Thursday 10 December 2015

It's been a while since my last book review! I'm glad to be able to squeeze some time to share with you my thoughts about this adorable picture book entitled Shh! We Have A Plan, written by Chris Haughton.

Known for his collage-like illustrations, Chris Haughton touches the hearts and minds of the readers through simple stories which include animals as important characters.

This book is about three men and a boy who went out hunting one night. While the hunters were utilising various tools to capture a bird, the boy was supposed to watch and learn from them. However, the boy, truly depicting the loving character of children, innocently attracted a large flock birds towards himself by throwing out some bread on the ground to feed them.

What I love about the story is that it reflects the contrasting nature of children and adults - children being innocent and carefree while adults being tense and goal-driven. My children love it for its funny illustrations and plot.

10 out of 10 points from me for Shh! We Have A Plan! This book is available in board book, paperback and hardcover forms.  It is highly recommended for children aged 0 to 5.

Book Review: Shh! We Have A Plan

Monday 15 December 2014

About a week ago, my 2- and 3-year-old toddlers and I painted a picture of a tabby cat as a post-reading activity for Tubby the Tabby (see Book Review: Tubby the Tabby).  We had many painting sessions before but this was the first time the three of us painted on the same drawing paper together. In the beginning, I expected the painting to be a hot mess but in the end, I was truly amazed by the outcome. The tabby cat did not turn out as bad as I thought it would be. This painting is surprisingly the most beautiful painting of a cat I've ever seen!

The cat's eyes were originally white, and its nose was initially just a khaki oval spot. Its mouth was not outlined when we finished our painting. After leaving the painting to dry, I contemplated for a few days on whether I should add more details to the eyes on my own. I did not want to 'destroy' the painting with my adult-eye-for-detail additions. Eventually, I decided that the face of the cat should at least look friendly to the children and one way achieve that look is to give the cat a pair of round jovial eyes and a smile.

Amidst battling against myself, this painting made me realise that children are natural (and amazing) artists whose works cannot be copied by anyone (even van Gogh's Starry Night has replicas!). I would never have achieved that carefree effect on my own, which is why children's paintings are perfect.

My children's paintings are their childhood treasures which I will keep and compile. Perhaps, these could be useful for their artistic portfolio in future? God knows. Otherwise, they simply make the best memoirs of their childhood. Are you doing the same?

My 3-year-old son's Red Clouds

and his Roads.

My 2-year-old daughter's Rain

and her random smears.

Why children's imperfect paintings are perfect

Wednesday 3 December 2014

Today, I'm honoured to write a review for a fantastic picture book written by a fellow local author, Muhammad Ashraf Mohd Salleh, who is also a dedicated and passionate parent and teacher.

Tubby is a tabby,
Who is very, very chubby.

His first book, Tubby the Tabby, is about a chubby tabby cat, Tubby, who does things in his own strange ways. Tubby's cute antics make him absolutely memorable and lovable to young children. The conflict in the story develops when one day, Tubby was missing. This is the part where parents and teachers could ask the children where Tubby could be, and predict what could happen next.

The story leaves the children with a sense of care and concern for animals - a value which we must inculcate in children. Written in a form of rhyming poem, this story resonates well in the readers' hearts (both children and adults).

This is a highly recommended book for children of age 2 - 8. Perhaps this picture book can be the next one in your book shopping list!
My rating for Tubby the Tabby: 9 out of 10.

Check out the author's Facebook Page:

Goodreads Review:

Tubby the TabbyTubby the Tabby by Muhammad Ashraf Mohd Salleh

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Fantastic storyline written in rhyming poem.

I've written a review on this book on my blog:

View all my reviews

Book Review: Tubby the Tabby

Wednesday 12 November 2014

This shall be the first of my book reviews. I'll be reviewing English and Malay picture books, both local and international. I hope that these reviews will help you choose which books to purchase from the bookshops or borrow from the library.

My first book review is on Mine!, a picture book written and illustrated by Sue Heap. It's suitable for children 2-4 years old.

This book was on display at the Sengkang Regional Library (Singapore), together with a few other books in the New Arrival section. Its book cover captured my attention as I stepped into the library so I took the book, read the content and borrowed it.

The story is about a girl named Amy (the girl on the left) who loves her toys but does not want to share them with the other children. She's a typical toddler who does not want other children to play with her toys because, simply, those toys are hers, and not theirs. She does not even allow a baby to take her toys.

It is a great book to teach children about the concept of sharing and playing together, but there a few points which parents need to discuss with their toddlers after reading this book to them:

1) Acknowledge that it is hard for them to share their things, so tell them that if they do not want to share their toys, take turns in playing with the toys. As parents, we also need to ensure that every child in our house has his/her own toys to play with. If they are tired of playing with the same toys, teach them the concept of 'temporary exchange of toys'.

2) In the story, there are two toddler boys who pick up Amy's toys and play with them. With regards to this part of the story, we should remind our children that taking other people's things without permission is not acceptable. If they see a toy which is not theirs lying on the floor, they should not take it. They should inform us or their teacher about the toy, so that it can be put aside. We should never allow children to pick up toys which are not theirs, unless the toys are meant for all children to play with (e.g. toys in indoor playgrounds). This is a good habit to inculcate in children as it teaches them about integrity.

