Ten Years of Super Cool Books
Updated: Feb 5, 2021
In 2011, my two sons started to really enjoy reading books. They had many questions about how stories work, how books are made, and why they liked some books more than others. I designed some story-based activities at home to explore all this.
This photo shows one of the early things we did, a DIY booklet series featuring an original story, Ghostly. It's a mashup of all the stuff that my sons were interested in at that time -- fantasy elements, origami, jokes, adventures and so forth.
We gave this out for free, just to share the fun. It was printed at home on my black and white laser printer, and my wife and sons would fold, cut and assemble each booklet by hand. We created other stories too, and I called this range of booklets Foldable Fantasy.
I remember one weekend, we were so busy trying to produce a batch of 50 booklets, because people had asked for them. That was when I decided to compile the serialised Ghostly stories and produce a paperback.
This book soon ended up on the shelves of the local public library, and some parents have told me that their kids really enjoy it. Parents started to send me suggestions. Requests. Invitations. I felt like I had to take this a lot more seriously.
I spent a few years just mucking around like this, making up stories at home and getting my sons to illustrate them and printing books to sell. Eventually I was talking to publishers about putting out kids' books together.
The first big collaboration was with Marshall Cavendish, for the Lion City Adventures series. I came up with the idea of a 100-year-old adventuring society for kids that's still active in Singapore today, and they go around the island solving puzzles and mysteries related to Singapore's history.
Each book came with facts and cool trivia about old Singapore. It was so engaging, some people actually believed that this Lion City Adventuring Club organisation exists for real.
This photo is from the launch of the first book in this series. I loved how engaged the kids were, and how ready they were to use their imagination and participate in this. Around this time was when I had my big epiphany, that my role isn't actually to write stories and publish books, it's to use my imagination to give kids a first class childhood.