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Thursday, 25 May 2017

Appreciating Asia - The AFCC in a lotus nut

There are over two billion children in Asia. That's approximately two billion potential little humans to reach with story, impact educationally and influence for tomorrow. Mind blowing, don't think? I do.

My home away from home - The Interlace, architecturally radical
As mind blowing as the Asian Festival of Children's Content from which I've just returned. Based in Singapore, this annual event encompassing over four distinct yet complementary conferences, 'promotes and celebrates the creation, development and appreciation of quality' children's content in a way I have never experienced before.

While the focus is understandably on Asian content and its creators, the flavour and vibe of the festival is undeniably international. I, along with a handful of other ANZ creators and industry personnel including Wai Chim, Briony Stewart, Lee Battersby, Kirsty Murray and Frances Plumpton, felt nothing but the quintessential open-armed warmth of Asian hospitality. In spite of the mind boggling number of delegates and presenters, every one had time for everyone else, or so it felt to me. An air of congeniality pervaded throughout the festival long after the aroma of our lunch time repasts faded.
My other home - the National Library Singapore
My week was packed with presenting, moderating sessions for others, launching The Fix-It Man to adoring Asian audiences, book signings and conducting pop-up readings.  I couldn't have asked for a more absurdly absorbing and satisfying week of kids' lit love.
Book Launch of The Fix-It Man in My Tree House, Central Library
The utterly delightful Far'ain Jaafar sharing our love of books
Although Singapore is a nation that favours high academic achievement and a strong moral code, there was an underlying and reoccurring desire that kept percolating to the top of each session and discussion;  that we must develop the social and emotional education of our children just as enthusiastically. This strong undercurrent to improve the quality and content of reading material for (Asian based) children was shared by teachers, librarians, education educators, kids' lit enthusiasts and publishers alike and was simultaneously heartening and frustrating to behold, for change does not come easily nor quickly. Nonetheless, without change, there can be no butterflies...nor Garudas - the legendary Indonesian mythical bird (Indonesia being the Country of Focus this year).

Pop-Up Reading of The Fix-It Man to fixated and weeping crowds
I'll detail some of the sessions I presented and moderated soon, for now here are a few pictorial tip bits to whet your appetite. You won't find any scenic shots here; previous trips to Singapore and conferencing 12 hours a day precluded any touristy intentions. Also, I seem to get sidetracked by the cuisine a lot these days, forgetting to snap digital reminders of my fellow delegates, but I hope you get the idea.
Closetful of Books' Denise Tan and Kelvin Ng were sales superstars
Opening Night Ceremony with James Mayhew paintforming with Rosemarie Somaiah
Frances Plumpton Literary Agent NZ
Festival Director, Kenneth Quek, Celebrating Our Stars in the Pod
View from the stunning 17th floor Pod atop the National Library Building
Gorgeous Singaporean illustrator, Melissa Tan aka Melt

My stash of Festival goodies and gifts. I had already scoffed all of Melissa's homemade bickies
Cake, the Books Actually bookshop cat. Don't touch his favourite titles
 I ended my sensational Singaporean sojourn with a few quick visits to some local bookshops.
http://www.woodsinthebooks.sg/
Next year promises to be even bigger and better with Singapore being the festival's Country of Focus. It is also the 50th Anniversary of the National Book Development Council of Singapore (NBDCS). And while I'd love to stick around for a Singapore Sling or two to celebrate that one, I may have to hand over my paper plane for now. Thank you AFCC for a truly enriching and fulfilling week.

http://bookcouncil.sg/