To say that I am excited about this year’s Asian Festival of Children’s Content would be an understatement. I am very privileged to be part of such a hardworking team who continually strives to offer something different each year.
The AFCC Press Conference was held yesterday at the Hotel Grand Pacific, right across the Central Public Library, the official venue of this year’s festival.
Mr Rama Ramachandran, Executive Director of the Festival.
I call him the father of AFCC. He is truly a visionary – such a dynamic and passionate spirit. He has a keen eye for talent and he demands nothing that he is not able to do himself. Essentially, Mr Rama talked about the Festival’s objectives which can be summed up in three words: Develop, Promote, and Provide.
(1) Develop skills for creating stories with Asian content for children.
(2) Promote the publication and production of Asian content for children.
(3) Provide the world with access to Asian content event for children.
Mr Rama also spoke about the events that we should look out for in this year’s Festival. He spoke about the AFCC’s aim to be the future Bologna of Asia. There is a recognition of the huge and diverse market in this part of the globe and the hunger to create materials that children from Asia could resonate with.
Here is a snapshot of the seminars and masterclasses that are being offered this year:
The Chairman of the AFCC Board of Advisers also said a few words:
Ms Claire Chiang, Chairman AFCC Board of Advisers.
Ms Chiang also happens to be the Senior Vice President of Banyan Tree Holdings. Truly a powerful and beautiful woman blessed with charm and grace. She has shown such tremendous support for AFCC. Her advocacy for literacy and reading is inspiring.
AFCC’s Country of Focus: Malaysia, Truly Asia
I remembered being asked on Twitter just a few months ago as to whether I could recommend any Malaysian authors and illustrators. I believe it was Zoe from Playing by the Book who asked that question. I answered that she should come attend the AFCC! I have much to learn and know during this year’s festival and I am looking forward to knowing Malaysia’s luminaries when it comes to children’s literature and young adult fiction.
I am also hoping to do a series of brief interviews with our Malaysian visitors (and other international delegates and keynote speakers) here in GatheringBooks, so watch out for that.
Panel of Speakers – Tidbits, Trivia, and Teasers
Mr Rama also had a short and snappy interview with a panel of speakers for this year’s festival.
Teachers Congress and Parents Forum
From L-R: Mr Rama Ramachandran, Dr. Chitra Shegar (a colleague of mine from NIE), and Dr. Khoo Kim Choo
Essentially, the Teachers Congress and Parents Forum aim to provide teachers and parents with the skills, knowledge, and advice on how to nurture early reading and bilingualism in the home. The speakers also spoke about how crucial it is to be bilingual in today’s world and to watch out for sessions that would share more information about this.
Writers and Illustrators Conference
From L-R: Mr Rama Ramachandran, Emily Lim (award-winning Singaporean author), and the very talented illustrator Stephanie Wong (of the Diary of Amos fame)
I thought that it was brilliant to have Singapore’s very own local talents to speak about how important it is for emerging authors and writers to be part of this vibrant community of like-minded individuals who could provide them with valuable advice, tips and strategies on how to make it in the children’s book industry.
From L-R: Mr Rama Ramachandran, David Kwok (CEO of Tiny Island Productions) and Syahrizan Mansor (Senior Director and Head of Programming & On-Air Nickelodeon Asia).
Mr Rama spoke about how difficult it had been for him to convince media people to be part of the Festival during the early years of AFCC. He shared that it took a lot of convincing before the media people began to realize that this One Big Story (which is this year’s overarching theme by the way) can be transformed into poetry, theatre, a musical, a tv series, a movie, an iPad application – with rich and substantive content, the possibilities are limitless.
Shortlisted Candidates for Book Awards
From Left to Right: Jessica Alejandro (holding up her book: Extraordinary Losers), Ovidia Yu (Mudskipper), Illustrator Lak-Khee Tay-Audouard, and freelance writer Debra Chong.
The shortlisted candidates for the Hedwig Anuar Children’s Book Award was also announced yesterday, namely: The Mudskipper by Ovidia Yu, Extraordinary Losers: Pants on Fire by Jessica Alejandro, Farrer Park by Anna Peters and Where’s Grandma? by Edmund Lim. The winner will receive $10,000!
The new biennial SingTel Asian Picture Book Award offers $5000 to a writer and $5000 to an illustrator from Asia for unpublished work. Very exciting times indeed.
Children, Speak Up! Panel
This is one of my ‘baby’ panels for AFCC. I am moderating a session with young children, most of them are part of GatheringReaders, a book club I have initiated here in Singapore in partnership with the Jurong West Public Library.
I have always thought that children should be made part of a Festival such as this. We are after all discussing what ‘content’ we believe is best for them. Why not give a voice to children themselves and hear what they have to say about their favorite authors and illustrators and books that speak to them?
I am also very very excited to share that we have invited Erik from This Kid Reviews Books to be a part of this panel, albeit virtually. I am thrilled that his parents have given their consent for him to share his views even for just a few minutes via Skype.
Children Speak Up! Panel will be held on 28 May 2013, 530-630 pm at the Visitors’ Briefing Room of the Central Public Library. Do join us and share some love to these avid young readers!
As I have mentioned, AFCC is continually evolving. And part of this includes new sets of publications for the Festival! How truly amazing and vibrant. A total of six new books would be launched during the festival.
A book of poetry and three bilingual picture books.
I am also very proud to share that I am part of the two other publications of AFCC as could be seen below.
Project Splash! Asia
I am glad to be part of a committee who painstakingly searched and sourced for water-themed picture books from and about Asia. We are coming up with a bibliography of over a hundred titles that celebrate this stream of stories and the significant role that water plays in our lives. The book launch of this bibliography will be on 29 May 2013, Wednesday at 1:45-2:30 pm at The Pod, National Library Building. I am sharing the panel with the indefatigable Evelyn Wong who has remained on top of all this from day one. The session would be moderated by the fabulous and beautiful Corinne Robson from Paper Tigers who is also part of the Project Splash! Asia Committee.
Project Splash! Asia Committee Members: Ken Quek (Festival Director), me (Programme Director, AFCC Writers and Illustrators Conference) and Evelyn Wong (Partnership Director of the Festival Organizing Committee 2013).
Last but not Least…
One of the reasons why I am extremely excited about the festival. Book cover courtesy of Isabel ‘Pepper’ Roxas. Isn’t it gorgeous?
This inaugural AFCC Publication is a weaving together of various narratives and voices highlighting the richly-textured content coming from Asia. Using a multi-disciplinary lens, the book includes personal recollections of, narrations from, and conversations with children’s literature expert and historian Leonard Marcus, award-winning author Suzy Lee, prolific Singaporean author Jessie Wee and respected Australian author Ken Spillman. It also provides a distinct regional focus on Philippine authors and artists – AFCC’s country of focus last year (2012) – with contributions from Filipino National Artist Virgilio Almario, award-winning author and artists Candy Gourlay and Isabel Roxas and social scientists such as myself and my co-editor Jesus Federico Hernandez.
We are donating the proceeds of this book to AFCC with the intention of providing funds to the next round of delegates for the next country of focus in 2014! So, make sure you grab a copy!
So, what are you waiting for, dear friends?
Join us and register for the children’s lit event of the year!
Click here to be taken to the official AFCC Website.