Nor Azhar Ishak is a science museum educator and award-winning picture book writer/illustrator who is passionate about children’s books. He has won the consolation prize in the DBP Picture Book Award 2013, and the YGL-Oyez! Picture Book Award. His favourite pastimes include painting in batik and acrylics and sharing stories whilst his favourite people are children!
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.