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YRC Investigates The Anatomy of the Writer
YAA 2013/14 Meet our Finalists Up Close and Personal Featured Stories Get Inspiration for Your Own Writing
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ISSN: 2010- 1376
CORE 101 Singapore as A Writer’s Nation Email From Writing from the UK
Hana Van de Wiel Our Featured Author of the Month
“Anything is possible through a story.”
Building the Next Generation of Thinkers & Writers
YRC TEAM Managing Editor/Publisher Catherine Khoo Editor Carlo Venson Peña Designer
Lim Soo Yong Editorial Assistants Natalya Thangamany, Brian Lee Editorial Advisory Board
Catherine Khoo, Vijay Chandran, Noel Chia Contributors
Ruth Kan, Paulina Lee Illustrators
Adeline Lim, Natalya Thangamany, Elle Jen, James Andres YAC Core Contributors
Kenrick Lam, Lee Tat Wei, Theresa Ellsworth, Ron Yap, Ee Chonghui, Woon Kaiqin, Athena Tan, Fiona Tan For advertising and sales enquiries
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As writers and publishers, we owe it to our readers to ensure that what they browse through the pages of our work is factual, sensible and consumable for everyone who wishes to share the joys of reading and writing. Here at YRC, we try our best to ensure that we consider you, our readers, first and foremost in everything that we place inside these pages of ink and creativity. In this issue, we look at the heart and breath of the magazine: the anatomy of a writer. With features on known graphic and children’s authors and illustrators, we take a sneak peak at how these wordsmiths craft reality in worlds beyond ours, and bring us closer to utopian–or dystopian–societies that hold images of the past, and promises of the future. Read through our Featured Stories and be inspired by the writing prowess of our young authors as portrayed in their award-winning stories from the Young Author Awards; catch award-winning adult authors and illustrators who create alternate universes for the young and young-at-heart in YRC Investigates; and see how writing helps teens get a better grasp of reality in Parents Ask, Teens Answer. Other features like Professions showcasing Singaporean graphic novelist Li Sui Gwee, and expository discussions under CORE 101 by our young authors, stand as testament to the values that YRC holds, being a prime mover in creating literature for kids by kids. Writing is a craft, an art and a vocation. To be able to create something whimsical, or thought-provoking, or gnarly and ghastly is a gift that many have but think they do not have. Realising your writing dexterity takes time, yes, but it also expects dedication and practice, and a lot of reading. We hope that this issue inspires you even more to continue your pursuit of cementing our battlecry that truly Kids Can Write. Happy reading!
is published by Experiences & Experiments Books Pte Ltd 261 Waterloo Street #03-08 Waterloo Centre Singapore 180261 Issue 23
Featured S t o r i e s
Featured Author: Hana Van de Wiel For the first time, YRC opens its doors to the international schools, with a feature on spritely young author Hana van de Weil from Hollandse School. Find out how the YAA has helped shape her aspirations of becoming a renowned author in the near future!
Tiger Girls by Abigail Cheng She was quiet. With a hunchback, small eyes and a round face, she was not very attractive. Everything she said was ignored–be it criticism, complaints, questions and even compliments. Born under a particular sign of the Chinese zodiac is not as cut out as you might think. Read this award-winning piece and discover how truly Asian we can get.
30 Professions Becoming a writer is both a passion and a profession worth committing to. But becoming a graphic novelist is even more challenging. Meet Dr Gwee Li Sui and see how he has combined word with design to create worlds beyond your imagination. 32
He Said, She Said Two teens from each side of the spectrum share their thoughts about being adolescents and being aware of important issues in this breakthrough column on YRC!
Pet Pals Former YRC health columnist Paulina Lee takes on the wild side, as she features favourite pets, their peeves, and how we can properly maintain them as our lovable companions.
Email From the UK A three-part special, read how children from the other side of the globe live their lives at home, in the community, in school and in their country. Learn their about culture and discover how closely similar your life is with theirs.
48 The Forge by Alexander Yean A compilation of vignettes about an unnamed boy as he grows up in the dystopian world of Vedora–every vignette shows an important event in his life, each set years apart and happening in different seasons, in which he loses an important part of himself in order to become part of Vedora– his ‘forging’ into a weapon.
32 He Said,
35 Pet Pals
YRC Investigates the Anatomy of a Writer Are you a committed writer? Do you know what makes a good writer? Read through YRC investigates and discover insights from four of Singapore’s known authors to inspire yourself to become the writer you’ve always dreamt of becoming.
Spotlight: Understanding the Young Author Awards Started in 2007, the Young Author Awards has created platforms for more than 400 students, helping them get published, while at the same time, building the library of Asian literature for children. Meet the finalists for this year’s YAA!
