Shortlists for Scholastic Asian Book Award and Singapore Book Awards revealed

The nominees for the Scholastic Asian Book Award include (from far left) Tina Cho from South Korea, Varsha Seshan and Aditi Krishnakumar from India, Stephanie Ho from Singapore and Golda Mowe (right) from Malaysia.
The nominees for the Scholastic Asian Book Award include Tina Cho (above) from South Korea, Varsha Seshan and Aditi Krishnakumar from India, Stephanie Ho from Singapore and Golda Mowe from Malaysia. PHOTOS: ASIAN FESTIVAL OF CHILDREN'S CONTENT
The nominees for the Scholastic Asian Book Award include (from far left) Tina Cho from South Korea, Varsha Seshan and Aditi Krishnakumar from India, Stephanie Ho from Singapore and Golda Mowe (right) from Malaysia.
The nominees for the Scholastic Asian Book Award include Tina Cho from South Korea, Varsha Seshan (above) and Aditi Krishnakumar from India, Stephanie Ho from Singapore and Golda Mowe from Malaysia.
The nominees for the Scholastic Asian Book Award include (from far left) Tina Cho from South Korea, Varsha Seshan and Aditi Krishnakumar from India, Stephanie Ho from Singapore and Golda Mowe (right) from Malaysia.
The nominees for the Scholastic Asian Book Award include Tina Cho from South Korea, Varsha Seshan and Aditi Krishnakumar (above) from India, Stephanie Ho from Singapore and Golda Mowe from Malaysia.
The nominees for the Scholastic Asian Book Award include (from far left) Tina Cho from South Korea, Varsha Seshan and Aditi Krishnakumar from India, Stephanie Ho from Singapore and Golda Mowe (right) from Malaysia.
The nominees for the Scholastic Asian Book Award include Tina Cho from South Korea, Varsha Seshan and Aditi Krishnakumar from India, Stephanie Ho (above) from Singapore and Golda Mowe from Malaysia.
The nominees for the Scholastic Asian Book Award include (from far left) Tina Cho from South Korea, Varsha Seshan and Aditi Krishnakumar from India, Stephanie Ho from Singapore and Golda Mowe (right) from Malaysia.
The nominees for the Scholastic Asian Book Award include Tina Cho from South Korea, Varsha Seshan and Aditi Krishnakumar from India, Stephanie Ho from Singapore and Golda Mowe (above) from Malaysia.

The Scholastic Asian Book Award is one of the richest prizes for unpublished works of children's fiction

The shortlists for two book prizes to be given out in May - the Scholastic Asian Book Award and the Singapore Book Awards - have been unveiled.

Five authors are vying for the $10,000 first prize that comes with the Scholastic Asian Book Award.

They are Stephanie Ho from Singapore, Tina Cho from South Korea, Golda Mowe from Malaysia and Aditi Krishnakumar and Varsha Seshan from India.

The shortlisted entries were announced by the National Book Development Council of Singapore and Scholastic Asia on Monday and were whittled down from a pool of 54 submissions from 11 countries.

Sponsored by the Asian arm of American publishing giant Scholastic, which specialises in educational content, the biennial award is one of the richest prizes for unpublished works of children's fiction.

  • The nominees

  • Scholastic Asian Book Award 2016

    Shortlisted entries

    • Chasing Freedom: The Asian Underground Railroad by Tina Cho (South Korea)

    • Codex: The Lost Treasure Of The Indus by Aditi Krishnakumar (India)

    • Dragonflies, Jigsaws And A Rainbow by Varsha Seshan (India)

    • Island Girl by Stephanie Ho (Singapore)

    • The Budding Traveller by Golda Mowe (Malaysia)

    Singapore Book Awards 2016

    Best Fiction Title

    • The Ministry Of Moral Panic by Amanda Lee Koe (Epigram Books)

    • Bamboo Heart by Ann Bennett (Monsoon Books)

    • Big Mole by Ming Cher (Epigram Books)

    • The Dictator's Eyebrow by Cyril Wong (Pagesetters Services)

    • As The Heart Bones Break by Audrey Chin (Marshall Cavendish)

    Best Non-Fiction Title

    • Larger Than Life: Celebrating The Human Spirit by Belinda Lee and Juleen Shaw (Marshall Cavendish)

    • Growing Up In The Era Of Lee Kuan Yew by Lee Hui Min (Lingzi Media)

    • Secrets Of Singapore by Lesley-Anne Tan and Monica Lim ( Epigram Books)

    • Keep Calm And Mother On: 21 Stories From Mothers With Children Aged 1 To 21 edited by Pauline Loh (Armour Publishing)

    • Through The Lens Of Lee Kip Lin: Photographs Of Singapore 1965-1995 by Lai Chee Kien (National Library Board and Editions Didier Millet)

    Best Children's Title

    • The Amazing Sarong by Quek Hong Shin (Epigram Books)

    • The Search by Lee Kow Fong (Lingzi Media)

    • Di Mana Rumah Saya (Where Is My Home?) by Nur-El-Hudaa Jaffar (Pustaka Nasional)

    • Lost In The Gardens by J.H. Low (Marshall Cavendish)

