Part 2 ~ Project Splash! Asia to be unveiled next month at the Asian Festival of Children’s Content in Singapore!

Wednesday, April 17th, 2013

AFCC logoToday’s blog post on Project Splash! Asia is  Part 2 in a series. The article was originally posted on the AFCC website and has been reprinted here with permission of the festival organizer, The National Book Development Council of Singapore.

Message by Evelyn Wong, Partnership Director, AFCC
(Part 2 of 2. Read Part 1 here)

A collection of about 50 selected water themed books with Asian content will be exhibited at the Asian Festival of Children’s Content, AFCC2013, and the new titles will be donated to the National Library Board after the Festival. A review of the collection and bibliography of over 100 books will be published and launched together with the collection at the Festival. There will also be a special session during the Festival to share what we have learned from these stories. The bibliography, prepared in collaboration with the National Library, will be a resource for parents, teachers and libraries that will not only spark the imagination, creativity and pure joy of reading, but also inspire children to value the importance of water in our lives, to think about the challenges faced by children and families around the world, and to want to learn what we can do to make a difference.

When we shared the water-themed project we would be doing for AFCC2013 last year, the Singapore National Cooperative Federation (SNCF) welcomed us to join in a mass reading of “A Very Big Storm” written by Singapore children’s author Emily Lim, in celebration of International Year of the Cooperative Movement . The event, organised in collaboration with NTUC Seed Institute, NLB and 10,000 Fathers Reading, was a sight to behold and music to the ears! Coincidentally, water features in 3 of the 4 stories commissioned by SNCF to creatively and subtly teach children about the core values of the cooperative movement.

We were welcomed to contribute to the PUB Primary School Water Festival which aims to engage children in a fun way to treasure water and do their part to protect and conserve this precious resource, and collaborated with NLB to feature water-themed books. Children loved the story-telling session with “Little Otter Goes Fishing” by Emily Lim. Inspired by the children’s response, PUB’s H2O Competition this year will invite primary students to write their own stories, and we are looking forward to the winning stories and young Singapore writers.

Books drawn from Project Splash! Asia will provide a platform to engage students on the importance of water. We will also be linking to an online sustainability challenge created by Earthcheck and the Singapore Polytechnic that emphasises the practical aspects of sustainable conservation.

Besides the stories by Emily Lim, what will the collection and bibliography include? Will you and your children be interested in these stories? Do you like paper airplanes? Come join us at AFCC2013 for the launch of Project Splash! Asia, and let your imagination soar! Click here for the AFCC website!

Some titles that will be included in the Project Splash! Asia Collection of Children’s Picture Books


A Very Big Storm” and “Little Otter Goes Fishing” by award-winning Singaporean children’s author, Emily Lim

The Water Dragon – A Chinese Legend” retold in English and Chinese by Li Jian , the first book featured in PaperTigers online Illustrators Gallery from its Water theme Multicultural Children’s Books (click here to see the gallery and here to access the archived Water theme issue)

Wave” by internationally acclaimed Korean-American artist, Suzy Lee (click here to see PaperTigers’ gallery of her work)

2013 is the International Year of Water.

Monday, April 15th, 2013

The United Nations has declared 2013 as the International Year of Water. Celebrations are planned around the world Water-thmed multicultural children's books(click here to see photos from World Water Day celebrations held March 22) and community and school programs  in many countries plan to celebrate the Year with reading, performing and creating water-themed stories. Here are some suggestions on children’s books that can be incorporated into International Year of Water celebrations:

water drop

Check out PaperTigers’ Jan/June 2012 issue The Theme of Water in Multicultural Children’s Books. Interviews, author galleries, personal view pieces and annotated reading lists all centered on multicultural picture books with water at their heart.

water drop Water-themed children’s stories will be highlighted at the 2013 Asian Festival of Children’s Content next month in Singapore under the banner Project Splash Asia!  PaperTigers is working with The National Book Development Council of Singapore (NBDCS) and Dr. Myra Garces-Bacsal to compile a bibliography of Asian themed children’s stories with water content. Stay tuned to the blog and I’ll talk more about this project tomorrow.

water drop Tulika Books has announced that their award-winning anthology, Water Stories From Around The World, is now available as a free downloadable e-book!

Also from Tulika is the news that Vinood Lal Heera Eshwer’s newest book Let’s Catch the Rain has been released. The message in this book may be simple but is powerful; rainwater is free, pure and precious – we must save it. Visit to watch a film on rainwater harvesting and play a game based on the book.

water dropAlma Fullerton and Karen Patkau’s picture book A Good Trade has been receiving rave reviews since it was released in Canada in the Fall of 2012 and has been selected as a title for the  2013 White Ravens catelogue, a list of outstanding international books for children and young adults chosen annually by the International Youth Library in Munich.