Parents Ask, Teens Answer When teens stop talking to their family, parents can become worried about the lack of communication they might have or not have with their children. Can using a journal help in bridging the gaps? Read to find out what our experts think!
63 Resources The YRC is more than just a magazine. It’s a useful tool for learning better E n g l i s h comprehension and writing for both primary and secondary students. Tap these useful guide questions for your next group discussion in class or at the student study area, which are coupled with resource sheets available for schools and parents!
inspirations CORE 101: Teens’ Voice Is taking an arts track, particularly a writing track in college, still a viable option for today’s youth? Is becoming a writer still an option for this fast-paced, capitalist world? 44
The Anatomy of a Writer by Athena Tan, Guangyang Primary School
Becoming the Writer that You already are by Fiona Tan, Singapore Chinese Girls School
CORE 101: Points of Views Have we grown up to become a society of readers and writers? Do writers of all sorts still have a place in modern society? 37
Passion and Practicality by Lee Tat Wei, Anglo-Chinese School (Independent)
Beyond the Arts of Now by Ee Chonghui, National Junior College
YRC Magazine recognises the talents of our regular co nt r i b u to r s a n d writers. For article, illustration and photo contributions, please contact the Editor at info@ youngreaderclub.sg or call 6336.8985.
Adeline Lim Educator / Illustrator What Adeline did for this issue: Featured Stories Illustrations Ad e l i n e L i m i s a n illustrator, designer and visual artists educator who is currently residing in Singapore. Experienced in both physical and digital mediums, Adeline has worked as a layout artist for magazines, as well as covered a broad range of illustrated work in ink, watercolour paints and digital collage for childrenâ€™s stories.
Paulina Lee Student, University of Adelaide What Paula did for this issue: Pet Pals Pu r s u i n g a d e gre e in health sciences in Australia, Paulina used to be the health columnist for YRC m a g a z i n e. N ow a l l grown up, she spends most of her time on her studies and in documenting travels she often goes to.
Ron Yap YAC Core Member, Zhong Hua Secondary School Wh a t R o n d i d fo r this issue: He Said, S h e S a i d / Pa re nt s Ask, Teens Answer As a budding writer, Ron started his stint with the Young Author Scheme, becoming a merit prize winner in the Young Author Awards. Now at 16, Ron aspires to be a travelling author, in pursuit of his ultimate inspiration to write his bestseller.
Ee Chonghui Student, National Junior College What Chonghui did for this issue: CORE 101 A wee lass when she e nte re d t h e Yo u n g Author Scheme, Chonghui is now in secondary school at NJC and has continually kept in touch with the magazine through her contributions. This is her first column for YRC.
Kenrick Lam Student, AngloChinese School International Brian Lee Jun Wei Student, Nanyang Technological University What Brian did for this issue: Cover/ Featured Author Shifting from BioMed to English Literature was not a difficult decision for Brian. His love for the written word, coupled with the passion to write, fuels his desire to one day become a published author.
What Kenrick did for this issue: Parents Ask, Teens Answer Online The most senior of the YAC Core, Kenrick is a romantic at heart and an objective writer by training. He won second prize in the 2007 Maybank Young Author Awards and has been writing for the magazine since its inception in 2010.
Theresa Ellsworth Student, Occidental College What Theresa did for this issue: He Said, She Said Even before winning a merit prize in the 2 0 1 1 / 1 2 Yo u n g Author Awards, Theresa has shared her writing dexterity to YRC in snippets of contributions that underline her love for writing and her dream of becoming a published author in the future.
Lee Tat Wei Student, Anglo-Chinese School Independent What Tat Wei did for this issue: CORE 101 A senior member of the YAC Core, Tat Wei wrote his first book of 27,000 words when he was 11. Now in secondary school, Tat Wei is a football goalie at school, but is just as hard-hitting as a contributor for the magazine.
Fiona Tan Student, Singapore Chinese Girls School What Fiona did for this issue: CORE 101 As a merit awardee in the Young Author Awards, Fiona wrote her first story under the Young Author Scheme when she was in Primary 5. Now in SCGS, she writes feisty commentary for the magazine.
Athena Tan Student, Guangyang Primary School What Athena did for this issue: CORE 101 Athena lived in California for nine years, and came back to Singapore three years ago; she has just turned 12. A published picture book author when she was just in Primary 1, released by Barnes and Noble California, her articles have been featured in the Straits Times. She maintains a fashion and beauty blog for tweens.
