The 3rd of March is World Wildlife Day and this year's theme is 'Listen to the Young Voices'. According the United Nations, young people between the ages of 10 and 24 make up one quarter of the world’s population and as the future leaders and decision makers of the world, they must be encouraged to act at both local and global levels to protect endangered wildlife.
Oyez! has published a number of books on wildlife such as Puteri Tioman and Siti the Elephant and stories around wildlife such as Under the Sea, Pip's Peculiar Problem and Where is Owly?. We will also be launching Belang the Tiger during our Children's Book Week from 18-26th March. Author Rossiti Aishah Rashidi is a committed conservationist and wonderful educator. Watch out for more information on our Children's Book Week.
In line with World Wildlife Day, we are promoting a range of beautiful wildlife cards from Rossiti's books for your collection. Send them on or frame them up, they remind us of the wildlife we must treasure.
Cards from illustrations by Lim Lay Koon for the book Pip's Peculiar Problem are also available. Lay Koon's sense of humour translates into all her illustrations. Beautiful and fun, these cards are delightful and thoughtful.
We are celebrating International Women's Day on 8th March. The theme this year is #BeBoldForChange. We have a special gift pack for you designed by artist Emila Yusof so watch out for it!
Do you usually wake up in the morning happy or grumpy? Well, the 20th of March is the International Day of Happiness! Take the pledge:
Now, don't you think we should all be reminded of this everyday?
For us at Oyez!Books, there's nothing more wonderful than the happy smile of a child. It makes everything we do so much more meaningful and fun. Whether in the books our authors create or in the events we do, we aim to create happiness.
The International Day of Forests is on 21st March and we wish to highlight the book, We Love Trees by Rossiti Aishah Rashidi and illustrated by Evi Shelvia. We are working on a Bahasa Malaysia version as many parents have asked for it. A favourite activity is pot painting with Rossiti as children learn to recognise leaves of plants and paint them on a pot that they will surely be proud to keep.
There are several more special days to observe in March. These special days highlight important issues around the world. Do check out the UN website for more information and resources. You can download posters, watch videos and sign up to be a part of change.
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.
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.