In a small Ugandan village, Kato wakes early to start the long, barefoot trek beyond his village and along fields dotted with cattle and guarded by soldiers. His destination is the village well, where he will pump a day’s supply of water into two jerry cans. Like every day, Kato lets the water splash over his hot, tired feet before carrying his heavy load back home, where his chores await him. But this is no ordinary day. The aid-worker’s truck has come to the village square, and in the back is a gift so special, the little boy rushes home to look for something to repay the aid-worker.

Alma Fullerton’s spare, lilting prose tells a deceptively simple story of one day in a little boy’s life. But in a place ravaged by a generation of civil war and drought, a village well brings life, a gift of shoes is a cause for celebration, and a simple flower becomes an eloquent symbol of peace and gratitude.

WaterBridge Outreach, Water in Multicultural Children’s Books and Project Splash Asia!

Tuesday, November 27th, 2012

As 2012 draws to a close and I reflect on our website themes over the past year, one of my favorites was The Theme of Water in Multicultural Children’s Books . We decided to do this focus in part because of the crucial role that water plays in our WaterBridge Outreach project (WBO) which provides donations of new multicultural children’s books to schools and libraries, while engaging with local communities to obtain access to clean water in areas of need throughout the world. In his recent PaperTigers 10th Anniversary article,  Executive Director Dr. Peter Coughlan wrote about the history of PaperTigers and how WBO came to be:

The most recent development in the PaperTigers story is – alongside the main site and the blog, which continue through from the second and third phases – WaterBridge Outreach, as summed up in the phrase Books+Water: Nourishing the Mind and Body. This springs from the desire firstly, to put books into the hands of children, especially in areas of need around the world – multicultural books that children can enjoy and that help open young minds and hearts to the world beyond their immediate experience. Secondly, I have been lecturing for some time at a college of the University of London in the area of applied ethics and, specifically, about the challenges facing our world at the nexus of water, food and energy in the context of climate change/global warming. Literacy and reading yes, but the lack of clean water and basic sanitation is a significant impediment to education, especially the education of girls, in too many parts of the world. Thinking about this led to the decision to expand our programs in 2009/2010 under the banner of PaperTigers: Books+Water, thus including not only the PaperTigers site and blog but also the practical WaterBridge Outreach programs – books and water here being specific expressions of the insight that education and the meeting of basic human needs must move forward together.

Since WBO’s inception we have been involved in various water projects in :

Matènwa Community Learning Center ~ Lagonav, Haiti

Tamilnadu ViIlage Outreach (TVO) Tuition Schools ~ Tamilnadu, India 

and Kiphire, Nagaland, India

As we move into 2013 we hope to further develop our projects in the above-mentioned areas as well as look at the possible development of similar projects in Guatemala and South Sudan, and work with Navajo and Hopi colleagues in education about water and water needs in Native American areas of Arizona. Dr. Coughlan will be going to Nagaland and Tamil Nadu in December this year to develop our projects, and our Outreach Coordinator Theresa Gee will be going to Arizona. Writers Gail Tsukiyama and Mary Roach will be joining Dr. Coughlan in India – the beginnings of an initiative that Gail hopes to develop as Writers for WaterBridge Outreach.

Exciting news for the coming year is that 2013 has been declared the United Nations International Year of the Water! The year will highlight the history of successful water cooperation initiatives, as well as identify issues on water education, water diplomacy, transboundary water management, financing cooperation, national/international legal frameworks, and more!  Community and school programs in many countries will include reading, performing and creating water-themed stories. Water-themed children’s stories will also be highlighted at the 2013 Asian Festival of Children’s Content in Singapore under the banner Project Splash Asia!  PaperTigers is working with The National Book Development Council of Singapore (NBDCS) and Dr. Myra Garces-Bacsal to compile a bibliography of favourite water-themed children’s stories from or about the Asian region. If you have a title to suggest we would love to hear from you! Email me at corinne(at)papertigers(dot)org

2013 Asian Festival of Children’s Content Project Splash Asia!

Tuesday, June 26th, 2012

With our current PaperTigers issue focusing on the theme of Water in Multicultural Children’s Books and with water playing a crucial role in our Spirit of PaperTigers Outreach (read yesterday’s post to learn more), I was thrilled to learn that water-themed children’s stories will also be highlighted at next year’s Asian Festival of Children’s Content in Singapore!

