Epigram Books Blog

Epigram Books Tries to Meet Danger Dan April 28 2014

Let’s be honest—11-year-old Danny’s secret life isn’t really a secret anymore. With two books out, and a third one slated for release this May, more and more people are reading about Danger Dan’s battles to right Singapore’s historical hiccups.

Danger Dan is also making waves outside of home—authors Monica Lim and Lesley-Anne are back from the Hong Kong International Young Readers Festival, where they shared about Danger Dan’s adventures, and what it takes to write them. With Danger Dan destined to soar even greater heights, what’s the real Danny like?

Our editorial assistant here at Epigram Books, Dan (yes, Dan, but just plain Dan) finds out.

Dan: Hi Danny! I’m Dan. Tell me how you came up with the name Danger Dan and your awesome superhero persona?

Danny: Hey, your name is Dan too? That’s awesomely awesome! Isn’t Dan the best name ever? We can be the superhero duo! We can be the Danger Dan…s. Danger Dans! Oh hang on, I forgot Melody. We can be the superhero triplet! Wait, that’s not right. What comes after duo? Never mind! What’s the question again?

Dan: Okaaay…moving on. I have one elder sister and you have three. Can you tell us a bit about them?

Danny: Amy is a blabbermouth. Betty is a geek. Candy is a pig. They’re all mean to me.

Dan: That’s not very nice, Danny.

Danny: They’re not very nice! Hey, why are we talking about them? They’re not important! Talk about me! Me, me, me!

  

Dan: In Danger Dan Confronts the Merlion Mastermind: Issue #1 you travel back in time to 1964 Singapore, then to 1947 in Danger Dan Tackles the Majulah Mayhem: Issue #2. Which time period did you like best?

Danny: 1947 wasn’t very fun. There wasn’t any food! But I got to meet Zubir Said and he said I had musical ears! 1964 was better. I went to the Van Kleef Aquarium! It was quite cool but we umm…had a little accident.

Dan: Actually, what does it feel like to time travel?

Danny: Very weird. Do you have any food?

Dan: No.

Danny: But I’m hungry! Soooooo hungry! Can you buy a burger for me? Please? Pretty pleeeeease?

Dan: *mutters to himself and stomps off*

10 minutes later…

Dan: *returns and hands Danny a bag* Here’s your burger.

Danny: Thank you, Dan! You da bomb! Wait, I see something green. Ewww…you didn’t take out the pickle! *gingerly peels out the pickle* Did you get fries?

Dan: You seem to have a…huge appetite. How did the food of the past taste to you?

Danny: *munch* The laksa was great! *munch* The ice ball was great! *munch* The kacang puteh was great! The vegetables…not so great. *MUNCH*

Dan: You travel back in time with Melody, a mysterious girl from the future. Do you have a crush on her?

Danny: Yuck! Yuck! Why would I have a crush on her? She has such bad aim! Don’t tell her I said that. The person I like will be funny, sporty, have fantastic aim and play computer games!

Dan: I’ll tell your creators, Monica Lim, Lesley-Anne and James Tan, about that.

Danny: James should draw me with more muscles. How can I save Singapore with these scrawny arms? I don’t think it’s fair that Monica and Lesley-Anne gave Melody all the gadgets and gave me nothing. Must be because they’re girls!

Monica: Behave yourself, Danny. Or I’ll start calling you Ding Dong Dan in the books.

Danny: See? They bully me! And Lesley-Anne is an older sister, right? I don’t like older sisters!

Lesley-Anne: How would you like another sister in the next book, Danny?

Danny: Alright, alright! Fine, you win! You guys are awesome, ok? *sulks in corner*

Dan: *moves interview to corner* Tell us how their trips overseas with you went.

Danny: They did all the talking! I didn’t get to say anything! They left me in the hotel room and went to eat roast goose without me!

Dan: Okay, talk about your next adventure, Danger Dan Spooks the Peculiar Peranakan Pirate. What can we expect, and who on earth is this pirate?

