Archive for the ‘Guest Posts’ Category

Malaysia Focus Guest Post – Malaysia Night at the 2013 Asian Festival of Children’s Content

Thursday, July 18th, 2013

Peter Duke moderating Yusof Gajah's session at AFCC 2013Drawing to a close our series of guest posts by author Peter Duke about the Malaysia-focused/perspective presentations at this year’s AFCC.

Peter has written a number of children’s books that have been published under the name Peter Worthington by the exciting Malaysian publisher Oyez!Books. Originally from the UK, Peter has lived and worked in different countries in Asia, including Indonesia, Singapore, Hong Kong and Malaysia. He first served in the British army and was global partner of a major management consultancy firm until his retirement.

 

MALAYSIA NIGHT AT THE 2013 ASIAN FESTIVAL OF CHILDREN’S CONTENT

Malaysia Evening at 2013 Asian Festival of Children's Content (AFCC)

Malaysia Evening at 2013 Asian Festival of Children's Content (AFCC) - students from Sekolah Seni Johor

Malaysia Evening at 2013 Asian Festival of Children's Content (AFCC) - students from Sekolah Seni Johor perform "The Proud Butterfly and the Strange Tree" adapted from the book by Jainal Amambing

Malaysia Evening at 2013 Asian Festival of Children's Content (AFCC) - students from Sekolah Seni Johor, the cast of

Malaysia Evening at 2013 Asian Festival of Children's Content (AFCC) - post performance by Sekolah Seni Johor students of "The Proud Butterfly and the Strange Tree"

Malaysia Evening at 2013 Asian Festival of Children's Content (AFCC) -HRH Raja Zarith Sofia of Johore is presented with a copy of "My Mother's Kitchen" by its creator Emila Yusof

During AFCC, Malaysian Book Organisation Kota Buku hosted an evening of Malaysian music, fun and food for more than 120 guests. As the guests assembled and moved to their seats the youth orchestra and singers from the Malaysian School of Art Sekolah Seni Johor entertained us with some excellent music and songs, both traditional and modern.

The guest of honour for the night was HRH Raja Zarith Sofiah, the Sultana of Johor. She and all the guests were made to feel very welcome by Tan Sri Dato’ Asiah Abu Samah, the chairman of Kota Buku. In her welcoming speech, Tan Sri also thanked AFCC for inviting Malaysia as the country of focus at AFCC 2103 and stated that she and all the members of the Malaysian delegation extended their heartfelt thanks to Ms Claire Chiang and Mr Ramachandran and their staff for making this possible. In addition, she said she hoped that this was the start of many years of close cooperation between Kota Buku and AFCC and the first step in a journey of bringing like-minded organisations from Asian countries together in close cooperation.

After Tan Sri’s speech, Emila Yusof of the Malaysian delegation, and this year’s Guest illustrator at AFCC, presented The Sultana with one of her iconic pictures and two of her latest books. Ain Maisarah, Malaysian author of the ‘Wannababe…’ series presented the Sultana with a set of her books. Then it was time for music food and fun. The tables groaned under masses of excellent Malaysian-style food including giant prawns, Nonya style curried chicken, beef rendang, fried rice, steamed vegetables and noodles followed by a typical Malaysian desert and fruits; a seemingly endless stream of food to suit all tastes.

Malaysia Focus Guest Post – IBBY President Ahmad Redza on “Celebrating Diversity Through Multicultural Children’s Literature”

Wednesday, July 17th, 2013

Peter Duke moderating Yusof Gajah's session at AFCC 2013Continuing our series of guest posts by author Peter Duke about the Malaysia-focused/perspective presentations at this year’s AFCC.

Peter has written a number of children’s books that have been published under the name Peter Worthington by the exciting Malaysian publisher Oyez!Books. Originally from the UK, Peter has lived and worked in different countries in Asia, including Indonesia, Singapore, Hong Kong and Malaysia. He first served in the British army and was global partner of a major management consultancy firm until his retirement.

 

CELEBRATING DIVERSITY THROUGH MULTICULTURAL CHILDREN’S LITERATURE
Ahmad Redza

IBBY President Ahmad Redza at 2013 Asian Festival of Children's Content (AFCC)

Ahmad Redza, who is currently the President of IBBY (the International Board on Books for Young People), gave a very polished presentation on his chosen subject. He made the point a number of times of his firm belief that children and books together create a greater understanding of different races, cultures and religions.
He stressed that children are our future and by bridging the gap through literature we create a platform for peace. A well-illustrated picture book can be read and understood in any language. Literature serves as a powerful vehicle for helping children understand themselves, their communities and the world.