Project Splash Asia! AFCC 2013

Next year will be the United Nations International Year of Water.

Community and school programmes in many countries will include reading, performing and creating water-themed stories.

Share your favourite stories that have water as a theme, such as Wave by Suzy Lee (California US: Chronicle Books, 2008), Amansinaya-Goddess of the Sea, by Eugene Evasco and Jomike Tejido (illustrator) (Philippines: LG&M, 2007), The Wakame Gatherers by Holly Thompson and Kazumi Wilds (illustrator) (California US: Shen’s Books, 2007), and Water Tales From Around the World (India: Tulika Publishers, 2010).

Project Splash Asia! aims to publish a bibliography and collection of favourite water-themed children’s stories from or about the region for AFCC 2013.

The National Book Development Council of Singapore (NBDCS) hopes the compilation of a bibliography of children’s stories around a universal theme will be a regular project for AFCC to showcase the diversity of talents and children’s literature in the region.

For suggestions and enquiries, please email

Spirit of PaperTigers Outreach ~ Books and Water: Nourishing the Mind and Body

Monday, June 25th, 2012

Over the past few months the PaperTigers’ website has been focusing on the theme of Water in Multicultural Children’s Books. We chose this theme in part because  it coincides with our Spirit of PaperTigers Outreach project. The Spirit of PaperTigers (SPT) Outreach seeks to further the overall goals of the PaperTigers Program: bridging cultures and opening minds, promoting greater understanding and empathy among young people from different backgrounds, countries, and ethnicities. More specifically, SPT outreach works to advance education through books and reading, and development through clean and accessible water.

Since 2009, the PaperTigers Program has put books into the hands of young readers through schools and libraries, encouraging literacy, developing understanding and making reading a lifelong habit.  Taking this work a step further, SPT outreach is seeking to ensure that, in areas where there is water stress or water scarcity, the children to whom the books are sent will have access to clean water and good sanitation. The possibility of effective education in certain parts of the world is linked to the basic realities of food and water.  By focusing on books and water together – nourishing both the mind and body – SPT continues to promote literacy and encourage children to become “hungry readers.”


Every year we send carefully chosen books to particular schools and libraries in various parts of the world. The books chosen seek to provide “multicultural” or “trans-cultural” stories that promote awareness of, knowledge about, and positive acceptance of “the other” in ways children can learn and enjoy. We are convinced of the crucial role of literacy and reading in an education that fosters understanding and empathy.

While many organizations are doing excellent work in getting books to children through schools and libraries in areas of need, the specific focus of the SPT outreach is, each year, not only to select a set of books whose content and focus enhance the goals of reading and literacy, but to engage in particular areas in water projects that assist a school/village to have access to clean water and sanitation. SPT’s first water projects have been successfully completed in Tamil Nadu, India, La Gonav, Haiti, and Kiphire, Nagaland, India with future water projects under consideration in Guatemala  and the USA.

In addition to working with others to provide access to clean water, SPT hopes to reduce the effects of such diseases as diarrhea, cholera, typhoid, and river blindness contracted through contact with unsafe water and poor sanitation, or malaria and dengue fever contracted through stagnant water, which continues to have devastating effects on health – particularly on children.  Without adequate sanitation, education remains a distant dream for many children. Particular focus will also be given to the education of girls, where their development is often seriously impeded by long exhausting hours transporting water each day to their homes from distant water sources – water sources that are often contaminated and used by animals and humans alike.

To learn more about SPT and to read feedback from the participants, click here to be taken to the Spirit of PaperTigers Outreach website.

PaperTigers Themes ~ Water in Multicultural Children’s Books

Monday, June 18th, 2012

Over the past few months the PaperTigers’ website has been focusing on  the theme of Water in Multicultural Children’s Books. If you haven’t visited the site lately do check it out and see what treasures we have compiled . Highlights include:

Interviews with:

Dutch photographer Taco Anema who tells us all about his project that took him around the world photographing children and water and resulted in his beautiful book Tales of Water.

Acclaimed author Linda Sue Park who talks with us about her award-winning book A Long Walk to Water.

The Illustrators’ Gallery which features the work of :

Acclaimed Indian artist Pulak Biswas.

Chinese artist Li Jian.

Water illustrations selected from previous PaperTigers Gallery features.

