What Things Mean + Sula’s Voyage

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It’s been a couple of years since I interviewed Filipino writers Sophia Lee and Catherine Torres at the Asian Festival of Children’s Content in Singapore, shortly after the results of the Scholastic Asian Book Award were announced. It was a proud moment for the Philippines as Sophie’s novel, “What Things Mean” was named the winner of the Scholastic Asian Book Award, while Catherine’s novel, “Sula’s Voyage,” was one of the finalists.

The Scholastic Asian Book Award aims to recognize excellence in fiction in Asian stories for children, showcase the diversity of literary talent within the region, and to encourage and inspire more books and stories with Asian content. (Read more about it.)

The way Sophia and Catherine described their novels definitely made me long to read them, and I finally got to, as review copies of the books made their way to me a couple of weeks ago!

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AFCC Notes: Found in Translation

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Back during the 2012 AFCC, one of the best sessions I attended was one on translation, conducted by Avery Fischer Udagawa. I wandered into the session out of sheer curiosity; after all, I collect Harry Potter translations for fun. But as I sat through the session, I discovered translation to be a highly specialized segment of the children’s book industry.

The session was quite enlightening, and it made me realize just how rich literature is because of translations — so many of the world’s best-loved books were not originally written in English. And it was because of that session two years ago that I made a beeline for “Found in Translation – Asian Content for the World’s Children” by award-winning translator Cathy Hirano at this year’s AFCC.

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Filipino writers win big at Scholastic Asian Book Award

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SINGAPORE — Filipino writers garnered top honors for the 2014 Scholastic Asian Book Award, a biennial search for new Asian children’s stories written in English, announced at the recently concluded Asian Festival of Children’s Content held at the Singapore National Library Building.

Organized by Scholastic and the National Book Development Council of Singapore, the Scholastic Asian Book Award was presented by Singapore Minister of Culture, Community and Youth Lawrence Wong. Filipino writer Sophia Marie Lee was named the grand prize winner for her story “What Things Mean,” and was awarded a cash prize of SGD 10,000 as well as a publishing deal from Scholastic. Another Filipino writer, Catherine Torres, ranked first runner up with her story, “Sula’s Voyage,” while India’s Vivek Bhanot ranked second runner up with his story “Robin and the Case of the Summer Camp Kidnapping.” Runners-up and selected shortlisted entries for the SABA are also considered for publication.

This year’s entries were judged by an international panel of literary experts and renowned authors led by Sayoni Basu (India) as head judge, along with Ken Spillman (Australia), Marjorie Coughlan (Canada), Sarah Odedina (United Kingdom), Wanitcha Sumanat (Thailand).

“We [the judges] were pleasantly surprised with the high quality in the manuscripts submitted this year, which demonstrated greater depth and diversity in their stories, and more sophistication in writing craft as compared to previous years. The universality of the themes will enable all children in Asia and across the world to identify with the stories,” said Sayoni Basu.

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Hello from AFCC 2014!

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Greetings from Singapore, where I have just attended the first day of the Writers and Illustrators Conference of the Asian Festival of Children’s Content. It was an amazing first day featuring a stellar ensemble of speakers and inspiring talks, great company (hello friends, old and new!) and a stack of signed books to go in my luggage.

It’ll take some time for me to transcribe all my notes from the conference, and upload the photos from my camera, so in the meantime, here’s a look at the National Library of Singapore, where the Festival is being held. In previous trips, I’ve always passed by the huge library building on book hunting jaunts at the Bras Basah Complex right next door, but I’ve never actually been, so I was quite excited to set foot in this library.

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Countdown to AFCC 2014

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The Asian Festival of Children’s Content (AFCC) is an annual event that gathers content creators, producers, parents, teachers, librarians, and other stakeholders in quality Asian content for children around the world. The AFCC returns this year with a host of conferences, masterclasses and workshops, book launches, and other programmes to give writers, illustrators, publishers, agents, distributors, parents, children, teachers, and librarians the opportunity to meet, develop their craft, keep abreast of developments in the industry, and discover business opportunities.

Organized by the National Book Development Council of Singapore (NBDCS), the AFCC is slated from May 30 to June 4 at the National Library of Singapore.

As a reader, sometime  illustrator, and book blogger, the Asian Festival of Children’s Content (AFCC) in 2012 was one of the most amazing experiences of my life, and I’m quite excited to attend AFCC again this year.

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