‘Children in crisis’ is an important IBBY project. The key thrust of this is to bring knowledge through books and literature to children who are recovering from trauma caused by earthquakes, rebellion, loss of citizenship and being separated from their parents and often being driven from their homes. Reading, and learning to read, can bring peace of mind and help in a child’s recovery. But just giving a child a book is not sufficient; he or she needs to be taught how to use a book to gain greatest benefit from them.

In conclusion Redza reiterated his belief that through literature, children can bridge the gap between races, religions and cultures across countries and make the world a better place for all.

Then, at the end of his talk Redza also gave a brief overview of IBBY and its roles and projects.

Malaysia Focus Guest Post – Linda Tan, Director of Yusof Gajah Lingard Literary Agency, on Marketing Your Books and Selling Rights

Tuesday, July 9th, 2013

Peter Duke moderating Yusof Gajah's session at AFCC 2013Continuing our series of guest posts by author Peter Duke about the Malaysia-focused/perspective presentations at this year’s AFCC.

Peter has written a number of children’s books that have been published under the name Peter Worthington by the exciting Malaysian publisher Oyez!Books. Originally from the UK, Peter has lived and worked in different countries in Asia, including Indonesia, Singapore, Hong Kong and Malaysia. He first served in the British army and was global partner of a major management consultancy firm until his retirement.

 

MARKETING YOUR BOOK AND SELLING RIGHTS

Linda Tan Director of Yusof Gajah Lingard Literary AgencyLinda Tan Lingard at Asian Festival of Children's Content 2013

Linda addressed a packed room with a wide ranging professional presentation on what an agent can do for a writer with reference to her own agency and what it can do for writers in Asia. She also addressed the advantages of using an agency in obtaining international rights sales.

The most important aspects of an agent’s work include evaluation of a manuscript, matching these with a publisher and negotiating contracts, and where appropriate developing and executing a marketing plan. Authors are at the mercy of publishers and just sending their manuscripts seldom achieves their ambition of being published and the terms are often miserable. A good agent who knows the publishing world and has done his/her research into the types of books that sell can make a big difference to the prospects of an author and the monetary rewards.

Linda spent some time explaining the advantages of using an agent to sell rights and granting licences for translation and publication to international publishers. The most obvious advantages include the reduced cost of production, as printing and distribution costs etc. are borne by the foreign publisher. In addition, in some countries the government provides grants covering translation rights.

Agents spend considerable time and money travelling to international book fairs selling the rights of the books that are in their portfolio. They produce physical catalogues and rights guides and develop web sites promoting their portfolio to attract foreign buyers. Linda dealt with what publishers are looking for today – hot topics, local content, best sellers, big name authors and shorter books.

In closing she briefly mentioned the work of the Yusof Gajah Lingard Literary Agency (Malaysia) in promoting the work of local authors and illustrators and representing their works on the international stage, selling rights and selling licences for merchandising rights.

Guest Post: Yusof Gajah, Naomi Kojima and Shirin Yim Bridge’s “First Look” session at AFCC

Thursday, July 4th, 2013

Peter Duke moderating Yusof Gajah's session at AFCC 2013Continuing our series of guest posts by author Peter Duke about the Malaysia-focused/perspective presentations at this year’s AFCC.

Peter has written a number of children’s books that have been published under the name Peter Worthington by the exciting Malaysian publisher Oyez!Books. Originally from the UK, Peter has lived and worked in different countries in Asia, including Indonesia, Singapore, Hong Kong and Malaysia. He first served in the British army and was global partner of a major management consultancy firm until his retirement.

 

FIRST LOOK

Yusof Gajah, artist illustrator and author (Malaysia), Naomi Kojima, illustrator author (Japan), and Shirin Yim Bridges, publisher (US)

The panellists were presented with a packed room including many young people sitting on the floor, could they have been young hopeful illustrators? The objective of the session was for the panel to look at six illustrations from unpublished projects presented by a number of illustrators and to provide valuable pointers to the illustrators and the audience including the following.

Yusof looked at the technical aspects of creating illustrations for a picture book and the suitability and quality of the illustrations. He mentioned that illustrators should make sure their illustrations have depth and are not too cluttered. Illustrators need to practice, practice, practice with their chosen medium to get a satisfactory result. He also stressed the need for research into the subject to make sure the illustrator does not make mistakes with their characters, especially when using animals, fish or birds etc. He further commented on the need to create balance in a picture and that it is better if the illustrations are not always in the same plane.