Woon Kaiqin Student, Canberra Secondary School What Kaiqin did for this issue: CORE 101 Online A finalist in the 2012/13 Young Author Awards, Kaiqin is currently a student in Canberra Secondary School.
Ruth Kan Content Strategist, (Youth) Focus on the Family W h a t R u t h d i d fo r t h i s i s s u e : Pa re n t s Ask, Teens Answer As the Youth Specialist w i t h Fo c u s o n t h e Family Singapore, Ruth has been involved in the development of No Apologies and I t â€™s UnComplicated program, and has been interviewed by the media on relationships and sexuality issues. A vibrant and passionate individual, she also regularly speaks to young people and have inspired more than four thousand students from secondary and tertiary institutions in the past six years.
At YRC Magazine, we ensure that stories are kept at their most original form, yet there are times that content is abridged to suit the magazineâ€™s readership. Stories featured in YRC Magazine are abridged as necessary, to fit page constraints. The YRC is a literary magazine that conforms to the reading palate of 10-16 year olds. Once a story is featured in the magazine, it is at the discretion of the editor to copyedit articles to a certain extent, to suit the target audience. The views and opinions of the contributors do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of YRC magazine and its staff.
A b a n d o f s t u d e n t s f ro m t h e E a s t Co a s t f l o o d t h e YRC mailbox for this issue’s Letters to the Editor. Thank you one and all for sending your letters to us! YRC Magazine welcomes your comments, suggestions, and anything that you wish to share with us! Here are letters we received from students like you. Send yours to firstname.lastname@example.org or snail mail it to our address!
& e ‘M ystery I would lik be ’ stories to Adventure dI the YRC, an featured in enture of those adv hope more e a part of th titles to be orld As I like the ‘W . e n zi a g a m s, as pe of article We See It ’ ty t what inions abou they give op from le observe other peop ay o r m, in one w around the another. Leong, 11 Charmaine h Avenue Bedok Nort
both oral and written, have existed since mank ind lived in caves and experimented with f ire. Pre vi ou sl y k nown as sh am a ns, minstrels, bards, historians, scribes, singers, playwrights and writers before and when they earned their modern title, they have enriched our lives, taught us important morals through their stories and even foresaw the future. Luck y for us, the ar t of wr iting is not a closely guarded secret. Enter Hana Van De Wiel, a 12-year-old girl of Dutch-Japanese heritage living in the heartlands of Singapore. An early practitioner of the art, she has graced the staff and readers of the YRC with her gift in the form of her award-winning story ‘Wolf Princess’.
F E AT U R E S
writers in their earlier days, she began dreaming of her very own world full of magical creatures and characters having adventures in them. M o s t i m p o r t a n t l y, t h e w r i t i n g process has become delectable to her. In writing ‘Wolf Princess’, Hana says her chief enjoyment consists of fleshing out her characters and mixing words and putting sentences together into stories, the way that a chef might put together a dish. “This is a fundamental part in being a writer, as a dream is a powerful war horse– but it must be fed and watered,” Hana shared.
Like every other endeavour, writing happens when the right motivations appear. With Hana, it began with reading Rick Riordan, the famous author of the Percy Jackson series. Reading, one day, was no longer enough for her : this was when the thought of writing came along. Probably like Rick Riordan and many other prominent fantasy
Abigail Cheng, 12 Raffles Girl’s School A s i a n Ta l e s
I’m Abigail. I’m twelve– almost thirteen– and I don’t know why I write. It just comes naturally to me– like eating and breathing and talking. But I do know “why” the story. Tiger Girls is for all girls anywhere in the world, especially those who are oppressed because of social norms. It is also for girls born in the Year of the Tiger in the Chinese zodiac, which explains the name. I hope you like my story.
Tiger Girls Written in Pr 5 at CHIJ St Nicholas Girls’ School (Primary)
Sisters She was quiet. A silent sufferer. With a hunchback, small eyes and round face, she was not very attractive. Everything she said was ignored-be it criticism, complaints, questions and even compliments. If she was adopted, I would not know. I pitied her. She was my closest and best friend. However I had to keep up pretence of not liking her in front of my elders. Our relationship was long and lasting. In 1959 she was nine. I was seven. In those days girls were still very much despised– by those in conservative homes and especially those with unlucky birth dates or zodiacs. I was a ‘dragon’– the sign of my zodiac and my sister was a ‘tiger’– which was hers. Tiger girls, in Chinese tradition, were extremely stubborn and fierce, which led them to be very much hated. Dragon babies were thought to bring luck to eve-
Illustrations by Adeline Lim
ryone in the family, so Dragon girls were the best-treated of the lot. I was beautiful, charming and elegant– three virtues that all marriage-brokers and proud parents looked out for in girls. Those three qualities would lead me into a good marriage and consequently a high status in society. Furthermore, the blind fortune-teller who felt babies’ faces told my parents “This little one is a lucky one. She would marry into a good family, live to a long age and have many descendants.” Hearing that, my parents were greatly pleased. They heard a horrible one three years before “This little one… How unlucky! A tiger girl that will live to a long age but not marry anyone. She will either be a courtesan or a black magician. Judging by her alignment of her features she should be first an unsuccessful courtesan then become a black magician.” My sister from that moment on was not even considered as my
Due to the length of the story, YRC has created an abridged version of the story. Catch the full story at www. youngreaderclub.sg. under Resources.
