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Wednesday, November 30, 2016

British Council Malaysia Open Day December 2016

You are invited!

You are invited to the British Council Open Days this December.

10-11 December 2016 (KL)
10,11,17,18 December 2016 (The Curve, Damansara)

10.30 am to 4.30 pm

Registration is now open for the open days.

Click here for more information.

Open Days are an excellent opportunity for parents to find out more about the centre and the programmes they run. This is when a centre opens up its doors to the public to show you what's available at their centres and to take any questions from parents.

Here are a few of our Open Day Tips to help you get the most of attending an Open Day at an enrichment centre.

Open Day Tips For Parents

  • Bring your child along. Placement tests are available for your child. This is a good opportunity for you to find out your child's level 
  • Arrive early before the crowd. Being early gives you the chance to talk to teachers and decide on the activities your child can take part in during the open day
  • Ask questions. Ask about the timetable, the fees, the course available. Write down your questions on a booklet or a reminder app on your mobile and write down the answers so you won't forget.
  • Walkabout. Walk around the centre. This is your best opportunity to visit the classrooms and activity rooms and visualize your child learning here. 
  • Speak to the teachers. Sometimes teacher profiles are listed at the centre. Read it and get to know the teachers by talking to them.
  • Participate. Have your child participate in the open day activities. Your child can enjoy the open day activities like story telling, arts and crafts and more while you look around, ask questions and get to know the teachers and the centre better
  • Follow-up. Remember to collect brochures for courses you are interested in. Take down contact numbers and names so you can call up for more information in case you miss out anything during the Open Day
  • Enjoy! Open Days can be a fun day of activities for your child. Allocate some time so your child can have some fun at the centre during the Open Day.

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Colouring Books For Kids And Adults

In recent years, colouring books for adult colorists have taken the world by storm. Adults who colour say it helps them reduce stress. It is as if coloring parts of a picture patiently till the whole drawing emerges gives you a certain sort of calmness to your otherwise rushed day.

If you are a colorist and a parent, you will also find that you can bond with your kids as you colour together. Here are a few colouring books that both kids and adults can work on at the same time because they are simple enough for kids yet equally challenging for the adult.

1. Happy Days Colouring Book by Susanna Goho-Quek

What's Inside: 24 line drawings of children at play, reading, having parties, dancing and just having fun and being happy.


2. Teddy  Bear Tales Colouring Book by Susanna Goho-Quek

What's Inside: 24 line drawings of teddy bears having fun, running, jumping, dancing etc.


3. Underwater World Colouring Book by Susanna Goho-Quek

What's Inside: The underwater world and all its glory is depicted in this underwater world colouring book. It is up to you to bring out the colours of this wonderful world in your imagination.


4. Malaysia Colourart by Emila Yusof

What's Inside: All things Malaysian including its people, flowers, animals, rainforests, iconic landmarks of Kuala Lumpur and more. 

These colouring books are now on offer at 25% discount for members of our parenting platform including website, blog, and our 3 FB group members. View other children's books on offer and complete order form here.

Monday, November 28, 2016

Book Review - Bento Fun By Alice Foo

Have you ever read a recipe book from cover to cover? I just did. I read Bento Fun by Alice Foo.

What I like About Bento Fun By Alice Foo

This is one pretty recipe book. It looks so good, just like a scrapbook. Bento is a work of art so I like that the book looks like a work of art too. The pictures of the Bento and side dishes featured are colourful and amazing. Each section of the book is easily recognizable by its sweet pastel colours and scrapbook like background designs.

Who This Book Is For

Whether you are a novice or an expert or even if you don't prepare any Bento at all but would like to have an idea, suggestion or tips on types of nutritious food you can pack for your child to school, this book is for you.

The book starts off with an explanation of Bento, what it is and why you should pack Bento for your child and useful Bento Packing Tips to keep your Bento fresh since food often have to be kept several hours till kids recess or lunch hours.

Then it moves on to the basics of making kyaraben or Character Bento including shaping rice balls, colouring rice and quail eggs, making coloured egg sheets and tracing and cutting from templates.

The novice will find the pictures of Bento making equipment and accessories useful as a guide including the common ingredients for making Bento.