    • Ryan The Playground Expert by Pauline Loh (Straits Times Press)

    Best Young Adults' Title

    • ONE by Tan Ter Cheah (Bubbly Books)

    • The Railway Home by Xiao Han (Lingzi Media)

    • The Girl Under The Bed by Dave Chua and Ng Xiao Yan (Epigram Books)

    •The Rock And The Bird by Chew Chia Shao Wei (Epigram Books)

    • The Travel Diary Of Amos Lee: Monkeying In Malaysia by Adeline Foo (Epigram Books)

    Best Education Title

    • ITHINK (ilovereading.sg)

    • Singapore: The Making Of A Nation-State, 1300-1975 (Star Publishing)

    • Literature Is Life (Shing Lee Publishers)

    • My Pals Are Here! English (International) 2nd Edition (Marshall Cavendish)

    Best Digital Work

    • Asian Spine Chillers: Volumes 1 - 4 by Andrew Lee (Monsoon Books)

    • The Colour Pencil by Liow Yuting (Candid Creation)

    • Dong Dong Dong by Ang Thiam Poh (Candid Creation)

    • mr. giant by Kuan Teck Harn (Candid Creation)

    • Let's Play With Grandma by Nur Assyikin Mohamad Lais and Nurulfizah Mohamed Ali (Pustaka Nasional)

    • Goodbye Siti by Jumani Ariff (Pustaka Nasional)

    Best Book Cover Design

    • ONE by Tan Ter Cheah (Bubbly Books)

    • Naked Ape, Naked Boss by Kirpal Singh (Marshall Cavendish)

    • Nerd Baker: Extraordinary Recipes, Stories And Baking Adventures From A True Oven Geek by Christopher Tan (Epigram Books)

    • Big Mole by Ming Cher (Epigram Books)

    • The Art Of Charlie Chan Hock Chye: Special Cover Edition by Sonny Liew (Epigram Books)

    • Game Changers At The Circus: How Leaders Can Unleash Greatness In Their Organizations by Jean-Francois Cousin (Candid Creation)

It gives the winner and runners-up a chance to be published.

The council declines to name the three judges, but a spokesman for the judging panel tells The Straits Times that overall, the quality of submissions this year is high.

He says: "It's easy to imagine a number of the manuscripts being published with only a modest amount of editing... in most of the good ones, young people are shown grappling with questions of identity, cultural displacement, the meaning of friendship and family - concerns most readers can identify with."

Singapore's Ho, 45, a writer and historical researcher, is in the running for her manuscript, Island Girl. She has previously written children's books used for social studies in primary schools.

Set in the Malay Archipelago in the 1800s, her story follows Habi- bah, a girl who receives a wedding proposal when she turns 13 and finds out that her long-lost mother is alive.

Ho says: "I'm a historian, so I have been fascinated by the offshore islands near Indonesia. I had been thinking of writing a story about them for years, so my friends told me, 'Stop talking about it, just write'."

She will square off against the other four writers.

Cho's story Chasing Freedom: The Asian Underground Railroad, chronicles the journey of two North Korean children as they attempt to flee their home country.

Speaking to The Straits Times via e-mail, the 44-year-old, a first- grade teacher who found a church organisation online which helps North Koreans, says she interviewed two children and a pastor for her tale.

She adds: "I was concerned about how much violence and evil could be in a middle-grade novel.

"I consulted texts that dealt with heavy topics such as Lois Lowry's Number The Stars and Linda Sue Park's A Long Walk To Water. Children need to know the truth in an age-appropriate manner. Given today's headlines, I feel they can handle quite a lot."

The award winner will be announced at the opening of the Asian Festival Of Children's Content on May 24, where the book from the winning manuscript from 2014 - Filipino writer Sophia Lee's What Things Mean - will also be launched. It is about a young girl who struggles to reconcile the differences between her and her peers.

The Singapore Book Awards, organised by the Singapore Book Publishers Association to recognise the best in book publishing here, will return in May. The awards were first given out in 2012.

The awards were not given out in 2013 and 2014, as the association was focused on building up the presence of the Singapore publishing industry at overseas book fairs then, says a spokesman.

Last year's awards were postponed to this year as the associa- tion, which has 67 members, had "modified the guidelines and wanted to give sufficient time for publishers to benefit from these changes", says its president, publisher Peter Schoppert, who is director of NUS Press.

Shortlisted books must be published in one of the four official Singapore languages and be published between Jan 1, 2013 and Nov 1 last year. They must have a Singapore International Standard Book Number, with hard copies legally deposited with the National Library Board. Books sold in print must be sold in retail stores here or overseas.

No prizes are given out for the awards and the judging panel has members from different sectors in the book industry, including authors, educators and bookstore directors.

The association declines to name the judges.

The eight awards are Best Children's Title, Best Fiction Title, Best Non-Fiction Title, Best Education Title, Best Book Cover Design, Best Young Adults' Title, Best Digital Work and Book Of The Year.

There is no shortlist for Book Of The Year, which will be judged after the other awards are decided.

They will be given out at a ceremony on May 11.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 31, 2016, with the headline 'Five authors vie for $10,000 book award'. Print Edition | Subscribe