This is part of my “Little Lit Author’s First…” series. Today we feature the author of Singapore’s First Jewish-themed children’s chapter book.
I was pleasantly surprised and very excited to discover a few months back that Singapore had her first Jewish-themed children’s book written a few years ago.
Having a Hebrew name and a deep respect for all things Jewish, I was thrilled to speak with the author, who is none other than award-winning author and former school principal, Edmund Lim. Edmund Lim won the Hedwig Anuar Children’s Book Award for his children’s book, “Where’s Grandma” in 2013. I caught up with him to discuss his chapter book, “Jacob Ballas”.
~ About “JACOB BALLAS” ~
Jacob Ballas, targeting children 7 years and above, is a non-fiction chapter book about the Jewish man himself. It is an easy read for adults too who are interested to learn more about this Jewish personality.
Synopsis: Jacob Ballas traces the rags to riches story of Jacob, as well as his contributions to the community, country and society, along with the history and development of Singapore.
The book contains illustrations and personal photographs of Jacob & family. In addition to the story of Jacob Ballas, there are stories at the end of every chapter, featuring information on the Jews, Early Singapore, World War II and other aspects of history & culture.
~ EDMUND LIM AND JACOB BALLAS ~
Linn Shekinah: What inspired you to write a non-fiction chapter book?
Edmund Lim: The outstanding life of Jacob Ballas inspired me to write this story. I feel that we need to know more about our local role models and remarkable pioneers in our history.
Linn Shekinah: What makes the subject matter a worthy read?
Edmund Lim: Jacob is an amazing and great man who succeeded in life, amidst the challenges. He then went on to contribute actively and generously to society. Young and old can learn from him and his experiences.
Linn Shekinah: How did you gather and verify information about Jacob Ballas? Did you consult the Jewish community? How long did your research take?
Edmund Lim: I did research at the archives and oral history research. I interviewed various people who knew him, including people in the Jewish community and his close friends. The research took more than a year.
Linn Shekinah: Tell us a little about the man himself. Name one character trait about Jacob Ballas that you admire most, one charming trivia about Jacob Ballas as a young boy and share one fascinating anecdote as a leader in the business community.
Edmund Lim: Jacob had the capability to make the best of the opportunities in life. He persevered and progressed.
When Jacob was young, he was plump. When a girl dismissed him as a “fat lump”, his heart sank but he responded positively by exercising regularly and eating healthily. He replaced khubz with healthy lemons. He ran and cycled and soon, he became an athletic and trim youth.
Jacob gave huge bonuses (up to 18 months) to his staff and took good care of them. As a business leader, he had a caring heart for the less fortunate. When he was approached to donate to a nursing home for the elderly, he generously donated half a million.
Linn Shekinah: What do you think contribute to the success of Jacob Ballas?
Edmund Lim: In addition to God’s grace, Jacob’s desire to make the best of opportunities in life and his personality contributed to his success.
Linn Shekinah: How did the Jewish community respond to the book? Do you have plans to write about other prominent Jewish settlers and leaders [eg David Marshall] in Singapore?
Edmund Lim: The community was responsive to the book. Yes, it will be worthwhile to write a book on David Marshall and others. In fact, I have written about David Marshall and it was published in another book commemorating the 100th anniversary of the Chesed-El Synagogue.