Next the book moves on to the Bento recipes. There are 32 recipes in all. These are divided into Beginner, Intermediate and Advance level Bento recipes.

If you have never prepared a Bento in your life before but you are interested to pack cute, appealing yet nutritious food for your kids,  you will find the side dishes and finger food sections interesting. Here you will find recipes for healthy foods for kids in small portions cooked in healthy ways. Alice uses the air fryer (or oven as an alternative) a lot in her recipes.She prefers these healthy ways of preparing food to avoid having oil-soaked lunch boxes.

Finally the book ends with step by step picture guides on making kyaraben or the Character Bento tutorials.

A shopping guide on where you can find Bento equipment and accessories online and offline is also included plus a glossary of some of the terms used in the book.

The author, Alice Foo uses the pseudonym Angeleyes in the Bento community. She is a stay-at-home mother of two girls and a boy. This book is a culmination of all her years of experience preparing Bento with love for her children's lunch boxes. The ideas are practical, simple and quick to prepare. Healthy food choices and food preparation methods are recommended and used by the author.

I would like it if the book's content's section was more extensive for example the recipe pages should be included in the main content instead of at the beginning of each section. This will make the recipes easier to find. Fortunately each section has different coloured pages so it is easy to find just by looking at the sides of the book.

I find this book useful for parents who are interested in preparing their own food for kids to bring to school for recess or for lunch.

This book is currently available to the members of our parenting platform including our website, blog and FB groups at a 20% discount. Click here to order

Thursday, November 24, 2016

Cute Labels For Kids

Parents with school going kids will know that kids losing stuff is a very normal occurrence. So, if you have a child who constantly loses their stationery, tumblers, food containers, bags, uniforms, shoes, jackets, spectacles etc. don't fret. You are not alone. Many schools these days set up a lost and found area which could be in the form of a shelf or cupboard.

Visit one of these lost and found areas and you will find all sorts of lost items. Your child can easily retrieve their item if he or she has a unique looking one but quite often the items look exactly the same. School uniforms and shoes obviously are identical. However, even bags, tumblers and more look the same if the same brand and type are used.

One of the ways to get around this problem is to label your kids stuff. You can DIY by writing using a marker pen or you can get really cute labels for kids. Previously, these labels were only available from overseas sites with expensive shipping. Now, we can get them online locally from Fun Printz. What's more, currently there is a Free Shipping Within Malaysia offer with every purchase of RM90 and above from now till 31 Dec 2016. No Promo code is required to claim free shipping as the website will auto deduct shipping cost once customer hits RM90 order.

Fun-Printz is an Express Print service specializing in Fun-Tags, Fun-Labels and Iron-On Labels. They are currently having a labels promo for members of our parenting platform as follows:

From Nov 21 - 31 Dec
Mumsgather platform members promo
(for our Blog readers and members of our website and FB Groups)

Standard Label Offer
( Fun Label, Mini Label, Shoe Label , Iron on Labels ) 
FOC shipping for orders above RM90 + Exclusive BAG TAG LARGE TAG (1 sided) worth RM14
Select bag tag design on Fun Printz website and key in promo code to claim the FOC item

Value Pack Plus Discount RM169 to RM149
FOC Shipping + Exclusive BAG TAG (1 sided) worth RM14
Select bag tag design on Fun Printz website and key in promo code to claim the FOC item
Free Shipping and Discount will be automatically deducted upon checkout

* The Value Pack Plus is a packaged label deal that includes different types of labels in various sizes. You get to pick the design you want. This is excellent if you are not sure of what labels to choose because you will receive various types to fulfill all of your child's labeling needs.

Waterproof Sticker
  • 20 Size L Label
  • 20 Size M Label
  • 20 Size S Label
  • 8 Square Shape Label
  • 8 Round Shape Shoe Label
  • 24 Stick-On Clothing Label
  • 20 Size M Iron-On Label
  • 24 Mini Iron-On Label 

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

How To Appeal To Get Your UPSR Papers Rechecked

A few days ago it was reported that unsatisfied candidates can appeal to have their UPSR papers rechecked within 30 days. In fact this is not a new thing.

For those who wish to appeal to have their UPSR papers rechecked or remarked, here's the process.

