Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Singapore Connections, part 2

The historic Arts House, Singapore's first court and former Parliament house, was the venue for the inaugural Asian Festival of Children's Content (AFCC) from 6 - 9 May 2010. The Festival consisted of four different programme strands: Asian Children's Writers and Illustrators Conference, Asian Children's Publishers Syposium, Asian Primary and Preschool Teachers Congress, and Asian Parents Forum. Writers, illustrators, publishers, distributors, parents, institutional buyers, literary agents, and multimedia producers of children's content--we were all tripping over each other, talking to and past and around each other, going to book launches and readings, speaking on panels, moderating panels, and in general wearing ourselves out in this very good cause.

My talks/panels (thank you to librarian, writer, and blogger Tarie for the pictures!)

Local Content, Global Appeal, all about creating the kinds of books I care about, the ones that cross geographical and cultural boundaries with ease and flair. Books I'm always telling my VCFA students they need to include in their bibliographies. Speaking of which I picked up some new gems in the book exhibit area. Shamini Flint, Jessie Wee, Jin Pyn Lee: voices new to my ears, and I can't wait to pore over their work.

Many Windows: How to Co-Write Across Cultures and Countries
, in which Rukhsana Khan and I talked about the work we did with Elisa Carbone in crafting a set of interlinked middle grade stories. One of those sessions that felt more like a coffee-shop conversation.

Insider's Guide to Getting Published
. Now those of you who know me can tell this is not the kind of topic that makes me want to dance, exactly. But my little piece of the panel was about craft, and getting work to the point where it's fit to be read, which I have managed to learn a thing or two about over the years, in spite of myself. Others on the panel: Anushka Ravishankar author of one of my all-time favorite picture books, Tiger On a Tree, spoke about editorial expectations. Paul Kooperman had us in stitches with his autobiographical account of how poets can be sold (indeed!) and passion can meet opportunity. Holly Thompson author of the YA novel Orchards, talked about the rollercoaster ride of contracts and publication. Agent Mita Kapur moderated our discussion with insight and a clear passion for the work we all do.
I also got to moderate a couple of sessions. It didn't feel at all "moderate" because I introduced Christopher Cheng, about whose note-taking and research there is nothing moderate! In addition to his museum research (the image of a single basket stays indelibly with me) Chris shared anecdotes, family history and tales of early Chinese immigration to Australia, all fodder for his historical novels and chapter books. It was such a pleasure to carry the conversation further at breakfast and then again briefly at the closing reception. Stay in touch, Chris!

And finally I got to introduce two researchers and teacher-educators who shared the plenary session of the Asian Primary and Preschool Teachers Congress, Dr. Chitra Shegar and Dr. Antonia Chandrasegaran. What they had to say about teaching reading and writing had everything to do with paying attention to the process, looking for what works, and above all trusting children. A call for teaching over testing, it was a marvelous note on which to end the conference.

And there's more. There will have to be a Part 3 or even 4 to catch it all, and I'll probably still miss something. Next up, my visits to two campuses of the Global Indian International School.


  1. keep in touch ... you bet.
    how lovely it was meeting you in Singapore. we have lots to exchange and chit chat about now!!!

  2. Oh, sounds like a lovely trip and festival. My dream to go for next time.