Monthly Archives: May 2015

An Interview with Children’s Book Writer David Seow

When I first came across the Sam, Sebbie & Di-Di-Di series of children’s books written by author David Seow, I was instantly drawn to them because they are about the adventures of a little girl and her two younger brothers and the beautifully-illustrated book covers reminded me so much of Anya, Adam and David. The books are published by Epigram Books and illustrated by Soefara Jafney and I will be reviewing all the books in the series.

I really wanted to begin my series of book reviews with an interview with the author and he was kind enough to answer some questions I had for him. David Seow is a well-known children’s book writer and a staple on the Singapore literary scene. He is an award-nominated children’s book author of over 20 children’s books, including the Sam, Sebbie and Di-Di-Di series, Alexander’s Adventure Machine, and The Littlest Emperor. His latest books are There’s Soup on My Fly!Blow A KissIf I Were a Blue Kangaroo, and Emma’s Elephant.

Sam, Sebbie & Di-Di-Di

Sam, Sebbie & Di-Di-Di

Q: What inspired you to write your first book?

A: My niece and nephews Sam, Sebbie and Jeremy (Di-Di-Di) inspired me to start writing the books. I used to babysit them every weekend and I had to read to them at bedtime. Each of them wanted me to read a stack of picture books to them and so to make things simple, I started coming up with stories about them which they seemed to like.

Q: How much of the book is realistic? 

A: The stories were first published in 1998 when the children were toddlers. My youngest nephew, Xandy was born after I started writing. The books that are currently available are re-illusrated and edited versions of the books.There were things that I wasn’t happy about with the original series and I was happy that Epigram Books approached me about revamping the series. I think Epigram Books has done an amazing job with the series. They’ve paired me up with an amazing editor and a fantastic illustrator. I love working with them but they may not feel the same way. I can be hard work! LOL.

Q: What are your current projects? Can you share a little of your current work with us? 

A: I have just finished a big commissioned project and I’m working on the sequel to my book A Day with the Duchess which is about Sam, Sebbie, Di-Di-Di and Xandy visiting the royals in London.

Q: Who is your favourite children’s author and what is it that you like about his/ her work? 

A: I don’t have one particular favourite author. I like Naomi Kojima, Susanna Goho-Quek, Norm Jorgensen, Chris Cheng, Sarah Mousey, Sheri Tan, AJ Low,  Emily Lim, James Foley and Mo Willems. Each of them have very strong voices in their stories which resonate with children and adults alike. They have a sense of fun and that’s what every children’s book should have. That’s the most important part of a children’s book.

Q: Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers? 

A: Thanks for reading my books. I hope you like them. Please buy more!! :)

Disclaimer: We received the books from Epigram Books for review purposes. All opinions are my own. 

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Revamped Omni-Theatre at Science Centre Singapore

I love the Omni-Theatre at the Science Centre Singapore and the immersive experience it offers. We watched Animalopolis there in December and truly felt like we were frolicking around with the animals. And now, the latest fulldome system will complement the IMAX system on Southeast Asia’s largest seamless dome screen.

Come 30 May 2015, the Omni-Theatre will offer visitors dual technologies of the IMAX system and the latest and brightest 8K digital fulldome system. On top of IMAX movies like Animalopolis, visitors can enjoy a choice of digital fulldome movies and ‘live’ shows with real-time presentations conducted by Science educators from Science Centre Singapore.

We had a little preview the other day and the kids had such an enjoyable time ‘flying’ through space and identifying the planets. I think the scale was a wee bit overwhelming for Adam. I was quite amused when he kept asking me, “Where is Singapore? Are we in Malaysia?”

We also watched Back to the Moon for Good, a fascinating digital fulldome movie about a modern-day space race 40 years after the Apollo landing with teams from all over the world competing for the Google Lunar XPRIZE. The experience of watching a movie like that on a fulldome system was simply out of the world.

fly to Jupiter and back in seconds

fly to Jupiter and back in seconds

our modern-day space race

our modern-day space race

learn about the space race

learn about the Google Lunar XPRIZE

The digital fulldome and IMAX movies are considerably shorter than your usual feature films and will captivate the attention of little ones who may not be able to sit still for more than an hour. The kids are longing to return to the Omni-Theatre so I’m planning to take them to watch Pandas: The Journey Home as well as some of the ‘live’ shows lined up during the June holidays. Check out the Omni-Theatre website for more information on showtimes and ticketing.