When Is The Deadline
30 days from UPSR results announcement

Where To Obtain The Form
  • You can download the form form the Lembaga Peperiksaan website or 
  • get it from your school or
  • Sektor/Unit Penilaian dan Peperiksaan, Jabatan Pendidikan Negeri or
  • Kaunter Semak Semula Lembaga Peperiksaan Putrajaya
Supporting Documents/Fee Required
  • The Form LP/Am 65A
  • 2 self-addressed envelopes with RM1 stamped affixed (Envelope size 11cm x 22cm)
  • certified copy of UPSR results (By Headmaster or Pegawai Kerajaan Kumpulan A)
  • Postal Money Order/Bank Draft of RM50 made out to PENGARAH PEPERIKSAAN (Cheques are not acceptable. However cash is acceptable only over the counter)
How To Appeal

You can do so through your child's school, by post or at the Lembaga Peperiksaan Counter at Putrajaya

For postal appeals, your letter must be addressed to:

Pengarah Peperiksaan 
Lembaga Peperiksaan 
Kementerian Pendidikan Malaysia 
Aras 7, Blok E11, 
Pusat Pentadbiran Kerajaan Persekutuan 
62604 Putrajaya 
(u.p: Unit UPSR)

When Can You Expect To Know The Results?

Within 2 months from closing date for appeal

Should You Appeal?

That is an entirely personal decision. If you feel something is clearly wrong (there have been cases of Grade E changed to Grade A due to paper not marked which can happen because marking is manual and therefore subject to human errors.) When something is clearly wrong, then you should appeal or if your child consistently performs well and felt they did well, then you may want to try too. However, it is a very personal decision which only you together with discussion with your child can make.

List of Schools Approved For Running DLP Programme In 2017 Cohort 2

The year 2016 is the maiden year for running of DLP programme in selected schools. Many parents are now keen to find out what schools will be in the list of schools approved to run the DLP or Dual Language Programme in 2017.

In 2016 about 300 schools were picked to offer Math & Science in dual languages. In 2017, under Cohort 2, another 875 schools have been selected to offer the programme. Parents have had trouble searching for information on the list of DLP schools. 

After extensive search, one resourceful parent in our  FB group, the Malaysia Primary And Secondary School Parents on Facebook found the list. We shared it with our group members but many have trouble viewing it. We did a search and found the info here at the Portal Rasmi PPD Pasir Gudang listed under SURAT MAKLUMAN PELAKSANAAN DUAL LANGUAGE PROGRAMME (DLP). Those of you who have had trouble viewing on FB can try this link instead.

In 2017, many SJKT has been added to the list. If you are wondering why there are no SJKC in the list, here's the reason why. Read MEMBANTAH PELAKSANAAN PROGRAM DWIBAHASA (DUAL LANGUAGE PROGRAMME, DLP) DI SEKOLAH JENIS KEBANGSAAN CINA

The programme was first introduced for Std 1, Std 4 and Form 1 students. Since this is the second year of implementation of the program, it will now be available to approved schools for:

  • Std 1
  • Std 2
  • Std 4
  • Std 5
  • Form 1
  • Form 2

Monday, November 21, 2016

Mandarin Classes For Kids 2017

Learning Mandarin Is Fun At Imprint Mandarin

Do you have a child who hates learning Mandarin? She resists learning the language and has trouble memorizing Chinese Characters let alone make Chinese sentences. For children like this, you have to find a way beyond the usual rote memorizing way to get them to learn Mandarin effectively. 

Imprint Mandarin uses its own syllabus to teach pre-KSSR and KSSR Chinese in a non-conventional way. The emphasis is on fun and creative learning. Imprint Mandarin's syllabus consist of:
Reading and Grammar, Speech and Drama and Creative writing. The emphasis is on making the most out of the 90-minute lesson and letting the student enjoy what they are learning. Not by drilling and doing tonnes of worksheet as they do conventionally. Other enrichment activities (taught by specialist teachers) all conducted in a full Mandarin environment are also used to supplement learning. 

Mandarin Education For All Students At Imprint

Imprint Mandarin accepts and make learning Mandarin fun for every student whether your child is in SJKC, SK, SJKT or Private or International School. Those in a non-Mandarin learning environment will find it a conducive place to have their child learn Mandarin as if they are learning Mandarin in a Chinese school environment.

