Tuesday, June 12, 2018

100 WRITERS _____ Keep writing, always remember why young readers need new books from us

NOTE: This post is part of my 100 WRITERS community project. Learn more about it here.

Why should we make new books for young readers?

I’ve been asking myself this question for seven years.

It started when my two sons were old enough to enjoy going to the public library every weekend.

We’d spend hours discussing all the books that they enjoyed.

But we also discussed the books that they could never discover, no matter how hard they looked. Books that had yet to be created. For all sorts of reasons. See: #WeNeedDiverseBooks

And so, to fill this gap, we started creating our own books, mystery and adventure stories featuring Asian characters.

My sons and I wrote the stories together, illustrated them, and self-published our paperbacks. Which we managed to sell to our public libraries.

Eventually we were approached by local publishers who wanted to make books with us.

This whole experience has helped me feel the intellectual, emotional and social needs of my kids, when they go looking for books to read.

Here are three big reasons why I think our work matters. Keep writing from your heart.

#1: Kids dig the wordplay

More important than playing with toys or apps, is the ability to play with language.

We use puns, rhythms, the musicality of sentences, jokes, onomatopoeia, metaphors, all these and more, to show young readers what a wonderful resource we’ve inherited, and how we can create wonderful new worlds for ourselves with the artful use of language.

The more widely we read, the richer our sense of language, the more we can zoom, swoosh and whizzabapow our way through life.

Each time we graft one breathtaking meme onto another, and forge delightful new expressions, we’re reminding young readers how language is a treasure chest of never ending delights.

#2: Inspire affection for humanity

In our books, there will be nice people, but also selfish people, artists, philistines, heroes, cowards, heroes who believe they are cowards, cowards who think they are heroes, kings, queens, tyrants, saints, outcasts, selfish people, generous people, loving people, unlovable people, and many more.

Just as it is in the world out there.

Our books help kids appreciate their real life encounters so much more, because they have already spent time with similar characters in their favourite stories.

Illustrators are especially essential here. Animals, appliances, even odd and random shapes — a few talented strokes can bring these to life, as avatars of different states of human consciousness.

Our books show kids that bullies need standing up to. But sometimes they need a kind hug too.

#3: We offer companionship

Every book is a transfusion of creativity, craft and companionship, from writers, illustrators, editors, booksellers, and so on, the whole publishing ecosystem, to the young readers.

Kids experience this in every page that they turn.

They can sense the deep and timeless intention to connect and reassure.

In particular, they want to be reassured about the mysterious unfolding of life around them.

They want to know that the poor little one can turn out okay.

It’s what makes these stories such classics: The Ugly Duckling, Cinderella, David and Goliath.

Our books remind kids to see not just with their eyes, but also with their hearts.

I still lie awake at night, thinking up new ideas for making books for kids.

Wondering if there’s a child somewhere out there, lying in bed and hoping to find these same books.

A child who might grow up to make some pretty amazing books too. And keep the tradition going.

Wow, we are superheroes, we must be, to be part of something so epic.

— D

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Signed up for my Today at Apple session?

Thrills! Laughs! Scares! Mysteries to be solved!
This exciting new series has them all

Saturday, June 9, 2018

TOY MYSTERY _____ Join us for this coming Today At Apple session, at Apple Orchard Road, we'll make cool pixel art together

NOTE: This post is about our TOY MYSTERY gamebook seriesAll pixel art featured here by Super Cool Books.

Super cool surprise, we'll be doing a Today At Apple workshop session this coming week.

Last year, you see, we experimented with making gamebooks. These are stories where you get to choose what happens next. Our first prototype was the Toy Mystery series. And Book One was The Secret of the Chatter Blocks. It involved combining storytelling with a bit of computer programming and also some character design. Read about the whole process here.

We knew it was important to have a signature look for this. Something that was bright, inspiring, familiar yet fresh. After some weeks of experimenting, we settled on this pixel art style. And then we used it to create characters, story settings, and mockups for the book cover.

Among other things, The Secret of the Chatter Blocks was mentioned on Emily Short's Interactive Storytelling update. And you can still download the e-book free here. Do try it and let us know if you have any thoughts about developing it further. We'd love to hear from you.

Thanks to Apple, you can have fun with pixel art too. Sign up details below. Join us, we'll create some cool story ideas together.

— D


Kids Hour: Creating Pixel Art with Don Bosco
Friday, 15 June

4:00 pm – 6:00 pm

Apple Orchard Road

Join Singaporean author Don Bosco with your family and dive into the world of 8-bit illustration for children’s books. He’ll share what makes a good story drawing, and demonstrate the basics of pixel art. Then you’ll get creative with iPad Pro, Apple Pencil and the Procreate app, designing characters and a unique cover for your own storybook world. Recommended for kids aged 5 to 12.

270 Orchard Road

Singapore 238857


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I say, have you collected 

MY BLADE QUEST is about two very special kids
and their amazing adventure around the world. 