Compared to the Western zodiac, the animal symbols of the Chinese zodiac are not related to the constellations, and are more attributed to the impact of the animal character’s personality to the person born under this sign. There are five elements that affect the personality traits imbibed by this zodiac: metal, water, wood, earth and fire. That’s a total of 60 possible combinations of personality and characteristic.
Go Mo n
Abigail Cheng’s story is loosely based on how people treat those born under a particular sign. These signs are ruled by the Chinese zodiac, also known as Sh˜engxiào, which is comprised of 12 animal representations spanning a 12-year cycle.
The Tiger Within
Aside from these elements, the concept of yin and yang affect the affinity or distraught among the animal signs. Yin is perceived as earth, female, dark and passive while Yang is perceived as heaven, male, light and active. Animal signs serve a useful social function, aside from just telling personalities. For example, instead of asking for age, people ask for what is one’s animal sign to calculate age within the 12-year cycle, as well as make the perceived personality a discussion piece.
...Understanding how the world works
Interviews by Natalya Thangamany Full article on www.youngreaderclub.sg
THE ANATOMY OF A WRITER
Whether one enjoys writing or not, it is all around us, and forms a very important part of human communication. Without the power of writing, not only do we get to explore different things but we also understand ourselves, our fellow humans and the world around us. Having originated from pictures scratched on cave walls, writing has evolved to become a source of both information and entertainment.
NATIONAL EDUCATION SIDE BAR
A.J.Low SHERLOCK SAM SERIES “We’ve both wanted to write since we were quite young. We were both voracious readers as children, and wanted to tell our own stories to the world.” The Author: A.J. Low, the husband-andwife team of Adan Jimenez and Felicia LowJimenez. Name of Series: Sherlock Sam, 3rd prize, Popular Reader’s Choice Award 2013. Inspiration for Writing: “Our biggest inspiration is Sam’s namesake, Sherlock Holmes, but we were also inspired by other mysteries such as Nancy Drew, Famous Five, and Secret Seven. Watson came about simply by the fact that Felicia had always wanted to write a story with a robot, and since our editor had told us we should put more gadgets into the book (Watson did not exist in the first draft of Book 1!), we thought, “Why not a robot?” We hope to communicate an entertaining story to our audience. If they also happen to learn about some delicious food, or a cultural landmark in Singapore, then great! When we get stuck during our writing, we’ll watch some mystery-of-the-week shows like Bones and Castle to get new inspiration, and we read a lot. Inspiration can come from anywhere, so we are constantly keeping our eyes and ears open.” What They Enjoy About Writing: “We
enjoy the initial idea process, before we start any real plotting or writing. Just coming up with jokes and making connections between disparate scenes we’ve thought up. Throwing ideas at each other and seeing what sticks, seeing what makes the other person laugh, seeing what makes the other person think. That’s our favourite part.” Challenges Faced During Writing: “We’ve streamlined our process pretty well now, but every once in a while we disagree on something and have a spirited discussion about how best to proceed. We always come to some kind of agreement because we realise we both want to make the book as good as it can possibly be.” How Can Writers Contribute to Society: “Books have the uncanny ability to show us something we’ve never seen before, and they make us think about things we’ve never thought about before. When someone writes a story, he or she is already contributing to society.” Advice for Aspiring Writers: “Keep reading, and keep writing. And brace yourself for rejection because it will likely happen a lot. Develop a thick skin and just keep writing.” Issue 23
Catherine Khoo Publisher/Editor/Author Janus Education Services Pte Ltd Experiences & Experiments Books Pte Ltd Driven by her life-long goal to ‘nurture the next generation of thinkers and writers’, Ms Catherine Khoo juggles both her education and publishing arms to help children aged eight to sixteen express themselves freely through creative writing. Through helping them to write stories ranging beyond 3,000 words and then publishing them, Ms Khoo aims to groom children to become more than just readers and writers– to be bold and inspired thinkers.