What also sets Imprint apart from other Mandarin-enrichment programmes is its steadfastness in grouping kids according to age and ability. Kids of similar level are grouped together to make learning more effective and no child will feel bored or left out.

When it comes to writing, creativity is encouraged rather than memorizing or regurgitating essays. This is very important especially with the shift in UPSR questions from objective to a more subjective form of questions requiring High Order Thinking Skills (HOTS).

Children are not forced to learn beyond their ability. That is why it is important to conduct an assessment to place children according to age and ability and not in a mixed level group.

Free Mandarin Asssessment Drive For 2017 Intake

Imprint Mandarin is currently running an assessment drive for their 2017 intake  on the following Saturdays in December. Sessions start from 10 am to 7 pm.

3rd December 2016
10 December 2016
17 December 2016

Location: 《Imprint 拇指坊》Lot 100-1. 013, Level 1, The School, Jaya One, No. 72A, Jalan Universiti, 46200 Petaling Jaya, Selangor.
Contact: 03-74969053/ 016-6646521
Email: imprintmandarin@gmail.com
Website: www.imprintmandarin.com
Facebook: Imprint 拇指坊

Friday, November 18, 2016

Documents Required For Transfer Of Secondary School

Now that the UPSR results are out, it is time for everyone to make a scramble to the schools and the Jabatan Pendidikan Negeri to make appeals for transfer of schools.

This post is about the accompanying documents required for transfer of secondary school in particularly, interstate transfer (eg: transfer from Wilayah Persekutuan Kuala Lumpur to Selangor). Non-interstate transfers are done online these days so this does not apply)

The transfer process is really simple. All you have to do is to GET YOUR DOCUMENTATION PREPARED IN ADVANCE so that you can save a trip. Some parents go to the counter with just items 1 and 2 below. Then they have to make a return trip which is a waste of time especially if you have to take leave from work to do so.

Here are the documents you require:

1. 5 Copies of Transfer Form *
2. Copy of UPSR Results
3. Both Parent's IC (Front and back)
4. Child's Birth Certificate & My Kid Kad or IC (Front and back)
5. Parent's Marriage Certificate
6. Utility Bill for proof of address (Electric/Water/Phone/Astro or Cukai Pintu is acceptable)

* Fill up a transfer form at the school you have been assigned to and wish to transfer out of. The school will prepare 6 copies of the form for you. They will keep 1 copy. Bring 5 copies to the Jabatan Pendidikan Negri. They will keep 4 copies and return 1 stamped copy to you to acknowledge receipt.

The following may also be required

7. Letter confirming that your child has a sibling in the school he wishes to transfer to. (This would have been prepared and passed to the sibling much earlier)
8. Court documents on childcare rights (If divorced)
9. Adoption letters (If adopted)

Bring all documents required. Once you have everything the process is very simple. They will acknowledge receipt of your documents and transfer letter and inform you of the expected date of results.

This year those transfering from Wilayah Persekutuan Kuala Lumpur to Selangor should expect to know the results by 23 January 2017. You may have to start the schooling session at your assigned school first while awaiting your results. You are advised not to pay any school fees in the meantime until you know the outcome of your transfer appeal.

Extra Info:

Tel: +603-5518 6500

Thursday, November 17, 2016

Clay Animation Workshop For Kids From 7 Years Old And Above

Stop motion is an animation technique where you physically manipulate objects so that they appear to move voluntarily. Clay is often used because clay is soft, pliable and can be easily molded. The reason for this is because clay animation involves sculpting your characters and arranging them on a set and photographing them. They you repeat the process by molding the clay characters into different positions and photographing them in their new positions. Finally, you playback your recording. Upon playback, viewers will perceive the different positions as movement. Famous animations using this technique include Pingu and Shawn the Sheep.

In this workshop, kids will learn how cartoon works. They will be able to create their own stop motion using clay plus they get to keep their own stop motion clay characters as a memento after the programme.

Kids will have a chance to get really creative by sculpting and producing the animation scenes. In addition, they will learn valuable lessons about making cartoons digitally. This one of a kind digital creation workshop is suitable for kids from age 7 and up.

