An adorable book which is a must get especially for animal lovers! It’s based on our very own Kai Kai and Jia Jia at the River Safari. Who can resist cute, cuddly pandas with their big black eyes?
This is an incredibly cute book with incredibly cute pictures. A perfect book to do cuddle time with 🙂 It is easy to read with bright coloured illustrations that will appeal to the young ones. Besides getting ready and celebrating the arrival of baby panda, the story cleverly weaves in the theme of teamwork and the message that we can help ourselves and need not always depend on others.
I love how Emily’s books always have meaningful messages. Her stories are very charming with positive moral messages to them, (Have you read Prince Bear and Pauper Bear or Bunny find the right stuff or The Tale of Rusty Horse? You must! They are beautiful tales about friendship, compassion, kindness etc… definitely books written with love.) This Kai Kai Jia Jia book is part of the picture book series Emily is writing for Wildlife Reserves Singapore. Emily’s first two see the two loveable pandas settling into their new home and making new friends 🙂
The pandas are a celebrity couple in Singapore since they made Singapore home a few years back and while they are here for ten years to carry out their ambassadorial duties, everyone’s hoping they will use this time to start a family! Yes, we are still patiently waiting to hear the good news… and my dear friend Emily is clearly their number one cheerleader!
We can’t wait for the good news and I can only say Keep it up! Jia you! (Chinese) Hwa-ee-ting! (Korean) Ganbatte! (Japanese).:-)
And here’s a little something extra from Emily herself. She kindly did an email interview for us 🙂 Enjoy!
-This is your third Kai Kai & Jia Jia book… and we hear good news from the two pandas! Yay, are we really expecting a baby panda?
That was the same question a group of student librarians asked me at a recent book talk I gave. Wildlife Reserves is hoping for a baby panda and that inspired this story. Given that pandas have only a two-three day mating window in a year, reality has yet to catch up with fiction as yet :).
– How long did it take you to write this story? Was it easier than the last two?
Actually it has been the other way around. Each subsequent story gets harder to write! I’ve forgotten how long it took though as I wrote this sometime back. For various reasons, this book took a while to get published and was only out recently.
– I love how all the animals come together as a team and help each other accomplish the things they had wanted to make. Was there any friendship stories (maybe from Caleb) that inspired this?
No specific stories from Caleb on this. As a preschooler, Caleb is at the stage of learning social interaction and subconsciously, I write stories like these to illustrate to him see how friends should get along and do things for each other.
I was trying to think of what Beaver could help Kai Kai construct for Baby Panda that could “fit” in within a natural setting. It had to use wooden logs and be useful for a newborn. The idea finally came from staring blankly at Caleb’s wooden baby cot which we have yet to dismantle!
– I know Caleb has a big part in all your books. How does he contribute? 🙂
I did not read this manuscript to Caleb. But in thinking up the different furniture and objects that the various animals built, I did consider what Caleb would find fun.So I was tickled by Caleb’s response when I read the published book to him.
When he saw the animals constructing their furniture with, he said, “Next time I go to River Safari, I want to build something!”
When he saw the otters rowing their constructed raft, he said, “And I want to sit on this (raft)!
When he saw the monkeys jumping off their diving board, he said,”I also want to jump off this!”
“Yes, you and the monkeys,” I said.
– Do you have a favourite picture book from when you were young?
Funnily enough, I never read picture books when I was young. I started with comics, onto illustrated classics and then Enid Blyton sustained my reading appetite for a long stretch. I guess picture books were not quite a part of reading culture in Singapore during my childhood days. I read my first picture book in 2007 when I took part in the Book Council’s publishing competition which led to my debut picture book Prince Bear & Pauper Bear. My top two favourite picture books are Oliver Jeffers’ Lost & Found (the first picture book I ever bought) and J.A. Rowe’s J.A. Teddy (the first picture book I borrowed from the library, which also inspired me somewhat in the illustrations style that I wanted for Prince Bear & Pauper Bear). When I mentioned that to my close friend Hwee, she scoured the internet to buy me a copy of J.A. Teddy as it’s been out of stock. She managed to secure a secondhand copy recently.
– Can you tell us anything about your next project?
I’ve recently completed the manuscript for Tibby book 3, which touches on the theme of fear. It’s been lots of labour pain these 9 months. I had an expectation of getting this story out quite quickly, since the first two manuscripts came reasonably quickly plot-wise. But this was such a struggle with basic issues of plot and structure that, many times over, I feared that I had lost my writing ability. It was a humbling reminder of how my writing is a gift, not entitlement.