The Adventures of Squirky the Alien

A Children's Book Series on Adoption


Leave a comment

Squirky Book #3 Wins Crystal Kite Award!

crystal_commander

[This post is adapted from my frenzied FB update after we heard the news.]

“The Adventures of Squirky the Alien #3: Who is the Red Commander?” has won this year’s Crystal Kite Award (Middle East/India/Asia division)!

The annual Crystal Kite Award is given by the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI) to recognise great books from 15 SCBWI regional divisions around the world. These books are chosen by other children’s book writers and illustrators.

“Who is the Red Commander?” is essentially about a flawed, fearful grown-up who gets told by two kids to face his personal monsters and get with the programme. It is the Squirky book closest to my heart as it parallels my journey in trying to get this book series out – an insecure, publicity-shy writer with zero experience writing children’s picture books trying to come up with not one, but SIX picture books on an uber-niche, kind-of-taboo-in-Asia topic like adoption. Can you imagine the amount of whining I put my husband through these past few years?

But like the Red Commander, I’ve realised that there are just some things I can’t sort out on my own. There would be no Squirky series without David’s evocative illustrations and MPH Group Publishing. The stories would have been a lot more convoluted without beta reader feedback from trusted writer friends. Practically no one would know about Squirky’s existence without the relentless shout-outs from  supportive buddies who are parent and book bloggers.

And to every one of you who bought these books for your kids or friends’/relatives’ kids even if you’re not from the adoption community: thank you for being open, for recognising that an adoption search story is still a story that any child can enjoy and relate to.

Ack, didn’t mean for this to sound like some sort of cheesy acceptance speech! But I felt I had to get this out just so you know that any reward star the blue alien underdog Squirky gets is really because of ALL your help. I am so grateful.

Advertisements


Leave a comment

All Things #AFCC

AFCC 2016 FB Banner

We’ll be pretty busy at Asian Festival of Children’s Content this year! If you’re coming, do drop by and say HI :))

*** 1. Launch of The Adventures of Squirky the Alien #6: When Does the Search End? [Note: This event is FREE and anyone can come!]
Date: Sun 29 May 2016
Time: 3-3.30pm
Venue: NLB Building, L1 Plaza

afccsquirky

2. Squirky author Melanie will be co-presenting a talk on “Being Honest about Difficult Issues with Stories” with NIE Associate Professor Ruth Wong [Note: You will need to have signed up for either the Parents Forum or Preschool & Primary Teachers Congress]
Date: Sun 29 May 2016
Time: 1.15-2.15pm
Venue: NLB Building, L16 The Pod

honest

She will also be moderating two panels discussing themes close to the Squirky book series:

‪#‎weneeddiversebooks‬. Really! [Note: You will need to have signed up for the Writers & Illustrators Conference]
Date: Wed, 25 May
Time: 2-3pm
Venue: L5 Possibility Room

– To S.I.R. (Socially Inclusive Reads) with Love: A socially inclusive picture book for kids, with or without special needs [Note: You will need to have signed up for the Preschool & Primary Teachers Congress]
Date: Sun 29 May 2016
Time: 11.15-12.15pm
Venue: NLB Building, B1 Multipurpose Room

3. Meanwhile, Squirky illustrator David “Wolfe” Liew will also be out and about quite a bit. For those of you inspired by his art, do check out:

– Portfolio Review [Note: You will need to have signed up for the Writers & Illustrators Conference, and submitted your sample art to AFCC]
Date: Fri, 29 May 2016
Time: 10.30am – 12.45pm
Venue: NLB Building, L16 The Pod

– The Fabulour Fear Factor [Note: You will need to have signed up for the Writers & Illustrators Conference.]
Date: Fri 29 May 2016
Time: 10.30-11.30am
Venue: NLB Building, B1 Multipurpose Room

– First Look: Illustration Critique [Note: You will need to have signed up for the Writers & Illustrators Conference, and submitted your sample art to AFCC]
Date: Thurs, 28 May 2016
Time: 3.15-4.15pm
Venue: NLB Building, L5 Imagination Room

For more information on this action-packed festival dedicated just to children’s content, do visit http://www.afcc.com.sg


Leave a comment

Six things to know about Squirky #6

squirky6teaser

We’re launching the final Squirky book later this month at the Asian Festival of Children’s Content (more details to come soon) and we’re so glad (yet sentimental) that this series is coming to an end.

Here are six things to look forward to in this book:

1. Quentin (aka Red Commander) meeting Squirky’s Daddy and Mummy back on Earth!
2. A few gorgeous doublespreads illustrated by David (we played around with the layout a little for this last book)!
3. A sneak peek at what Squirky and Emma look like when they are older!
4. Tying up (most of the) loose strings after Book #5!
5. An adoptive parent resource on how to disclose with sensitivity with insights from adoption counsellors.
6. Re-visiting the earlier Squirky books again to see how Squirky has evolved during this awesome space adventure and appreciating the story as a complete tale!

We hope you are just as excited about the last book as we are!


Leave a comment

Squirky 5 Events

Just dropping a note to let you guys know about upcoming bookstore events for The Adventures of Squirky the Alien #5: How Do You Get to the Garden Galaxy?