The Three-Road Journey Catherine wears several hats in her life– company head, publisher, editor, author, wife and mother. She first started out as a writer in her teenage years. “I have always been fascinated with reading and I had that love of books since young,” she shared. I even had my first story published when I was thirteen years old.” Her book Love Notes, published in 1990, was nominated for an award by the National Book Development Council of Singapore. Catherine shares, “The writer always feels like they have written the best book in the world,” she shares on the clash between writer and publisher. “The publisher has to look at commercial potential and if the story can sell. Sometimes, the writing gets rejected because it may not have enough commerce potential.” She shares her difficulty in juggling her three roles as writer, editor and publisher, as there were conflicts between respecting a writer’s expression and giving out something that could sell. “While a writer is one who writes and creates, an editor looks at writing in a different light and helps it work for the reader. I first got a job as a regional editor in 1996 for a company from Japan, and I had to help them create magazines and liaison with contributors.”
...Understanding how the world works
YRC speaks to the creator of Myth of the Stone, Dr Gwee Li Sui, on how the first Singaporean graphic novel came to be, the inspiration behind it and what makes a visual storyteller. First of all, what is a graphic novel? Is it a comic book? There are many definitions that look at what makes a graphic novel and what makes it different or similar to a comic book. One definition is that of a story presented in comic strips and packaged as a book. Another points out that unlike comic books, graphic novels are not periodical and can complete its own story in just one book. Graphic novels come in varying lengths, with even just one graphic novel being several pages longer than a comic book. Dr Gwee’s Myth of the Stone was the first full-length graphic novel in English that was made in Singapore, and it would definitely not be the last.
Birth and Rebirth “I was reading a lot on religion and myths at the time,” he explains to YRC. “You can work out from the book that the question of how God gave us free will and yet knew 30
Interview by Natalya Thangamany
everything fascinated me. So this story was written as a way to look at the issue differently. I also wanted a world with strange creatures from world mythology, such as garudas and kappas, and from world history, such as dodos and moas.” From the moment he got his story idea to the graphic novel’s first release, Dr Gwee had learnt plenty from the whole process. He worked on Myth of the Stone during a year break, back in his days as a university student. “The enjoyment gradually came when parts of the story began to take shape,” he shares. “And you knew that it was all going to turn out fine.” It was after three months of hard work and dedication that the graphic novel was completed in 1992. It was first released in 1993, but was set aside due to publication problems and lack of interest in the medium. “The manuscript sat in my drawer for many more months. It was not until I was asked by an uncle of mine to draw for a fledgling publishing company that I took the pages out again,” Dr Gwee recounts. “I showed them to the folks at the now-defunct East Asia Books Services, and they were excited enough to want to publish the book. But the public reception was not good.” Twenty years later, Dr Gwee worked with a local publisher and was able to revive his story into a special edition for fans both old and new.
He Said, She Said The Voices of Teens Today...
Have we really grown up to become a society of readers and writers? Is taking an arts track, particularly a writing track in college, still a viable option for todayâ€™s youth? Who writes better then: men or women? Read this issueâ€™s reflections on teens by teens.
Taking care of pets better
By Paulina Lee
This article will not be about a cute and cuddly little rabbit or hamster you can buy from the pet shop, but rather it is about the not-so-pretty, thin and patchy-hair stray cats that you see by the void deck every day. How many of us actually take time out to stop and appreciate the cats like we do through the glass windows at pet shops? Are we forgetting that these cats were once owned and need our love and care too, even more so than the ones at the pet shops? They may look tough but deep inside, they too want a cuddle. Stray cats, unlike house cats, are more wary of human beings. Those with scars on their bodies were probably mistreated by their previous owner and abandoned or they may have been involved in accidents. Thatâ€™s why it is important to show them a little love once in a while. A slight pat on the back or a gentle stroke would do the job. A Helping Hand If and when you have the time and funds, buy a can of cat food and pour it onto a paper plate for them. Do remember to wait for them to finish their food and clear the plate for them as it is considered littering and residents in that area will not be happy about it. When feeding stray cats, it is recommended that some water is poured together with the food as cats do not tend to drink water on its own and mixing water with their food would allow them to consume water. If you see the cat every day, consider giving it a name and calling it when you are petting it or feeding it. This would make him happier and trust you more so the tendency for him to accept your food would be higher. Word of Caution Always remember to wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water after petting or feeding the. If they look angry with their arched back and growling, do not approach them and walk away slowly. Issue 23
CORE 101... Points of View
At the age of three, I innocently told my Mom that when I grew up, I wanted to be the President of Singapore (a statement she still laughs at me about to this day). During my Primary One art class, I handed in a picture of myself as a rock star for a “My Ambition” assignment– horribly drawn, but filled with naïve optimism. In my last year of my primary school, I’d decided that I wanted to be a lawyer. Entering secondar y school star ted a phase in which a brainstorm of future occupations filled my mind; director, psychologist, author, etc. At one point I’d seriously considered an office clerk as my ambition just because the US sitcom The Office was such a source of laughter and entertainment. 36
By Lee Tat Wei Anglo-Chinese School (Independent)
Growing up, we would develop a myriad of dreams and aspirations– which, as we mature in age, our ambitions too mature in realism. Most recently I had resigned to the fact that I am still undecided about what I want to do at all in the future, and just accepted the (cliché) ambition of being happy. I’m sure the position I am in is shared by many adolescent individuals, still confused and hesitant about their future. The fact that you are reading this magazine shows that you have a certain interest in reading and writing– well then, does that simply mean that you should be a writer? Is interest alone reason enough to decide a future occupation? Is said occupation (being a writer) even feasible in this day and age? Should we then decide to take a writing track in college (or its equivalents)?
