Mr Kiasu co-creator's new book tells of life in the '60s

Author James Suresh wants to get children interested in their parents' childhood experiences and to bring back memories for older people
Author James Suresh wants to get children interested in their parents' childhood experiences and to bring back memories for older people.

TALK about the 1960s and many people think of black-and-white photos in books and museums.

However, with his new book, author James Suresh - co-creator of the hugely popular Mr Kiasu - is bringing back the 1960s through colour cartoon drawings and anecdotes.

Launched at Queenstown Primary School yesterday, the book, Singapore In The 60s, tells of Mr Suresh's childhood experiences in Queenstown.

The short stories are accompanied by artwork by Mr Syed Ismail, an illustrator who also worked on two of Mr Suresh's previous books - When I Was In Uniform (2002) and On A Street In Singapore (2010).

When I Was In Uniform detailed Mr Suresh's time in the army, while On A Street In Singapore was a humorous take on Singapore for tourists.

While Singapore In The 60s comes after the commercial success of Mr Kiasu and his two other books, Mr Suresh, 59, said he is not feeling any pressure to succeed in the same way with his latest book.

He said: "I used to tell my children stories about the '60s but I got the feeling they couldn't visualise it, so I wanted to bring it alive with pictures.

"Through this book, I want to trigger interest in children to ask their parents about their childhood, and to bring back memories for the older generation."

Stories illustrated in the book include those about Mr Suresh fishing in drains, buying ice balls and even witnessing gang fights.

Among those impressed by the trip down memory lane is MP for Tanjong Pagar GRC (Queenstown) Chia Shi-Lu, who was a guest at the launch.

Dr Chia said that for the older generation, it is important to keep heritage alive and to maintain anchors for them to hold on to.

"For the younger generation, we have to make this heritage accessible and get them interested to ask their parents about it," he said.

The book's production costs were supported by the SG50 Celebration Fund, and work on it started two years ago.

While 5,000 books were printed, almost all of them will be donated to school libraries, while 50 will be up for grabs through a yet-to-be-announced online competition.

Public circulation of the book is not expected until next year, with copies being reserved for non-profit purposes this year.

twtoh@sph.com.sg

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 26, 2015, with the headline 'Mr Kiasu co-creator's new book tells of life in the '60s'. Print Edition | Subscribe