Shortlist for inaugural Asian Children's Book Award is out

A new award for children's books in Asia puts a spotlight on translation.

The inaugural Asian Children's Book Award by hospitality company Genting Singapore, organised together with the National Book Development Council of Singapore, recognises outstanding picture books with distinct Asian themes.

The winning book's writer, illustrator and translator team, who must be of Asian descent and reside in Asia, will each receive a cash prize of $10,000.

If the book has not been translated, the translator's prize will go to its publisher as a grant to commission a translation of the book.

Book Council deputy director Kenneth Quek says: "It is the largest award to focus on recognising Asian children's writers, illustrators and translators living in Asia. This award is also the first to give equal focus to translators and translation.

"While there are similar awards on an international level, more could be done to raise the profile of Asian - and by extension Singaporean - authors, illustrators and translators."

Shortlisted for the award are (clockwise from top left) Home by Sun Hsin-yu; Night In The Gardens by J.H. Low; Don't Be Sorry, Dad! by Nari Hong; Grandma And The Things That Stay The Same by Eve Aw and Tan Yun Ru; Tiny Feet, Tiny Shoes by Adeline Foo
Shortlisted for the award are (clockwise from top left) Home by Sun Hsin-yu; Night In The Gardens by J.H. Low; Don't Be Sorry, Dad! by Nari Hong; Grandma And The Things That Stay The Same by Eve Aw and Tan Yun Ru; Tiny Feet, Tiny Shoes by Adeline Foo and Beth Parrocha; and Chikibam Meow by Chiki Kikuchi. PHOTO: NATIONAL BOOK DEVELOPMENT COUNCIL OF SINGAPORE

The shortlist for the biennial award was announced on Tuesday night at the Book Council's Makan & Mingle event at *Scape, a showcase of more than 100 home-grown titles for children and young adults published in the last two years.

Two of the six titles shortlisted are written and illustrated by Singaporeans: Night In The Gardens by J.H. Low and Grandma And The Things That Stay The Same by Eve Aw and Tan Yun Ru.

Low, 45, whose book is about a night at Gardens by the Bay, hopes a win could see his book circulated among children in other countries.

"Gardens by the Bay is one of the wonders of the world and it is especially spectacular at night, so I thought it'd be nice to let more children know about its magical experience," he says.

Tiny Feet, Tiny Shoes was written by best-selling Singapore author Adeline Foo and illustrated by Filipino designer Beth Parrocha.

The remaining titles are Don't Be Sorry, Dad! by South Korea's Nari Hong, Home by Taiwan's Sun Hsin-yu and Chikibam Meow by Japan's Chiki Kikuchi.

Hong's book is about a wheelchair user who feels bad that he cannot go cycling, swimming or skating with his young daughter. It is based on the 33-year-old author's relationship with her own father.

"I hope my book will be the best gift to people who live in diversity," she says.

The award received 245 entries from across Asia, the most for any Book Council award to date.

The award's chief judge, Hong Kong-based children's author Nury Vittachi, says: "In the past, books for young readers in this region tended to be folktale collections with art in dated styles. But this year, the competition has drawn beautiful books with stunning artwork and original, imaginative stories which transport readers to new worlds."

The winner will be announced during the Asian Festival of Children's Content on May 19 and the award will be presented by the guest of honour, Singapore Foreign Minister Vivian Balakrishnan.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 20, 2017, with the headline 'Inaugural children's book award rewards translators too'. Print Edition | Subscribe