Naomi who is an author and illustrator agreed with Yusof’s comments and added a number of additional ones.  She looked particularly at the illustrations to see if she could see the development of a story from them. It is important that illustrations for a child’s picture book must tell the story or support the story. One or two of the illustration sets were hard to follow and did not seem to be linked. She also stressed the importance of matching the expressions on the faces of the characters with the mood of the moment. So many illustrators today forget this point and produce standardised comic formats.

Shirin focussed on the suitability of the illustrations from a publisher’s perspective. She stressed the point that an illustrator should remember to provide white space for the designer to insert text wherever appropriate. She also mentioned that cluttered illustrations were hard to deal with and that illustrators should remember not to place their main focus/ character in the middle of the page when drawing as they lose a margin when the book is bound. The end result is the focus of off centre once the book is published. She also made the point that it was difficult to design a book that had a landscape cover with vertical illustrations.

Guest Post ~ African youth literature: what visibility on the international market? by Mariette Robbes

Monday, May 20th, 2013

Mariette Robbes of the International Alliance of Independent PublishersMariette Robbes is a volunteer with the International Alliance of Independent Publishers, following an internship with the organisation in 2011.  She holds a Masters in the”World of the Book” (Aix-en-Provence University), for which she specialized in children’s book publishing in India; and she has just completed three months with the International Youth Library in Munich, pursuing her research into the history of youth publishing in India.  Mariette is also working concurrently on several textile and graphic creation projects.

At this year’s Bologna Book Fair, the International Alliance of Independent Publishers ran a workshop with African children’s book publishers (from Mali, Guinea, Togo, Senegal, Rwanda, Madagascar and Benin) and a Brazilian publisher specialized in the Afro-Brazilian culture.  We are delighted to welcome Mariette to PaperTigers with an article about the workshop and some of the issues discussed, and in which she highlights some of the challenges facing these small, independent publishers.

 

~ African Youth Literature: What Visibility in the International Market? ~

A reflection on multiculturalism, African children’s literature
and the international market place.

Children’s books publishing, in expansion in many regions in the world, is particularly strategic in countries where publishing is emergent – it is indeed through youth literature that tomorrow’s readership is formed. While catering for their local readership, publishers in Africa also wish to be known internationally and to have business with publishers from others countries. Their participation at some public book fairs in the North, for instance the Montreuil Children’s Book Fair (the biggest French children’s book fair) shows the existence of a readership on the Northern markets. However, publishers from African countries still participate very little in the global exchange of rights that animates the publishing world – and which is the core of international events like the Bologna or Frankfurt Book Fairs.

This question of visibility and intercultural exchange is quite complex and not specific to African children’s literature, as Gita Wolf – from the Indian publishing house Tara Books – underlines in her book Picturing Words & Reading Pictures (Tara Books, Chennai, 1997):

 ”Whether rights are bought for books from India or Africa also depends largely on current political climates. What should children in Europe or North America be reading? Are multicultural books exotic, or are they necessary? As in other industries like fashion, countries like India can be ‘in’ one season and ‘out’ the next.”

Those topics were the main subject of exchanges in a two-day workshop that saw eight independent publishers from different African countries and Brazil share their experiences and think of innovative solutions that would help them to be more visible at international book fairs, in order to promote their publishing houses worldwide.

Publishers present were:

Paulin Assem – Ago editions (Togo)
Agnès and Peter Gyr Ukunda – Bakame (Rwanda)
Antoinette Correa – BLD (Senegal)
Sékou Fofana – Editions Donniya (Mali)
Aliou Sow – Ganndal (Republic of Guinea)
Marie Michèle Razafintsalama – Jeunes Malgaches (Madagascar)
Cristina and Mariana Warth – Pallas editora (Brazil)
Cendra Gbado Batossi and Pierre Gbado – Ruisseaux d’Afrique (Benin)

All these publishers come from very different countries and backgrounds, and publish a wide array of books; from poetry to comics, to picture books and young adult literature. Their readerships are different, as well as the government policies supporting the development of book industries in their own countries. In this sense, all the publishers had different stories to share when it comes to marketing their books in the global market.

