GIVEAWAY! When does Squirky’s search end?

And just like that, we have come to the end of The Adventures of Squirky the Alien.

In the penultimate book, How do you get to the Garden Galaxy (which we wrote about here and which gave us all the sads), Squirky managed to track down the whereabouts of his biological parents. Faced with the prospect of finally reuniting with his parents, he eventually decided to give up that opportunity in order to go back to his life on earth with his adoptive parents.

I got to say, that decision truly gutted me. It was such a beautifully bittersweet moment – and I felt like writer Melanie Lee had personally sucker punched me. It was such a real dilemma, one that I can imagine many adoptive children go through.

And so, it was a pleasant surprise when Melanie wrote me to say that the last book was completed. I received it in the mail with much anticipation and could not wait to read it.

Was it a happy ending? Well, I won’t give it away here but needless to say, I thought it was the perfect ending. I really, really loved it. I felt that it reflected life so honestly, that we all make hard choices in our lives and we live these choices everyday. Some days are good, some days are tough – but we grit our teeth and move on. And so it was with Squirky too.

My boys and I, we have gone on the journey with Squirky for six books now and I have to say that it was a good, learning experience. Through the books, Aidan and I have spoken about the importance of empathy, for instance. And, funnily enough, almost-two Zac is a fan of Squirky! He loves to pull the books out of the shelf and wave them in my face with an imperious “Read! Book! Mummy, read!”

It got to the point that I had to hide the books because I was reading them for the nth time for the evening/week and I could practically memorise EVERYTHING (sorry Melanie!). Heh.

If you were looking for something new to read to your kids, I highly recommend this series. Not only is it culturally relevant, it’s full of lovely conversational moments that you can use to guide your tots. Plus, support local eh!

Dear Melanie, thank you for being so honest and open about your experience as an adoptive parent, and for bringing Squirky to life through your words. And thank you for sharing this story with me!

GIVEAWAY!
We have two copies of When Does The Search End? to give away! All you need to do is to complete the following steps.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Note
Melanie Lee and illustrator David Liew are part of this year’s Asian Festival of Children’s Content (AFCC), which is happening from 25 to 29 May 2016 at the National Library Building, Singapore.

afccsquirky

Check out these events below:

1. Launch of The Adventures of Squirky the Alien #6: When Does the Search End? [Note: This event is FREE and anyone can come!]
Date: Sun 29 May 2016
Time: 3-3.30pm
Venue: NLB Building, L1 Plaza

2. Squirky author Melanie will be co-presenting a talk on “Being Honest about Difficult Issues with Stories” with NIE Associate Professor Ruth Wong [Note: You will need to have signed up for either the Parents Forum or Preschool & Primary Teachers Congress]
Date: Sun 29 May 2016
Time: 1.15-2.15pm
Venue: NLB Building, L16 The Pod

She will also be moderating a panel discussing themes close to the Squirky book series:
– To S.I.R. (Socially Inclusive Reads) with Love: A socially inclusive picture book for kids, with or without special needs [Note: You will need to have signed up for the Preschool & Primary Teachers Congress]
Date: Sun 29 May 2016
Time: 11.15-12.15pm
Venue: NLB Building, B1 Multipurpose Room

Terms and conditions
Giveaways are open to Singapore residents only. Winners will be contacted using the contact particulars provided when entering this draw (email address as requested) and will have 48 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 (eg. accounts set up purely to take part in contests with no or very few real friends) will also be ineligible to win. Giveaways are in no way directly linked to Facebook.

Disclaimer: We were given the book for purpose of this review. No monetary compensation was received and all opinions are my own.

