Click the link for reviews of three books that won 2014 Scholastic Asian Book Awards.
The Scholastic Asian Book Award (Saba) is a joint initiative between the National Book Development Council of Singapore and publishers Scholastic Asia that “will recognise children’s writers of Asian origin who are taking the experiences of life, spirit, and thinking in different parts of Asia to the world at large”.
Since its inception in 2011, the biennial award has been responsible for publishing English language works by authors from all over Asia, including India, Hong Kong, and Singapore.
The best manuscript wins S$10,000 (RM31,000) and will be considered by Scholastic Asia for publication; the authors of the first and second runners-up manuscripts will be offered advice by Scholastic Asia on editing and submitting their works for publication.
The Saba website, scholasticbookaward.asia/SABA, is calling for entries for its next cycle of awards, the 2018 Saba. Closing date for submissions is Dec 22, 2017. Results will be declared in May 2018, at the Asian Festival of Children’s Content (AFCC).
The following are the winners of the 2016 cycle that were announced at last year’s AFCC (afcc.com.sg) in Singapore:
Grand prize winner: Codex: The Lost Treasure Of The Indus by Aditi Krishnakumar (India) – The key to deciphering the mysterious script of the ancient Indus Valley Civilisation is proving to be a puzzle in three languages. Enter Codex, a linguist, mathematician and, of course, a geek through and through. But Codex soon discovers that this isn’t like any of the other puzzles she’s solved before. This time, the puzzle comes with sinister implications and Codex finds herself working with Agent Lila Raman to get to the bottom of a 4,000-year-old mystery.
Aditi Krishnakumar has worked in the finance industry in India and Singapore, where she resides presently. Her first book, A Whole Summer Long, was published in 2012. Additionally, another of her manuscripts was shortlisted for the Scholastic Asian Book Award in 2014.
1st runner-up: Chasing Freedom by Tina Cho (South Korea) – This fictional tale could have been culled from today’s newspaper headlines about North Koreans risking death and sentences in brutal concentration camps to escape their repressive country. Cho’s offers her take through the eyes of two unhappy teens who make separate escapes across the North Korean border to China. Yunho and Joo Ri are aiming to find the Asian Underground Railroad and hope to get through China, Laos, Thailand, and eventually end up in the United States. But first, there are soldiers and child slavers to avoid, fake IDs to get and jail time to face, and jungles – miles and miles of jungles to get through alive.
Tina Cho is the author of The Girl’s Guide To Manners (Legacy Press Kids, 2014) and colouring book God Is So Good (Warner Press, 2013). She also has three more books, including Seasons Of The Asian Pear Tree, due to be published soon. Cho lives in South Korea with her husband and two children, and teaches first grade at an international school.
2nd runner-up: Island Girl by Stephanie Ho Lee Ling (Singapore) – Habibah is a girl living in the 1800s on a remote island in the Malay Archipelago. Her peaceful life begins to change after her 13th birthday when she receives a wedding proposal and learns that her long-lost mother is still alive – two events that force her to make a fateful and difficult choice.
Stephanie Ho Lee Ling is a Singapore writer and researcher. Her first book, Samsui Girl, was awarded a First-Time Writers & Illustrators Publishing grant in 2006. Ho has also written picture books for government agencies, including Singapore’s Ministry of Community Development, Youth and Sports, and the Ministry of Education. In addition to writing children’s stories, Ho is a partner in the History Workroom LLP, a research and writing consultancy.