Walking The Southern Ridges

We took a walk on The Southern Ridges a few weeks ago. It was a nice, cloudy day so the weather was quite lovely and cool. We parked at HortPark and started our walk there, crossed Alexandra Arch (80m), made our way through Forest Walk (1.3km), linked up to Hilltop Walk (1km), had a toilet break at Telok Blangah Hill Park, crossed Henderson Waves (300m), and then walked down to the bus stop and took a bus back to HortPark.

The route we took was stroller-friendly and we pushed the baby the entire way. We only had a bit of a problem getting the stroller down the steps to the bus stop. The kids whined a bit along the way (as kids are wont to do), but the 3km walk was not a problem for them and I think they had a good time!

Your Guide to Hort Park and the Southern Ridges by National Parks Board provides useful information on suggested routes, difficulty level, distance and time needed for each section of The Southern Ridges, and also some highlights for each portion.

crossing Alexandra Arch

crossing Alexandra Arch

mummy insists on a photo

mummy insists on a photo

Forest Walk

Forest Walk

so much greenery

so much greenery

looking at some of the plants

looking at some of the plants

rest shelter

rest shelter

touching hairy leaves

touching hairy leaves

posing for yet another picture

posing for yet another picture

lush vegetation

lush vegetation

tangled trees at Telok Blangah Hill Park

tangled trees at Telok Blangah Hill Park

dragging themselves to Henderson Waves

dragging themselves to Henderson Waves

Henderson Waves

Henderson Waves

the view

the view

tired children

tired children

Henderson Waves from below

Henderson Waves from below

back at Hort Park

back at Hort Park

Mother’s Day at Wheeler’s Yard

A few days ago, Facebook reminded me a post I’d written 2 Mother’s Days ago about how I felt unappreciated and also wanted to make it clear that my life as a mother is hardly Instagram-worthy. After being a mother for so many years, I think I’ve come to terms with what I can expect for Mother’s Day.

This year’s Mother’s Day was pretty good, actually. Adrian insisted on having my favourite HaiDiLao Hotpot for an early Mother’s Day dinner even though he hates steamboat. The kids all made nice cards, and we even managed some rather decent photos at the very photogenic Wheeler’s Yard on Mother’s Day. So all in all, I had a lovely time and I’m so thankful for my family.

open

open

two cooperative kids

two cooperative kids

Wheeler's Yard

family photo!

family photo!

on the other side of the door

on the other side of the door

loads of natural light

loads of natural light

bikes galore

bikes galore

on a Vespa

on a Vespa

waiting for his haircut?

waiting for his haircut?

lounging about

lounging about

watching the rain

watching the rain

Getting Along Swimmingly with The Swimming Room (Plus a Giveaway!)

There are so many classes for children these days. You can pick from typical academic ones like Math, Chinese and Science, or sign your kid up for more exotic classes like circus arts, belly dancing, yoga or even mermaid school!

We are always keen to let the kids try new stuff if they are interested but the one enrichment class that is non-negotiable is swimming. The husband feels that water safety is the top priority and feels very strongly that the kids must know how to swim.

Anya started swimming with Eugene of The Swimming Room when she was 3 years old. At her first lesson, she kept crying and wanting me to get into the pool with her and she didn’t want to put her face in the water at all. Eugene was so patient with her, reassured her repeatedly and got her to go through all the activities. After a few lessons, she started looking forward to her weekly swimming class and it was hard to get her out of the pool after class! You can read more about Anya’s experiences with The Swimming Room here, here and here.

kicking

kicking

Of course, when it was Adam’s turn to start swimming, I immediately signed him up for classes with Eugene. Adam is not confident at all in the pool and would usually cling to me like a barnacle when we go swimming, so I thought I would have to wait a long time before he started to enjoy his swimming classes.

I was pleasantly surprised that he was keen to participate from the first lesson even though he was clearly nervous about being in the water. He’s so comfortable with Eugene and it’s clear that Adam trusts Eugene to take care of him in the pool. It’s been a few months since he started swimming and his water confidence level is so much higher than it used to be and he always looks forward to his swimming lessons.

straightening legs

straightening legs

swimming

swimming

heads in water

heads in water

getting ready to blow bubbles

getting ready to blow bubbles

individual attention

individual attention

leap of faith!

leap of faith!

Back when I was trying to sign Anya up for swimming lessons, I was quite boggled by the number of options available and I had no way of knowing whether that particular swimming school or coach was good. Some of the swimming schools I tried contacting didn’t even bother getting back to me and it was all rather frustrating. So I’m really glad I managed to find Eugene and The Swimming Room!

Since the holidays are round the corner, you may be thinking of checking out some swim schools for your child but may not know where to start looking. Here’s your chance to cross that one item off your list!

