About Me

Avid arts-goer, voracious reader and mum to young bookworm who loves going to the theatre.


Smories: Stories for kids read by kids

A writer friend of mine and mum of two forwarded on this link with a note: 'why didn't I think of that?!'.

Smories are a website that you could use to keep kids entertained in the back of your car, as the press release says. In fact it was something dreamed up by a couple with kids on a long ride through the Kalahari desert. Simply, they've filmed children reading stories for kids and it's conveniently sorted by age-appropriateness. What I found more interesting is that they accept new stories from writers the world over and you can have them read - ergo, free publicity for budding writers who still get to keep rights.

Kids do make really good readers, putting in a lot of emotion into their reading. I know my daughter will drop what she's doing to see what another child is doing, especially if it is something interesting.

It's only been about two weeks since the launch and the press release says 35,000 videos have been watched. Maybe some of that demographic are mums - even I watched transfixed some of the readings on the site.


Singapore children's books: 10 Sleepless Sheep for Woolly Nights by Linda Yew

For the last few weeks, I've been debating the book I would pick first to review among those hundred-odd books in English for children published in Singapore. We own a few of them, have borrowed many more from the library, and love a fair number of them.

My four-year old daughter thankfully made that choice for me today. The last book she chose tonight to read is also one of her all-time favourites - Linda Yew's delightful counting book 10 Sleepless Sheep for Woolly Nights (2008, Straits Times Press)

Linda is a teacher but there is no preachy tone or message in this book about counting down from 10 sheep to none. In fact, she ventures boldly forth in rhyme. Rhyming is a skill that a writer either has or doesn't - Linda thankfully falls in the former category, turning something as prosaic as counting into a flight of fantasy filled with jewel-like colours, cotton candy, bubbles and birds. In this book, however, the rhyme has to play second fiddle to the illustrations - gorgeous and whimsical, but full of detail, offering so many treasures if one only cares to look closer. Just like the works of great picture book illustrators such as Axel Scheffler.

Our favourite frame is the one of seven sheep and their rainbow showers bearing all sorts of little treats. There is only one reference to Singapore or the region and it isn't forced at all - as it should be. Still, I always crack a smile when a Rafflesia makes an appearance in a reference to pretty flowers.

The paperback format works for the book which is slightly bigger than your usual paperback picture book but it's fairly bendy as a result and has stood the test of many readings really well. The layout with pictures bleeding over into two sides also works well with little detail getting lost in the fold. The graphic designer and publishers definitely got it right with this one.

Overall, it's a great little book that Singapore can be proud to call its own. It does what it sets out to do really well. Counting is so vanilla pudding but here it's a silky flan with caramel bits hidden inside. This a book that could travel and appeal to preschoolers coming to terms with numbers everywhere. I'd even venture to say it definitely sits up there with any of the best in terms of concept and execution.

10 Sleepless Sheep for Woolly Nights by Linda Yew

ISBN: 978-981-4266-02-4
Format: Paperback, 28pp
Rating: *****
NB: I'm going to be rating them on a scale of one to five stars with five being a must-have.


Blog on books for Asian children

In the dying moments of AFCC, I met with the amazing Tarie Sabido who blogs over at Asia in the Heart, World on the Mind about "children's and young adult blog about books set in Asia and books with Asian characters (regardless of where they are published and whether or not their authors and illustrators are Asian), and Asian authors and illustrators (no matter where they are in the world)". That is quite a charter and the site is a labour of love indeed. It is also a must-read for parents or educators looking for great stories to share with kids.

Tarie has also published a blow-by-blow report about the goings-on at AFCC for those who weren't there. See what I mean about doing what the mainstream media isn't?