 

Aliou Sow (Ganndal, Republic of Guinea) and Paulin Assem (Ago Editions, Togo)

 

Marie Michele Razafintsalama (Jeunes Malgaches, Madagascar) and Sekou Fofana (Donniya, Mali)

 

Cristina and Mariana Warth (Pallas Editora, Brazil) and Antoinette Correa (BLD, Senegal)

 

During the two days of the workshop, intense discussion took place between publishers, sharing their own experiences of the international marketplace: for example, Marie Michèle Razafintsalama from the publishing house Jeunes Malgaches (Madagascar) related her experience of buying the rights of The Little Prince by Saint-Exupéry to translate it into a bilingual Malagasy and French edition Ilay Andriandahy Kely; while Cristina and Mariana Warth from Pallas Editora (Brazil) explained their preparation process for the Fair, beginning months in advance.

Though it is well noted that the invitation program of Bologna Book Fair is a great opportunity because it allows publishers to attend, it is not sufficient in itself for creating a convincingly visible presence at the Fair.  On this point, a presentation by Hannele Legras, Literary Agent from Hannele and Associates agency, was very helpful. She gave an introduction to foreign rights management, practices of the profession, a panorama of international markets, and a lot of tips and advice that publishers were eager to try.

The workshop was also the place for publishers to express their views on the difference between their local readerships’ tastes, expectations and purchasing power, and what can be seen in the Western marketplace. Do publishers need to adapt their books in order to market them internationally? What are the market standards in other emerging markets i.e China, Brazil, Mexico, etc? How might they differ from the Western standards, thus creating not one standard for publishing, but many different business models?

In the coming months and as a follow-up to the workshop, the Alliance will produce a small guide which will summarise all the ideas shared by publishers and the different speakers at the workshop.

The workshop also allowed publishers, who do not often have the opportunity to meet up, to exchange projects, books and ideas among themselves. Watch out for new projects and collaborations coming soon!

N.B. This workshop took place in the context of the International Assembly of Independent Publishers (more information here), and thanks to a partnership with the Bologna Book Fair to engage in reflection about the visibility of African independent publishers in international book fairs and rights events.

 

The African Publishers' stand at the 2013 Bologna Book Fair

Remembering the Great East Japan Earthquake and Tsunami, March 2011 – “We Want Them To Know They Are Not Alone” by Chieko Furuta Suemori

Monday, March 4th, 2013

March 11th marks the 2nd anniversary of the Great East Japan Earthquake – two long years of striving and rebuilding for those whose lives were altered by the disaster.  At the IBBY Congress last year, JBBY, the Japanese section of IBBY, hosted a very well-attended early-bird session, where we learned about the phenomenal work being done to bring books to children, and the healing that those books were and are able to effect.  Each speaker gave a personal account of their own experiences on 11th March 2011 and the different children’s book and library projects they have been instrumental in getting off the ground.  You can read the presentation given by JBBY President Takao Murayama here, in which he introduced the “Books for Tomorrow” project.  Hisako Kakuage spoke “To the Children of Fukushima, and for Children with Special Needs”, showing a selection of multi-sensory books, including cloth books and music (I was delighted to see Suho’s White Horse there).

Chieko Suemori, a former Executive Member of IBBY and founder of publishing house Suemori Books, launched the 3.11 Ehon Project Iwate within days of the disaster.  To date, they have received more than 232,000 books, which reach children via the Ehon Car mobile library project.  Chieko has given me permission to reproduce her presentation here.  Six months after the IBBY Congress, it is still very relevant and definitely worth reading, especially around this time when our thoughts turn towards those who are still suffering because of what happened two years ago – and to those who are doing all they can to help them.

We Want Them To Know They Are Not Alone by Chieko Furuta Suemori
~ Presentation given at the IBBY Congress, London, August 25, 2012

One year before the 11 March 2011 earthquake and tsunami in Japan, I moved from Tokyo, north to Iwate prefecture. The place where I live is inland, but still the shaking of the quake was horrible. It was a quake stronger than anything I had felt in my life. Electric power shut down, so we had no telephone, television or Internet access. Probably many of you were seeing the images of the tsunami on TV before we did.

Yamada is one of the coastal towns hit hardest by the 11 March tsunami. After the waves destroyed the town, fires raged from huge gas storage tanks and spilled crude oil, and even the water of the harbor was on fire. This once-peaceful place was a haven to my ancestors, who fled persecution of Christians in Kyushu, several generations ago. As soon as the telephone and Internet began to work, many friends asked me what they could do to help us in Iwate. I recalled the work of IBBY’s [founder] Jella Lepman, and I thought: we must gather books for the children. A newspaper reporter I had known since the IBBY Congress in Basel wrote a story about my plan, and within days we began to receive an overwhelming stream of picture books from all over the country. I had not realized how much confidence Japanese place in picture books as a source of strength for children. Some days we would receive 200 to 300 boxes of books! Within two months, we had 230,000 books.