Wednesday, May 9, 2018

SCBWI SG _____ #KidLitter May 2018 updates

NOTE: This is an update for the Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators, Singapore Chapter. Interested in joining us? More information here. Updates compiled by Melanie Lee and Don Bosco.

#kidlit #kidlitart #kidlitchat #scbwi #scbwisg #afcc #kidlittersg

Presenting #KidLitter, this SCBWI SG quarterly update. Illustration: Dave Liew

Coming: Asian Festival of Children’s Content 2018 (6 -8 SEP). Sign up already

April: SCBWI board member Christopher Cheng shared tips for authors and illustrators

April: Tayo Irvine Hendrix, daughter of Jimi Hendrix, introduced her picture book Hummingbirds at Closetful of Books

Join the Picture Book Critique Group, get feedback and support every Wed 10am (except last Wed of the month, 8pm). Contact Leila

Congratulations, Evelyn Bookless, for the launch of Captain Green and the Plastic Scene! Environmental superhero indeed

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Make your own 
Quick Kiddy Comic!
It's easy. Try this worksheet.

Sign up for the
Asian Festival Of Children's Content 2018

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

STORYCODE SG _____ Meet young sculptor-preneur Cheryl Lai, she makes clay characters that are ready for their own adventures

NOTE: You can join the StoryCode SG meetup group here.

The StoryCode community is about discovering and sharing new forms of storytelling, especially those combining old and new technologies in novel and fascinating ways.

Often, we write our stories, using words to create a reading experience. Like this 100 WRITERS support group for fiction creators.

But we could also sketch or doodle our stories, and share these as digital comic strips, as we've done in these Captain Cardboard workshops that we've organised.

Or this Quick Kiddy Comic creative exercise we developed with SCBWI Singapore.

We've had Lego storytelling workshops too.

And VR sessions for storytellers.

Also, storytelling tabletop games.

These days, even stuffed toy bears can tell stories on social media. Meet BlooBurr.

For creators, the challenge is to engage an audience, let people participate in your storyworld, and maybe even buy a part of it, if it really connects with them.

A few weeks back, I created a doodle of myself, as an intergalactic fiction explorer, returning from a world of stories, excited to share my super-deminsional cosmic imagination with young readers.

And then I met clay artist Cheryl Lai. Inspired by BlooBurr, a crazy idea hit me. Could she turn the doodle into a clay figurine of me? Well, she did. And this is what the whole process looks like, step by step.

I’ve since been using this little figure on Instagram, setting up dramatic 3D scenes with my published books. 

As for Cheryl, she keeps busy selling her clay characters on her Etsy store, and working up an audience on Instagram.

Here’s a quick interview with her, below, so you can learn more about this art of creating clay characters. Do feel free to contact her, her details are at the end of the interview.

Have fun, and imagine happy stories. Lots and lots of them. And put these out into the world.

Whatever you can imagine, you can create.

– D


Tell us about yourself and your Etsy store.
I am a freelance illustrator, and an alumni who just graduated from SOTA last year. A few years ago, I found out about clay and sculpting, where I started to make little creations to sell locally through Instagram. This year, I wanted to take it to a more international scale, and that was how PigeoncraftsStudio -- my Etsy store -- started.

How did you pick up the skills to create clay figures?
Everything I now know is all self taught and learnt, through observation, practice and watching tutorials online. I first started out in 2014, and gained a following on Instagram, where I sold custom clay figurines and jewellery for customers. This helped to expose me to a variety of techniques, forms and styles of sculpting.

How would you describe your style? 
I would say that my style is more cartoony and cute, but also clean and simple. Apart from custom orders, the works I make are usually inspired by anime films from Studio Ghibli, children's' cartoon like Pokemon, and Japanese mascots such as Hello Kitty. I like using a variety of mediums in my creations other than clay, such as paint, resin, and glitter, in order to get the best end results.

What are some interesting clay figures you have made?
This is the most recent large-scale piece I made, with eight characters from Studio Ghibli's anime films, and a simple setting. This is a more unique piece, as I usually make smaller characters as charms:

Similarly, this is a piece (below) inspired by Sumikko Gurashi, which is a set of fictional characters produced by the Japanese company San-X. It was the very first piece I put up for auction, and each component is removable to resemble a dollhouse play set experience.

These are two of the few interactive creations I have made, where the swing works, and the bread is removable from the toaster. I will be exploring more into such creations in the future, and hope to make more creations that can be both decorative and fun.


Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/pigeoncrafts/

Etsy: https://www.etsy.com/shop/PigeoncraftsStudio

Ko-fi: https://ko-fi.com/T6T0BAKU

Website: https://cheryyllylai.wixsite.com/cheryllai

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You can make your own quick comic!
For all ages.

Attend the Asian Festival of Children's Content 2018
6 - 8 September 2018