I attended several interesting and helpful sessions at the 2011 Asian Festival of Children's Content (AFCC) in Singapore - which was a combination of the Asian Children’s Writers and Illustrators Conference, the Asian Children’s Publishers Symposium, the Asian Primary and Preschool Teachers Congress, and the Asian Children’s Media Summit - but these were my favorites (aside from these sessions of course):
* I attended two super organized and super informative presentations by Kelly Sonnack, children's and young adult literature agent at Andrea Brown Literary Agency, Inc.. In "The Role of an Agent and De-mystifying the Publishing Process, Cradle to Grave," Kelly explained everything from the roles and responsibilities of a literary agent to the typical path a manuscript takes to publication and the main deal points in a publishing contract. Very enlightening! In "The Children's Market: What Has Changed and What Sells Now," Kelly spoke in detail about market trends, in the U.S., in picture books, middle grade novels, and young adult novels. She gave the audience a lot to chew on!
* I learned something very important from author and illustrator Yangsook Choi when she was speaking on creativity ("The Illustrator Who Wants to Write"): You can command your passion. I never thought of passion in that way and had an epiphany when Yangsook was talking about how the pet dog you love will come to you when you call for him, and similarly, your passion will come to you when you call for it.
* Now, before I go on, you HAVE to watch this short film. You HAVE to.
That has got to be my favorite short film ever. Wasn't that just an amazing, educational, and moving piece of storytelling? It's such a sad and beautiful and important story, and such an excellent, impressive collaboration between traditional art and technology.
The most inspiring session I attended at the 2011 AFCC was Nina Sabnani's "Illustrating in the Digital Age," where Nina shared the creative process behind "Mukand and Riaz" and her other animated documentaries.
I was stunned by the genius of Nina and the other wonderful people she worked with, and by the power of "Mukand and Riaz."
Radhika Menon, managing editor of Tulika, was in the audience and spoke a bit about how Tulika adapted "Mukand and Riaz" into a children's book. (Why am I not surprised that innovative Tulika published "Mukand and Riaz"? =D In my notes from Nina's presentation I have written "I love you, Tulika.")
* I loved the positive outlook the Asian Children’s Publishers Symposium had toward digital technology and the need for publishers to diversify and publish across multiple platforms in order to survive and thrive in today's market. Content is still king when it comes to stories for children, but now we share those stories not just through books but also through TV shows, apps, merchandise, games, videos, and much much more.
* Children's technology reviewer Warren Buckleitner was a speaker at last year's Festival and I was very happy to see him again this year. I love how he gives a survey of the latest apps for children and engages his audience. From Warren's sessions at this year's Festival I saw that the best apps for children's books added value to and made books more interactive - without detracting from the stories and the beautiful language used to tell those stories.
Look! Here's a picture of Warren taking a picture of me taking a picture of him!
* One of the useful sessions from the Asian Primary and Preschool Teachers Congress was Professor Chitra Shegar's "Boys and Reading." Professor Shegar shared insights from her five case studies of the reading habits of boys and their pedagogical implications. It was fascinating stuff - some of which I was able to apply in my own classroom as soon as I was back in the Philippines!
* The very best thing about the 2011 AFCC?
The AFCC is a great venue for networking and I was really happy to be able to spend more time with my friends in the industry and make new friends and connections. Also, I am a READER first and foremost, and the fangirl in me was squealing all throughout the Festival because I was surrounded by warm, sweet, talented, and truly admirable authors, illustrators, editors, publishers, and educators from all over the world - all passionate about and dedicated to creating quality content for children.
To my AFCC family: I miss you! See you at next year's Festival. I've already blocked off the dates (May 26-29, 2012)!