From Monday 24 to Thursday 27 on March it was held the 51st edition of the Bologna Children’s Book Fair. Over fifty countries from around the world met to share the news of children’s books and illustrations.
I followed the delegation from Malaysia, invited by Mr. Ahmad Redza, President of the IIBY – International Boards on Books for Young People and the MBBY – Malaysia Board on Books for Young People. ([email protected]) www.ibby.org
Mr. Redza President of IBBY
The Malaysian delegation has arrived in Bologna hosted by the agency Perbadanan Kota Buku, this was the first time that Kota Buku has been the host agency for Malaysian delegates at Bologna. The Perbadanan Kota Buku is a government agency in Kuala Lumpur, the Book City Corporation was officially established on July 6, 2011. “Functions of the corporation as a one-stop center for activities together on books for readers, writers and publishers where they can meet and conduct various activities related to each other. The Corporation aims to make the Kota Buku as a textbook hub operating under one roof. The Kota Buku act as a network of relationships in the global and domestic levels continuously. Like other developing countries, Malaysia also did not want to fall behind in setting up a center for collecting and coordinating the activities and publications of textbooks either from within or outside the country”, this is written in their official website. The aim of this Agency is in the Chairman Mr. Tan Sri Abd Ghafar Mahmud words: “One way we can get to know other cultures is through books. We want to encourage our children to have a good understanding of their own home while having a world view. With such understanding comes acceptance, tolerance, cooperation and peace”. In fact the theme of Kota Buku in Bologna, this year, was to showcase diversity in their children’s literature.
“Books in our view are not merely fuzzy texts and words. Books are essentially a representation of ideals and ideas. Hence we look at books as an integral part of the content industry and, undeniably, a subset of the creative industry” said the CEO Tuan Sayed Munawar. Kota Buku was represented in Bologna by the Manager Department of Book Industry Development Puan Norhayati Razali ([email protected]) www.kotabuku.my
Puan Norhayati Razali of KOTA BUKU, Mr. Redza of IBBY and Stefano Romano
Puan Norhayati Razali of KOTA BUKU
Perbadanan Kota Buku represented in Bologna: PNI Neuron Sdn Bhd, Elite Animation Sdn Bhd, Multimedia Development Corporation Sdn Bhd, Mawaddah Books Sdn Bhd, MASFE Sdn Bhd, Impiana Publications & Distributors Sdn Bhd, Kualiti Books Sdn Bhd, Kumpulan Media Karangkraf, Yusuf Gajah Lingard, E-Media Publications Sdn Bhd and Institut Terjamahan & Buku Malaysia (ITBM).
To talk about The Karangkraf Media Group, there was Puan Radhiah Shaharuddin, populary known as Sri Diah, the General Manager of the publishing division in Karangkraf. The Karangkraf Media Group is a leading publisher in Malaysia. The company was established in 1979 by Dato Hussamuddin and had grown into a major organization employing 1500 people. Puan Sri Diah is in this company from 30 years. “Karangkraf is the biggest publisher in Malaysia and also the biggest printer in Malaysia. We have 29 magazines, 8 state newspapers, 3 bookstores Asia’s largest digital printing.
Puan Sri Diah of KARANGKRAF
Especially, the Karangkraf wants give better product to all, giving soul and mind are constantly seeking knowledge through reading”, she says. “30 years ago there were only two magazines when I started working in Karangkraf. Then over the years I produce magazine by magazine, until now counted nearly 29 titles. I am also related to producing content for the newspaper: until now 8 edition of the newspaper are being produced every day, in 8 states. We are working now on copies of the Holy Al-Quran translated in Malay. Now it’s sold almost 300 copies throughout Malaysia. Since December 2013 until now, Karangkraf has published 15 editions of the Al-Quran Malay for groups of women, men, teens and for grandpas even when the eyes are not more good, with big typefaces. Most important is that the Holy Al-Quran published by Karangkraf is recognized by the Malaysian Government and we were the first to publish the Al-Quran in Malay language. Karangkraf already published by the Malaysian government permission”ends Puan Sri Diah. ([email protected]) http://www.karangkraf.com/
The company recently published several children’s books that were originally in English. These include the Dina series by Emila Yusof and the Dr Bubbles series. Emila Yusof is a popular artist, illustrator and children’s picture book author who has found acclaim in Malaysia and internationally. She has illustrated many books for major Malaysian publishers and written and illustrated a number of her own children picture books. ([email protected])
Emila Yusof shows her work to a spanish publisher
Among the illustrators present for Kota Buku I met Maslina Yusoff, spearhead of Kota Buku in Bologna, with its Mila’s series. Maslina Yusoff was born in Johor Bahru, graduated from the School of Art and Design, Universiti Teknologi MARA (UiTM) Shah Alam in Malaysia, majoring graphics. Maslina has always wanted to write and illustrate her own’s children’s books. The “Mila” stories are the first three stories in a series. Her books were exhibited at the Shangai Children Book fair in 2013. Everything was done in one year: imagined, created and published. “I was inspired by my daughter when she was a little girl (she is now 24). She had big curly hair and she really hated her hair. To my daughter, her hair was the biggest trouble but to me it was the cutest and funniest thing I had seen. Most of the events in the book was what she experienced. When it came to name my main character, my daughter suggested ‘Mila’ simply because the name is easy to pronounce by anyone who reads the book. And that’s how Mila was created”, said Maslina, whose first memory of her love for drawing dates back to four years old when she drew on the wall of the house some human figures with the mother’s lipstick. Maslina created Mila like a little girl very curious, intelligent but struggling with her hair that make Mila different from all the other girls. And this is her final message, as her mother teaches her at the end of the first story: “Be proud of what you have and make the best of it”. ([email protected])
Maslina Yusoff and Zakiah Mohd Isa
Member of MBBY, in Bologna was also presents the Master Yusof Gajah, along with his wife Zakiah Mohd Isa, Art Promoter and Batik Painter. Master Yusof was in Bologna for Kota Buku with the Yusof Gajah Lingard, Literary Agency cofounded by Yusof and Linda Tan Lingard in September 2009. Yusof Gajah is a familiar name in Malaysian art and children’s book scene. His enthusiasm and tireless energy in promoting artists, illustrators, writers and books, have earned him enormous respect both locally and internationally.
