“This book is a delight. The illustration is bright, colourful and cute, and makes it highly child-friendly. The story also has meaningful insights for kids on new experiences, new environments, and even new friends.” —Weekender Singapore on A New Home For Bo Bo and Cha Cha
Author’s Note: At its heart, this 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.
“Complemented with beautiful illustrations by Patrick Yee, this is a wonderful book for young children (Singaporean or not) to learn more about Singapore.” —Mamma Dramas on Bo Bo and Cha Cha’s Big Day Out
Author’s Note: After the more serious subject matter of the previous book, I just wanted to have fun with this one. I saw this as my take on Ian Falconer’s Olivia Goes to Venice. By the time the book starts, Bo Bo and Cha Cha have been living at the Mandai Zoo for a while, and more or less become acclimated to the Singaporean climate and culture. What to do then? Explore, of course! I didn’t want this to be a travel or guide book to Singapore, as plenty of those already exist, so the places that they went to visit had to be the less obvious ones than the typical tourist destinations. I also didn’t want to be constrained by actual geography, so the routes that the pandas take to each stop are the result of a bit of artistic license (for example, one can’t take a bumboat all the way to Marina Barrage). And along the way, they learn some things about Singapore history, and take delight in things that locals may take for granted (like swings!). There are also some Easter eggs here for the attentive older reader (for instance, parents or grandparents reading the book to their little ones), including the appearance of me and my daughter Anya!
“How would you share Chinese New Year (CNY) customs in Singapore with friends from overseas? This is the exact situation that pandas Bo Bo and Cha Cha find themselves in when their red panda friend Kevin pays them a visit from China in Bo Bo and Cha Cha and the New Year Gift, a book which will be released [by Epigram Books] during this festive season. Author Jason Erik Lundberg says that the book was conceptualised as CNY celebrations are a big part of Singaporean culture. Though the customs are not explicitly explained, ‘they are shown as a natural part of both the book’s setting and plot, and hopefully invite discussion between parents and children who are curious about which traditions are shown,’ he says.” —Seow Kai Lun, The Sunday Times, Sunday Life!, Chinese New Year Supplement
Author’s Note: I have observed a lot of CNY traditions first-hand (at first, it was all quite unfamiliar, and I had to ask lots of questions), and probably enjoy most the family visitation (as exhausting as it can be to travel to so many different homes). Family is very important to me. I also like the tossing of the lo hei salad, and all of the aspirational things shouted during it, because it’s harmless messy fun. The love letter pastries are pretty awesome too.