Call 03-9054 2033 or visit Crafty Minds on Facebook to get more details about this workshop. Crafty Minds is located at 11-2 Jalan Radin Bagus, Bandar Baru Sri Petaling, 57000 KL.

Free Voucher Worth RM100 is available for Mumsgather Finds Website Members. 
Sign in here to redeem voucher

Monday, November 14, 2016

Back To School Shopping 2017 For School Uniforms, Shoes, Bags And More

Today is Monday 14 November 2016. The year end school holidays start two weeks from now. Yet, we're writing about Back to school shopping 2017! That's how school life works. We're always one step ahead, planning ahead for school exams, vacations, and back to school of course. Many departmental stores have already started their Back to School 2017 promotions.

Is it too soon to have a Back To School 2017 promotion? We don't think so because previously the school holidays used to be 7-8 weeks. Now it is just 5 weeks. The final 2 weeks are usually either very busy and crowded or you may have your own vacation plans. That leaves you 3 weeks to shop during the school holidays. So now is about a good time to start shopping!

Here we curate and feature some of them to give parents a better idea on where to shop and what sort of brands are available and the sort of prices you can expect for those brands.

Here's what we found on Aeon Big's Website.

Back to School 2017 promotion Dates: 4 Nov 2016 to 2 Jan 2017
School Uniform Brands Sold: Canggih, WHH School, Unggul, U Cemerlang
Prices: Prices start from RM17.90 - RM52.00 for Primary School Uniforms and RM27.90 to RM59.00 for Secondary School  Uniforms
Here's where to download the Back To School 2017 Brochure for full details on deals for school uniforms, school shoes, school bags and other school stationeries:
http://aeonbig.com.my/node/559 (Copy and paste this url on your browser to download)


Aeon on the other hand has a Back To School Promotion called Ready For School Adventure.

Back to School 2017 promotion Dates: 14 Nov 2016 to 2 Jan 2017
School Uniform Brands Sold: Alpha Kids, Canggih, School Classic, K Primary by Kiko
Prices: Prices start from RM13.90 - RM49.00 for Primary School Uniforms and RM18.90 to RM51.90 for Secondary School  Uniforms
Here's where to download the Ready For School 2017 Brochure for full details on deals for school uniforms, school shoes, school bags and other school stationeries:
http://www.aeonretail.com.my/backtoschool/handbill/ (Copy and paste this url on your browser to download)

The following was found at Tesco Store's weekly Catalogue. At the moment there is no dedicated Back To School brochure. We will update this post when we find one.

School Uniform Brands Sold: Signature and Signature Premier
Here's where to download the Brochure below for full details on deals for school uniforms, school shoes, school bags and other school stationeries:
http://www.tesco.com.my/promotions/weekly-catalogue.aspx?ItemID=62 (Copy and paste this url on your browser to download. You will find the following on Page 10-11 of the weekly brochure)

Besides the departmental stores, you will also find school uniforms and other Back to School supplies at specialized stores like The Uniform Shop, Professor, Swan etc.

Friday, November 11, 2016

Interview With Brigitte Rozario, Author Of The Beebo Series Of Moral Stories For Kids

Brigitte Rozario
Today, I am very lucky to be interviewing Brigitte Rozario. Brigitte is a freelance journalist, writer and editor. She also wrote The Adventures of Beebo & Friends series of books for children aged 4-10 which is currently on offer for the members of our parenting platform.

Hello Brigitte,

Thank you for agreeing to this interview. Can you tell us a little about yourself and your background?

1. What made you become a writer?

When I was a child, I loved dinosaurs, so, I wanted to become a palaeontologist. I later realised that all the
dinosaur discoveries were not in Malaysia, so, I decided to become an author, simply because I liked to write and my teacher said I had a flair for it. I was also influenced by several of the TV shows at the time, which were about families with a child who was a writer. Then I realised that it's not that easy to be an author in Malaysia and make a living from it. That's when I thought I would become a journalist.

2. How long have you been writing?

I have been writing stories from the time I was a child. I became a journalist in 1989.

3. You have written 5 books in The Adventures of Beebo & Friends series? Which is your favourite?

Yes, there are 5 books in the series. That's a tough one. It's like asking a mother which of her children is her favourite. They are all special to me in one way or another. Each book has 2 stories and they were all inspired by someone or something that is close to my heart and important to me.