Email from... UK
ISAAC SALIU, 10yrs old School: Vauxhall Primary School Ambition: A Scientist, Astronomer or Chemist. Hobbies & Interests: Tennis and Science.
YRC welcomes Isaac, a 10-yearo l d l a d f ro m t h e U K w h o s h a re s with us his insights about school, his community and his love for writing.
School and Family Life A day at Vauxhall Primary School is amazing. We start with Grammar which is good and challenging. Then we have Literacy. This is followed by Maths (which I’m good at) and the afternoons are always epic! I always have a great time as I’m always making jokes and I learn new things. Here in the UK, everyone is really friendly. For example, if I’m out with my mum someone might say ‘hello’ and that makes her really happy! Both my family and my community are extremely friendly and welcoming. I have several siblings at my school. In our community it is very easy to make friends. Our education system is very good, as it teaches you the basics and then builds on them, until you don’t need to learn any more. 38
School has really helped a lot and I mean a lot! We are given loads of resources to support us, and if you need guidance, the staff are more than willing to help. At home, there is not so much need to write extended pieces, it is okay to write in brief.
Opening the event was Janus Education Services managing director and veteran author/ publisher Ms Catherine Khoo, who shared about the importance of providing a platform for children in the publishing world. “Children have a vast trove of ideas that need to be discovered and provided an avenue for,” Ms Khoo said. “The Young Author Awards is a testament to the provision of that opportunity.” Also gracing the event were senior staff writers of the Young Reader Club Magazine who shared insights about their experiences in writing and how they themselves discovered their own styles and irks as they wrote in varieties of formats. Present in the gathering were Lee Tat Wei (Anglo-Chinese School Independent), Ron Yap (Zhong Hwa Institution), Bryan Ong (New Town Secondary School) and Athena Tan (Guanyang Primary School). Tat Wei was particularly vocal in asking the attending finalists to continue exploring possible styles and genres to help them discover a more comfortable pace and storyline to work with. He was optimistic in the possibility of having the finalists’ works featured, and become part of the magazine eventually. Ron, on the other hand, encouraged the finalists to use personal experiences more in discovering their calling for writing. He emphasised that using personal experience was vital in creating characters that were both visually and mentally appealing to the reader.
Together with their parents and friends, 18 out of 38 finalists of the Young Author Awards 2013/14 gathered at Janus Education Services’ Joo Chiat facility last 18 December 2013, in a simple ceremony that applauded their efforts in expanding the existing Asian literature for kids by kids.
Finalists N a m e d fo r YAA 2013/14 Starting as an ambitious enrichment programme to help students in a primary school in the heartlands to improve their writing and critical skills in English, the Young Author Scheme has paved the way for the region’s premier and most unique awards for under1 8 s : t h e Yo u n g Au t h o r Awards (YAA). Since 2007, the YAA has lauded the efforts of almost 400 young authors who affirm that kids truly can write.