Review + GIVEAWAY: Flip for Joy

I grew up in an English-speaking family. This means that when it came to Mandarin, the only exposure I got was the mandatory Chinese lessons we had in school. Till today, I remember dreading Chinese lessons because I had a really long-winded Chinese teacher who would spend 80% of class time telling us about her children, her pet goldfish, etc, and then leave 5 minutes or less to rush through the syllabus. You can imagine how much I hated Chinese back then. To prepare for the O levels, my mum signed me up for one-on-one tuition with this really fierce ex-Principal Chinese teacher who would drill me every other day on the language. I remember lugging my heavy school bag to her house for tuition and falling asleep from exhaustion when she made me write some cheem Chinese phrase over and over again. Also, I came from a all-girls convent and speaking Mandarin was very uncool. Huayu was not very cool then.

I have to add that thanks to all that intensive tuition, my Mandarin is not that bad. I can speak and can type out simple text messages in Mandarin. However, anything more complicated will cause my brain to sprain. My in-laws are Mandarin-speaking folks so I have a lot of practise with them. They are the only ones who address me by my Chinese name (no one else does!) and whenever I am at their place, I try and read the giant headlines on Lianhe Wanbao which is usually about some mistress getting beaten up by the wife with interviews with the neighbours, the 3rd aunty’s son, etc.

As with most modern parents these days, we want our child to grow up bilingual. Specifically, we want Elliott to be able to speak English and his mother tongue, Mandarin, fluently. My MIL cares for him 3 times a week and she is really good with reading and speaking to him. These days, he can recite simple children’s rhymes, count from 1-10 and point out household objects, all in Mandarin. I claim ZERO credit. Full credit goes to my in-laws.

I stumbled upon Flip for Joy when I was searching online for “Chinese books for toddlers”. Flip for Joy is a “Singapore-based children’s bookstore, dedicated to sourcing the best Chinese books around the world.” Back then, I ordered the Chinese version of “Where is the green sheep?” titled <绿绵羊在哪里?> because back then, it was one of Elliott’s favourite books. I also got him a book titled <我会穿衣服> as it will allow him to practise buttoning, zipping and lacing various items in the book.

Recently, much to my delight, Elliott was gifted with a few more books from Flip for Joy. Meiru, the 老板娘 of Flip for Joy, contacted me and offered to choose a few Chinese books for Elliott based on his likes. I told her that he’s currently into anything vehicle-related, i.e. cars, trains, trucks, etc. I also shared that he’s into “flap” books.

I was very thrilled when the large package arrived. So many lovely books to read! They were mostly vehicle-themed and one particular one titled <不行,危险!> caught my eye. I laughingly told the husband that my MIL will lurrrrrve this book because she’s always telling Elliott to be careful to not do this, and that. This is a synopsis of the book, taken from Flip for Joy’s page:

A fascinating and fun-filled book with wheels that will teach our little ones about road safety. Children will be able to relate their own experiences on the go to that of the various adorable animals’ and learn how to behave appropriately when travelling in the car. Lift the flaps to see how the animals can enjoy a car ride in a safe manner. The book made of child-friendly material and rounded edges is gentle on the children’s hands. A great book to bring on the go!

Elliott is very taken with the book because…..it has wheels! And flaps that he can lift! He has also recently taken to saying “危险!” whenever I read the book. He probably doesn’t quite understand what the phrase means but whenever I read it, I shake my head and furrow my brows so I think he gets the idea that it is a “no no”.

He is also at the age where every button is a MUST PRESS. Another favourite from the collection is a 3-book series called <这是谁的声音?交通工具系列> because each book comes in the shape of the vehicle (all his favourites – boat! plane! train!) but more importantly, each book has a little button where he can press to hear the sound the vehicle makes.

Despite my less-than-stellar Chinese standards, I can generally read most of the words in these books. I have to admit that some words stump me and I gloss over quickly to the next word. Hur hur. I usually would leave the reading of these books to the husband who will usually read them with gusto and sound effects. It is very cute to hear him reading Chinese books to our little man. The books we have contain simple Chinese words and some even come with hanyu pinyin.  BIG PHEW.

I really like these books because they are hardy and have survived the rough manhandling by my toddler who has thrown them across the room, from a height and even used them as toys (the ones that come with wheels turn into a toy truck for him). Importantly, these books come with rounded edges which make these books safe for little ones. They are also of good quality and as far as I can see, I have not spotted any glaring errors in the books that we have received.