We also had a wonderful team of volunteers who helped us at the Central Civic Hall that was the base of our project. They opened the boxes, unloaded the books, and filed the letters and messages enclosed by the senders. Then we began to sort and organize the books, following the advice of our experts on picture books.

On 4 April, three weeks after the quake, I first visited the disaster zone. Amid the rubble of the town of Yamada I came upon a young Buddhist priest wearing only straw sandals even as snow continued to fall. Desperately wanting to do something, he had come, determined at least to pray for the dead. He was not even sure how helpful that was, but still he kept on praying in those wretched streets of broken homes, washed out streets, and burned out workplaces. All he could do was pray, he said, but he would walk the whole length of the long, convoluted coastline of Iwate. At night he faced the ocean, which had claimed the lives of so many, and after a deep bow, raised his voice high, chanting a sutra for the repose of their souls. My encounter with that young priest was a blessing, an experience I will never forget.

The tsunami washed away schools and libraries. In some cities, even the mayor and members of the city hall staff were caught up in the deadly tide. The children said nothing, but I could see how bravely they understand the situation. On the day I visited a day care center, there was a little girl in a pink shirt who did not join the circle of children listening to a story, and while the others played happily, sat alone, gazing at the floor. She was one of the children waiting for a mother who would never return. All I could do was to take my chair over and sit next to the girl in the pink shirt. I wanted her to know she was not alone.

When we invited the children to pick a book they liked to keep, they began to search through the boxes. One boy kept on searching for one of his favorite books, and when he found it, he clasped it dearly as he left. I realized that the children were searching for their favorite picture books they had read at home, kindergarten or day care before the tsunami.

About a year after the tsunami, on the 5th of February, I visited Rikuzen Takata, a large city that suffered massive damage. I visited the school gymnasium. It had been designated as an evacuation center in case of emergency, but the 200 people who had fled there were caught up in the tsunami and whirled around as if in a huge washing machine. Except for two or three, almost all had died. Although a year had passed, the city still had buildings crammed with upside down automobiles washed along by the tsunami and tangled rubble everywhere. There I found a small stuffed animal lodged in the sand. Somehow unwilling to just leave it there, I wrapped it in a handkerchief and took it home. A cute pink figure of a cow, it had a broken bell around its neck. It must have belonged to a small girl. Thinking of the fate of that little girl, I keep the little pink cow on my windowsill.

With support from IBBY and many others, our Ehon Project Iwate has launched six Picture Book Car mini-bookmobiles. In the disaster zone are a number of people whose homes were not damaged in the disaster who have set up small bunko home libraries. The vehicles are small so they can pass along narrow roads and streets, and the managers of the home libraries can easily drive them. They are equipped with winter-use tires and even insurance policies.

This year, in order to provide information and encouragement for these home libraries, we started regular gatherings in Morioka centering on picture books called “Picture Book Rendezvous” (Ehon Salon). By offering various enjoyable events and a place for networking, we hope to support the endeavors of people devoted to bringing books to children in communities throughout Iwate.

We have decided to continue this project for 10 years, helping the people managing bunko libraries in their homes along the Iwate coastline. By then, the city offices, libraries, and schools that were destroyed in the disaster will have been rebuilt and restored to some extent.

In closing, I would like to ask you to listen to a song. It is a song about finding hope in the midst of despair and about what we want to leave to our children. All sorts of people are singing—actors and actresses, singers, television entertainers, professional sports people—all of them with roots in the disaster zone. The recording was originally part of an NHK program, but for this IBBY Congress we have prepared a special version with English translation by Roger Pulvers. The song gives us a visible sense of the meaning of hope and shows that we have taken up the torch to carry on for those who have died.

We think of the many children throughout the world who suffer in many different ways, even without destructive earthquakes and tsunami. For those children as well, we must sustain hope through our commitment to children’s books.

PaperTigers’ Global Voices: Richa Jha (India) ~ Part 3 of 3

Wednesday, December 5th, 2012

It’s been our privilege to have Indian writer, editor and blogger Richa Jha as our guest blogger for the past two weeks. Today we present the final part in her three part series:

Reader-less Books: Reading Habits of Indian Children ~ by Richa Jha

If  you haven’t read the previous entries, you can get caught up by reading  Part 1 here  and Part 2 here. In today’s post Richa addresses some of the reasons on why Indian youth may not be reading books written by Indian authors.

