The Adventures of Squirky the Alien

A Children's Book Series on Adoption


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Squirky Book #3 Wins Crystal Kite Award!

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[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.


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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

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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

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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


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Six things to know about Squirky #6

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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!


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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 🙂

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Before and After: Our Very Own (A Sort-of Book Review)

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Five years ago, I was at the Select Bookstore in Tanglin Shopping Centre (which no longer exists) when I came across this book: “Our Very Own: Stories Celebrating Adoptive Families” published by Touch Family Services.

This was at a time when my husband and I were curious about adoption but hadn’t really done anything yet.

The most memorable bit of that book was the account of how Rod Monterio and his wife, Joyce, adopted a one-year-old boy from the foster care system. Rod was one of my favourite DJs growing up, and just knowing that someone I was familiar with had adopted made it feel a little more accessible. The overall tone of the book was also surprising (note this was the first form of adoption literature I’d read): adoption was celebrated and appreciated, and I liked how people from a variety of backgrounds were featured in the book.

Earlier this year, the 2nd collection was launched – “Our Very Own 2: Stories Celebrating Adoptive Families”. We went for the book launch and my son spent most of the time running around with one of his buddies. We said hi to a few families that we have gotten to know over the years, and as I flipped through the book, I saw that The Adventures of Squirky the Alien #1: Why Am I Blue? had been listed as one of the resources. That’s when it really hit me: SO MUCH has happened within these five years.

It’s kind of like the potted plant that you see in the photo above. My son did some “gardening” at a birthday party last week where he got to paint a pot, dig soil and sprinkle seeds. When we got home, I chucked it at the balcony and forgot all about it. When I finally remembered yesterday, I discovered that little shoots had sprung forth.

This made me realise that growth is a part and parcel of life, and it happens whether you want it to happen or not. We age, children (and plants) grow, and sometimes, things just blossom when you’re not even really looking.

For the Our Very Own 2 book, the story which struck me the most was from an older parent, Yoke Fong, who recounted how she and her husband had adopted two girls who initially were resistant to their love. There’s this realistic resilience in this account which somehow encouraged me so much in this parenting journey.

Such stories are not bestsellers. Such stories may not really contribute anything to the “literary scene”. But these personal narratives need to be out there in a society that struggles in dealing with anything out of the norm. Such stories plant the seeds for more dialogue, acceptance and love.

If you’d like to get your hands on Our Very Own and/or Our Very Own 2, please email adoption@touch.org.sg to order the books (delivery can also be arranged). 

 

 


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Squirky Reader Feature #1: Clarice Chua

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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.


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Five things to know about Squirky #5

book5teaser

1. The Adventures of Squirky the Alien #5: How Do You Get To The Garden Galaxy? has been taking a while to come out because:
– I was busy with other projects last year and didn’t have the headspace to sort out the manuscript. When I finally did get that headspace, I decided to do a major overhaul.
– The main reason why I decided on some massive rewriting: My son acting out when I read Squirky to other children. It made me question whether I’d unintentionally disrespected his space. However, I do want to finish this book series, and he wants to know what happens in the end too. So we’ve worked out an arrangement where he totally knows the books belong to him (because his name is on the front dedication page) but if other children also want to read the book, then he doesn’t want to be around. These discussions pretty much drove how I wrote the rest of the story (and perhaps why Matthew Salesses’ interview struck a chord with me).

2. It is going to be very, very dramatic.

3. New characters from a new planet introduced – meet The Gardeners! (see image above, inspired partly by Guardians of the Galaxy and Margaret Atwood’s The Year of the Flood)

4. Squirky gets kind of rebellious.

5. After the main story,  as a resource, Glee actress Jenna Ushkowitz  writes about what adoption means to her, while Rachel Roberts (who previously shared on this blog here) presents more illuminating insights as a birth mother. Many thanks to Kindred Adoption (an adoption organisation co-founded by Jenna) for allowing us to share these stories.

If all goes well, this book should be out in a month or two. I can’t wait!

Update: Here’s the book cover! :)) 

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