Thursday, March 19, 2015

The Adventures of Squirky the Alien #3: Who is the Red Commander?

The third book of The Adventures of Squirky the Alien series is now out! I was at the book launch at Kinokuniya last Saturday and it was great to be able to attend it after missing out on the previous two. 

This is an action-packed book and opens with a bang! Emma and Squirky were accosted by an alien, the Red Sergeant immediately upon landing on Planet R. He took them to see their leader to determine what was to be done with them. It's quite an opening and I'm sure kids would be hooked from page 1. 

For the uninitiated, Squirky is a blue alien adopted by the Lee family on earth and Emma is his sister. Both of them are on a quest to look for Squirky's birth parents after they found out that he was adopted. 

Back to the book. I think it's really interesting when the reader discovers that the Red Commander that Red Sergeant brings them to turns out to be blue like Squirky! I'll leave you to read the rest of the story to find out what happens after.

I must say also that the illustrations really bring life to the characters. Well done David Liew!

It is notable that there are so many life lessons one can learn in this book. The main one I learnt is that one must, and can, face up to one's fears. That's a great life lesson a kid (or even an adult) can learn just by reading this book. 

Finally, the author includes some advice for parents who've adopted kids and a really useful question and answer guide to family and friends who might be curious about the details of the adoption process. It located at the end of the book, is really tactful and I think it's a great resource for parents. 

I loved Book 3 and can't wait for Books 4, 5 and the final Book 6! 

I would recommend all parents to buy this book, and the first two in the series to read to and with their children. For those without kids, like me, you could buy them for someone with kids, just like I did. I'm sure they'll enjoy it as much as I did. 

If you'd like to find out more about the books, you can click here which will take you to their official website. Although the website features the thoughts of the author on the topic of adoption more than information on the books, it is quite an interesting place to browse. Enjoy!

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Let me tell you something about that night by Cyril Wong

This book caught my eye at the library and so I borrowed it. If I had to summarize what it's about, I'd say it reads like a "Neil Gaiman lite" but that doesn't do it true justice. 

Set largely in Singapore, local readers will be able to identify with the setting and characters. However, the many short stories of fantastical tales have gay protagonists which is quite a refreshing and unsettling change to other short stories I've read. 

This is certainly not a book to be read to little kids as the author rightly warns in the front book flap. Unlike regular fairytales, these stories are much darker and not as straightforward. One is also sometimes left hanging, which is a great literary device, just that younger readers might not take to it easily.  

The strange and wonderful illustrations at the start of certain short tales by also add colour to the them. 

This collection of stories is most suitable for train or bus rides as you can finish one story at the end of your commute (unless you have an impossibly short trip to make). These stories are quite addictive and I ended up finishing the book in a single day. Keep 'em coming Cyril!

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

A luxury we cannot afford - An Anthology of Singapore Poetry edited by Christine Chia and Joshua Ip

After I picked up this book at Books Actually, a quick flip told me I had to get it. It was after all, a tribute to the most famous of our founding fathers - Lee Kuan Yew. Although it must be noted that the authors take special care not to mention his name. None of the 56 poems do, not even the Foreword which was written superbly by Gwee Li Sui. 

As with any anthology, there were a couple of poems that bewildered me. Multiple readings still left them opaque. It was quite frustrating to say the least. 

But the beautiful poetry that I could understand more than made up for those. I have a couple of favourites.

I would advise every Singaporean, and those interested in all things Singapore, to get this book and savour it. 

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Lost in Taipei - The travel diary of Amos Lee

Adeline Foo is such a great writer! I flipped open the book this afternoon and finished it an hour and a half later as I made a trip to Marina South Pier from my place and back. Okay now that I'm done gushing, let's get to the review proper. 

The wildly popular (200,000 copies have been sold according to the stat stated on the cover) series of "The Diary of Amos Lee" has been so popular that the 5th book in this series borrowed from the National Library Board (Serangoon branch) was quite tattered. It must have seen a lot of readers. 

This time, the protagonist Amos Lee ventures out of Singapore to Taipei on a secondary school cultural immersion trip. An adventure ensures not long after he gets there and I'm amazed how the author weaves in so much trivia on all things Taiwanese and still makes the story work. She is a genius. 

I love how Amos has a heart for animals and cringed and felt sick when a stall-holder in a street market chopped off the head of a turtle and left it wriggling for the bystanders to gawk at. 

I shall not post any spoilers here and would just advise you to read the book. It's a great book for kids, more relevant to the average Singaporean child than "Diary of a Wimpy Kid" and is pretty engaging for a young adult like myself too.