4. What inspired you to write your first book?
My nephews were toddlers then and they were always up to some mischief. I was inspired to write the Beebo stories then. I imagined the adventures they would get absorbed in in a distant land. I also wanted to write stories about values that were and are close to my heart and which I thought they would benefit from.

5. Where do get your ideas come from?

My ideas come from all around me – things I see, people I meet, family and friends who touch my heart, books I read, movies I watch, music I listen to …. Everything that appeals to my senses, makes me think and tugs at my heart gives me an idea for a story.

6. How much research do you do for each book?

My books are based entirely on imagination, so not much research to be honest.

7. How long on average does it take you to write a book?

It takes a few days to write and then I leave it alone for a week or two. That way, when I look at it again with fresh eyes, I can be more objective and critical to improve on it.

8. Who do you think will enjoy reading your book? Do you have any reader (age group) in mind when you write?

Parents will be able to read the books to their preschoolers and those in kindergarten, while primary-aged children will also enjoy the books on their own. When I wrote the stories, I had preschoolers in mind, but I have had feedback from parents that their older children also enjoy the books.

9. How do you find time to write?

I wrote the stories when I was a junior reporter with The Star in the early 1990s. I made time to write them after work and on weekends then.

10. What are your books about?

My books are about a little boy named Beebo who has adventures with his best friend Peeper, as well as his other friends and his siblings. Along the way, they learn life lessons and values.

11. Do your books have a moral lesson?

Yes, my books have lessons that are not often found in other books. One of Beebo's close friends is a girl named Sam who is disabled and moves around in a wheelchair. She helps Beebo and his friends learn about being compassionate and to not bully, and to protect those who are being bullied. She also teaches Beebo, and the readers, about accepting the disabled as part of the community. This is just one example of what the series teaches readers. In another book, Beebo learns about taking care of his grandmother and that the family should be sensitive to her health needs. There are also lessons about taking care of nature, studying in school, and looking after younger siblings.

12. Who designed your book covers?

The cover and illustrations were done by the incredibly-talented Tan Vay Fern, who has worked with other authors including Mohana Gill, Tutu Dutta and Lee Poh Peng.

13. Are you working on another book?

I am currently working on some personalised books for children.

14. How can readers discover more about you or your work?
The Adventures of Beebo & Friends has a Facebook page at fb.com/beebobooks. My personal website can be found at brigitterozario.com.

15. Do you have a message for your readers?

There are so many children's books in the market today. While you choose the attractive foreign books, I hope you will also give local children's books a chance. They offer good stories and great entertainment, besides the Asian values and unique lessons that are often not found in books by western authors.

Thank you very much for taking time from your busy schedule to answer our questions.

Where To Buy The Adventures Of Beebo & Friends By Brigitte Rozario

The following books by Brigitte Rozario are now on offer for the members of our parents platform. Click here for more info.

Wednesday, November 09, 2016

British Council School Holiday Programme December 2016

Get the most out of the school holidays this December. Develop confidence and public speaking skills in speech and drama workshops conducted by the British Council. Shakespeare is considered to be the greatest writer ever in the English language, and these courses and workshops are designed to bring his work to life for children.

The workshops are designed to help children improve their speaking and writing skills and are available for all age groups from 5 to 15 years old. Find out more about the workshops which take place at all the British Council centres in Malaysia: Wisma Selangor Dredging (Jalan Ampang), The Curve (Mutiara Damansara) and Wisma Great Eastern, Penang.

Visit the site to find out more: https://www.britishcouncil.my/english/courses-children/holidays

Click the icon to download
the holiday course brochure

How To Improve In Bahasa Malaysia?

How to improve in Bahasa Malaysia? Can you recommend a good tuition teacher for BM for my kid? My child's BM is very poor. Please help! We see these sorts of postings frequently in our Facebook group for parents.

