A great WOMP of an idea
Tuesday, 26 May 2020
Samantha Han, a third-year student in ELL (reading both English Language & English Literature), has had her children’s book published by Epigram Books. The WOMPS, Pinto’s Pinky Promises, is the first in a planned series of books that will feature Pinky and his bean-ie friends, So-ya, Chick Bee and Kofi. Strikingly illustrated by John Lim, The Womps add new colour and flavour to the local children’s literature scene, and was recently included in The Straits Times’ “Six Big Reads for May”.
This is what Sam has to say about how she got started on her first book:
"My time in NIE has been nothing short of amazing opportunities but BUILD* was one particularly big door that happened to lead to a whole other series of doors for me to walk through. Applying to a book publisher for this internship programme was not a random choice. It stemmed from various things – partially my unending love for books but also my having taken a course that included Singaporean literature. It was my first time being truly exposed to SingLit and it left a desire to know more about it. I recall that during my interview at Epigram, I was asked to talk about what I knew about SingLit. I explained that I hadn't encountered much of it apart from what I had read in my course and that I was simply curious to learn more about the literature scene in Singapore – and where better to do that then at one of Singapore's few independent publishers?
This eventually led to a several months filled with seeing how texts go from manuscripts in the hands of authors to bound books in those of readers. Along the way, I started working on my own manuscript for a children's book. What started as a "Why not?" kind of decision quickly turned into a passionate project I carried out during my internship. While writing the book, I tapped on my knowledge about early childhood language and literacy, drawing from what I had learnt in my English language courses. What kind of reading material did I want my book to be? How would young readers and their parents read it? These were some questions that guided the way I wrote The Womps and helped in shaping the way the book turned out.
A question I get a lot from friends is why I would even think of writing a children's book – and I suppose it may seem pretty random at first glance. But upon reflection, I don't think it was random at all. Books have always been a life-long companion to me – from reading Enid Blyton clandestinely under the table in primary school while class was in session to tearing up while reading Maya Angelou's I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings most recently; there has never been an occasion where reading became a chore. It's the reason I love language and literature, the reason I want to pass on my love of reading to as many students as I can in the future; and not so randomly – why I decided it was time to write a story of my own as well."
ELL is exceedingly proud of Sam, and wishes for her many more tales of Pinto and friends.
*BUILD is the “Building University Interns for Leadership Development” programme available to students in the Teaching Scholars Programme at the NIE.