Tales of Singapore Navy come to life in its first children's book series

Author of the Navy's childrens' books     Winnie Tan reading  to pupils of PCF Sparkletots pre-school.
Author of the Navy's childrens' books Winnie Tan reading to pupils of PCF Sparkletots pre-school. ST PHOTO: FELINE LIM

SINGAPORE - Ever wondered what life on the high seas is like? From wondrous whale sightings to stargazing at night, the Singapore Navy will be sharing their tales with young children through its first series of books published this year.

The collection of four titles marks the Republic of Singapore Navy's 50th anniversary. The four-book compendium is collectively entitled "Ahoy, Navy!", but only the first two books, Papa Goes to Sea and Indy! Indy! Indy!, have been published for now.

Children can listen to books being read aloud by navy personnel at various libraries from May 27 to June 3.

Plans are also in place for every navy personnel to have a full set of the books - those who are parents can then take the opportunity to explain their line of work to their children.

"Usually I can't really disclose too much, and (my children) will ask when I'm coming back," said one of the storytellers, Major Lim Woon Huat, 42. The father of four young boys has served in the navy for about 20 years. He would spend up to a quarter of the year in deployment.

"Although our operations are classified, our books are an easy way to relate what we do to our kids at home," he added.

The two books, Papa Goes to Sea and Indy! Indy! Indy!, are written by Major Tan Winnie, 30, and are targeted at children aged four to eight years old.

Ms Tan, who is currently working in the joint operations department of the Singapore Armed Forces, has had 12 years of experience with the navy.

"I've seen my fair share of missed birthdays, holidays, anniversaries, and these things are important. It is important that the navy family understand what the navy does," she said.

Initially, an external author and illustrator were supposed to produce the compendium. When none of their stories resonated with the navy, Ms Tan took on the task of writing the stories instead.

"We realised that the navy needed to tell its own story, so we started looking internally to see who could write," she said.

In addition, the books are meant to help young children to understand the navy's role in keeping Singapore's waters safe.

"The books help the navy tell the story to a larger crowd. They need to understand what the navy does, and some of the sacrifices navy families make to make sure that life goes on."

winniet@sph.com.sg