Whether your child is in SK, SJKC/T or even private and international schools, it is imperative that your child learns BM as a student in Malaysia. The challenge is how to get your child to improve in BM when they have no interest to do so. This challenge is even more glaring when the child attends SJKC/T because the child is required to learn 3 languages at the same time. If your child goes to SJKC/T and  you have plans to go to SMK (Sekolah Menengah Kebangsaan) or CIS (Chinese Independent School) or private school doing local syllabus, it is important to build up his BM during the early years to prepare him ahead of time for UPSR, PT3 and later on SPM.

One of the ways to help children learn BM is to make learning fun. When listing language school holiday programmes on our site, we found out that there is a franchise called BM World which does just that. BM World has been around for 10 years. It aims to provide the right environment for students to speak and listen in Bahasa Malaysia. Being able to converse and communicate in BM is the first step towards proficiency of the language.

BM World is the first and only specialized Bahasa Malaysia programme in Malaysia that focuses on speaking, listening, reading and writing. They accept students from 5 to 17 years from pre-school, primary to secondary school and including students sitting for IGCSE BM. Before joining, your child will have to sit for a placement test to decide the right level of class for your child. Students learn by participating in role play, games and activities conducted in BM. This makes learning BM fun and exciting for them. In this way, they also learn not only to read and write but to speak and listen as well. This is really important in learning any language.

BM World is currently open for enrollment for 2017. They are a franchise so you can check to see if there is one near you. You can experience the fun learning environment by joining their year-end school holiday programme on BM storytelling. The 1 day school holiday camp is available at BM World SS19 (Contact: 012-212 2520) and BM World Bandar Puteri Puchong (Contact: 03-8063 0022).

Tuesday, November 08, 2016

Interview With Tutu Dutta Yean Author of 8 Children's Storybooks On Asian Folklore

Today, I am very lucky to be interviewing Tutu Dutta. Tutu is an Indian-born Malaysian author of children’s books on Asian folklore. She has published eight books to date.

Hello Tutu,

Thank you for agreeing to this interview. Can you tell us a little about yourself and your background?

1. What made you become a writer?

I used to read a lot as a child. After my daughter was born, I read a lot of books to her when she was young and later, I read the same books as she did. This was equivalent to a 10 year course in children’s and middle-grade books. I also realized there were few good Malaysian/Asian books for children in English. Another factor was the fact that my husband is a diplomat. I spent a lot of time overseas with plenty of time to write…

2. How long have you been writing?

About 10 years in Public Relations/Communications and another 10 years as a children’s book writer.

3. You have written 8 books in all? Which is your favourite?

It’s hard to say. Probably Timeless Tales of Malaysia, my first traditionally published book (Marshall Cavendish.) It has been republished in 2016 as The Magic Urn and Other Timeless Tales of Malaysia, by Marshall Cavendish Asia.

Eight Treasures of the Dragon is also quite special because adults seem to like it as much as the children!

I’m also very proud of Phoenix Song, because I think it’s the first children’s book to be published in the UK, by a Malaysian writer. Phoenix Song is also my first picture book and my first book to be translated into Malay as Lagu Cenderawasih.

4. What inspired you to write your first book?

I wrote my first book with two ideas in mind:

I wanted to make a few Malaysian and Asian folktales better known among the children of this country i.e. make them realise that their own stories are as interesting as those from the West. I mean almost every Malaysian child know about Snow White, Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty and now even the Snow Queen but how many know about Bawang Putih, Bawang Merah; the Princess of Mount Ledang, Princess Santubong and Princess Sejinjang and the more obscure one such as Princess Tupai?

I wanted to create (together with other writers) a body of work with Malaysian and Asian content, which could be preserved for future generations because many of our folktales are being forgotten.

5. Where do your ideas come from?

I’ve always been interested in Asian folklore and also Malay folklore (I used to watch old P Ramlee movies as a child) and wanted to write a collection of these stories, from my point of view. Each story is a different source of ideas in terms of character and plot. Basically, one has to read and research a lot.

6. How much research do you do for each book?

A lot of research. It’s not enough for me to just read one version of a story, I try to read as many versions/variants of the story as possible. Sometimes, the stories in Malay folklore also appear in Borneo (Sarawak), Thailand, Vietnam and all the way to China, Korea and Japan.

7. How long on average does it take you to write a book?

Usually about eight months, however I don’t write 24/7. I’m usually only writing about an hour or two per day. The two novellas took much longer. The Jugra Chronicles: Miyah and the Forest Demon and Rigih and the Witch of Moon Lake took almost two years, each.