I personally love the simple and cute illustrations of the book. The illustrations can be easily understood by toddlers, which is why this book may be effective in capturing their attention.

For this book, I give a rating of 7.5 / 10.

To know more about the book and the author Sue Heap, go to

That's all folks! Thank you for reading!

Book Review: Mine! written by Sue Heap

Monday 3 November 2014

"What title shall I give this book?" I asked myself.

Before I started writing this book about 6 months ago, I had to consider a few things. I wanted to publish a book which is unique and captures the senses of babies and toddlers. I wanted to publish a book which can be enjoyed by people of all ages and races. I wanted to write a book which has a prominent main character and a simple storyline that gives a positive impact in the hearts of all. I wanted to write a book which uses simple English and Malay so that these languages can be absorbed by young children.

The points listed above led me to write and illustrate a picture book that has the following features:
1) Board book
2) Touch-and-feel
3) Bilingual
4) Teaches about the concept of textures
5) A short and simple storyline with a problem and a resolution

The story is about the main character feeling unhappy with one of its body parts, and he wishes that he would have what others have instead. This is a problem which both children and adults face in life. However, we need problems like this to develop our maturity and strengthen our values. Young children can be made aware of such a problem through storybooks and hence, this book shall be a good resource for parents to teach good values to young children.

So back to the question posed at the beginning:  What title shall I give this book?

Well, the title shall be Landak (Porcupine), the name of the main character of this book.

About my first bilingual book

Friday 12 September 2014

I was extremely delighted upon receiving my orders from the Book Depository online bookstore. My children and even my husband were excited too! These are my best picks due to reasons which I have summarised in 5 points below:

1. Detailed, unique and beautiful illustrations

A picture speaks a thousand words so I place this at the top of my list. For some books like Gorilla by Anthony Browne, the images alone capture the hearts of readers. For example, the sad expression of the orang-utan and the chimpanzee in the zoo was depicted so well, anyone could tell at a glance the feeling of animals which are caged up and not having freedom to move around freely.

2. A unique storyline

Amongst these 5 books, Dear Zoo has the simplest illustrations but the most adorable plot - a simple but unique story which teaches children about different animals in the zoo and their characters (e.g. grumpy camel, dangerous snake, etc). It is amazing how such a simple book could be a favourite for both children as well as adults!   

3. A moral value for both children and adults

I would like to mention about Gorilla again - an amazing story which gives me a great slap in my face as a parent. It teaches us how important it is to spend as much time as possible with our children no matter how busy we may be with work. (Even right now, I'm typing this post while my toddlers are asleep!)
Another fantastic book, Golden Domes and Silver Lanterns by Hena Khan, invites the readers to appreciate the colours of family - every colour plays an important in creating the beauty of a family.

4. Having historical elements

The Grand Mosque of Paris may be a book which is suitable for readers 16 years old and above due to the complicated history which it recounts, but the illustrations are sufficient for us parents to tell a story about how one group of people (the Muslims in Paris) helped another (the Jews) to escape from the bad guys (Nazis) during a time of war a long time ago (World War II).

5. Having something to count!

I simply love illustrations which contain things that can be counted. Demi is well known for her small and unique illustrations. Her book One Grain of Rice is one of my favourites because my 3 year old son can count the number of rice and baskets of rice or even animals carrying the baskets of rice on some of its pages even though he may not understand the concept of multiplication yet.

And there you have it, 5 reasons why some books are a must buy for me! How about you? =)  

5 reasons why some picture books are irresistable

Friday 13 June 2014

A common age range in which a child starts to draw write things which look like letters is between 2.5 and 3 years old.  In the past few months, my 2 years 8 months son has shown interest in writing on his workbook so I let him choose the letter which he wants to write. I let him write as much as he wants and encourage him to write more. When he doesn't want to continue, I would ask him whether he wants to try writing other letters. Here's a video of him writing 'm'.

We don't want to push the child too much to practise writing in these type of worksheets/workbook, but we can always encourage them to complete these exercises by taking baby steps at a time.

Some other points to share:

1) A daily routine which includes a few minutes of writing will be a good way to get the child to settle down to practice his penmanship. This writing time can be extended gradually when the child is more confident of his own writing skills; when confidence develops, interest in doing more writing will naturally grow.

2) Provide a comfortable environment for the child to sit and write. Ensure that there are no distractions like toys around him. If he is still playing when it's time to practice writing, let him know that he has to keep them for a while and give him assurance that he can play with them again after the writing session. Give him about 5 minutes to play for a while more and put the toys away. This is to allow some transition time for him to switch from playing to settling down to learn writing.

3) In a project done by a group of students from University of Texas, it is observed that teaching a pre-schooler how to write his name is an effective way to encourage writing because it is more personalised (document available online: Project on Teaching Pre-school Children How to Write their Name). Hence, we can probably spend a few minutes to teach our children how to write their own names since their toddler age.

4) According to Lance et al, allowing the child to scribble a 'story' promotes better writing skills at an older age (Lance, 1992). Therefore, do encourage the child to write random letters as a means to write a story to express his ideas. We can model it for him by writing a short story on a piece of A4 paper and paste it on the wall.


Lance, Dr. Wayne D. (1992). Teaching writing:  Preschool, kindergarten, and first grade.  Retrieved on March 15, 2008 from

Some points to share regarding writing for toddlers