If you research children’s literature from Singapore, you’ll soon find yourself on the website of the Singapore Book Council. Founded in 1968, this non-profit organisation champions the Singaporean (and wider Asian) literary scene and plays an active role in encouraging and promoting children’s literature. Among its many initiatives are three awards for children’s literature: The Hedwig Anuar Children’s Book Award, Scholastic Asian Book Award, and the Scholastic Picture Book Award Since 2010, the Singapore Book Council has also headed up the Asian Festival of Children’s Content, an annual event that welcomed almost 5,000 visitors in 2018. Another source for good books, this time across genres, is The Singapore Book Awards presented annually by the Singapore Book Publishers Association.
As I discovered in this 2015 article (see page 12) written by well-known children’s author, Adeline Foo, the development of a homegrown children’s literary scene in Singapore has been relatively recent. When she embarked on her career as an author in 2006, she remarked that only two writers were actively writing for children: David Seow and Shamini Flint. Just under ten years later, Foo estimated the number of children’s authors in Singapore to have increased to around 30-40.
There are a number of good lists featuring children’s books by authors and illustrators based in Singapore, such as this one compiled by Tracy Tristram on Honey Kids Asia. I particularly liked this selection on Little Day Out. Coincidentally, I’ve ended up choosing two books from this second list to review on the blog. The Little Singapore Book is a fascinating non-fiction book that traces the history of Singapore. Written by Sim Ee Waun and Joyceline See Tully, and illustrated by Diane Ng Rose, this title had already been recommended to me by Australian author and picture book aficionado Dimity Powell. (Thanks Dimity!) I had not previously heard of Karung Guni Boy by Lorraine Tan, illustrated by Eric Wong, but it appealed to me for a number of reasons, including the title. What is a Karung Guni Boy? All will be revealed on my blog in due course!
Last but not least, I have chosen to feature The Mango Tree by Hidayah Amin, illustrated by Idris Ali, which won the Hedwig Anuar Children’s Book Award in 2015. I am the proud owner of a signed copy of this beautiful picture book!
Here are the three titles with all the all-essential detail:
The Little Singapore Book written by Sim Ee Waun and Joyceline See Tully, and illustrated by Diane Ng Rose (Pepper Dog Press LLP, 2015)
Karung Guni Boy by Lorraine Tan, illustrated by Eric Wong (Epigram Books, 2016)
The Mango Tree by Hidayah Amin, illustrated by Idris Ali (Helang Books, 2013)
I look forward to sharing my reviews with you over the next couple of weeks!
P.S. Which picture books would you have chosen to feature for Singapore? If you have a favourite/favourites, do share![Image: Orchid DSC00602 by Benjamin Ho made available under a creative commons licence. Source: flickr.com]