Tag Archives: Linn Shekinah

Little Lit Author: Adrian Pang [Part 2]

This is part of my “Little Lit Author’s First…” series. We continue with Part 2 of Adrian Pang’s interview. He shares about his first children’s picture book, Hansel and Girl Girl, his writing process and his next writing project.  



Adrian - Hansel and Girl GirlIn Hansel and Girl Girl, a brother and sister live in an Ang Mo Kio HDB flat with their stepmother who thinks them a nuisance. She keeps sending them out on errands, hoping they would get lost and never return. And one day, they really do not come home!

Adrian Pang has teamed up with world-renowned Singaporean artist and Cultural Medallion winner, Milenko Prvacki, to create a surprisingly heartwarming Singapore fairy tale. Hansel and Girl Girl is Adrian’s first children’s picture book.

Hansel and Girl Girl costs $16.9. You can purchase it online or at major bookshops.


Linn Shekinah: How involved were you in the illustration process? What was your reaction when you first saw Milenko Prvacki’s art for your book? 

Adrian Pang:  I was not involved in the illustration process at all. But his work is beautiful. I am not worthy.


Linn Shekinah: What advice would you give to someone who is an aspiring or emerging children’s author?

Adrian Pang: You must really LOVE writing for children. And it helps to understand that children’s tastes are evolving as we forge into this century.


Linn Shekinah: What is your next writing project?

Adrian Pang: Part of my job as co-Artistic Director of Pangdemonium, I am in charge of content for all our collaterals, and I’m currently working on our programme for our upcoming production FROZEN – not the children’s Disney one, our production is a drama about a serial killer. Which I play. Told you I have a dark side.



Linn Shekinah: You are a versatile actor and an engaging host, what steps did you take to ensure your story will keep children engaged?

Adrian Pang: Always move the story forward, keep the characters interesting, and have they speak good dialogue. I can’t promise that the finished product adheres to that.


Linn Shekinah: Among all the different art forms you are familiar with, which art form brings out the best and the worst of you as an artist? Why?

Adrian Pang: I absolutely love being an actor because I get to vicariously live other lives. Especially as a theatre actor, there no more liberating feeling of being on stage in front of an audience, hoping they don’t throw something at you.


Linn Shekinah: Do you have any plans to write, act and direct your own play, especially a children’s play? 

Adrian Pang: Nope, I leave that to the experts.

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Little Lit Author: Adrian Pang [Part 1]

This is part of my “Little Lit Author’s First…” series. This interview offers a sneak peek into a celebrity’s first children’s picture book


Adrian Pang - Author of Hansel and Girl Girl

Adrian Pang – Author of Hansel and Girl Girl

Many people know Adrian Pang as the funny man on Mediacorp TV programmes.  Sure, he has the knack of making people laugh with his deadpan facial expression; however many people do not know Adrian as a multi-talented, versatile and an award-winning theatre director-actor-presenter-screenwriter & playwright.

Recently, Adrian—currently the Artistic Director of Pangdemonium, a theatre company—has added another feather to his cap.  He has teamed up with world-renowned Singaporean artist and Cultural Medallion winner, Milenko Prvacki, to create a surprisingly heartwarming Singapore fairy tale. Hansel and Girl Girl is Adrian’s first children’s picture book which has just been published.

I caught up with Adrian to chat about his latest endeavour. He shares his thoughts on his book with us, his writing process, his current writing project, and the multiple professional roles that he juggles.



Adrian Pang ~ Something we don’t know about you as an author ~ 

I am very sentimental, but I also love dark material.


Loves ~ Something that you’ve always loved since you’re a kid ~ 

My mum’s poh piah.


Little Lit ~ Your favourite children’s book ~

The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein.



Adrian - Hansel and Girl GirlIn Hansel and Girl Girl, a brother and sister live in an Ang Mo Kio HDB flat with their stepmother who thinks them a nuisance. She keeps sending them out on errands, hoping they would get lost and never return. And one day, they really do not come home!

Hansel and Girl Girl costs $16.9. You can purchase it online or at major bookshops.




