Inspiration from the 3rd Asian Festival of Children's Content

Sunday, June 17, 2012
All of the sessions I attended at this year's Asian Festival of Children's Content (AFCC) inspired me to read more, blog more, teach more, and generally work more for children and teens and the books they enjoy. But three of the sessions in particular really hit me hard!


Applying Asian Folktales and Fine Art Traditions to Picture Books
Presenter: Yoko Yoshizawa, Illustrator, Japan


During Yoko Yoshizawa's presentation, I was reminded of what I live for: creative people and their work and sharing their work. I was so amazed by Yoko's love for and dedication to folktales, folk art, and naive art. Some countries or cultures cannot publish their folktales or art because of political or economic reasons, and Yoko works hard, even uses her personal funds, to introduce some of these tales and art to Japan through children's picture books.

When she discovers a great folktale and is impressed by the folk art or naive art in its place of origin (for example Chiang Mai, Thailand), she lives in the place to study how the people dress and behave, and what they do and use in their daily lives. She also pays a local artist to make paintings to accompany the folktale.

To be clear, Yoko does all this without the promise or support of a publisher. She works to have a folktale translated, written, and illustrated, and afterwards tries to find a Japanese publisher.

Yoko got malaria from one of her trips and had to stay in the hospital for a month. She almost died! But that is not going to stop her from visiting more countries (the next place, I believe, is Bhutan) to do research on their folktales and art.

At the end of her presentation, Yoko even asked the audience to share information about the folktales and art in their countries.


Writing for the Muslim Community
Presenter: Rukhsana Khan, Author, Canada


Many stories with Muslim characters written by non-Muslim writers are guilty of condescension or of being "poverty porn" (stirring strong feelings of sympathy in readers to make them feel like they are so much better off in life).

But yes, someone not Muslim can write a universal story with authentic Muslim characters, because sometimes it takes an outsider to see what is interesting about a culture! Rukhsana Khan delivered a very honest, personal, and impassioned talk about how to do this. Even as a Muslim writer born in Pakistan, she still made mistakes when writing about Muslims in Afghanistan, so she cautioned the audience to truly suspend their identity and write within - not fight - the parameters of the Muslim culture they are writing about. For the time you are writing, you should take on the values of that culture. One practical way to do this is to write about the things in the culture that you already agree with!

None of this is easy to do, but Rukhsana's talk was truly moving and encouraging. I hope there will be more good stories with Muslim characters as a result!


Across Borders: Picture Books for All
Presenter: Suzy Lee, Illustrator, Korea/Singapore


At the beginning of her keynote speech, the genius Suzy Lee declared that picture books are special because of the children, not because of the pictures or the author. We find the most valuable things in children, and children are always closer to the essence of the truth.

Suzy's beautiful speech was about the border theme in her series of wordless picture books, also known as the Border Trilogy: Wave, Mirror, and Shadow. The books are about possibilities and a child's imagination. The gutter in the books serves as the border between fantasy and reality, between what is illusion and what is real. This border doesn't really matter to children and they recklessly travel back and forth. Or you can say that they play on a blurred border.

As wordless picture books, the Border Trilogy are on the border between words and images. Consider also that with today's technology, letters and words can be manipulated as images, for example they can be stretched. The Border Trilogy can be enjoyed by readers of all ages, so they are on the border between children and adults. The books are also on the border between the old and the new, as they were released during a transitional period in publishing (from purely print publishing to more digital publishing).

I seriously wanted to break down and cry while Suzy was speaking. This was my absolute favorite presentation at this year's AFCC because it didn't just inspire me to read and study more picture books, or enjoy and love picture books more. It inspired me to LIVE and be like the children who travel recklessly between fantasy and reality.

Call for Papers: Literature, Media, and the Romance of Childhood (Quezon City, the Philippines)

Saturday, June 16, 2012
Literature, Media, and the Romance of Childhood: States of Innocence and the Business of Frightening Our Children, an interdisciplinary conference for early career researchers and postgraduates

MA/MS/PhD students and independent researchers are welcome.

When: Tuesday, August 21, 2012 (9 a.m. - 6 p.m.*) and Wednesday, August 22, 2012 (10 a.m. - 4 p.m.)

Where: The University of the Philippines-Diliman, Quezon City (specific rooms to be announced)

We welcome 250- to 300-word abstracts from postgraduates and early career researchers who would like to contribute 20-minute papers to a two-day conference at the University of the Philippines-Diliman.

