Monthly Archives: March 2015

Fabulous Pie by Gareth Edwards & Guy Parker-Rees

Fabulous Pie

Fabulous Pie

We all love a good story about the little guys outwitting a much larger one and Fabulous Pie by Gareth Edwards & Guy Parker-Rees is a fine example of such a story. A very bad bear bakes a very big pie and he needs help to fill the pie.

The mouse, the squirrel, the badger, and the otter all rush to help fill the pie with berries and such, but the very bad bear has something a lot more devious up his (proverbial) sleeves: he wants to fill his pie with the little animals and turn it into a terrible pie!

who'll help to make the feeling for my fabulous pie?

who’ll help to make the feeling for my fabulous pie?

The animals refuse to go down without a fight! They push their little feet through the bottom of the pie crust and run for their lives. The bear, in his haste to eat the animals, gets his comeuppance and slips and falls into the river, and the gentle creatures have the last laugh.

as the waved goodbye to the very bad bear

as the waved goodbye to the very bad bear

The illustrations in the books are beautiful and make you feel like warm sunshine is shining through every page of the book. The animals look very expressive and the story simply comes to life. Anya particularly loves the picture of the animals with their little feet sticking out the bottom of the pie crust with their eyes peeping out at the top.

a very bad bear baked a very big pie

a very bad bear baked a very big pie

The rhythmic lines and repetition of key phrases that encourage children to chime in, the setting in the forest, and the basic plot of the small and weak getting the better of the big and scary, remind me of the very popular children’s story, The Gruffalo. If your kids enjoy that book, they will love this story too.

Fabulous Pie is a fun and heartwarming story about how good can triumph over bad and is available from Book Depository for S$11.94.

Disclaimer: We received the book from Book Depository for review purposes. This review contains affiliate links. All opinions are my own. 

A Week of National Mourning

LKY Monday 23 March I woke up feeling tired and out of sorts because Adam had coughed the entire night and none of us slept well. I reached for my phone to tell the school that I was taking childcare leave that day, and after sending my message, I starting looking through my Facebook feed. Within seconds, I saw a post announcing Mr Lee’s passing and I quickly checked a few reliable sources to ensure that it wasn’t another one of those horrible hoaxes that had been circulating the week before.

I turned on the TV and waited for PM Lee to address the nation at 8am. He looked so tired and so sad. He struggled to hold back his emotions. My tears started to flow and this would happen many more times in the next few days. LKY By that afternoon, there were several special editions of newspapers featuring Mr Lee’s life. The copies sold out quickly. I tried to read as much as I could about this man. I knew, in theory, all that he had done for Singapore, but what moved me beyond words was the description of his love for his wife. LKY I went to Popular to find a book I could use to tell the kids about Lee Kuan Yew. When I told my friends about the book, they asked me to help them buy a copy for their kids as well. The book store hadn’t had time to react; the books about Lee Kuan Yew were still in the local interest section. By the next day, there would be a special section with his books and the books about him laid out prominently. LKY I wanted to read about Lee Kuan Yew on my Kindle as well and found this book by Tom Plate. It’s an interesting read and I learnt a lot more about the man, his methods, his beliefs, and how he is perceived by the West.

When Plate asked LKY to offer some self-criticism, Mr Lee referred him to Catherine Lim and her words here explain the extreme reactions that would be seen during the mourning period – ‘Mr Lee Kuan Yew’s legacy will be so mixed that at one end of the spectrum of response, there will be pure adulation, and at the other, undisguised opprobrium and distaste. But whatever the controversies that surround him, everyone will agree that for a man of his stature and impact, neither the past nor the present holds an equal.’ LKY Tuesday 24 March Back at work the next day, I had a lump in my throat when the state and school flags were raised to the top and then released to the half-mast position. The mood in school was somber and almost all my colleagues were dressed in black or white. The students were encouraged to leave a tribute for Mr Lee and one drew a rather accurate portrait of him. LKY In the school library, there was a Lee Kuan Yew thematic display of books. On the electronic display screens around the school, there was a photograph montage of Mr Lee at school events. Sadly, I had not been in this school long enough to have had the chance to meet him at one of these events. LKY Wednesday 25 March A ceremonial gun carriage carrying Mr Lee’s casket made its way from Sri Temasek at the Istana (where the private family wake had been taking place) to the Parliament House. Before the casket left the Istana, a lone bagpiper played Auld Lang Syne and all around Singapore, tears flowed freely.