Master Yusof Gajah
He traces his love for painting already when he was seven years old, especially the ability to tell stories through images. In the 60/70 becomes a painter, he attended the Sekolah Seni Rupa Indonesia in Yogyakarta, famous School of Art where he graduated in Fine Art, then goes to Singapore, before returning to Malaysia as a graphic designer and writer. Now he is a consultant for Kota Buku and he he has authored of more than forty books. Gajah is not his real surname, but a brand immediately recognizable anywhere. When I ask him how did you get the idea of the elephant, he tells me that everything is born from the need to find something that made him different from everyone else, something that made him unique. “The elephant was the obvious choice because of all the animals there are many different species, fish are millions, as dogs, cats, birds… But the elephant has only two species: the African and the Asian elephant. Therefore, every child immediately recognizes an elephant. And also, the Prophet (SWS) was born in the Year of the Elephant, for the Hindu Ganesh is the sacred elephant, and in China the elephant is a symbol of wealth, so one animal encloses Islam, Hinduism and the wealth of China. For this reason I have chosen to portray the elephant continuously.” Before say goodbye to him, we share the pleasure of seeing thousands of people come from all over the world to see the children’s books and illustrations at hand in this digital age, and Yusof tells me that the digital illustration is now part of our lives but after the boom of the beginning, people got bored quickly, because everyone prefers a page to touch, smell colors, see the hand-painted. ([email protected])
The Lingard agency’s lates client is Evi Shelvia, a young illustrator from Jakarta. She has been publishing in Indonesia and US. Her latest illustration is for a book by Malaysian author Quek Sue Yian, about two children growing up in a home. “It has a good story and great illustrations and I am pretty excited about it” says Linda Tan Lingard about Evi. She is the winner of the 2013 AFCCSketch at Asian Festival of Children’s Contest in Singapore with her “One Big Story”, and Evi describes herself as “freelance illustrator and sometimes scribbling for comic-graphic diary, as well as full time mom, and big fan of my three kids”. ([email protected])
Evi Shelvia – One Big Story
Evi Shelvia in action
I also mention the presence of MASFE Sdn Bhd, a private limited company, designs, manufactures and distributes children’s early learning cloth books and interactive wall hangings. The company which was established in 2010 by Hoo Heng Heng is recognized as a social enterprise as it employs a number of mothers at home and people in need in the manufacture of their products. “our products are designed to create a total learning experience for the family to create bonding between children and their parents and also among their siblings” said Heng Heng. ([email protected])
Jael Hoo of MASFE
Ishak Hamzah, Managing Director of E-Media Publication Sdn Bhd has spent more than thirty years in the publishing industry as an editor, writer, publisher and, at different times, owner of three publishing companies. “I had this dream of creating an Encyclopedia of Science and the Al-Quran for children. I worked on this for three years and it was published in the Malay language in 2010. It has since been published in Persian and is currently being translated into English for the Malaysian market. We are also working with a publisher to translate it into Indonesian. The standard version is also available on the internet”, Says Ishak. The encyclopedia in its standard form contains 188 entries and is published in 5 volumes of different themes in hard back. Each entry contains illustrations, a descriptive text and a verse from the Al-Quran related to the particular topic. ([email protected])
Encyclopedia of Science and the Al-Quran of E-MEDIA Publication
The Institute Terjamahan & Buku (ITBM) or the Malaysian Institute of Translation & Books is the national translation and book publisher of Malaysia, a Government linked company. It translates and publishes foreign titles as well as original works by Malaysians. According to Mohd Khair Ngadiron, CEO of ITBM, as part of the government’s drive to increase the number of book published each year, ITBM has programmes to promote authorship among young people. The organisation works closely with the Malaysian National Writers Association (PENA) to develop young Malaysian authors. Manuscripts received are screened by a committee of PENA and ITBM staff and ITBM publishes the best titles. It has published foreign titles into Malay, Chinese and Tamil for primary schools. ([email protected])
Raymond Yeo, CEO of Kualiti Books Sdn Bhd has had more than 45 years in the publishing business. He worked for major publishers in distribution and sales before setting up his own publishing house in 2000. To date, Kualiti Books Sdn Bhd has produced over 850 titles, in four languages – Malay, English, Chinese and Tamil. ([email protected])
Mr. Raymond Yeo of KUALITI BOOKS and Stefano Romano
This is the state of Malaysian publishing shown at the Bologna’s Fair, thanks to Kota Buku.