Author: Hwee Goh
Publisher: Armour Publishing
When I first handed the books over to my kids and their cousins, they grabbed it from me and shouted “Lee Kuan Yew”. And even before I could say a word, they settled themselves down on the sofa and started reading the book. All quiet, engrossed in their copy. Wow…
They recognize the man on the cover. The sad passing of Mr Lee Kuan Yew started a conversation in our family on Singapore earlier this year. That particular week in March was a very emotional one for Singapore… even the kids noticed. It sparked tremendous interest with questions like ‘Who is Lee Kuan Yew? Why is everybody so sad?’
I remember trying my best to explain but struggling, at the same time wondering ‘where can I find information well put together on this man that is suited at their level?’
This is my answer 🙂
You have to check out this book. I highly recommend ‘Lee Kuan Yew’ under the Timmy & Tammy series as a great introductory text for young children! This book is very well written with the young ones in mind, each page filled with wonderful photographs and excellent nuggets of information presented in an easily comprehensible and personable way.
Hwee Goh, former political journalist and editor (also a good friend and book buddy of mine ^_^), was part of Mr Lee Kuan Yew’s press team on many of his overseas trips. So she possibly has better and deeper insight into his character 😉
Published under the Timmy & Tammy series, it is a great book for young readers. Using simple language, the book is clearly written with all the pertinent facts about Mr Lee Kuan Yew’s life presented in a way that appeals to children. But this book is packed with interesting facts, older readers will appreciate it too.
Through Mr Lee Kuan Yew’s story, we learn values such as hard work, discipline and resilience. Great lessons to be drawn for kids. Kudos to Hwee for putting together an excellent book that is very educational and informative!
This book couldn’t be more timely really as we celebrate SG 50 and await National Day celebrations which is just a couple of weeks away. I’m thinking this book should really be part of the NDP Pack come August! Is it? It should!
If not, time to go book shopping 🙂
And here’s a little something extra. Hwee kindly did an author Q&A via email 🙂 Enjoy!
Did you always dream of becoming a author?
Actually, yes, ALL MY LIFE! I wanted to write fiction, either Young Adult or Middle Grade. But I knew I didn’t have a good enough imagination to write a blockbuster. I’m still waiting for the eternal inspiration.
Did you ever imagine your debut book would be on ‘Lee Kuan Yew’ ?
No, I never imagined my book would be “Lee Kuan Yew” but I think that’s more because (see above) of my lack of imagination rather than rational thought. Because if I thought about it now, it was very logical that my first book is “Lee Kuan Yew,” because my years of work in journalism made this possible. Was there added pressure? Yes, some perceived pressure in case I got something wrong but my editor and I parsed every word and the research was rock-solid. Hopefully it’s acceptable to most!
How does it feel like to have your first book published?
I thought I had been “published” on TV news stories and articles and editorials so many times it would be the same. It wasn’t! It’s something special to see children reading my book.
What made you want to write a book for children?
It actually came out from a discussion with Ruth Wan from Armour. She’s the genius in conceptualising content for children. I then took over and researched non-fiction titles on the international market to see what works and what doesn’t for the 7-12 set. Deciding on Lee Kuan Yew for the first title was easy. It was most of what used to be my work, plus my desire to do something at this stage for all children about him.
Lots of preparation must have gone into this book. What was that process like?
Since this was a photo factbook, it would only work with photos. I went first to the National Archives of Singapore and they were very supportive. Based on the educational value of the book for children, I also got permission to use images of Lee Kuan Yew already in the public domain and acquired some of them from the Ministry of Communications and Information. The research then went deep, I went mostly to Mr Lee’s memoirs, speeches and other writing, and then to newspaper articles and what his children said about him.
Did you find the process easier/harder than you expected? Was it more challenging because you were writing for a younger audience?
I didn’t really have any set expectations since this was the first time I was doing this. I likened it to something like a TV production where you storyboard what you want to produce and plan the content, flow and the pictures. Yes it was somewhat challenging writing for a younger audience for certain terms and politics-related words. But I’m also a TV writer so I usually write short, and concisely.
What was the biggest lesson you learned after your first book?
It sounds a bit tacky but as I was writing the book, I really was doubly convinced that you can get things done if you put your mind to it. Throughout Lee Kuan Yew’s life (whether it was getting into Cambridge earlier on in his life or solving a policy issue as Prime Minister), once he set a clear target of what he wanted to achieve, he then did everything necessary to get it. This is where he did things that some people didn’t necessarily agree with. So now at least there is a factual narrative of his life and legacy for children, they can grow up and decide for themselves.
Any advice for young people who want to be writers?