At 10am, a queue of people, some of whom had started queuing the night before, steadily made their way into Parliament House to pay their respects. Although the initial plan was for the public to pay their respects between 10am and 8pm, the overwhelming response meant that Parliament House would be open for 24 hours every day until the queue at the Padang closed at 8pm on Saturday, 28 March. LKY 18 community sites were set up around Singapore for members of the public to pay tribute to Mr Lee. We took the kids to the one in Clementi. By the time the casket left Parliament House for University Cultural Centre, more than 1.2 million people would have paid their respects to Mr Lee at Parliament House and the various tribute sites. LKY Thursday 26 March We attempted to pay our respects to Mr Lee at the Parliament House and started queuing at the Padang at about 6.30pm. There were so many people at the MRT station and all around the Padang. The queue moved slowly and steadily and volunteers provided us with drinks and snacks. LKY We were in the priority queue but there were lots of other people in the queue with us. It was stuffy and quite overwhelming so the kids played alongside the queue while I stayed in the queue to hold our place. LKY It got later and darker and the kids got more tired. They were entertaining themselves by running up and down and playing with other kids and with balloons that had been given out. The queue moved very slowly. LKY Eventually, we turned into the area that was the final stretch before the security checkpoints. The crowd spread out into a suffocating mass and we were fenced in by bushes on one side and railings on the other.

The queue barely moved in the time we were there so we decided to leave the queue. I didn’t feel comfortable being trapped in one small area with so many people. We called the hotline to share our experience and by the next morning, the queuing system had improved greatly. LKY Friday 27 March I took my students to the tribute site at Botanic Gardens and we paid our respects there. While this younger generation may not be able to fully comprehend all that Mr Lee Kuan Yew has done in his lifetime for Singapore, they were still eager to show their gratitude and appreciation. LKY At the Botanic Gardens tribute site, I finally managed to put my thoughts down on paper to thank Mr Lee Kuan Yew. I know this man was not perfect and some of his beliefs, methods and actions may not have been readily accepted by every one. But there is certainly no denying that we owe a lot to him and the team that he led. LKYFrom various updates on Facebook, I realised that the priority queue was greatly improved, so after I was done at Botanic Gardens, I rushed to a friend’s place to get Anya and we made our way to Padang to try again after our failed attempt the previous night.

The priority queue had been restructured so that there would not be too many people in one section at any time. We were immensely touched by the selflessness of the volunteers controlling the crowds and giving out drinks, fans, sweets and snacks under the blazing hot sun. LKY We reached the security checkpoints in about half an hour and then made our way slowly to Parliament House, paid our respects and were out in another half an hour. I updated my friends on the queue situation and they started making their way down as well.

You can glimpse Anya and (a very tearful) me in this video of Rani Singam and Jeremy Monteiro presenting a musical tribute of One People, One Nation, One Singapore inside the Parliament House. LKY Saturday 28 March I was on a department retreat on the southern islands and we saw the RSAF’s Black Knights rehearsing their Missing Man formation, where one aircraft will leave the four-aircraft flying formation as an aerial salute to honour Mr Lee Kuan Yew. LKY Sunday 29 March We gathered at my friend’s place because her flat overlooked Commonwealth Ave. As we made our way there, we saw so many waiting for him even though there were still 2 hours to go before his cortege would pass them. Our hearts ached as the heavy rain beat down relentlessly on those lining the roads below. LKY We watched as the cortege made its way from Parliament House to University Cultural Centre. The tears of the people lining the streets mingled with the rain. Soon, the cortege was at Queenstown, making its way towards Commonwealth Ave where we were. Those waiting along the streets closed their umbrellas and waved their Singapore flags with pride. We could hear the fervent chants of ‘Lee Kuan Yew!’ from the people before we could see the cortege. LKY And, just like that, we said our final farewell to Mr Lee. LKY 一路好走, Mr Lee. Thank you and goodbye, Sir.