Personal Views:

A River of Stories: Water-Themed Stories for Multicultural Readers by Alice Curry (who we had a lovely chance meeting with at the 2012 Bologna Children’s Book Fair)

My Water Story by Deepa Balsavar

Book of the Month:

One Arm Point Remote Community School,
Our World: Bardi Jaawi, Life at Ardiyooloon

Magabala Books, 2010.

A stunning, encyclopaedic book put together by the children from the One Arm Point Remote Community School at Ardiyooloon in Western Australia, along with their School Culture Team, School Staff, and Community Elders, as well as others from the local community.

Be sure also to pay a visit to the PaperTigers Outreach site and find out all about our Spirit of PaperTigers project, seeking to further our goal of fostering empathy, understanding and peace, by focusing on books and water as ways of promoting education, literacy and development.

Week-end Book Review: The Water Dragon by Li Jian

Sunday, May 20th, 2012

Li Jian,
The Water Dragon
Better Link Press, 2012.

Ages: 4+

Every day Ah Bao collects firewood in the forest near his tiny mountain village.  He carries a small ax and a rice crock made from a gourd. One day, Ah Bao notices a shiny red pebble on the ground and puts it in his rice crock. As soon as he does this, the crock begins to shake and rattle, and before he knows it, the crock is overflowing with more rice than Ah Bao could ever eat.

When he gets home he realizes that the stone has the same effect on money!  Now Ah Bao and his neighbors are never hungry or poor, but it hasn’t rained in the village since he found the magic stone. Ah Bao places the stone inside a bucket of water in the hope that it will overflow, but instead, the stone absorbs all the water in the bucket.  The next day, Ah Bao goes in search of the water dragon he dreams about, hoping he will convince it to shower his village with water once again.

Along the way, Ah Bao meets several animals caught up in trying predicaments.  He helps each of them and is rewarded in turn.  Each animal also warns Ah Bao that he will soon meet “a greedy red monster.” Undaunted, Ah Bao moves on.  When he finally meets the monster, both Ah Bao and the reader are surprised at how he handles the situation and the turn of events that follows. Ah Bao becomes a hero, but not as we might have expected!

This remarkable book is experienced illustrator Li Jian’s first foray into writing his own picture book. The story was inspired by legends he heard his elders tell when he was a child.  The pictures, which combine Li’s classical training in Chinese painting with his talent for bringing fairy tales to life, are at least as compelling as the bilingual text (in English and simplified Chinese characters).  Ah Bao is both a courageous and humble hero with a big heart and a sense of responsibility. He will be admired by children and parents, who will doubtless look forward to Li Jian’s next solo offering.

Abigail Sawyer
May 2012

N.B. Li Jian’s illustration work is currently highlighted in PaperTigers’ Illustrator Gallery.

Weekend Book Review: Narmada: A pictorial journey down the river by Vidya Shah with photographs by Parthiv Shah

Sunday, May 6th, 2012

Vidya Shah, with photographs by Parthiv Shah
Narmada: A pictorial journey down the river
Pratham Books, India 2010
Age:  9 and up

In Narmada: A pictorial journey down the river, Vidya Shah uses a naming game played by two children and their grandmother as a segue to a wealth of ecological information. Nine-year-old Avni knows many more words than Aadi, age 5, and enjoys feeling superior. However, when the children realize how much Daadi knows about the Narmada river, their river-naming game turns into a story.

The Narmada is the third largest river in India and one of only three that flow east to west. Along its 300-kilometer route through a rift valley, many tribal cultures still endure deep poverty. The route is a popular pilgrimage path as well, with some ascetics taking two years to complete the round trip, up one side and down the other. Parthiv Shah’s appealing photographs–of temple steps down into the water, of brightly painted sails on narrow flat-bottomed boats, of long-boned, skinny boys leaping joyfully from a riverside cliff–bring the river culture beautifully alive.

Daadi tells Avni and Aadi about the damage sand mining does to the ground water table but also explains how mining sustains impoverished tribal villagers. Text boxes provide additional details, including regional trees and foods, a folk song about the river, and water-saving tips. One photograph depicting a farm is captioned “Domkhedi, now submerged under water following the construction of the Sardar Sarovan dam.” The book doesn’t explain that Domkhedi villagers became famous in 2000 for protesting the controversial dam construction, but mention of the village may stimulate young readers’ further investigation.

A map of the river and a fact sheet review are also provided. Non-Indian readers will find many challenging terms (samadhis, dargahs, ghats) in the story as well as a daunting number of Indian geographical names, but the photographs provide a bridge between the simple narrative structure and the sophisticated factual information. As an introduction to riparian culture in India and as an environmental research source for older children, text and images present an important ecological story.

