Malaysia is among 6 shortlisted for 2017 Scholastic Picture Book Award (SPBA)

I didn’t plan to submit a picture book manuscript but when my BFF, Evi Shelvia, suggested that I send mine, it was only a few days away. It took me 3 days (had at least 2 hours sleep each day) to prepare the manuscript and 5 sample illustrations, and hurriedly submit just a day before the closing date. I chose to retell a folktale about a Rooster as I was born in the Year of Rooster.

Serendipity happens. Luck is when preparation meets opportunity, right? It’s true. I got the news that I was shortlisted for the award! I believe The Year of Rooster gives me good luck.

Here’s the synopsis of the manuscript: A long time ago, the Jade Emperor had the power to select the Zodiac Animals. Only the strongest, kindest, most noble animals were chosen. Only animals with a special gift can become a Zodiac Animal. Rooster really, REALLY wanted to be chosen, but what was his special gift? And so Rooster sat down and thought about the other zodiac animals. What was so special about them? So he studied them one by one. Each of them is special in their own way. Rooster thought and thought, and then it came to him. His gift was his golden voice.

I am glad that I represented Malaysia to be shortlisted for the 2017 Scholastic Picture Book Award (SPBA) that was announced last April 17th, 2018 by the National Book Development Council of Singapore (the Book Council) at the Makan & Mingle event in Singapore.

The award is presented biennially to an outstanding unpublished picture book with distinct Asian themes by a writer and illustrator team of Asian descent living in Asia. As well as a $10,000 cash prize, the winning book will also be published by Scholastic Asia. SPBA is a joint initiative between the Book Council and Scholastic Asia, the world’s largest children’s books publishing and distribution company.

There was a total of 137 entries from all over Asia, including Bhutan, Singapore, the Philippines, Iran, China, Vietnam, Japan, India, Turkey, and Indonesia. The judges have selected six titles for the shortlist, each from a different country.

The winner of the 2017 SPBA will be announced during Opening Night of the Asian Festival of Children’s Content (AFCC) on 16 May, and will be presented by the evening’s Guest-of-Honour, Minister for Culture, Community and Youth & Leader of the House, Ms Grace Fu Hai Yien.

The Shortlist:

  1. Aytul Akal, Mavisel Yener, Kubra Nur Ozkececi, and Yasemin Yener: The Flying Grandpa, Turkey
  2. Emila Yusof: How Rooster Became the Zodiac Animal, Malaysia.
  3. Ho Jia En, Sabrine Ong, Shona Menon, Wong Shu Jing, and Melodie James: The Little Durian Tree, Singapore.
  4. Anuradha Ananth Huggler and Shailja Jain Chougule: Poorni and Her Peepal Leaf, India.
  5. Maria Karina: Putri The Treasure of Kancil, Indonesia.
  6. Le Thi Bich Khoa: The Whale Whisperer, Vietnam.

 

You can read the full news here: National Book Development Council of Singapore shorts lists 6 entries for 2017 Scholastic Picture Book Award (SPBA).

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Bologna: Children’s Book 101

Promoting yourself as Children’s Book Illustrator/Author At Bologna Children’s Book Fair

So you heard about Bologna Children’s Book Fair (BCNF) and interested in attending but are clueless on what to do? No worries, I have some tips here that you can refer to.