Linn Shekinah: As a professional actor, you never acted or involved in a children’s play / TV show. So what motivated you to write a children’s picture book?

Adrian Pang: I’ve written short plays and short films and an entire tv series, and some songs before, but a children’s story is an entirely different challenge. I was approached some time ago, and I’m always up for a challenge, so I said yes!


Linn Shekinah: What is the story behind your picture book story?

Adrian Pang: Very simply, I was asked to choose among a few classic children’s fairy tales, and Hansel & Gretel appealed to me because it had a dark streak to it.


Linn Shekinah:  You used “Hansel and Gretel” as a starting point. Can we expect the story to be close to the classic fairy tale?

Adrian Pang:  In my version, I subverted the whole story and made it quite absurdist and satirical. But the publishers felt it would go over the kids’ heads and they wanted a proper and neat ending, so I left it to them to amend.


Linn Shekinah:  What was the writing process like for you?

Adrian Pang: I usually have the germ of a idea, either the bigger concept for a story arc, or sometimes it starts with just a small idea, maybe a phrase or even a word that hooks me in. And then I make the difficult step of starting to write, and I find that once I get over that hurdle, I have to allow myself to just be spontaneous and let the words pour our, edit late when it’s all done.


Linn Shekinah: What did you enjoy most in the creation and writing process? What challenges did you encounter?

Adrian Pang: I do like writing, but I don’t like censorship. Well, after this experience, I know that I have to know my demographic when I’m writing.





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Little Lit Book Review: My Naughty Little Sister Collection by Dorothy Edwards



My Naughty Little Sister [FC]My friend recommended I read one of her favourite childhood books, My Naughty Little Sister by British author, Dorothy Edwards. This timeless children’s classic by Edwards captures the nuances of a child under the age of five very well. You can’t help but smile at the little sister’s spunky spontaneity and charming innocence. You can find the naughty little sister in this story in every child.

Take one glance at the cover and the drawings peppered throughout, and you’ll get the hunch that this book is written eons ago. The retro pen and ink illustrations are done by multiple award-winning illustrator cum author, Shirley Hughes.


Story Behind the Story

My Naughty Little Sister is based on the author’s younger sister, Phyllis. Edwards conceived the stories in 1950 to keep her daughter quiet whileMy Naughty Little Sister [S] they were on a family vacation. Edwards went on to write five more books under the same series. This series sits well with independent readers between 7 and 8 years old, and pre-schoolers if their parents read to them. I bought the collection of five books – fifty-two stories – bound in a paperback from Woods in the Book for only S$24. What a steal!


This Book Reminds me of….

Edwards’ stories usually start off with “A long time ago, when I was a little girl, I had a little sister…” or “A long time ago, my naughty little sister….”.  This writing style reminds me of Lauren Child’s Charlie and Lola where Charlie is the narrator and describes his little sister’s antics.


Not So Naughty

The naughtiness of her naughty little sister is very mild compared to the wicked deeds of Horrid Henry by Francesca Simon.

My Naughty Little Sister [Inside]Her little sister comes across as an inquisitive, curious, precocious child with an independent streak. She charms the milkman, the baker, the window-cleaner and the grumpy neighbour.

Sometimes, her little sister can be spiteful when she does not have her way – Like how she tosses her older sister’s fairy doll out of the window and it lands on a muddy puddle.


Sometimes, her little sister can be silly and funny. One day, she has a chance to join her older sister to school. When the teacher does an attendance check, the little sister is surprised that everyone replies by saying “Present”, so she shouts out, “I want a present, I want a present!”


The little sister’s best moments can be very touching. When her aunt reads her a story about a poor little boy with no breakfast, dinner and supper, she becomes very pensive. At supper, she leaves her piece of buttery bread on top of the little book boy’s picture. For a normally greedy child, her unexpected thoughtful deed shows she has a kind, tender heart.


I thoroughly recommend My Naughty Little Sister. Read it to your children or your little sister if you have one, and watch their faces light up, or enjoy it with a cup of tea and scones. It is indeed, a very good read!