GIVEAWAY! :)

I have a THREE session passes to be won by three lucky readers! Each session pass entitles you to 3 lessons. Do look at the table below to ensure that there is a session your child is able to attend.

To qualify, simply do the following by Tuesday, 2 June 2015, 2359H (Singapore time):
1. Like ‘Life in the Wee HoursFacebook page.
2. Like ‘The Swimming RoomFacebook page.
3. Like and share this post and tag two friends in your post.

available sessions

available sessions

Terms & Conditions: This giveaway is open to Singapore residents only. Winners will be contacted through Facebook message and will have 24 hours to respond, failing which a new winner will be drawn. All incomplete entries will be disqualified. All entries will be verified before the winners are announced. To be fair to our sponsors, please note that all fake Facebook accounts (e.g. accounts set up purely to take part in contests with no or very few real friends) will also be ineligible to win.

Mermaid by Cerrie Burnell & Laura Ellen Anderson

I must be a mermaid,
I have no fear of depths,
and a great fear of
shallow living.

 -Anais Nin

Mermaid (written by Cerrie Burnell and illustrated by Laura Ellen Anderson) is about a little boy, Luka, and his friend, Sylvia. Luka lives by the sea and longs to learn how to swim. Sylvia is wheelchair-bound and swims beautifully. They meet by the sea, become friends, and Sylvia teaches Luka how to swim.

reading on a Vespa

reading on a Vespa

Luka dreams that Sylvia is actually a mermaid from a palace under the sea. When she becomes a new student at his school and the other children ask why she is in a wheelchair, he tells everyone that she is a mermaid.

palace under the sea

palace under the sea

As adults, we are quick to label and define a person by his disability. Luka’s friendship with Sylvia shows us that a person is so much more than her disability. To him, Sylvia is not his friend in a wheelchair; she is a mermaid who taught him how to swim. The focus is never on her disability but on her kindness and their friendship.

Mermaid

Mermaid

Growing up, the author Cerrie Burnell lamented the lack of diversity of the characters in the books she read. She was born with a right arm that ends just below the elbow and did not see any disabled characters in books that she could identify with and relate to. In an interview, she said:

We need diverse books. We need to show every child that they belong between the pages of great literature, regardless of heritage, faith, ability or financial security. That’s how you build a lifelong love of reading, and how you promote the inclusive world that I want my daughter and young readers to grow up in.

why are you in a wheelchair?

why are you in a wheelchair?

While we never find out why Sylvia is in a wheelchair or whether she really is a mermaid, the point of the book is that people come in all different shapes, sizes, and ability. The books that our children read should have a diversity of characters too and Mermaid is a rare book that will help children become more sensitive to the different types of people around them. It is available from Book Depository for S$18.16.

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

Nepal Earthquake Relief

We were in Nepal about 6 months ago and have many fond memories of the country and the people there. The earthquake came as quite a shock to us and it’s devastating to see many of the beautiful places that we visited in ruins after the natural disaster. We have been praying hard for the people in Nepal but we want to help in more tangible ways. If you want to help too, do look at Nepal Relief Community and Singapore Red Cross Society for more information.

Pictures of some of the sights in Kathmandu and Pokhara:

Nepal

Nepal

momo dumplings

momo dumplings

Garden of Dreams

Garden of Dreams

swinging about

swinging about

view of Everest from our mountain flight

view of Everest from our mountain flight

on the plane

on the plane

Kathmandu Durbar Square

Kathmandu Durbar Square

Kathmandu Durbar Square

Kathmandu Durbar Square

Kathmandu Durbar Square

Kathmandu Durbar Square

Swayambhunath

Swayambhunath

Swayambhunath

Swayambhunath

Swayambhunath

Swayambhunath

Bhaktapur Durbar Square

Bhaktapur Durbar Square

Bhaktapur Durbar Square

Bhaktapur Durbar Square

Bhaktapur Durbar Square

Bhaktapur Durbar Square

Changu Narayan

Changu Narayan

Changu Narayan

Changu Narayan

by the Bagmati river

by the Bagmati river

looking towards Pashupatinath

Pashupatinath

Boudanath

Boudanath

Patan Durbar Square

Patan Durbar Square

Patan Durbar Square

Patan Durbar Square

World Peace Pagoda

World Peace Pagoda

on Phewa Tal

on Phewa Tal

waiting for sunrise on Sarangkot

waiting for sunrise on Sarangkot

dawn

dawn

celebrating our 9th anniversary

celebrating our 9th anniversary

cycling to the dam

cycling to the dam

by Phewa Tal

by Phewa Tal

snacks by the lake

snacks by the lake

after cycling

after cycling