Sunday November 29, 2009
Itís high time!
TOTS TO TEENS
By DAPHNE LEE
IíM taking a break from recommending Christmas gifts to write a little about the Society of Childrenís Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI) Malaysia.
Founded in 1971 by a group of Los Angeles-based childrenís writers, the SCBWI now has regional chapters in other parts of the United States, as well as international chapters in countries like Belgium, Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Hong Kong, India, Israel, Mongolia, the Netherlands, Russia, Spain and Taiwan.
This year, the Malaysian chapter was registered and, on Nov 20, held its first conference, at the LimKokWing University of Creative Technology.
The president of the Malaysian chapter is Linda Tan Lingard who is an avid reader and collector of childrenís books. Like many Malaysians with a passion for childrenís literature, Lingard is aware of the dearth of quality Malaysian childrenís lit. She ventured into publishing to address this lack and, to date, her company, Oyez!Books, has published over a dozen titles by Malaysian and ex-pat writers and illustrators.
Lingard decided to start the Malaysian chapter of the SCBWI because she felt that Malaysian authors and illustrators need support and would benefit from being part of an international and well-established organisation. It is hoped that the SCBWI Malaysia will provide Malaysian childrenís book writers and illustrators with professional advice and information as well as a platform for networking. The society hopes to hold regular conferences and organise talks and workshops for its members. The conference last week featured an exhibition of illustrations from Malaysian picture books, a talk by artist, illustrator and writer Yusof Gajah (on becoming a childrenís book writer and illustrator), and two panel discussions.
I moderated one of the discussions (about the importance of creating childrenís literature for Malaysian children), while the other (on the use of illustrations in Malaysian childrenís literature) was moderated by picture book illustrator Sarah Joan Mohktar. Panelists included graphic novelist Chin Yew; Lingard; and Sireh Anuar, cartoonist and lecturer University at Multimedia University.
The exhibition showed that Malaysia boasts illustrators of great promise. Artwork displayed included Emila Yusofís beautiful watercolours from Sedna the Eskimo Girl, a story in the Oyez!Booksí collection, Wonderful Folktales from Around the World.
I am excited about the SCBWI as I think itís high time we had a society that encourages, supports and nurtures those who wish to write and illustrate childrenís books, as well as all those involved in one way or other (directly and indirectly) in the production, promotion and distribution of Malaysian childrenís literature.
To join the society, e-mail Lingard at email@example.com.