One of Oyez! first story books was Master & Apprentice by Lim Lay Har with some black and white illustrations by Lim Lay Koon. This book won the Calistro Prize and was published on behalf of the prize.
This story tells of life in a typical small town in Malaysia, with some very interesting characters. The main character was an elderly man who had been making and selling kuih for many years, indeed, he’d raised his family doing just that. He wanted to pass on his special kuih lapis recipe but his only son preferred western-style baking and life in the city. One day, in conjunction with the Merdeka celebration, a cake competition was organised and the elderly man challenged his son to take part. This humorous story will appeal to slightly older children (we have seen adults quietly reading it too) and the black and white illustrations are a wonderful addition.
Pigeon Post by Gwen Smith has six separate stories featuring some very determined, courageous and ingenious children. One was caught in a landslide; another saved some chickens when a lorry carrying them had an accident; while some schoolchildren and their teachers found a way to find homes for homeless kittens. And what is more Malaysian than monkeys that we see in hilly and leafy areas. In this story, the monkeys are losing their home to a new golf course. With black and white illustrations by Lim Lay Koon, we only wish there are more such stories.
These stories feature some very determined, courageous and ingenious children.
Rainforest Hike by Cecilia Leong is suitable for younger readers who are just starting on chapter books. The illustrations are in colour (by Chooi Ling Keiong) and features a young girl, her family and her best friend. The author highlights traditions such as making acar, bedak sejuk, tang yuan and simple activities such as going to the pasar malam, hiking and fishing in the river. Even in today's on-demand entertainment from various electronic devices, we know that children love making things and playing with their hands. They feel such a sense of accomplishment and are so proud of their creations. This book certainly enables a number of creative activities with children.
... the extraordinary people that are a part of Malaysia’s history.
Next, we have Heidi Shamsuddin's Door Under the Stairs series which combines school life with mystery and history. Three children, Emil, Hanna and Jo discover a door under the stairs near the school science laboratory. But it is no ordinary door as it takes them to the past, more specifically to Malaysia's past. In the first book, The Mystery of the Missing National Anthem, they met Malaysia's first Prime Minister, Tunku Abdul Rahman who was looking for a suitable national anthem for the new country, Malaysia. Coming from the future, they were able to help the Prime Minister select the 'right' national anthem which became Negaraku.
In the second book, The Case of the Talented Trio, young readers get to meet the great P. Ramlee, musician, singer, actor, playwright, and director extraordinaire. Children today may not have heard of P. Ramlee so we hope through this book, apart from enjoying the story, they may get to learn about another slice of history and the extraordinary people that are a part of Malaysia’s history.
In the third book, The Case of the Football Champion, young readers will be brought back to a golden period of the game in Malaysia's history. Both boys and girls love this story!