Chapter books are intended for children 7-12 years old. The story is broken down into manageable chapters and are usually illustrated. The emphasis is on the text rather than the illustrations although the illustrations certainly add to the story.
Oyez! bestselling chapter books are the Door Under the Stairs series by Heidi Shamsuddin with illustrations by Lim Lay Koon. There are now four books in the series:
1. The Mystery of the Missing National Anthem
2. The Case of the Talented Trio
3. The Case of the Football Champion
4. The Case of the House at No.74
As the characters develop in the books, Lay Koon's illustrations have fixed them in our minds, from Jo's spiky hair to Hannah's pony tail and pixie face.
Heidi, a natural storyteller, has created a series that we hope many Malaysian children will enjoy reading. We are happy to report that the National Library and several state libraries have purchased copies of the books. The books have also been exported to Singapore.
If we can enjoy reading about children drinking ginger pop and eating canned tongues in Enid Blyton's books, I believe it's possible children from other cultures will be fascinated by nasi lemak. Apart from that, school bullies, 'evil' teachers and the bonds of friendship are things that all children from whatever culture understand.
Oyez! has published three other illustrated books of short stories.
1. Pigeon Post and other stories by Gwen Smith is a collection of stories that highlight elements of Malaysian life. They include a tropical thunderstorm that resulted in a landslide; monkeys looking for a new home after their homes were destroyed to make way for a golf park; chickens running free after the lorry carrying them overturned in the rain; children looking for homes for their pets because the apartment where they lived does not permit pets; a tupai that found its way into a house; and an attack by bees that were attracted by the smell of nangka.
The accompanying illustrations are truly delightful and children living in Malaysia will certainly be able to identify with both the stories and the illustrations.. A state librarian recently commended the book and noted that we need more such books.
Introduce these local books to your children and I am sure they will soon look out for more local books with stories that are close to their world.