Several of the finalists shared their thoughts about the YAA and writing. Guo Bing Xuan from Catholic High (Primary) says, “I wrote the story because I wanted to improve my composition skills and also improve my phrases. I like to write and read books that famous authors wrote, and use good phrases I can find in my composition.” Issue 23
CORE 101... Teens’ Voice There are many books that I have read, but I only really remember a few of the plots and titles. However, the thing that I seldom remember is the author’s name. Only some authors jump out and catch my eye, and those are attached to bestselling books and whom I have met in person. Perhaps, most people remember the topnotch authors first, who have written their favourite books. I, for one, remember Suzanne Collins, who released her trilogy The Hunger Games, the most-read series on my shelf. I also remember Isobelle Carmody and Sarah Brennan. Sarah and Isobelle hail from the UK and Australia, yet they weave so many of the Asian cultures, particularly Chinese history in Sarah’s case, into their writing. Good authors, I believe, can be defined as those who immerse readers in a different culture, able to document it and write it down, and share with others. In this way, they are sharing a piece of the world to others who may not have the chance to ever go there. In J.K Rowling’s case, readers glimpsed into the mysterious and stunning world of wizards, sorcery and magic. For Suzanne Collins, The Hunger Games gets us thinking about our future– will it become like Katniss Everdeen’s future? A realm in which freedom from The Games is rare, where the rich overrule the poor, basking in the sorrows and bloodshed of poverty? Some authors, like Jennifer Brody of The Hate List, create moving, yet painfully real stories. The Hate List is about a girl whose boyfriend opened fire on their school– and killed and injured those on the list. That actually happens in real life, we just may not know it. Here in sunny Singapore, the most that happens in schools are fist-fights, but certainly not a shooting incident. In the States, however, a lot of this happens. Fro m a 1 2 -ye a r- o l d ’s p e r s p e c t i ve, newspapers appear drab, bland, and to a certain extent, boring. I know many children my age would opt to read a novel than the newspapers. Authors know this, but great authors do not overlook this either. Instead, they write about 44
ANATOMY OF A WRITER by Athena Tan Guangyang Primary School it, adopting it in a story context. From there, more people become aware and enlightened about this. We also recommend these books to our friends, under the influence that this book is a great read, and we should all learn something from it. Judging from the number of participants in the micro-fiction competition last year and the number of young Singaporeans’ poetry books being featured in the papers, our country seems to have a love with literature and a great love of writing, across all ages. While the local schools here teach what is needed, they do not go beyond teaching situational writing, formal/ informal letter-writing, email format and such. However, the international schools here seem to be teaching, perhaps, more. Writers have a cemented place in modern society. In fact, they may be the most modern out of our modern society. Most books these days include a fair amount on science fiction, futurist ideals and have sleek, new inventions. M y conviction towards us becoming a society of readers and writers is strong. Naturally, the more people reading, the more writers there are. Writing is for everybody to indulge in, the same goes for reading. The only big obstacle I can see is MINDSET. Most parents will want their children to pursue careers as doctors, lawyers, or finance directors, since they equate to a stable income. As cold as it can be, how many have made it big through writing? Only if they are lucky enough to have their works first made into movies and thrillers. The superficial world also divides readers into categories—and all of them involve actually reading something about romance, science fiction, horror, fantasy. And we all know *You Only Live Once somebody has to write them at one point or another for them.
Mrs Chandran from Bukit Timah asks: My son has always been aloof as a teenager. His quiet personality is reflective by his disinterest in many things that we do as a family. As a parent I feel very sad to see my child so unattached to us, and he is unable to talk about his emotions and problems with me and my husband. I have recently read that wr iting helps te e n s re l i e ve te n s i o n a n d h e l p e x p re s s their thoughts more to their parents. Can this be an option for me and my son? Our resident youth specialist Ruth Kan starts the conversation. She says that during the adolescent years, it is normal for a teen to pull away from his parents to find his own individuality. He might also be experiencing many physiological changes that is affecting his emotions; making it harder for him to express himself clearly. As parents it is important to be understanding and not take his negative behaviour personally.
Ruth believes as you write in a loving and non-judgemental manner,Â you are setting an example for your son and it will encourage him to open up to you. A mother who attended a parenting programme, shared with us her positive experience when she wrote a letter to her daughter. She said that her daughter was so encouraged and touched by her words that it greatly improved their relationship with one another.
She says letter-writing can be a good alternative to face-to-face conversations, especially if the teen needs more time to process his feelings and put it into words. Parents might want to start the ball rolling by writing a letter to him, Ruth suggests.Â You can always begin by first assuring him of your unconditional love. Every teenager wants and needs to know that his parents are always there for him; despite the changes that are happening. Next, parents can let him know how you appreciate his unique qualities and talents; and you celebrate his accomplishments. Tell him how you value your relationship with him and how it can even be better.
Finally, Ruth suggests, as you look forward to your sonâ€™s reply, be prepared for some honest feedback which might sting. It is important not to overreact but to practice empathetic listening and build trust when reading and responding to his letters. This way, you will not hamper communication but open doors for more meaningful conversations in the future.