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Little Lit Author: Ildasolha Jamari [Part 2]

This is part of my “Little Lit Author’s First…” series. Today I continue with Part 2 of my interview with Ildasolha Jamari, the author cum illustrator of Singapore’s first children’s Board Books in Malay.


Photo Credit: Ildasolha

Photo Credit: Ildasolha

Ildasolha Jamari, a Math and Science school teacher,wrote, illustrated and self-published two Malay board books for children 3 years and below. 





Linn Shekinah: Board books usually cover basic vocabulary or concepts such as numbers, alphabets, colours, shapes, sizes and family. One of your books focuses on an original concept – patterns. Any reason why you chose this concept? How longdid you take to conceptualise and write two of your board books? Did you consult anyone? 

Ildasolha: I chose to focus on patterns because…

  1. Pattern recognition is a concept that children should be exposed to at an early age because it is essential in Mathematics.
  2. Patterns are all around us – Dots, stripes and so on. Teaching them the names of patterns will enrich their vocabulary.

I took about 1 month to write and illustrate. I showed my script to a friend who is a Malay language teacher to get her opinion. I also showed my drafts to my sisters, who are also parents of young children to get their feedback. I’m not sure how many times I rewrote, but I remember adjusting the artwork many times. The good thing about digital illustration is that that you can easily amend the illustration digitally as many times as you like. However, I will be using painting in my next book, so it may take a slightly longer time.


Linn Shekinah: What are the joys and challenges encountered in self-publishing as well as distributing and promoting the books by yourself?

Ildasolha: Well firstly, we need to raise awareness in the Malay community on the importance of young children’s exposure to Malay books to help them acquire the language. As we all are aware, nowadays, children in Singapore speak mainly English at home. Therefore we need to encourage parents to also immerse their children in Malay language so that they are proficient in both. Bilingualism has a lot of benefits on children’s brain development so we cannot see our native language as less important than English. In addition, we don’t want to lose our Malay language in generations to come as language is part of our heritage and in a way, it defines our roots and our identity.


Linn Shekinah: What are your future writing plans? Do you plan to write venture into books for older children?

Ildasolha: First, I will continue to improve the quality of my books. In the next few years, I will concentrate on board books in Malay language and bilingual board books. I’m looking into working with overseas publishers/distributors to help distribute the content of the books in other countries. In future, God-willing, I hope to publish Malay picture books with other authors and illustrators to enrich our children with high quality books and wonderful stories.

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More about Ildasolha’s Concept Board Books at http://www.facebook.com/babyncapbooks

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Little Lit Author: Ildasolha Jamari [Part 1]

This is part of my “Little Lit Author’s First…” series. Today I feature the author cum illustrator of Singapore’s first children’s Board Book in Malay. 


Ildasolha, Malay BoardBook Author

Ildasolha, Board Book Author

Ildasolha Jamari, a Math and Science school teacher, wrote, illustrated and self-published two Malay board books for children 3 years and below.

She launched her books at Asian Festival Children’s Content 2014 in June. Her board books have been well-received, with parents and bookshop owners expressing admiration for the innovative appeal. There are very few imported Malay board books, so Ildasholha’s titles are a refreshing change to the Malay-speaking community.





Ildasolha’s Board Books ~

This board book is about patterns and where these patterns are found.


Malay BoardBook-Cover-Patterns

Photo Credit: Ildasolha

This page is about dots – ‘bintik’. ‘Badan ikan ini berbintik’ on the next page describes the dots found on the fish. This simple text encourages children to read and relate to the illustrated picture.


Photo Credit: Ildasolha


The second board book, ‘Mengapakah Awak Tersenyum?’ is about feelings

Malay BoardBook-Cover

Photo Credit: Ildasolha

BoardBook2 - Inside Pages

Photo Credit: Ildasolha

This book introduces children to various facial expressions, taken from the circumstances the child is experiences and the emotions triggered. The concept,  presented in a question-and-answer format, teaches children to express their feelings and explain why they feel and behave in a certain way



Linn Shekinah: What motivated you to do board/concept books in Malay and why did you choose to self-publish your books? 

