Now’s a more important time than ever to support local businesses. Here’s how to do it while also keeping your kiddos entertained during the circuit breaker: 10 fab new children’s books by Singapore authors
Judging by the queues at bookstores and libraries right before “circuit breaker” month started in Singapore, it’s obvious—we can’t live without our books. Given the Singapore government’s Stay Home advice, reading is probably an activity many are doing now more than ever. In my household, I’m seeing my girls reach for books even without any prompting from me. As American aphorist Mason Cooley said, “Reading gives us someplace to go when we have to stay where we are.” This could not be more apt in current times!
Here are 10 new children’s books by local and Singapore-based authors we, and other mamas and their kids, have read and recommend. While libraries and physical bookstores are closed till at least May 4 while “circuit breaker” measures are in place, e-books are still available from certain bookstores, publishers and our libraries.
Local bookstores including GoGuru, Books Actually, Woods in the Books, localbooks.sg, and publishers like Bubbly Books and Epigram Books continue to take online orders, with the latter also offering discounts for orders placed in April. Do check respective websites for delivery terms and e-book availability. In addition to keeping your kids entertained, your support of the books will help support our local writers, illustrators and businesses during these trying times, too! Pssst! Click here to find out how you can get 19% off & free shipping from Epigram Books during the month of April!
Little Mole’s Awesome Star written by Emily Lim-Leh and illustrated by John Lim, tells of a little mole’s eventful journey in search of a special star. There are also fun facts about star-nosed moles and discussion questions at the end of the book. This book is suitable for children ages 4 and up and is available at major local bookstores and from Marshall Cavendish.
“An inspiring story about independence, perseverance, strength and finding your place in the world! My kids particularly love the cute and vibrant illustrations of Little Mole and his friends.” – Summer Goh, mama to three kids ages 4-10.
Written by Eva Wong Nava and illustrated by Debasmita Dasgupta, Sahara’s Special Senses tells a heart-warming story about a girl named Sahara, who is determined to overcome her disability to become a chef. My children, who read the book without prior expectations, were surprised by the “twist” at the end of the story which gave them much food for thought on bravery and resilience. The book also includes a spices glossary and explanations of Tamil and Urdu terms used in the book.
Sahara’s Special Senses is suitable for children ages 4-8, and available at Popular Bookstore, Kinokuniya and Armour Publishing.
In Stuffed!, three stuffed toys learn how to resolve their differences with the help of their human, Sam after getting into an argument one night. The delightful picture book written by Pippa Chorley and illustrated by Danny Deeptown teaches children how to solve their squabbles amicably without hurting their friends, as Sam says, no “beaks, bottoms, claws and paws”! This book is suitable for children ages 3 and up, and available from major local bookstores.
“This story tells me friends will quarrel sometimes, but we must learn how to become friends again.” – Elsa Lim, 7.
Lang Liêu: The Prince and the Precious Rice Cakes tells a tale about Lang Liêu, the youngest of three princes, who chose to prepare simple glutinous rice cakes when his father asks for a meal from his sons so as to decide on his successor. This book – the latest in the Asia’s Lost Legend series by Catherine Khoo – is suitable for children ages 3-8 and available from Epigram Books and other leading bookstores.
“I love that this story introduces Vietnamese culture to readers and that there is always a moral to the story in the series, all in an Asian setting which we can’t get from western fairy tales.” – Jaime Chan, mother to four children ages 5-11.
After chancing upon a mysterious ninja at a park, two boys aspire to pick up the ninja’s awesome abilities. But they are in for a surprise when the ninja does a perfect arabesque. Written by Leila Boukarim and illustrated by Barbara Moxham, Everyday Ninja is a hit with my two ninja-wannabe girls with its inspiring message that girls can be ninja and boys, too, can learn ballet. The world can certainly do with more of such gender stereotype-busting stories.
This picture book is recommended for children ages 3-8 and available for purchase from Kinokuniya Singapore.
In collaboration with the Movement for the Intellectually Disabled (Minds), A Place for Us by Lianne Ong is a series of six simple-yet-unique stories about children with special needs. With beautiful illustrations by Nicholas Liem, these stories make great parent-child conversation starters on special needs. My seven-year-old had wondered why the boy in Not So Scary After All reacted the way he did when he saw a dog and it got a conversation started between about autism.
These books are suitable for children ages 4-8, and available from Popular Bookstore and Armour Publishing.
A rare toy has been stolen in New Toy-ko City and it is up to two students, Kei and Will, to solve the case—with your help. The Secret of the Chatter Blocks is a mystery gamebook by Don Bosco that allows readers to choose the course of action the characters take, which will then lead them to different story endings. My nine-year-old, new to interactive fiction, was intrigued as she resolved to solve the case by reaching the ending she wanted.
What do you get when a lonely 13-year-old Singaporean girl meets an alien under the guise of a foreign student? An exciting middle-grade story about two friends on a hurdle-filled quest to locate an important element that will help the alien’s war-stricken planet. My BFF is an Alien by Vivian Teo is suitable for children ages ten and up, and available from Epigram Books and other leading bookstores.
“This book is really interesting, with twists and turns at almost every chapter. This book focuses on friendships and has taught me what true friendships are about.”- Xavier Chua, 12.
Lion Boy and Fan Girls by Pauline Loh takes you to the young adult world where lion dancers are as big as K-pop stars. In this sequel to Lion Boy and Drummer Girl, the Lion Legends find themselves under attack by a dangerous anti-fan. “Pauline has taken care to create a trendy world of lion dance complete with star-crazed fans, rivalries and handsome eye candy. Pauline’s commitment to storytelling and her characters rings true with each instalment of the series.” – Lianne Ong, children’s book author.
This book is suitable for those ages 12 and up, and available from Epigram Books and other leading bookstores.
In the latest book of the Seng Kang Snoopers series, The Secret of the Tiger’s Den, the super sleuths stumble upon a hidden treasure from World War II during a holiday in Sentosa Island, and their quest to solve its mystery lands them in danger. This book is suitable for children age 8 and up, and available from Epigram Books and other leading bookstores.
“A book made of 50% adventure, 50% mystery and is 100% Singaporean. It’s a very captivating read!” – Jazzelle Teo, 11.