PROMOTING YOUR BOOKS

  1. Work with your country pavilion/booth. If you have a book or two to promote, find out from them on how to get your books displayed at the booth.
  2. Do a book launching. Invite neighbouring exhibiting publishers to join in the fun. The possibility of publishers in finding out more about your book is there.
  3. Do a simple poster to be stuck at the Illustrators’ Wall. Since it is called Illustrators’ Wall, you can take advantage of it by printing your book cover/a page from the book with the excerpt, country booth number, and/or your e-mail address. Stick it on the Illustrators’ Wall. This way it will be easier if they want to meet you personally at the bookfair or e-mail you later. Maybe you can buy the local sim card, and add your local number on the poster. An interested publisher might want to get in touch with you fast and decide to give you a call. Who knows.
  4. Join the Bologna Ragazzi Awards. The Bologna Ragazzi Award it offers a big opportunity for the sale of copyrights on the international market. It also means you will gain special mention or visibility in the publishing world, leading to the sale of rights in many new countries.There are 4 main categories: FICTION, NON FICTION, NEW HORIZONS, and OPERA PRIMA Awards. The NON FICTION section is dedicated to informational literature in any area of knowledge, science, history, art, music, biography and current events that contribute to a child’s learning experience. The NEW HORIZONS Award is designed to acknowledge publishing houses from the Arab countries, Latin America, Asia and Africa that show great innovative talent by promoting local resources, culture and illustration. The OPERA PRIMA section is reserved for works by authors or illustrators being published for the first time. The award is given for excellence in research and implementation of an innovative publishing product.The Books & Seeds category is now back and as a permanent category – launched in 2015 for the Milan EXPO to recognise and award works that touch on the topics of agriculture, organic farming, biodiversity, nutrition, food safety and cooking.If you win, your winning work will be displayed in a glass display as well as on as many displays as possible.
  5. Visit Authors’ Cafe. BCBF organised tons of programs for 4 days, you just have to browse the schedule of talks and workshops prior to your visit. Schedules can be found online on their website.
  6. Donate your books after the fair. Sometimes a librarian will come and ask for free books. I donated some of my books to a librarian from Istituto Comprensivo Casalbuttano – Cremona, Italy, for their inter-culture program at the institute.

PROMOTING YOUR ARTWORKS/ILLUSTRATIONS

  1. Join Bologna Illustrators’ Exhibition. Th exhibition is curated by the Children’s Book Fair since 1967 offering artists from all over the world a unique opportunity to showcase their talent to a public.For participants aged under 35 are also entered in to the competition for the Bologna Children’s Book Fair – Fundación SM International Illustration Award, which offers the winner the significant prize of 30 thousand dollars, the publication of a book and the organization of a solo exhibition at the Fair in the following year’s edition.
    For participants under age 30, ARS IN FABULA – Grant Award, which is awarded annually to an artist aged under 30 at the Illustrators’ Exhibition.The Grant is awarded by a jury made up of the Master course lecturers meeting in Bologna during the Book Fair.The winner is given a free place on the ARS IN FABULA – Master Degree Course in Illustration for Publishing, during which s/he will work on a book project assigned by one of the Master course publisher partners.
  2. Illustrators’ Wall. One of the first things you’ll see is the Illustrator’s Wall. Everyone passes the Illustrator’s Wall. It’s a long sea of ‘Look at me!’ artwork. Illustrators stick on postcards, posters and business cards.Go ahead, stick something on the wall. Heck, stick a few things on the wall. You’ll get a buzz from doing it. Just make sure your email address is on whatever you stick to the wall. You never know, your work might just catch a publisher’s eye.
  3. Promotional items. You can leave some small items at your country booth (they normally welcome this effort) like mini notebooks, postcards, name cards, portfolio brochures, or anything you can think of for giveaway or you can have the option to sell as well as cheap as 1 euro or two.
  4. Visit Illustrators’ Cafe. BCBF organised tons of programs for 4 days, you just have to browse the schedule of talks and workshops prior to your visit. Schedules can be found online on their website. Who knows you might get to mingle with Oliver Jeffers or Isabelle Arsenault or Satoe Tone!

 

MEETING PUBLISHERS

  1. Meet people. A simple hello will lead to more conversation. You might meet a publisher, famous author, famous illustrator, literary agency and the list goes on. Just be sure to carry some of your name cards with you.