She forewarns parents that that this is not the time to point out his shortcomings or to find fault. In fact, it is an opportunity to acknowledge your own mistakes and perhaps even apologize to him. Share with him your desire for a closer relationship and how you hope to do that. You could even ask him for suggestions on ways to communicate better with him. 46
YAC senior CORE member Ron Yap also shared his thoughts. This issue, he says, hits home quite hard because he too is an introverted child and sometimes refuses to share feelings with relatives. First, the severity of the problem has to be determined, Ron suggests. Is the teen downright refusing to communicate? Has he progressed to become cynical, pessimistic and withdrawn from everyone? If the situation is that serious or threatens to become as such, then perhaps counselling from a professional would help more. However, Ron thinks that is not the case. Instead, perhaps parents can change the style
Alexander Yean, 16 Raffles Institution I’m just a student with a passion for literature and reading fiction, and sometimes in my spare time I try my hand at writing my own. My favourite author is Ray Bradbury, who recently passed away, famous for his dystopian short stories.
The Forge Written in Sec 2 at Raffles Institution
The Smelting It was the most beautiful thing he had ever seen in his life. Shimmering, with colours shifting ever so slightly, it was a strange fabric-out of this glorious nation, as they would say in Vedora. Most strange indeed, and most exciting, to one who has never seen anything outside the spectrums black and white. “Kite?” the boy whispered softly as he kissed the gentle cloth with his parched lips, in awe, in wonder, almost in reverence, as he caressed the wrinkled tag that bore the letters in an antiquated cursive script attached along with the strange contraption. It had been a wintry morning, one of those days where the wind snaps at you like a sharp whip and makes you pull your torn cloak a little closer to hide from its cruel menace. He had chanced upon the shop, so deserted it seemed that it looked no different from the grey, closed down ones that lined the dusty streets, except that it had a
Illustrations by Adeline Lim
small rosebush at its entrance. “Out of the past” was its name, it had no automated vendor, it bore no sealed license, and its products were? memories. What once was magical had been transmuted by the mere passing of years-many, many years, notwithstanding- to a status that is almost? vulgar. Clearly it was not something that could not been found on the list of Vedoran-approved products. There was no customary grey seal anywhere on the kite. All that was, was a glittery fabric, something so pure, innocent and unstained, something so fantastic– a montage of dancing colour that brightened the soul, a splash of flaming flambouyance against the dullness of monotony, so beautiful, so entrancing, so mystifying. It was dangerous to take it, that he knew all too well. Vedoran peace-keepers had taken great pains to make sure nothing was out of place. Something that stands out to so great an extent as this wouldn’t be safe to be seen with. But the overwhelming
Due to the length of the story, YRC has created an abridged version of the story. Catch the full story at www. youngreaderclub.sg. under Resources.
Forging Yourself A Sword
Forging is a manufacturing process that involves shaping metal by compression. It is classified according to the temperature it is conducted: hot, warm and cold. Forged parts can weigh from a kilogram to around 600 metric tons. In Alexander Yean’s story The Forge, he used vignettes–specific incidents or impressions experienced by
the author–and forged them into one story, much like the forging process of metal. Of all forged metal, swords would have to be the most interesting. Sword making is the work of specialised metalworkers called bladesmiths. Swords are graded 58
based on four key criteria: hardness, strength, flexibility and balance. Swords have seven basic parts: the point, which is the tip of the sword; the blade, which is the sharp edge on both sides; the fuller, which is the flatter middle part of the blade; the guard, which forges the blade to the hand grip; the grip, where the user holds onto the sword; the pommel, which lodges one’s hand to the grip so it doesn’t slip; and the peen block, which locks the pommel in place. Although still made by skilled bladesmiths, most modern swords however are not made by metal forging anymore because of exhaustive time and expense.
We’re making our moves
Budding new young authors...
More inspiring stories...
and the same-old love for the written word– all into one jam-packed year of an improved YRC!
Space War by Marcus Chew In 2100, Earth was invaded by aliens, but they have been repelled. Two centuries later, Earth has become advanced. It has confirmed two other planets with life forms in it: Mizay and Exnet. Commander Mark, one of Earth’s best generals, is sent to invade Mizay. The war takes twists and turns eventually. Who will win the battle? Would the commander succeed? Read through this action-filled story and discover the cause of the war of worlds.
Rage of the Werebears by Maximillian Ang “I am a werebear– a sleek, black killing machine. I can transform at will.. It all began when the ship I was on, sank. I got stranded in Alaska and met a pack of werebears who eventually revealed my past to me.” Find out the truth behind the werebears in this gripping story that won in the YAA 2012/13!
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