Paper topics include but are not limited to:

children's literature
innocence and experience
the sexualization of children in literature and in the media
the gothic imagination and the literature of horror
conduct literature and media didacticism
maternity, paternity, and parenting
the Harry Potter phenomenon and relevant popular literature
eroticism in literary material for children and teens
laws for the protection of children
the infantilization of women in print and visual culture, film, and/or music
anxieties of masculinity and sexual offense
parents' responses to the hyperreal and the hyper-connected world
the social impact of niched cable and TV channels for children
ante-natal parenting programs at hospitals and the economics/politics of childcare
publishing for children
omnigamy, polyamorous partnerships, the neo-nuclear family, the child-raising village
pictures/images/movements of health, illness, and rehabilitation
population and crowding, playgrounds and spaces
fashion, ethics, aesthetics for restless, disaffected, and/or anti-social youth
publishing conduct literature for the 21st century

The first day of the conference aims to bring together researchers and practitioners engaged in the fields of Childhood Studies, Gothic Literature, Media Studies, Gender Studies, Early Childhood Development, Women's Health, Visual Arts and Mass Media, Children's Literature, Publishing for Children, Child Protection Services, Social Work, Community Development, and other related areas. It is hoped that the interdisciplinary nature of the conference opens up the terrain to a multitude of issues, topics, and theories surrounding Philippine and international perspectives on childhood and children's texts in various media.

The second day of the conference features artists, illustrators, publishers, bloggers, and other practitioners who have had years of experience in producing and reviewing reading material for children. Blogger-teacher Tarie Sabido chairs and moderates this round-table discussion.

All are welcome. Free admission for non-readers. Paper-readers can register at the door**.

Email 250- to 300-word abstracts and 50-word author bios to romchild@orange.net

Deadline for abstract submissions: Monday, July 23, 2012

Conference website: to be posted at a later date


*Wine reception follows a tour of the Main Library Reading Rooms and archives

**Registration fee for conference packet photocopies

Miscellany 6-14-2012

Thursday, June 14, 2012
* This is my second guest blog post for PaperTigers. Please read it to find out about some new Philippine young adult literature. =D

* Click here to read about a possible international book bloggers meetup. If it happens, I'll definitely be there!

* Fantastic news! Tu Books has announced the first annual New Visions Award. The New Visions Award will be given for a middle grade or young adult fantasy, science fiction, or mystery novel by a writer of color. The winner receives a cash grant of $1000 and a standard publication contract with Tu Books. An honor winner will receive a cash grant of $500. Click here for more details. I look forward to reading the winning novels!

Book Shopping in Singapore

Saturday, June 9, 2012


Every year, the Asian Festival of Children's Content (AFCC) in Singapore sets up a wonderful bookstore for the festival attendees. This year, the bookstore was the best it's ever been because it was run by Bookaburra, a specialist children's bookseller in Singapore that believes in "good books and even finer children." There was a greater variety of the latest children's and young adult books from all over the world and the people from Bookaburra were doing a great job hand-selling. This, of course, was dangerous for the wallets of all the festival attendees!


While in Singapore for the AFCC, I made sure to visit Woods in the Books, an independent picture book shop for all ages. The shop had a well-curated collection of new and classic board books, picture books, comics, and graphic novels from around the world. The Sunday afternoon I was there, there were so many customers: artists, families with very small children, and young professionals (I could even hear them talking about the books they were reading). Very heartening!

When in Singapore, please make sure to visit Bookaburra and Woods in the Books. Or you can wait for the 4th Asian Festival of Children's Content (May 25-28, 2013). That's okay, too. ;o)

Best Reads from the Philippines at the 3rd Asian Festival of Children's Content

Friday, June 8, 2012
I am PaperTiger's guest blogger for the month of June! For my first PaperTigers post, I report on how the Philippines was the country focus of this year's Asian Festival of Children's Content (AFCC). Please click here to read my report!


A week after the AFCC ended, the Philippine delegates already missed each other (and the delegates from other countries!), so we decided to have a little reunion. Over Mexican food and drinks, Tahanan Books editor Frances Ong, author Russell Molina, blogger and illustrator Blooey Singson, author-illustrator Jomike Tejido, author Candy Gourlay (through FaceTime because she was in the UK!), and I reminisced on the AFCC and planned on hanging out together much more often. Adarna House marketing officer Vanessa Estares and illustrator Isabel Roxas were with us in spirit!



I am so proud of the success of the Philippine booth and the Philippine speakers at the AFCC! And I congratulate the organizers of the AFCC for the success of the entire event!

Singapore's LiyanaLand

Friday, June 1, 2012
I'm back from the 3rd Asian Festival of Children's Content (AFCC)! One of the highlights of the AFCC this year was meeting Singaporean YA book blogger Liyana (LiyanaLand). We were derping all over the hotel lobby and fangirling over YA authors and K-pop!



Do check out her blog. . . And Asian bloggers, Liyana and I want a blogger meet up during next year's AFCC! What say you? =D