We can’t see them

Our books get lost in the sea of international books on the bookshelves at the stores, especially when there are tens of series vying for attention. A single spine in the middle of it is no show. Some of the bookstores do have dedicated shelves or sections for Indian authors, but the traffic is thin there. Children’s books continue to figure low on most publishing houses’ agenda. The lack of the necessary promotional push for these books from their side affects their visibility. So does the media’s cool shrug at most of these books. The bookstores aren’t too enthusiastic either to back the Indian authors as they don’t see them moving off the shelf much. This chicken-egg situation only compounds the general feeling of apathy that the Indian authors sense towards their work, in general, from all sides.

Let’s blame it on our parents!

My generation of parents grew up on a staple diet of Enid Blyton and Edward Stratemeyer (creator of Hardy Boys and Nancy Drew), and for most, that fodder lies frozen in time. An essential rites of passage, we expect to see our children reading these. Most parents shy away from even exploring the Indian-Author shelves at bookstores.

At the same time, we do have a new (but small) breed of parents who are keen to introduce their children to the growing world of Indian YA fiction. But while the parents take care to buy these books, most children are reluctant to explore them. Buying, therefore, isn’t always enough. A possible way to get our kids interested in them would be to explore the book together. I remember sitting with my son a couple of years ago and reading aloud a relatively unknown gem by Ranjit Lal, The Red Jaguar on the Mountain. By the end of the first chapter, he was hooked and came back later to say, ‘The book is so cool!’

Things can only get better from here. Last month, India’s first zombie fiction for young adults, Zombiestan by Mainak Dhar hit the shelves (the second one by him is due for a release soon). Payal Dhar’s There’s a Ghost in My PC, Oops the Mighty Gurgle by RamG Vallath and The Deadly Royal Recipe by Ranjit Lal – all for middle schoolers slated for release soon – promise to be a hell of an adventure-and-fun packed reads. There’s visible promotion around them and the publishers and the authors seem to be having fun talking about their books. Don’t stop me from turning up that bubbly voice inside me that’s humming now-these-are-what-our-children-will-go-grab. Out of choice. Ahem! Amen.

Richa Jha is a writer and editor and, like many of us, nurtures an intense love for picture books. In her words:

I love picture books, and want the world to fall in love with them as well. My blog Snuggle With Picture Books is a natural extension of this madness. The Indian parents, teachers and kids are warming up to loads and loads of Indian picture books beginning to fill up the shelves in bookshops. It’s about time we had a dedicated platform to it. The idea behind the website is to try and feature every picture book (in English) out there in the Indian market. Usually, only a few titles end up getting talked about everywhere, be it because of their true merit, or some very good promotion, or some well-known names associated with them. There are many other deserving titles that get left out in the visibility-race. This website views every single book out there as being deserving of being ‘seen’ and celebrated.

PaperTigers’ Global Voices: Richa Jha (India) ~ Part 2 of 3

Wednesday, November 28th, 2012

Reader-less Books: Reading Habits of Indian Children ~ by Richa Jha

Part 2 of 3. (Read Part 1 here.)

There can be no one reason for the disinterest or the disconnect. But in most cases, it’s a combination of some of these factors below:

Are these stories for us?

We have consistently failed to write what our teenagers want to read. There is a commendable cultural, historical, socio-political and emotional depth in the kind and range of issues being tackled in the Indian YA books (terrorism, war, riots, child abuse, female infanticide). But unless having lived through these experiences, they are unlikely to grab a young adult’s attention. Where are the real here-and-now YA concerns of first love, sexual awakening, the tempting world of drugs and alcohol, pressures to perform or self discovery? Or, the gripping fantasy tales of good versus evil, written in blood as the adolescent battles the demons within and around? We are yet to create a genuinely pan-India super hero. Samit Basu’s Turbulence is the closest we can get to in this genre. India has just four or five good fantasy writers, and just as many who can write a light entertaining breezer. It’s about time our YA writing started loosening up.

Do we know them?