I love that Elliott’s little library has a good mix of English and Chinese books. I am not sure how much of our reading sessions will rub off on him but hopefully, in time to come, he does not fear the Chinese language and instead, develop an appreciation for the language and stories. I look forward to the day when he can read the Chinese language books along with me.

GIVEAWAY

To spread the love, Flip for Joy is kindly giving away two S$20 e-gift cards to readers of Bubsicles. These e-gift cards can be used for any book purchase on the Flip for Joy website. It is a one-time usage e-gift card and will be valid for 6 months.

To qualify:

  1. Like our Bubsicles Facebook review post here.
  2. Share the review post on your Facebook timeline.
  3. Like Flip for Joy’s Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/flipforjoy
  4. Leave a comment on our Facebook review post telling us your favourite title from Flip for Joy and why.

That’s it! We will then choose 2 of the best answers to win the e-gift cards.

This giveaway ends on 12 December, 11:59pm and is open only to Singapore residents. Winners will be contacted via their Facebook account through private message and will have 48 hours to respond, failing which a new winner will be selected. 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 (eg. accounts set up purely to take part in contests with no or very few real friends) will also be ineligible to win.

Wait. There’s more.

Christmas is round the corner and we all know how stressful Christmas shopping. Share the joy of reading this Christmas and receive a $5 e-gift card (valid for 6 months) from Flip for Joy for every $50 spent in the month of December.

“A book is a gift you can open again and again.” ~ Garrison Keillor

Disclaimer: I was given a selected range of Chinese books from Flip for Joy for the purpose of a review. All opinions are mine.

Books For Two

I had shared on my Maybebaby blog back in June 2012 about my online shopping addiction…. for children’s books. Back then, Coco was all of 10 months old!

I was looking at our storybook collection last night and it dawned on me that more than 2 years on, we’re still reading some of our favourite books. While Coco has outgrown most of the baby books, she still enjoys listening to some of the old favourites. What’s more, she can now chip in by reading some of the lines aloud!

Claire, on the other hand, is still relishing stories suited for younger toddlers, such as lift-the-flap Maisy books, touch-and-feel and peek-a-boo type books.

So, what is ONE mum to do when TWO girls want mummy to read them both a book at the same time? I thought it would be interesting to share our favourite titles that appeal to both my 19 month-old and 3 year-old little readers, so that you too can prop one kiddo upon each of your thighs and enjoy some two-on-one (literally) story time.

(Before they start elbowing and kicking each other, that is. Or before your legs go numb, whichever is earlier.)
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My Top 5: Storybooks For Toddlers

Not only does Coco have a fondness for worms and other grubs, she’s quite a little bookworm herself.

Who remembers the Bookworm Gang?

Who remembers the Bookworm Gang?

When she was younger, she would sit patiently through simple board books on counting, colours, shapes and animals. (Claire, on the other hand, will attempt to eat the books and crawl away in impatience if she’s not allowed to…)

Now that Coco’s two, her interest in books has expanded to include stories with more complex concepts, detailed plots and rolling dialogue. We’ve noticed an increased focus on the story characters’ emotions and facial expressions, with her often stopping me to ask “Is this sad face? Is this angry face? Why is the boy angry? Mummy tell me!”

Her fun and cheeky nature also comes through in her preference for stories based on outlandish ideas, featuring funny characters and talking animals, and brightly illustrated in bold, cartoon style.

Here are our Top 5 favourite storybooks for toddlers:

1. Bake, Mice, Bake

An adorable story about a little bakery run by a family of industrious mice serving up a delicious selection of cakes, tarts and pies. The rolling rhyme is easy to read aloud and captures the busyness of these little creatures as they rush around the store – but not without some minor kitchen accidents! Ooops!

Written by Eric Seltzer. Illustrations by Natasha Rosenberg.

Written by Eric Seltzer. Illustrations by Natasha Rosenberg.

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