Danny: Oh, it’s very exciting! I get to go on a pirate ship and I even meet Raffles! The human Raffles, not the statue! But he’s not the pirate! And Danger Dan meets his all-time nemesis, the Sinister Spyder, face-to-face for the first time. He’s quite a scary guy. If you want to find out how Danger Dan saves the day, you have to buy the books! And you have to like my Facebook page! Not just the page, you have to like every post! And every photo! And spam all your friends! And—

Dan: I think we’re done for the day. Thank you, Danny for that very…interesting interview.

Danny: You’re welcome, Dan! Thanks for the burger!

For a much more focused description of Danger Dan’s adventures, check out these links to Danger Dan Confronts the Merlion Mastermind: Issue #1, and Danger Dan Tackles the Majulah Mayhem: Issue #2. Don’t miss out on the release of Danger Dan Spooks the Peculiar Peranakan Pirate this May; you’re bound to catch it on Epigram Books’, or Danger Dan’s Facebook page.


‘Sherlock Sam and the Missing Heirloom in Katong’ Wins Red Dot Book Awards March 19 2014

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Winner of the Red Dot Book Awards 2013-2014
1st Place, Younger Readers’ Category
Sherlock Sam and the Missing Heirloom in Katong by A.J. Low, illustrated by drewscape

The first instalment of popular children’s book series, Sherlock Sam, has bagged first place in the Young Readers’ category of the Red Dot Book Awards 2013-2014.

Hosted by the International School Libraries (ISLN) in Singapore, the Red Dot Book Awards were created to recognise titles enjoyed by students of various ages. Books judged under the Younger Readers’ category are targeted at children aged 7-10 years old. Winning titles are chosen based on readers’ votes.

We are also honoured that Sherlock Sam and the Missing Heirloom in Katong is the only local title that has snagged a Red Dot award, across its four categories.

For interviews with the creators, review copies, or further media enquiries, please contact Ilangoh Thanabalan at ilangoh@epigrambooks.sg, or at +65 6292 4456.

ABOUT THE SHERLOCK SAM SERIES

Meet Singapore’s greatest kid detective, Sherlock Sam. With his robot sidekick Watson, and a loyal group of friends, Sherlock Sam will stop at nothing to solve the case, no matter how big or small!

Hailed as a “worthy successor to beloved child sleuths like Encyclopedia Brown and Cam Jansen” by renowned author E.C. Myers, Sherlock Sam has enjoyed wild success, selling more than 14,000 copies in its first year of publication. The series is set in areas of interest in Singapore and the region, featuring delicacies, landmarks and other cultural aspects that are uniquely Southeast Asian. Catch up with Sherlock Sam’s latest happenings here.

ABOUT THE AUTHORS

The writers behind the pseudonym A. J. Low are the husband-and-wife team, Adan Jimenez and Felicia Low-Jimenez. Born in California, Adan moved to Singapore after graduating from New York University with an English Literature degree. He previously co-wrote a children’s book, Twisted Journeys #22: Hero City.  Felicia was born and raised in Singapore. She has a graduate degree in Literary Theory, and the Sherlock Sam series is Felicia’s debut writing effort, after accumulating years of experience buying, selling and marketing books.

ABOUT THE ILLUSTRATOR
drewscape (Andrew Tan) is a freelance illustrator from Singapore. He illustrates and draws storyboards for advertising agencies as well as for magazines. He enjoys creating comics purely for the fun and challenge of it.

ALSO IN THE SHERLOCK SAM SERIES


‘Where’s Grandma’ Wins 2013 Hedwig Anuar Children's Book Awards May 29 2013

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Winner of the 2013 Hedwig Anuar Children’s Book Award
Where’s Grandma? By Edmund Lim and Illustrated by Tan Zi Xi

Singapore, 29 May 2013—Epigram Books is very proud to announce that Where’s Grandma? by Edmund Lim and illustrated by Tan Zi Xi has been awarded this year’s Hedwig Anuar Children’s Book Award (HABA).

The award is presented biennially for an outstanding book for children written by a Singaporean or PR. Its aims are to encourage the quality and quantity of books published for children, as well as promoting the publication of books set in a familiar and meaningful background that is relevant to children in Singapore.