There’ll be storytelling, craft and a special Squirky art lesson during these sessions! Feel free to drop by if you’re in Singapore 🙂

squirky5_final


1 Comment

Squirky Reader Feature #1: Clarice Chua

Clarice1

Clarice has just started primary school and likes reading and writing. In fact, she loves books so much that she has set up an informal book club with her classmates. It’s so cool that she has been sharing Squirky books with them! She tells us more about this 🙂

Hi Clarice, why do you like reading so much?
I went to the library and liked the books there. That’s how I became a bookworm.

How did you come up with the idea to start a reading club?
It all started because one of my classmates forgot to bring a storybook to read for morning silent reading session. I had an extra book and lent it to her. Then I thought, “Why not bring spare books from now onwards to share with more friends?” Some of my classmates also did the same. Everyday, before morning assembly, we share our books with each other.

What do your classmates and friends think about your book reading club?
They think it’s great. Some tell me to bring more books to share with them everyday.

Thank you for sharing Squirky books as part of your book reading club! What do you like about the story so far?
For Book 1, I like the humour. At first, I thought Squirky ate too much blueberry jam and turned blue.

For Book 2, I like the cool factor, like when Squirky’s “egg” turns into a spaceship.

For Book 3, I like the friendship between the Red Commander and Squirky’s birth parents.

For Book 4, I like the touching hologram message which Mr and Mrs Quirky recorded for Squirky.

If you had to introduce Squirky to your friends who have not read the books, what would you tell them?
I will tell them that Squirky is an adventure series which teaches them about love, bravery and kindness.

If you could be a character in one of the Squirky books, who would you be and why?
I want to be Queen Stella so that I can live in a beautiful grand castle with sparkling stairs.


Leave a comment

Squirky retrospective

IMG_5745

Now that we’re at the final stages of the Squirky book series (Book 5 being illustrated, Book 6 undergoing editing), I’ve been reflecting on the ups and downs so far and here’s how I hope to approach getting these final two books out:

Growing even thicker skin: An author friend wisely advised me to compartmentalise the writing and the promoting bits. As such, once the book comes out, focus on SHAMELESS PROMOTION (something I have experience in, which I should not be afraid of, but I always get angsty about because ick, how weird is it promoting myself but I got to tell myself – no, no I’m promoting the books, the books etc etc etc).

Becoming a better listener: But of course, one’s writing could always be better. And so yes, always gather more feedback. Be open to criticism and suggestions, and as much as possible, objectively evaluate whether these ideas will make the book(s) better.

Connecting more: Another huge hurdle. But the few connections I did make in 2015 really were such blessings. So if I’m up to it (i.e. not too snarly or sleepy), I hope to be more open to connecting with the adoption and writing community both online and offline this coming year.

Not being so defensive: The kind of things I’ve heard on adoption can sometimes make my blood boil. But I have to remind myself, that is why I’m writing the book series in the first place; to create more awareness. So be patient and gracious, and check my own assumptions constantly as well.

Not being so defeated: It can get discouraging, writing books that are so niche and are so not in line with the “hot kiddy topics”. I’m thankful for friends and media who have been so kind and encouraging by giving exposure to this book series in various ways. But during the lull periods, it does feel like I’m shouting in a vacuum. I always have to remember the bigger picture of why I wanted to write these books. I always have to remember that in this world of information overload, I have to keep on getting the word out (which goes back to the first point).

Making things more fun for more kids: Besides my son finally becoming aware that these stories were inspired by him, the happiest aspect of this whole Squirky process is sharing the stories with children and seeing them enjoy themselves at Squirky events.

Can you tell this is really more of a reminder to myself? And actually, these are generally my new year resolutions for everything else in life heh.

Sharing Squirky

1 Comment

sharing

The other day, C. had a playdate with a couple of friends, and a parent asked if I could do a quick storytelling session with the kids. I didn’t think it was going to be an issue as it was in a nice cosy place with people he was familiar with. However, when the time came, C. proceeded to have a huge meltdown and I had to stop the reading halfway to scoop him up as he writhed around the floor.

The few days after, C. would line up the Squirky books against the wall within viewing distance from his bed to ensure that I would not take the books and tell the story to anyone else. Even now that he is ok about keeping the books in the bookshelf, he’ll still give a mini-lecture about how when I tell the story to other people, he is “not able to see the book” (?)

Like C., I haven’t been that great in sharing him with others. There’s been a fear of not being able to see what’s next, and of being too vulnerable, which is ironic since the story is all about facing such things. I’m working on this. There’s still much to learn.

As a start, I’ve been bringing Squirky (stuff toy) along with me whenever I go out, taking pictures of him with people, and getting him out in the open. In the photo above, I brought him to the library and the minute I took him out, these two boys (sitting behind) came up to me to ask who he was. They helped me “art-direct” Squirky for this shot.

I hope C. will eventually be comfortable with accompanying me for Squirky storytelling sessions (and he should, because he’s such a drama king). I hope that one day, he’ll realise that this story he sees as his alone is also a story that can belong to many other children.