh a lot. They're so funny and so easy to love. We don't own cats, cats own us because we do everything for them, and that is funny!
3. What inspires you?
The Quran, people and my surroundings inspire me. There are so much we don't know and that makes this world so mysterious.
4. Why do you think children should read?
Children should read because there's just so much to know about this beautiful world and all of its people. Books can bring the mystery of this world and universe which are sometimes wild and dangerous into the comfort and safe environment of our homes and schools. Then only we understand what's lies around us and how all of us are connected to all lives and creations.
5. Draw or doodle your favourite animal.
1. Why do you like writing/illustrating children’s books?
I want children to enjoy looking at art and reading.
2. What makes you laugh?
Thinking of my mistake.
3. What is the best day of your life?
4. What are your top 3 tips on writing stories for children?
a. Be a child
b. Read more children's books
c. Use your imagination
5. What inspires you?
1. What inspires you?
Could be a whiff of smoke, a twinkling star so sparkly in the deep midnight sky, glorious colours of sunset, trill of a family of sunbirds, a baby's gurgle and when he or she stretches out their little hand and encloses your finger and promptly puts it to their mouth to suckle, pure unadulterated laughter, the "shrush shrush" of waves, picking dead leaves and enjoying their myriad colours (as if God said, .."In your last breath, you die a glorious coloured death" and finding Magic in nature...I could go on and on and write a novel about it.
2. What do you like to do on Sundays?
Why Sunday? What makes it different from other days? The sun rises and sets...it's no different from any other days. Sometimes I would like to lie on a hammock, at times work myself into a frenzy. It's just like any other day except when we go to market and I cook up a storm.
3. What makes you laugh?
Laugh? What's that? Ha Ha!
4. What are your 3 tips for writing/illustrating children's books?
Tips...As if, I, an artist can advice? Follow your heart and soul and let that motto guide you.
5. Draw or doodle something you enjoy.
When I see little kiddos, I sketch and it sometimes inspires me to write wild cheeky stories.
1. What is your favourite movie?
E.T. was really good. I loved the original Indiana Jones and Star Wars trilogy, and more recent movies being the Lord of The Rings trilogy and Kingsmen Secret Service (Colin Firth as a super spy - what can go wrong with that?).
2. Why do you like to read?
For me, it has always been about the stories. Stories of far-off places, interesting characters, magical realms, exciting mysteries… But the best thing is that in the process of reading, I also widen my knowledge, broaden my mind and hopefully, improve myself as a person.
3. Who is your favourite author/illustrator and why?
I love Roald Dahl, Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett – they are wildly imaginative and so much fun. Their stories sometimes have some thought provoking messages but these are usually presented in subtle ways that are not preachy or in your face.
4. Draw or doodle your favourite animal.
I like a lot of animals! Here’s one of a Tanuki inspired by a really cute song by Eartha Kitt called Shojoji. Tanuki is actually a Japanese raccoon dog that is quite significant in Japanese culture and folktales.
5. Tell us something about yourself that no one knows.
My perseverance is horrible when it comes to learning new skills. I tend to try out a lot of stuff but never master any – piano, ballet, tai chi, yoga, latin dance, jewellery making... It's a mind boggling list of half-hearted attempts. Now, I am trying to keep at my erhu lessons – wish me luck.
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.