Where’s Grandma? is a poignant tale of a boy’s struggles to come to terms with his beloved Grandma’s deteriorating condition due to Alzheimer’s disease. With Tan Zi Xi’s sensitive and understated illustrations, the book evokes powerful emotions in anyone who has dealt with the loss of their loved ones.

Where’s Grandma? was also selected for the 2012 READ Singapore! Campaign organised by the National Library of Singapore.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Edmund Lim is an educator who has taught in the National Institute of Education. Edmund enjoys reading and writing. He hopes that his storybooks will engage readers, young and old. His love for his grandparents and family, along with his desire to educate children, inspired him to write Where’s Grandma?

ABOUT THE ILLUSTRATOR
Tan Zi Xi studied at Central Saint Martins (London) on a DesignSingapore scholarship and currently works full-time as an independent illustrator. Zi Xi recently held her first solo exhibition at The Art Studio in Singapore. She has been recognized with several awards and commendations, and was a finalist in the London International Creative Competition 2010.

ABOUT MRS HEDWIG ANUAR
Mrs Hedwig Anuar was the first Singaporean Director of the National Library of Singapore, a position she held from 1960 until her retirement in 1988. Though she put in place the foundations of the modern library system in Singapore and made contributions to all aspects of library work, this award recognises her outstanding contribution to children’s librarianship and the promotion of books and reading for children.

QUOTES

“A heartwarming and well illustrated story”,
Ken Spillman, Chief Judge, HABA picture book Awards.

“I am glad and grateful for this award and pleased that our work will touch the lives of children and our society”,
Edmund Lim, 2013 Hedwig Anuar Children’s Picture Book Winner.

“I feel privileged to have worked with Edmund on this project, and I am pleased to know that the illustrations complemented so well the story that Edmund wrote”
Tan Zi Xi, 2013 Hedwig Anuar Children’s Picture Book Winner.

“We took a chance on a very important topic and both the authors and illustrator did a fantastic job”,
Edmund Wee, Publisher of Epigram Books.

“This is a fantastic win-win situation for Singapore literature and for Singaporean picture books”,
Sheralyn Tan, Editor of Picture Books, Epigram Books.


For further media enquiries, please contact Cathlin Anabella at cathlin@epigrambooks.sg or at +65 6292 4456.


‘Bo Bo and Cha Cha’ Nominated for Crystal Kite Member Choice Award! March 07 2013

Congratulations to writer Jason Erik Lundberg and illustrator Patrick Yee! Their children’s picture book, A New Home for Bo Bo and Cha Cha (2012), has been nominated in the Crystal Kite Member Choice Awards!

Organised by the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators, the annual, peer-given Crystal Kite Member Choice Awards recognise outstanding children’s books from around the world. A New Home for Bo Bo and Cha Cha, the first in the “Bo Bo and Cha Cha” series, is a finalist in the Middle East/India/Asia category. Previous winners include Thelonious Mouse, published by Farrar, Straus & Giroux, and Random House Children’s Books’ MINE!.

 

Lundberg and Yee's A New Home for Bo Bo and Cha Cha finds the titular pair of Chinese mountain pandas arriving at Singapore’s strange and wonderful Mandai Zoo. Bo Bo is excited, but Cha Cha is not, until a caring sloth shows her what being home really means.

Lundberg, also an editor at Epigram Books, is “incredibly surprised and delighted” at the nomination. He’ll next be at the Asian Festival of Children’s Content (AFCC) from 25 to 30 May with A New Home For Bo Bo and Cha Cha. The expected publication date of the second book in the “Bo Bo and Cha Cha” series, Bo Bo and Cha Cha’s Big Day Out is May 2013, and it will launch at AFCC.

A New Home for Bo Bo and Cha Cha can be purchased at Amazon and all good bookstores now.


Interview with ‘Sherlock Sam’ Authors! January 04 2013

Happy New Year, dear readers! Here at Epigram Books, we’re looking forward to another year of putting out well-designed and thought-provoking titles. Today, we’re excited to present an interview with A.J. Low, the husband-and-wife writing team behind our latest children’s series, Sherlock Sam. The series follows “Singapore’s greatest kid detective” and his trusty robot sidekick Watson, and is illustrated by drewscape.