Ildasolha: I decided to self-publish board books in Malay language partly because there is a lack of variety of such books in Singapore and partly because local publishers do not publish board books. As a mother of young children, I see a need for more Malay board books for babies and toddlers. As fewer Malays are speaking Malay language at home, we should encourage parents to read in Malay to their young children and expose their young children to Malay books.


Linn Shekinah: How has the Malay-speaking community responded to your books?

Ildasolha: So far, parents who have bought my books have given a lot of positive feedback and encouragement. For most of them, my books are their children’s first Malay books. That’s good news for me. I believe that if the quality of the product is good, people will come to know about my books eventually. Also, I hope that more parents will understand the need for early exposure (at infancy stage) to books in both languages.


Linn Shekinah: Share with us your self-publishing experience? How long did the whole process take, from conception to print? 

Ildasolha: I went through some trial-and-error processes and read up online on how to self-publish. It’s not easy, but hey, nothing is easy right? Even eating can be difficult at times right (laughs)! The whole process took about 3 months.

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More about Ildasolha’s Concept Board Books at http://www.facebook.com/babyncapbooks

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Little Lit Author: Edmund Lim [Part 2]

This is part of my “Little Lit Author’s First…” series. Today we feature Part 2 of the interview with Edmund Lim, author of Singapore’s First Jewish-themed children’s chapter book, “Jacob Ballas”. He tells us more about the Jewish community in Singapore.  


Linn Shekinah: What are some of the legacies of Jacob Ballas?

Edmund Lim: His philanthropy has benefited schools and organizations inJacobBallasCentre Singapore and overseas. For instance, he donated generously to St Andrews and the various charities. His trust fund facilitated the building of Jacob Ballas Centre and the Jacob Ballas Children’s Garden.



Linn Shekinah:  Why should Singaporeans know about the Jewish culture and the small community living in our midst? How has the Jewish community contributed to Singapore? 

Edmund Lim: Lots to know. We have a special and small community of Jewish people. Though the community is small, they have contributed significantly to our nation. Our first chief minister, David Marshall is a Jew.

The Jewish people contributed to the legal (David Marshall, Prof Pinsler, Joseph Grimbery, Harry Elias), medical (Prof Yahya Cohen) and economic (FJ Benjamin & family, Sassoon’s Coffee Bean Tea Leaf), among others.


Linn Shekinah: What advice will you give us to get to know this small community better? 

Edmund Lim: When we interact with the various communities in Singapore, it helps to do so with thoughtfulness, sincerity and a heart of caring friendship.

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Singaporean Children’s Literature Scene: Growing by Leaps and Bounds [Part 2]

This is part 2 of a detailed write up of the Little Lit landscape in Singapore which I briefly shared at Asian Festival Children’s Content 2014. You can read Part 1 here.


(B) Benefits of a Growing Children’s Literature Scene

(i) Growing Local Readership and Fan base

Linn Shekinah at Asian Festival Children's Content [AFCC] 2014

Linn Shekinah at Asian Festival Children’s Content [AFCC] 2014

We have come a long way. Today, many local books have found their ways into the hands of many young local readers. Not only can local readers relate to the characters and stories set in familiar local contexts, they also support their favourite local authors by voting for them in contests such as Popular’s Readers’ Choice Awards and the Red Dot Book Awards. This marks a stamp of approval and recognition for our authors.

(ii) Growing Influence Locally and Regionally

The books of our “pioneers” such as David Seow and Shamini Flint, multiple-international award-winner Emily Lim and best-selling author Adeline Foo have caught the attention of literary agents and foreign publishers in Australia, China, Korea, India, Indonesia and Malaysia and so on. More authors have been invited to speak at overseas literary festivals and some have won regional writing competition.

(iii) Growing Value & Appreciation of Children’s Books

Increasingly, organisations see the power of the written word and the value of picture books. Some organisations have adopted a more attractive approach to reach out to the young by commissioning local authors to spin a tale, interwoven with some of their corporate messages.

