The Adventures of Squirky the Alien

A Children's Book Series on Adoption


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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 ūüôā

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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 ūüôā

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.

Sharing Squirky

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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.


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Review & Reflections – The Red Thread: An Adoption Fairytale by Grace Lin

redthreadWe’ve been talking to C about adoption these past few months. I’d initially imagined this long, serious sit-down session where we’d tell him the “big” stuff, but given his current attention span, it has been more like “little reveals” along the way.

At first, I thought he’d hadn’t even got it, because a few months ago, while reading him Squirky books, I reiterated to him that Squirky was adopted, just like he was adopted.

“A doctor? I don’t want to be a doctor. I want to be a fireman,” he said.

The next time we brought it up, we talked about how there were many people we knew who were adopted, like Yeye (grandpa), Squirky, Kungfu Panda (who makes him giggle) and Superman (favourite superhero).

“But are YOU adoctored (how he prounounces adopted)?” he asked my husband. And when my husband shook his head, C dismissed the whole thing. “Then I don’t want to be adoctored.”

But it was in reading The Red Thread that made me realise he’s probably getting this much more than we’d ever realised.

Here’s the synopsis of the book taken from Amazon:
A king and queen should be full of joy and contentment, but they both feel a strange pain that worsens every day. Then a peddler’s magic spectacles reveal a red thread pulling at each of their hearts. The king and queen know they must follow the thread.

To be frank, I didn’t think he’d take well to the book because he typically picks out books on trucks and monsters. I borrowed it because it said “ADOPTION fairytale” and I’ll take whatever adoption literature I can get from the public library. He stayed completely silent the first time I read it.

At the end, he asked, “Why is the baby holding red thread?”

I explained to him that the baby girl was meant to be adopted by the King and Queen and be their daughter.

And then he said rather emphatically, “Hey, I’m not a princess! I’m a boy!”

I was pretty stunned how he’d immediately been able to identify himself within that story. And this was confirmed later that night, when he asked if he could wear my hair rubber-band on his wrist “just like the red thread”. He also requested that I buy a ball of red thread to “do craft” based on this book.

I had a few issues with the book in terms of representation, especially how “China” is presented as a dirty village where people are dressed in rags. But there’s something about Lin’s storytelling here which kids connect with instantly, as seen by the Amazon reviews.

Overall, I’m glad that this book has opened up more opportunities to discuss adoption with C, and hopefully more in his own terms.


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Launch Prep

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We’ll be launching¬†The Adventures of Squirky the Alien next Saturday (see above for details) and things have been busy! (And it’s a public event, so feel free to pop by if you’re in this part of the world i.e. Singapore)¬† Am so grateful to Woods in the Books for letting us hold the launch there,¬†MT Masking Tape for sponsoring beautiful washi tapes for the craft activities,¬†MPH Singapore with managing logistics that I’d never quite get around, and friends who have offered help in the running of the event. And of course there’s the illustrator David, who has all these ideas all the time and all I can say is MAN, HELP IS GOOD THANK YOU GOD.

Here’s a sneak peek at some of the goodies in store:

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