1. What are the ingredients that go into the making of a great children’s book? Are these aspects what you used or thought about in concocting the story of Sherlock Sam?

The same as any other kind of story: relatable characters and a good plot. Everything else is an added bonus (things like genre, humor, etc.) that can make a story better, but without that foundation of character and plot, readers, especially children, will be able to tell and will never pick up a book by you again.

For Sherlock Sam, we first focused on all the characters and tried to make them as great as possible. Sherlock, his sister Wendy, his parents, his robot, and his friend Jimmy make up the core of the first book, and we think readers of all ages will love them, and recognize them as people they might know (even possibly the robot). We think our plot is pretty good too, if we do say so ourselves, and was made better by invaluable input from various folk who read our initial drafts, especially our editor Ruth Wan. If you read our very first draft now, you’d think it was a completely different, and not as good, book as what we ended up with.

2. What kind of preparation and research went into the story and the series?

We researched Peranakan food a lot. Like, we ate it every day. That was fun research.

3. What are the characteristics of a good children’s writer in your opinion?

Again, the same as any other kind of writer: being able to write a good story that people will enjoy. I think it’s important to not talk down to children, but also understand that there are things they won’t be able to understand yet. It’s a fine line between “dumbing down” a story, and writing age-appropriate material, but I think we were able to hit that sweet spot in the middle with Sherlock Sam.

4. Describe your creative collaboration process as a writing duo.

We tend to plot out the book together, agree on all the major story beats and then get them down on paper, then we split up the actual writing: I’ll write a chapter, then she’ll write a chapter, etc. After that’s done, we go through it together and make sure everything makes sense and is cohesive. Chances are good that if something doesn’t make sense to your writing partner, it’s not going to make sense to anybody else either, so something needs to be changed.

5. Why would children enjoy this book and the series?

We set out to write a book that we ourselves would enjoy, at any age. Since we’re mostly still kids ourselves (you should see our LEGO collection!), and we enjoyed writing and reading the heck out of this book, we cannot imagine anybody else not enjoying reading this.

6. Why should parents buy this book for their children?

Because it’s good. It’s the only reason to ever buy any form of media.

7. What makes this book and the character of Sherlock Sam different from those of other investigative series?

We based a lot of Sherlock Sam’s mannerisms on his namesake, so he’s extremely intelligent, he has a food vice, and he wants to solve mysteries for their own sake. However, unlike Sherlock Holmes, Sherlock Sam is quite a nice person, so while he wants to solve mysteries because, in his mind, they all need to be solved, he also does it because he wants to help people. And he readily asks for and accepts help when he needs it. He’s not in it for the fame or money or prestige; he simply wants to help people and get to the bottom of things.

8. What were some of the key inspirations of the book and its characters?

Nancy Drew, the Famous Five, Scooby-Doo, and, of course, Sherlock Holmes. We’ve been watching a lot of detective shows as well, like Castle and Elementary, to help with our plotting. When and how to reveal clues is a very important element of all mystery fiction that we constantly have to keep up on.

9. What advice would you give to parents in bringing up their children as avid readers (having grown up to become avid readers and writers yourselves)?

Let them read. Let them run wild at a bookstore, or give them a library card, and let them read. If they ask to be read to, read to them (in fact, chase them around the house reading aloud to them). If they pick up something you think might be too advanced for them, don’t tell them to put it back. Instead, help them with it. Read it with them and explain words or concepts that they don’t yet know or understand.

Let them read.

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Look out for the first book in the series, Sherlock Sam and the Missing Heirloom in Katong, out later this month! In the meanwhile, explore the Sherlock Sam website and follow the Facebook page for exclusive content and behind-the-scenes sneak peeks.

See more of series illustrator drewscape’s work on his website and check out his collection of short comic stories, Monsters, Miracles & Mayonnaise, published by Epigram Books last year.

 

 


‘A New Home for Bo Bo and Cha Cha’: Interview with the Author December 14 2012

Here at Epigram Books, we’re especially excited about one of our latest children’s titles, A New Home for Bo Bo and Cha Cha, as it is written by one of our own—author Jason Erik Lundberg has been an editor here since September this year!