  2. Get in the queue. Some publishers set aside half an hour or so to meet with illustrators and authors. Just be alert for these opportunities.
  3. Walk-in. You can also walk-in and introduce yourself. If the publisher is not free to talk to you, ask them who to contact. Leave your name card and portfolio brochure/artwork prints.
  4. Choose the right publisher. Check the publisher’s house style. Do they publish fiction, non-fiction? Do they publish rhyming books? Do they publish picture books? Chapter books? Board books? Comic books? Illustrated story books? You match them with your style.
  5. To-bring list.
    . Take your business cards.
    . Put your favourite pieces in your portfolio.
    . Bring your good drawings.
    . Bring your sketchbook.
    . Smart tablet. Put some in the smart tablet if you have many artworks you want to show.

OTHERS

  1. Explore the book fair. There is so much to take in. There are talks and demonstrations and galleries. Try and make the most of what’s on offer, and be sure to look at the fair’s programmes. One of the things I really love about the fair is exploring all of the different countries’ stalls. It’s fascinating and inspiring to see so many different types of picture books. Just bear in mind that most of the action happens in the first three days. The fourth day, things are much quieter and some publishers are already packing up. And don’t forget to visit all the illustration exhibitions.
  2. Meet illustrators and authors. And buy their books! When you walk in the book fair area, just open your eyes, some publishers put up posters, some don’t. You just have to look closer, see if anybody is autographing books.
  3. You cannot get enough of books and your luggage cannot fit them all! No worries, you can buy luggage at the Sunday market where they sell luggage as cheap as 12 Euro.
  4. Reward yourself! Last but not least, after the hard work promoting your books and artworks, don’t forget to treat yourself a gelato! There are many shops serving gelato near Bologna Centrale.

And for a Malaysian who likes to go, here is a rough budget that you might want to look into:

BCBF TRIP
Cost for one person for one week*:
Flight: RM3000 (cheapest with +1 day travel trip and layover)
Dorm/cheap hotel: RM600
Food: RM700
Ground transportation: RM140
Book fair pass: RM350
TOTAL RM4790

Please take note that this is excluding your pocket money to buy your own stuff. Booking has to be made a few months earlier because the price will go up (huge difference) when it is made few days prior to your departure.

*I suggest one week because BCBF will be 4 days. Since you are already in Bologna, take 3 days more to explore Bologna city. In case you are interested, BCBF 2018 will be from 26-29 March 2018.

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World Autism Awareness Day: Paint for Autism 2017

1 April 2017 – In conjunction with World Autism Awareness Day, Early Autism Project Malaysia (EAP) celebrated with Paint for Autism, a half-day community-focused initiative that aims to empower autism awareness and acceptance in Malaysia.

The creative campaign organized under EAP’s non-profit in partnership with Yayasan Kajian dan Pembangunan Masyarakat, The Hope Project saw more than 300 participants gather at Help International School to paint 81-piece puzzle artwork by local illustrator and children’s book author Emila Yusof.

The artwork was pieced together to reveal the final artwork that illustrated the beauty that can be found in everyone’s minds. The process of having the artwork painted by different groups of people also signified the collaborative effort required of the community to support individuals with autism and their families for them to lead fulfilling lives.

“There is so much more than we can do to support individuals with autism and their families. It begins with awareness – an awareness not only of what autism is and how we can help, but the awareness of improved integration processes through schools, acting on policies that support these families and our community role that champions a heart of hope for them, and we can all do this together,” Jochebed Isaacs, Director of EAP said in a closing speech.

Among other highlights of the event included a reading session with Subang State assemblyman, YB Hannah Yeoh, who read ‘My Brother is A Bear’ by local illustrator Hsulynn Pang, presentations by kids with autism about their strengths, a dialogue session with EAP kids and an experiential maze that allowed participants to understand more about how someone with autism may feel in different situations and environments. Free initial screenings for autism were also conducted during the event.

For World Autism Awareness Month, EAP has also initiated the ‘Kindness Starts With Me’ school campaign that is focused on developing an attitude of kindness among children and educating them about autism. So far, nearly 3000 students are already part of the programme.

