This post is long overdue – with all my apologies!
For my friends Melanie and Lianne have (quite a while ago!) written and published these lovely picture books. And more importantly, packed them up, went to the post office, and mailed them to me all the way from Singapore.
So first of all, a very big thank you to both Melanie and Lianne for adding a taste of Singapore to my little readers’ bookshelves. It is quite rare to find books from Singapore/written by Singaporeans etc in libraries here and it’s even more unlikely to find Singapore children’s’ books!
So while they might not understand its significance yet, I’m happy that they get to read books about Singapore, written and illustrated by Singaporeans even though we live half a world away! More significantly, I think they’ve got more Singapore books than I ever had when growing up in Singapore in the 1980s!
The Adventures of Squirky the Alien #1: Why Am I Blue? – Melanie Lee
(Here’s the book’s very own blog! It also has information on where to find the book)
This isn’t officially a review as Melanie asked me to be a beta reader (I know, I couldn’t believe it? Someone wanted me to read a book before it was published? And provide suggestions and comments? How could I say no?)
This is the first book in Melanie’s first children’s picture book series. She wrote this for her son, whom she and her husband adopted a few years ago. I had the privilege of meeting the cheerful boy when I was last in Singapore, and what a great kid he is – and also, what a wonderful mummy Melanie is!
Squirky is a little blue alien, adopted by a Chinese family in Singapore. And in this first book, he discovers that he’s a little bit different from his sister Emma, his parents and his friends. His parents tell him how they came to adopt him and he begins his search for his birth parents and home planet. This a six-book series so there’s a bit of a cliffhanger! Wee Reader wondered, what’s going on? So I had to tell him he had to wait for the next book (of course not telling him that I’ve actually read that manuscript already! Hee. The joys of being a beta reader!)
There aren’t many picture books on adoption, and I’m not sure if there are any others written by Singaporeans, so this is a rather unique book.
My first experience (I’m not sure that’s the right word but I can’t think of anything else at the moment) with adoption is my aunt, my mother’s younger sister, who was given away when she was young. It’s hard to explain but it wasn’t such a rare thing to do at that time in Singapore, in the 1950s. She was given away to a family friend but would still join us for important events like my grandparents’ birthday dinners. So she was like a relative I would see a few times a year. As a kid, I never thought much about it, but as I grew up, I began to wonder about that a bit more. But you know us Asians, we don’t really talk about things very much. It has been quite a few years since I’ve seen this auntie but I’ve been wondering how she feels about having been given away and yet still remain somewhat close to her birth family.
But I am meandering.
Melanie has written a fun book that would appeal to most kids, adopted or not. It’s a story about a loving family and their unique little boy. Sure he may be blue but he is loved by his mummy and daddy and sister Emma. I think many kids will understand what it is to feel different, to be different. And this book shows that it’s ok to be different, and that you can still be loved and appreciated for who you are.
Oh and that Emma, she’s a spunky one, that kid. I think I especially liked how she doesn’t have long hair and wears shorts. Because girls don’t always have to be in dresses!
This is Lianne’s second children’s book. I wrote about her first book, Maxilla, on the blog previously. While Maxilla was based on her son Reuben’s experiences, Stacey goes to the National Museum is fictional, and has a hint of make-believe about it.
Stacey, along with her mummy and baby brother, visit the Singapore National Museum. And Stacey gets lost! A little gibbon helps her find her way around the museum and back to her mummy and brother.
Wee Reader had fun spotting the gibbon as it made its way through the museum. We didn’t get to visit the National Museum when we visited Singapore last year but hopefully we will the next time we are in the country! I hear it is so very different from the National Museum I remember. But I’m glad to see that they kept the lovely building and all its features!
But he also likes to point out the durian painting. While he’s not had the actual fruit itself, Wee Reader does enjoy durian mooncakes!
I liked the use of actual paintings like this one, part of the William Farquhar Collection on display at the museum, and where the gibbon is from. They were painted by unknown artists, commissioned by William Farquhar between 1819 and 1823, during his tenure as Resident and Commandant of Singapore.
Stacey goes to the National Museum would make a great souvenir for kids visiting Singapore! It is part of a series of books about museums in Singapore.
For more information on Stacey Goes to the National Museum, check out its Facebook page