SINGAPORE - The hawksbill sea turtle - one of two turtle species native to Singapore - is one of eight marine animals given a voice in a new bilingual children's picture book aimed at spotlighting local biodiversity and marine life.
Titled Pengembaraan Tim (Tim's Adventure), the book is supplemented with an augmented reality (AR) feature, an animated short video and a theme song for a more enriching reading experience.
The story, targeted at pre-schoolers, follows the journey of a hawksbill sea turtle named Tim from the Sisters' Islands and back.
There is a sea turtle hatchery on Small Sister's Island, a protected area zoned for conservation and research managed by the National Parks Board (NParks).
The book and the various multimedia elements are created by brothers Rhaimie Wahap, 54 and Rizal Wahap, 47, with support from the Lee Kuan Yew Fund for Bilingualism.
Published in Malay and English, the children's book was launched at an event at the Visual Arts Centre on Friday (Dec 24), attended by National Development Minister Desmond Lee.
Mr Lee, who wrote the foreword for the book, also appears in the animated video to talk about conservation and biodiversity issues aimed at young children.
"Singapore is a small island. But we have about 120 species of reef fish, more than 200 sponge species and 12 seagrass species in our waters," he said.
"I'm happy that this book helps to raise awareness among our young readers, about the importance of protecting our marine life in Singapore."
Mr Rhaimie said he was inspired to write the book after realising there were not many local picture books for children that focus on Singapore's rich biodiversity and conservation efforts.
Mr Rizal, a self-taught artist, worked on the illustrations, animation and AR elements. It took a year for the book and its various elements to come to fruition.
Said Mr Rhaimie: "For the longest time, I've been awed by how sea turtles can find their way back to breed. Initially, I wanted the story to be set in Terengganu, Malaysia, but my publisher told me we have sea turtles laying eggs here on Singapore's beaches."
"We want to let young children know that we have a rich biodiversity right here in Singapore and to promote a love of nature," he said, adding that he hopes the book will be the first of many.
Mr Rhaimie had composed a song Nama Saya Tim (My Name Is Tim) for the story that he hopes will come in handy if children and educators were to do a play based on the book.
To access the AR element, readers have to download the Artivive app on their mobile phones and scan selected pages of the book to see "pop-ups" of various marine animals.
A 12-minute animation featuring eight marine animal characters - voiced by the brothers' family members - is available for free viewing on publisher Ungu Pen's website and the Lee Kuan Yew Fund for Bilingualism's social media channels.
Parents and educators can also download a supplementary children's activity booklet and materials from Ungu Pen's website.
Copies of the book are available for borrowing at all public libraries and can also be bought online at Ungu Pen's webstore.
Mr Rhaimie said he and his brother spent considerable time and effort in the making of the book and the various supporting materials, as they hope to raise the quality and standard of Malay children's books.
"We also want to make it fun and easy for educators and parents to use with their children, and at the same time inspire a love for the Malay language," he said.