Reading is a natural progression from one stage to another. A first or second grader is hungry for books. The middle schoolers and young adults of today grew up with very few Indian titles available to them when they were younger, other than the more involved renditions of illustrated mythological tales and folk lore. That’s where the Enid Blyton books and the series like Bailey School Kids, Horrid Henry and Magic Tree House slipped in (and continue to slip in) to fill this natural gap. Before we know it, Geronimo has invaded the book shelves, and soon, there is a deluge of Potter and Wimpy Kid in the house. In the smaller towns, Hardy Boys and Nancy Drew almost exclusively continue to hold sway over young minds. Try putting an Indian YA fiction in the teenager’s hand at this stage; you must be kidding if you expected success!

We like one, we want all:

A corollary to the previous point is the lack of series in India. A few do come to mind, like Payal Dhar’s A Shadow in Eternity Trilogy and Subhadra Sengupta’s Adventures of Foxy Four for young adults, or G S Dutt’s Adventures of Nikki for middle schoolers and Roopa Pai’s Taranauts for kids little younger than them. But these are few and far between. A good enough start, yes, but certainly not enough to feed the hunger of a book-devouring generation.

I’ll look like a dork if I read that Indian book while my friends read other cool books:

Did I hear someone say peer pressure? {to be continued on Dec. 5th}

Richa Jha is a writer and editor and, like many of us, nurtures an intense love for picture books. In her words:

I love picture books, and want the world to fall in love with them as well. My blog Snuggle With Picture Books is a natural extension of this madness. The Indian parents, teachers and kids are warming up to loads and loads of Indian picture books beginning to fill up the shelves in bookshops. It’s about time we had a dedicated platform to it. The idea behind the website is to try and feature every picture book (in English) out there in the Indian market. Usually, only a few titles end up getting talked about everywhere, be it because of their true merit, or some very good promotion, or some well-known names associated with them. There are many other deserving titles that get left out in the visibility-race. This website views every single book out there as being deserving of being ‘seen’ and celebrated.

PaperTigers’ Global Voices: Tarie Sabido (Philippines) ~ Part 2

Wednesday, June 13th, 2012

Watch Out for New Young Adult Literature from the Philippines! ~ by Tarie Sabido

Part 2 of 3 (read Part 1 “Best Reads from the Philippines at the 3rd Asian Festival of Children’s Content” here)

In the Philippines, very young readers have many excellent local picture books to choose from, but it’s slim pickings for young adult readers. There just hasn’t been a lot of young adult literature (excellent or not) published in the country. So when young Filipino readers grow up, they turn to young adult literature from the US, the UK, Australia, and other countries.

The good news is that Philippine young adult literature is slowly growing. The local publishing industry is starting to recognize the desire for much, much more young adult literature with Philippine content. Just last month, Summit Media launched Kwentillion, a bi-monthly young adult science fiction and fantasy magazine that includes comics, short fiction, book reviews, writer and artist features, resources for young writers and artists, and much more. Co-editors Paolo Chikiamco and Budjette Tan have put together an entertaining and eye-opening first issue with stories of Philippine mythical creatures, monster-fighting plumbers, comic book superheroes, alternate histories, and deep space-swimming Filipinos, along with previews of young adult science fiction and fantasy novels, an article on fan fiction, interviews with two rock stars of the Philippine comic book world, a directory of Filipino artists to follow, an art tutorial, and a primer on folk magic.

I wrote an article for Kwentillion about the need for more Filipino young adult literature. It’s important for Filipino teens to read stories from around the world, but it’s even more important for them to read local stories. Young adult literature is about being relevant to teens, and context and distance matter when it comes to relevancy. It isn’t enough for Filipino teens just to know through stories that there are others who share their problems, concerns, hopes, and dreams. They need to know that other teens going through very similar emotional journeys are around them every single day, on buses and trains with them, in their churches and neighborhoods, at the same schools and malls.

Filipino teens can now look forward to books like Horror: Filipino Fiction For Young Adults, an anthology of horror stories edited by Dean Alfar and Kenneth Yu, to be published by the University of the Philippines Press. Flipside Publishing will soon release four young adult e-books: the first two installments of a paranormal romance series by A.S. Santos (tentatively entitled The Voices in the Theater and The Corpse in the Mirror); The Woman in the Frame, an art mystery and historical romance by Raissa Falgui; and The Viewless Dark, a paranormal mystery by Eliza Victoria. Other Philippine publishers also have young adult books in the pipeline. I can’t wait! This may seem like a very small number of books compared to other young adult markets, but this is the most number of Philippine young adult books to be published in recent years. This is something to be excited about.

Fans of young adult literature, especially Filipino teens, please watch out for many more stories that feature Filipino settings, culture and heritage, legends and folktales, creatures, characters, and more!