Just last year, National Parks Board celebrated their 50th anniversary with the launch of a middle grade book Secrets of the Swamp by Neil Humphrey. Ministry of Social and Family Development commissioned Emily Lim to write four picture books [The Best Recipe for Tofu; I Want to be a Cheese Taster etc] about the rights of the child. The Housing Development Board commissioned Ho Lee Ling to write a story, “Maddie Makes Friends” for all preschoolers and primary school students.

The print edition of the commissioned books is usually distributed to schools, making their content readily available to students. Sometime a digital version of these books is downloadable. This move cultivates the public’s appreciation in children’s books.

Indeed, the Singaporean children’s literature scene has grown by leaps and bounds. With such growth in 2013, who knows what good news the future will bring?

 Part 1>>

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Singaporean Children’s Literature Scene: Growing By Leaps and Bounds [Part 1]

At this year’s Asian Festival of Children’s Content (AFCC), during the Celebrating Our Stars event graced by Member of State, Ministry of Communications and Information, and Ministry of Education, Ms Sim Ann, I had the privilege of speaking about the significant growth of the Singaporean children’s literature scene. In my presentation, I gave a snapshot of our progress and highlighted the multilingual children’s books published in 2013.

Here is a detailed write up about my observations of the Little Lit landscape in Singapore.

 Singaporean Children’s Literature Scene: Growing by Leaps and Bounds [Part 1]

[from Left to Right] Minister of Education, Miss Sim Ann, Linn Shekinah and Mr Rama of National Book Development Council

[from Left to Right] Minister of Education, Ms Sim Ann, Linn Shekinah and Mr Rama of National Book Development Council

 2013 was a phenomenal year for the Singaporean children’s literature scene, with a bumper crop of 80 multilingual children’s books being published. Two of my titles – my first bilingual picture book, the Asian Spice Kids: Star Anise, Superstar, and Dou Dou: the Little Imperial Chef have made it into the Singapore little lit cannon too. The quantity and quality of publications is significant, considering that we are a small nation, and that our scene is still pretty nascent.

 2013 – New Titles and New Writers

The year has seen many first-time authors bursting onto the scene. Their books have added breadth and depth into the picture book and chapter book categories, while filling the void in the middle grade and young adult (YA) book categories. Many of them are prolific writers including new YA author Maranna Chan, who has published five teen mysteries in one year!

A few first-time authors are students, including YA fiction writer, Gaby Tye of Run, and picture book author-cum-illustrator Gelyn Ong of The Forest Fable. 2013 has also been a year of collaborations. We see titles produced by husband-wife team, [http://http://sherlocksam.wordpress.com/] A J Low of Sherlock Sam,and mother-daughter team, Lesley-Anne Tan and Monica Lim of Danger Dan.

(A) Contributing Factors: Putting Singapore on the Children’s Literature Map

The exponential growth of authors and publications has not happened overnight. Several factors have collectively helped put Singapore on the children’s literature map.

(i) Singaporean Children’s Literature Champion: National Book Development Council

Our key advocate, the National Book Development Council of Singapore (NBDCS), actively champions Singaporean children’s literature and nurtures our authors through its annual conference, the AFCC, year-round workshops and programmes.

(ii) Government Initiatives, Funding & Grant Schemes

The initiatives and funding schemes introduced by the Media Development Authority (MDA), the National Arts Council (NAC), and other commissioning bodies, have also supported publishers and authors in the creation, production and promotion of our books locally and globally. These stakeholders have also organised writing competitions to encourage aspiring authors to pen original children’s manuscripts.

(iii) Greatest Milestone

The most impactful and effective writing competition was the First-Time Writers/Illustrators Award, jointly organised by NBDCS and MDA. This initiative, launched in 2006, ran for four years, with the final competition running in 2009. Eight years on, this initiative has yielded fruit. Almost a third of the First-Time Writers Award recipients are still contributing to the Singapore little lit canon. And most significantly, it has produced prominent authors who have helped pave the way for emerging new authors.

Part 2>>

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