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Food, fantasy, and Indonesia…

24 Jan 2017 [Art, Children’s, Events]

Last year, as part of the festivities for NBDCS' literary festival for children's books, the Asian Festival of Children's Content, we brought back our popular online illustration contest, the afccSKETCH, to encourage both budding and established illustrators from around the world to submit creative and original artworks.

To our (happy) surprise, we received overwhelming response and enthusiasm from many talents from around the world! In 2016, we garnered 102 submissions from 90 participants from 16 countries, including Indonesia, Singapore, Philippines, India, Canada, Malaysia, China, and Croatia. The quality of the artworks were high, and evidently, our Facebook followers thought so, too, with many of them sharing and 'liking' each of the illustrations. 

This year, we're bringing afccSKETCH back, again. If you're keen, all you need to do is submit an original illustration revolving around one or all of these 3 keywords: food, fantasy, and Indonesia. Winners of both the Judges' Choice and Voters' choice will win a pass to this year's AFCC 2017's Writers and Illustrators Conference (worth SGD350 each). 

For rules and guidelines on afccSKETCH 2017, please click here
To view last year's submissions, click here.

Some of the beautiful artworks we received last year for afccSKETCH 2016.

Remember, the deadline is 15 March 2017! We look forward to receiving your wonderful artworks :) 

- Mabel Lee ([email protected]

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Love to illustrate? Here’s a BIG opportunity to showcase your work

17 Jan 2017 [Art, Children’s, Events]

Often, a picture relates to the reader first, before the words do.

The Book Illustrators Gallery, also known as BIG, is a yearly illustration exhibition that takes place as part of  NBDCS' annual Asian Festival of Children’s Content (AFCC). Many visitors, we're told, have been drawn to the creative artworks on display, and the illustrators' artistic interpretations on various themes and mediums!

We have met some of these talented illustrators in person. Some illustrators, whose artworks have been selected for BIG, attended AFCC and came down to check out their own illustrations on display. Others found new muses or inspirations from other artworks, and enjoyed the different forms of drawing. Some also met their favourite illustrators (who were speakers at AFCC) and shared ideas amongst themselves on how to improve their craft!

Many of the beautiful submissions we've received from BIG are from around the world, and are submitted by budding and experienced adult illustrators who are proud to draw whimsical or unlikely "fairy tale" characters with a child-like quality. 

The illustrations for BIG are chosen carefully by our curators. Some of the selected artworks in 2016 showed not only vibrant colours, but also expression in the characters that resonated deeply. Each illustration revealed a bit about the culture, emotions and themes from a particular country, as experienced by the illustrator. 

Some of the selected illustrations in 2016. For more, go here

Viewing so many wonderful artworks is a rather soothing experience. This is my 4th year coordinating the BIG submissions and I am always in awe of the many illustrations and how enchanting they are! 

If you have recently published artwork in a children's book, or have completed artwork waiting to be published, please view the BIG guidelines here and send it to me at [email protected] before 28 February 2017.

Looking forward to receiving your wonderful submissions!

- Judi Ho ([email protected]

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Creating picture book stories in Japan

10 Jan 2017 [Art, Books, Projects, Travel]

What happens when you bring together 23 artistic students from Singapore and some very curious high school students from Japan to create a picture book? 

Singapore students from art and design schools, together with Hakuba High school students, outside Hakuba High School

Magical moments such as these, occur! 

All the students overcame language barriers with the inventive use of translation applications, physical gestures and of course, drawings!  The students chatted and shared stories to their heart’s content, and came up with first drafts of their illustrated children’s stories to be compiled and published as an e-book.

The workshop took place during JENESYS (Japan-East Asia Network of Exchange for Students and Youths) 2016, a sponsored cultural exchange programme from 13-20 Dec 2016.  Under this programme, the Book Council staff brought 23 students from Hwa Chong Institute, LASELLE College of the Arts, Nanyang Academy of Fine Arts (NAFA), and School of the Arts (SOTA), Singapore Polytechnic and Temasek Polytechnic to Tokyo, Japan and Hakuba Village, Nagano Prefecture, Japan. 

Pre-trip briefing: Ms Misako Ito,  Director of Japan Creative Centre,  Embassy of Japan, and Ms Junko Minagawa, Third Secretary of Japan Creative Centre, speaking to students in Singapore about the trip.  

We visited beautiful iconic places such as the Chihiro Art Museum Tokyo, National Diet Library (International Library of Children’s Literature), Daio Wasabi Farm, Matsumoto Castle, Homestays at Hakuba Village and Hakuba Valley office. It was organised by the Japan International Cooperation Center (JICE) with the support of Japanese government. 

Matsumoto castle, built in the 16th century, is one of the four castles designated as a ‘National Treasure’ in Japan.

The Book Council staff Kenneth and Prema, the students, and author/illustrator Naomi Kojima, at Chihiro Art Museum Tokyo. The museum is maintained through donations and royalties from Chihiro's artwork and built on the site where Chihiro lived and worked from 1952 until her death in 1974. 

Students went on a tour at the National Diet Library (International Library of Children’s Literature) in Tokyo. 

Students hearing from the owner of the Daio Wasabi Farm, Japan’s largest Wasabi farm covering 15 hectares. The temperature of the water of Daio Wasabi Farm is kept 13°C all year. 

The trip helped us develop a better understanding of Japan’s unique art, culture, history, people and food! We also stayed with the Japanese families for two nights and experienced the comforts of home-cooked food, onsens (baths) and stories close to their heart. The students also drew what they experienced at the Homestays! 

A father in the Homestay family cooked delicious ‘Okonomiyaki’ for the Singaporean students. 

Students drew the delicious food they ate at their Homestay family’s house. 

Students drew themselves and other famous people including Hakuba Village’s mascot, ‘Victoire Cheval Blanc Murao’. 

Not forgetting the JICE coordinator, Midori-san, who was quintessential to the effective running of the programme!

When it all came to an end, we left with a heavy heart but also one full of lovely memories.

More photos posted by the group can be seen at  



- Premadevi ([email protected]

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