8. Who do you think will enjoy reading your book? Do you have any reader (age group) in mind when you write?

The books published by MPH can be classified as Middle-Grade Readers i.e. for children who are comfortable reading chapter books. I would say 11+, although younger children have enjoyed them. Surprisingly, adults also enjoy these books because they learn aspects of Asian culture and folklore they may not be aware of before.

9. What genre are your books?

My books are usually classified as Folklore & Fantasy, and sometimes Historical Fantasy for The Jugra Chronicles.

10. How do you find time to write?

My daughter is grown up now so I have more time on my hands. But I started writing when she was young because I spent a lot of time overseas where I I was basically a homemaker.

11. What are your books about?

Timeless Tales of Malaysia is a collection of Malaysian folktales. Eight Treasures of the Dragon, Eight Jewels of the Phoenix and Eight Fortunes of the Qilin are three collections of Asian folktales.

The Jugra Chronicles are two books in a series

12. Are your books a series or stand alone? Which do you prefer to write/read?

The folktale collections are stand alones but The Jugra Chronicles is a series. The folktales are probably easier to write because the plot is already there. The series are harder to write because I have to come up with an original plot and subplots. I used the old Spice Route and the Monsoonal voyages from China to Southeast Asia as an element in the story – about how people from different cultures found themselves in a single village. I would really like to see more support for the series, because I think the two books are quite interesting to read. The series also incorporate elements from folktales but in a new way.

13. Do your books have a moral lesson?

Most of them do. But I don’t try to push the moral lessons in an obvious way. It’s more about being honest and true to yourself; looking beyond the surface; working together to achieve something important; respecting the opinions of elders who may actually know more than young people etc Usually, but not always, bad people get punished in the end.

14. What cultural values can readers gain from reading your book?

My books are steeped in Asian culture… I suppose an important Asian value shared by many culture is the importance of the family and the community. Heroes and heroines are expected to sacrifice themselves for the greater good. The second value would be respect for elders.

Some of my stories, especially those in Timeless Tales of Malaysia have been described as ‘feminist’ because of the importance placed on the female characters. Perhaps this is not Asian value, but I’m happy with that!

Also, referring again to Question 13, I’m more interested in telling a good story. A book has to draw a person in and make them feel compelled to read. Using Eight Treasures of the Dragon as an example, I was also told by a Chinese Ambassador that she was really surprised to read the folktale from China called The Dragon Wells of Yanjing because she never knew that Beijing had such an interesting history behind it!

15. Who designed your book covers?

Tan Vay Fern designed Rigih and the Witch of Moon Lake and Eight Treasures of the Dragon.

Choong Kwee Kim designed Miyah and the Forest Demon. The rest were designed in house by MPH Publishing. The cover for Phoenix Song was designed by Martina Peluso and I illustrated Timeless Tales of Malaysia myself.

The following books by Tutu Dutta are now on offer for the members of our parents platform. 

16. Are you working on another book?

I’ve completed the third book in The Jugra Chronicles series a few months ago. It’s called Suru and the Bloodstone of Temasik. However, I’m facing difficulties in getting it published because of the lack of support from readers. Apparently, this is a problem faced by many Malaysian writers.

17. Can you share a little of your current work with us?

In Suru and the Bloodstone of Temasik, Suru and her best friend Miyah journey to Tanjungpura (a powerful trading city with ties to the Han Kingdom, Hindustan and Melaka, which is under Dutch rule) with Dayang Putih, who is a powerful witch. The three women enter the household of Pangeran Delima as members of her elite female guards. They are later joined by Suru’s brother, Temaga and Miyah’s cousin, Rigih. Temaga and Rigih informs them that the penyamuns are looking for something known as the bloodstone of Temasik, which is a magical object of power. As Tanjungpura is in turmoil due to a spate of kidnapping and thefts, there is plenty of action in this book!

I’m also collaborating with Tan Vay Fern on a picture book project, called Meng the Tiger.

18. How can readers discover more about you or your work?


Thank you very much for taking time from your busy schedule to answer our questions.

We hope our readers enjoy reading this insight from Tutu Dutta as much as we did.

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