Tarie Sabido is an English teacher and editor in the Philippines. She blogs about children’s and YA books at Into the Wardrobe and Asia in the Heart, World on the Mind, and writes for Kwentillion, the Philippines’ first YA science fiction and fantasy magazine. Tarie was a judge for the 4th Children’s and Young Adult Bloggers’ Literary Awards (CYBILS) and the 1st Philippine National Children’s Book Awards.

We are thrilled to have Tarie join us as PaperTigers’ Global Voices Guest Blogger for the month of June. Part 1 of her series “Best Reads from the Philippines at the 3rd Asian Festival of Children’s Content” was posted here. Part 3 will be posted  on June 20th.

PaperTigers’ Global Voices: Tarie Sabido (Philippines)~ Part 1

Wednesday, June 6th, 2012

Best Reads from the Philippines at the 3rd Asian Festival of Children’s Content ~ by Tarie Sabido

Part 1 of 3.

(You can read Part 2 here and Part 3 here)

May 26 to 29 was the 3rd Asian Festival of Children’s Content (AFCC) in Singapore, and this year the festival highlighted children’s books from the Philippines! The Philippine booth at the festival showcased the six winners of the 1st Philippine National Children’s Book Awards along with other fiction and nonfiction picture books from leading Philippine publishers Tahanan Books, Adarna House, Bookmark, Lampara Books, Anvil, and CANVAS. I am very happy and proud to report that visitors to the booth oohed and aahed over all the book illustrations!

One of the featured panel discussions at the AFCC was “Trajectories and Themes in Children’s Literature from the Philippines,” with the popular and award-winning children’s book creators Russell Molina (Philippines), Jomike Tejido (Philippines), Candy Gourlay (UK/Philippines), and Isabel Roxas (US/Philippines). With joy and verve, Russell, Jomike, Candy, and Isabel set up for the audience a window to the Philippine children’s literature scene. Russell announced that it was more fun writing children’s books in the Philippines because the entire community loves stories and participates in storytelling. Some of the stories the Filipino community loves to share are about our modern-day heroes: hardworking overseas Filipino workers and the families they support in the Philippines. Jomike introduced the wide variety of illustrations for Philippine traditional picture books (legends and folk tales), contemporary picture books, informative picture books, and pop picture books (urban culture-based picture books). In the Philippines, illustrations for children include everything from fine art that also appeals to adults and intricate collage, to abstract art and digital work this is e-book and app-ready.

Candy told the story of how she learned that she shouldn’t write what she knows, she should write who she is! For years, Candy wrote stories that did not feature the Philippines or Filipino characters. These stories were all rejected by publishers in the UK and she was not published until she realized that being Filipino was part of what made her an interesting writer, and that a story with a distinctly Filipino perspective is a special story. Lastly, Isabel talked about her advantages and disadvantages as a Filipino illustrator in the US. Her advantages include the Internet as a great equalizer, all the uncovered territory in picture books, and of course, her unique Filipino point of view. Her disadvantages include her lack of a network in the US, greater competition, and readers’ lack of exposure to Philippine culture. Fortunately, the whole world now has greater interest in Asian languages and cultures, due in no small part to all the excellent and exciting talent coming from Asia. Talents like Russell, Jomike, Candy, and Isabel!

Other AFCC sessions with Filipino speakers were: Jomike’s fun paper folding workshop, Isabel’s very helpful tips for beginning illustrators, Candy’s presentation on how she used myth and magic in her successful debut novel Tall Story, popular blogger Blooey Singson’s presentation on the art and science of writing online and print book reviews, and Dr. Myra Garces-Bacsal’s lectures on picture book selection and how the book blogging network can be used as a classroom resource.

If you are curious about the joi de vivre and diverse talents of Filipino authors and illustrators, please check out our children’s books online – and at the Philippine booth at next year’s AFCC!

I leave you with Candy’s wonderful “Filipino heavy” AFCC video:

Tarie Sabido is an English teacher and editor in the Philippines. She blogs about children’s and YA books at Into the Wardrobe and Asia in the Heart, World on the Mind, and writes for Kwentillion, the Philippines’ first YA science fiction and fantasy magazine. Tarie was a judge for the 4th Children’s and Young Adult Bloggers’ Literary Awards (CYBILS) and the 1st Philippine National Children’s Book Awards.

We are thrilled to have Tarie join us as PaperTigers’ Global Voices Guest Blogger for the month of June. Part 2 of her series will be posted here on the blog on June 13th and Part 3 on June 20th.