“It is crucial that an attitude and response of kindness towards people with autism or people who seem different in general is cultivated at a young age. Children in schools are the leaders of our next generation and teaching kindness will encourage a more accepting society but more importantly, pave the way for a more progressive nation. We hope to continue this campaign throughout the year,” said Jochebed Isaacs.

EAP Malaysia has been providing services for individuals with autism and their families for more than 10 years. Throughout this time, they’ve worked with more than 300 individuals from 30 different countries and hope to continue to work towards creating a positive impact in the lives of families with autism. The Hope Project was initiated to extend the mission to provide quality and research-based treatment for autism to those who are unable to afford it. The outwork of this vision can be found through campaigns, training services, and video resources that are available online at www.autismmalaysia.com.

 

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International Women’s Day Gifts

In conjunction with International Women’s Day, Oyez and I came up with fewa gift sets for women (girls too).

We developed three sets of pencil case and plain notebook. You can use the notebook to write down the things that you yourself want to change or what you see around that should be changed. After all, big change starts with small one and often with ourselves first. After all, big changes start with small ones first and often with ourselves first.

I will update this with the links where to buy and how much per set. Stay tuned!

 

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How to illustrate picture books

Left: my illustration, right: my student’s illustration (Heidi).

Do you want to illustrate children’s or picture books? Here’s a step-by-step guide by me:

1. First and foremost, practice your drawings.
Get yourself a basic sketchbook, a pen and a mechanical pencil (with an eraser on one end). Draw whenever you can; while waiting for the bus, while waiting for a meeting, while cooking, while waiting for food to arrive while eating out, etc. Fill those pages with sketches: characters, be it kids, monsters, animals, buildings or scenery. You can even draw your food.

2. Read a lot of children’s books. Study the illustrations.
If your friends buy novels at the bookshop, don’t be shy to buy children’s books for yourself. It’s normal. Tell them Emila buys children’s books too for herself.

I can suggest those from Oyez!Books for local children’s books. For international ones, you can browse Kinokuniya shelves and look for Oliver Jeffers, Maurice Sendak, Isabella Arsenault, Beatrix Potter, Rebecca Dautremer, Eric Carle, Quentin Blake, etc. The international ones are expensive but what the heck, for the sake of learning, why not spend money on good books, right?

3. Copy! Copy! Copy!
I don’t mean copy all per se. You can copy Maurice Sendak’s monster’s eyes and put it on Oliver Jeffer’s boy but perhaps with real legs (not stick, hehe), and add a dreamy background like Satoe Tone’s with Mirdinara’s foliage. Soon, you will get ideas on how to create your own. This is only for your learning purpose, not for commercial purpose, ya.

4. Practice illustrating words.
You can begin with a word a day then gradually to one paragraph of a story and so on and so forth. You can also illustrate quotes, lyrics, your own retelling of folktales, etc.

5. Love what you do.
When you do what you love, it’ll show in your drawings/illustrations.

6. Don’t worry about being not perfect.
By doing more drawing practices, you will get better than most other people. You know, I don’t consider myself as a born artist. I have to work hard to make drawings/illustrations I like.

7. Upgrade your sketchbook, colour your illustrations.
Buy good sketchbook (with 200gsm paper). I can suggest Monologue Soft Sketchbook or Moleskine Folio or Sketchbook. Get yourself a watercolour, or colour pencils, acrylic, or others. Try those on your sketchbook. This way you will get hands-on experience using colours.

8. Find free online tutorials.
Check out Youtube! There are tonnes of free tutorials on how to draw, how to apply a technique, how to use your brush correctly, etc.

9. Share your drawings.
Share it with your family and friends. You can share it online as well. Get people to give you constructive comments.

10. Join a workshop!
If you think you are ready to illustrate children’s picture book, do join a picture book illustrations workshop, or perhaps join E&E Workshop (Emila and Evi)! We will guide you on the process of how to create children’s book.

Pitching your book manuscripts/illustrations to publishers is not included in our workshop but we can help list down those that accept submissions.

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