Here’s what we’ve been up to these past few weeks, in a somewhat chronological order:
“Tested” the final Squirky book with a storytelling and craft session at the Bukit Timah Community Club’s Reading Club with around 30 children. Squirky stuff toy almost got stolen, one girl cried upon realising there would be no more Squirky books, and one boy said the leaf skirt craft activity was dumb because “I am not a girl”. Realised while helping the nth toddler to string leaves that I am really not a craft person, but hey, some kids pulled off the Gardener skirt pretty darn well.
A few days later, Squirky got a half page story in The Straits Times for winning the Crystal Kite Award (read full story here). The photojournalist, Marcus Tan, was absolutely meticulous about styling Squirky, and so even though I really don’t like being photographed, I like this image very much because Squirky was given due limelight.
It was fun to be more involved in the Asian Festival of Children’s Content this year, moderating sessions with all these intelligent and experienced editors and writers really made me appreciate these steely women (they all happened to be female) negotiating the challenges of book publishing. The highlight was co-presenting a talk on “Being Honest About Difficult Issues Through Stories” with Professor Ruth Wong (we’d been discussing it since late last year). I was really excited to present all of Buddy’s favourite adoption books as case studies for my part of the presentation. Confession: I actually choked up a little during my part of the presentation, mostly because it really hit me how potentially significant children’s books can be. During the Q&A, I was actually taken by surprise when so many educators were asking about how to introduce a topic like adoption in the classroom. I think that’s a great sign!
We also launched Squirky Book #6 during AFCC with a little art jam. There’s David doing his thing while also snuggling with Squirky. His “art jamming” always delights the children, and what’s more important, he is always so generous with his art and that big-heartedness always gets kids to open up (whether through the things they say or through their own art).
A few days after AFCC, I went up to Kuala Lumpur to do a “Squirky Party” at the MPH Bookstore in 1 Utama shopping centre. For some strange reason, this event attracted older kids, but they were totally sporting and loads of fun.
This is not the end end though! Squirky will still be popping up here and there throughout the year, though with far less frequency now that the book series is over. I felt it was necessary to launch the last book with some oomph, and in some strange way, it did, in ways I would not have expected.