Bo Bo and Cha Cha have come to the Mandai Zoo! Bo Bo is excited, but Cha Cha is not.
Everything here seems too strange: the other animals, the heat, and the food!
Cha Cha wants to leave—until a caring sloth shows her what being home really means.

Read on to hear from Jason about his experiences working on the book:

What was it like working on a children’s book? Was it very different from editing or writing speculative fiction, which you have previously done?

Very different indeed! Writing for kids, especially for very young kids, was a big challenge, because you have to hit all of these emotional beats with character and plot, and do so in an entertaining way, and in language that is both simple enough for three- to seven-year-olds to understand but at the same time doesn’t talk down to them.

Many people think that writing picture books is easy; you’re only dealing with 32 pages, only about a thousand words (or less) of text, but children tend to be a much less forgiving audience than adults. If you can’t grab and keep their interest with a good story and interesting characters, they’re on to the next thing straight away.

I’d written a couple of middle grade stories prior to A New Home for Bo Bo and Cha Cha, but had never even considered writing picture books. However, when the opportunity arose, I took it as an exciting task, and actually had a great experience in doing so. Crucial to this as well was working with editor Sheri Tan, who has years of experience editing children’s books; after I’d come up with the basic story, we worked together closely to shape it into something that was compelling and meaningful, and also fun to read.

What was your process working with illustrator Patrick Yee? For instance, did his illustrations come first, or did he base them on your writing? Did you work collaboratively?

Patrick actually approached Epigram Books with the premise of the pandas coming to the zoo, as well as some initial illustrations, back in April or May, so I had some preliminary visuals to work with in my head. But in terms of story, I basically started from scratch, turning it from a concept that was more appropriate for a baby board book into a proper picture book with some emotional complexity.

Once Sheri and I had finalised the text, she sent the story to Patrick so that he could illustrate the pages based on her proposed layout. There was again some back-and-forth between him and Sheri about the artwork, and once that was all finished, everything was sent to our designer Andy Koh for the final publication layout.

Is there anything in particular you hope kids (or, in fact, any readers) will take away from the book?

At its heart, the book is about the experience of migrating to a new home, and having to deal with a different environment and culture, as well as the inevitable homesickness. It’s very much based on my own journey from the US to Singapore back in 2007, and all of the culture shock that arose from relocating to a country very different from my own. Many of Cha Cha’s complaints in the book—Singapore is too hot, the food is weird, the people behave strangely—were my own at the time.

But what I hope that kids, as well as older readers, will take away from the book is that, even if moving to a new place is a disruptive and disorienting experience, it is possible to feel at home there. That homesickness can feel horrible and never-ending at first, but that it will dissipate, and things will get better. People are surprisingly resilient and adaptable, especially children.

Jason reads his book with his daughter Anya.

Did you learn anything interesting or amusing about pandas in the process of writing the book? Did you have to do a lot of research on them?

I did some research on pandas before I started writing, but because we were on such a tight timeline, I wasn’t able to do as much as I would have liked. Regardless, what I found was fascinating. Many pandas are quite solitary creatures, and prefer to have lots of time to themselves; as an introvert, this appealed to me greatly, and I projected much of this temperament into Cha Cha’s personality. They can also be playful and gregarious, and so I steered Bo Bo’s character in this direction to show the contrast between the two of them.

Also, even though pandas’ digestive systems can accommodate different types of foods, including fruits and even meat (they’re actually classified as carnivores), they choose to solely eat bamboo; and because bamboo can only give them limited amounts of energy, they have to eat massive amounts of it. This seems counter-intuitive to survival, but since pandas appear happy to hang out in the mountains of China, where bamboo is plentiful, there’s no need to vary their diet.

What’s next for Bo Bo and Cha Cha? Can you give us any hints about their next adventures in Singapore?

A New Home For Bo Bo and Cha Cha is the first book in a planned series about the pandas’ new experiences, and the next three books have already been outlined; now I just need to write them! And that’s all I’ll reveal for now. :)

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A New Home for Bo Bo and Cha Cha is available in all good bookstores. Check out the book page and view sample pages on our website. You can also visit author Jason Erik Lundberg’s website and illustrator Patrick Yee’s website to find out more about their work!