A world of ideas at AFCC

My head is buzzing, buzzing, buzzing after three days of talking books at the inaugural Asian Festival of Children’s Content. So many interesting and lovely people, so many fascinating books and ideas to think about. It was intense yet fun being in a creative crucible with like-minded people bumping into you all the time. In fact, my head was so buzzed that I couldn’t sleep Saturday night. Alright, it may have been that Mars bar I ate after dinner. Tossed and turned for a while, then decided to get up and write about three crammed pages of notes out of my brain before my eyes grew heavy. If you have anything to do with books and content for children, I'd highly recommend taking part next year.

One of the ideas that grew out of AFCC – during a discussion at the very last fest session! – was a blog about Singapore children’s books given that the mainstream media (MSM) pointedly ignores this category. There’s a significant number of books being published every year in the children’s books category – a bulk of them as a result of the First Time Writers & Illustrators Initiative that jumpstarted my own writing for children, but hey, if no one is going to talk about it in the MSM, let’s do it ourselves. As a public service, I volunteered to restart blogging, something I haven't done for a while at Mamasez, to review Singapore children's books. Et voila, here I am!

Happy mother's day everyone!


A Blue Cat's Tale: A Storytelling Session

Sorry for the long silence. The children's picture book that I wrote has finally been published and is in all major bookstores in Singapore!

A Blue Cat's Tale (ST Press, 2008, 32pp)

Written by Sangeetha Madhavan, original paintings by Michelle Chang

Synopsis: Max has just moved to a new home but all the other cats are afraid of him because he's blue! Follow Max around his neighbourhood as he tries to find a friend.

Winner of the 2008 First Time Writers & Illustrators Publishing Initiative Award, supported by the Media Development Authority and the National Book Development Council of Singapore.

Join me for a storytelling session on Saturday, November 22, 3:00-3:30pm at Woodlands Regional Library, 900 Woodlands Drive, Woodlands Civic Centre.

For those of you who haven't been there, Woodlands Regional Library is four floors of books and their children's section on the fourth level is awesome with its reading park theme, an artificial tree and a twinkling sky. When it opened in 2001, it was Singapore's largest library. Now only the National Library on Victoria Street is bigger.

All are welcome!


Hungry caterpillars and stuffy noses

Mermaid Theatre from Nova Scotia who brought Anita Jeram's children's stories brilliantly to life last year will be giving the same treatment to Eric Carle's classics The Very Hungry Caterpillar, Little Cloud and Mixed-up Chameleon. 15 - 23 Nov.

There's also another show A-tishoo! about a girl with a cold who goes on a magical journey. 30 Oct - 9 Nov.

Early bird bookings for both shows end Monday, September 15. For ages 3-6.


The Wizard of Oz and Cinderella


Two big musicals are coming to a stage near you. It's going to be indie vs. blockbuster.

One is the screen-to-stage adaptation of The Wizard of Oz by I Theatre whose Little Red Hen is a house favourite and the other the Rodgers & Hammerstein version of Cinderella starring Lea Salonga early next year.

Early bird bookings for WOZ till 21 Sep.


Roald Dahl on television

Apologies for the long silence but work called...many times. Led the LO to say,  Another meeting! Mama's running away from us again.

Anyway for starters, here's a poem by Roald Dahl on television that dropped into my inbox recently, which library-goers will especially enjoy. Chew on it while I get up to speed on Mamasez.


SSO Children's Concerts: The Listener, 6 Sep

SSO and mime artists from Magic Circle Mime join forces for a concert that proves Bizet and Britten are anything but stuffy.

"The conductor has planned to present a concert exploring the many art forms in which the orchestra is involved, but his efforts are complicated by the unexpected participation of two overtly enthusiastic spectators. A bugle playing mime who wants to sing opera and a tap dancing ballerina are just two zany characters bringing "the art of listening" to life." Suitable for 5-12 year olds and no admission for below-4s.


Free entry to museums 3pm onwards: 1-15 Aug

To liven up these inflationary days, here's a nice little treat. In celebration of National Heritage Board's 15th birthday, enjoy free entry to the following NHB museums and institutions from 1500 hours between 1 and 15 August.