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.