Pratham Books, a Bangalore-based non-profit, publishes low-cost children’s books in eleven languages. Narmada: A pictorial journey down the river furthers their admirable goal: “A book in every child’s hand.”

Charlotte Richardson
May 2012

Week-end Book Review: Juan the Bear and the Water of Life / La Acequia de Juan del Oso

Saturday, May 5th, 2012

Enrique R. Lamadrid and Juan Estevan Arellano, illustrated by Amy Córdova,
Juan the Bear and the Water of Life / La Acequia de Juan del Oso
University of New Mexico Press, 2008.

Ages: 7+

The 19th century waterways that irrigate the Upper Mora Valley in New Mexico’s Sangre de Cristo Mountains are a marvel of engineering to this day. In places, the water seems to defy gravity, and no one is quite sure how the people who built them—lacking tools as basic as a metal-bladed shovel—accomplished it. Though the history of their construction is lost, stories about the dedicated pioneers who built them have evolved, through oral tradition, into regional legends presented here in picture-book form.

La Acequia de Juan del Oso comes from the story of “The Three Juanes”: the remarkably strong Juan del Oso, son of a local woman and a bear; Juan Mudacerros, who moves mountains; and Juan Mudarríos, who can change the course of rivers. Folklorists Enrique R. Lamadrid and Juan Estevan Arellano recognize similar characters in Spanish tradition, from which the acequia technology of the American Southwest is also derived. The super-human young men, all of them exiled from their communities as a result of unintentionally misusing their special strengths and powers, work together as only they can to bring the water up and over the mountain. Amy Córdova’s rich and colorful illustrations bring the landscape and characters to life in this story that is not only about the reward of hard work but also the pain of exclusion and the value of community.

The authors skillfully incorporate what is known about the building of the canals (such as rudimentary tools, including a half-empty brandy bottle used as a level) with the legend of the boy whose mother married a bear but is forced to return home. When an innocent swipe seriously injures another child, the half-bear Juan flees to the woods where he finds his welcoming father and the other legendary Juanes. Together they accomplish the work that enables the expanding village population to inhabit a valley on the other side of the mountain. This book brings both the folktale and the limited known history of the acequia together in a way that celebrates not only the past and the legends but also the people who live in the Mora Valley today who continue to make a beautiful life in this stark, arid, and high-altitude environment.

Abigail Sawyer
May 2012

Poetry Friday: Taco Anema and his Tales of Water: A Child’s View photographic project

Friday, March 30th, 2012



We have a new interview on the PaperTigers website, with Dutch photographer Taco Anema, the author of a superb book called Tales of Water: A Child’s View/Cuentos del agua: Una visión de un niño.  Taco travelled the world photographing children interacting with water; and he spoke to them about what water means to them – how they use it, their joys and their concerns.   Sponsored by the IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature), Taco visited at least one country in each of continents.  In the interview, Taco has given us some fascinating insight into the project and I urge you to read it.  In the meantime, for this Poetry Friday post, I want to share with you an unexpected aspect of the project:

In the book, as well as quotations from children about water, there are some poems typed over some of the photos. Can you tell us about them?

A little while ago, I read somewhere that an emotion hits the brain a thousand times faster than a word or a line of text. Photography is nothing but emotion, but regularly I find it hard to relate to the people in the picture. Sometimes it’s just not enough to know what they look like and to understand the situation they are in. I would still very much like to know something personal about them. And this is typically where the text comes in.

As mentioned earlier, we were very keen on recording the language children use to put their ideas, feelings and thoughts into words. That reinforces the message. So we talked extensively with them about their own experiences in their daily lives. Nobody had at that point thought of poems and the like.

Many people, teachers, parents, mayors and so on, attended our conversations and most likely – I can’t remember exactly – one of them suggested adding a poem by a well known poet or the lyrics of a local song. A really great idea. So we did. Together with the children we picked the ones they liked the best. The poems were important to the children. They suggested putting them in the book. So we did.

Isn’t that wonderful?  I love that poetry spontaneously became an integral part of the project.

And Taco has kindly given me permission to share some of his stunning photographs with you.  I hope you enjoy looking at them as much as I do, and then feel prompted to seek out the book, which has something in it for everyone, children and adults alike. And I should also point out that the text in the book is bilingual English-Spanish (and one of the reasons for that is mentioned in the interview…).

There is actually a pdf of the whole book on the IUCN website, here

This week’s Poetry Friday is hosted by Heidi at My Juicy Little Universe