Asian Children’s Writers & Illustrators Conference (ACWIC), 26 & 27 May 2011

Conference Director: R Ramachandran, Singapore

Conference Consultant: Pooja Makhijani, US/Singapore

Do you write stories or publish content for young readers? Or are you a writer/illustrator of children’s books? Whatever your publishing goals, objectives as a writer or teacher of children, the Asian Children’s Writers and Illustrators Conference (ACWIC) 2011 is the place to be, to network and do business with publishing professionals, from first-time authors to seasoned editors. Book your place now!

For: Writers, illustrators, preschool and primary school teachers, publishers, librarians, literary agents, distributors and retailers, translators, and other professionals related to children’s content.

26 May 2011

8.30am – 9.30am: Registration

9.30am – 10.15am / Chamber

Welcome Note by R Ramachandran, Conference Director, Singapore

Keynote: What is the Future of Children’s Publishing? by Stephen Mooser, President of the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI), US

Jeff Kinney’s best-selling series, “Diary of a Wimpy Kid,” was originally published online, not on paper. The online version of the book gets 70,000 hits a day. So, what is he doing still publishing books on paper? Children’s books are important to the survival of publishing as a whole. However, we need to be mindful of differences in children’s publishing in the 20th century and the challenges that await the children’s publishing industry in the upcoming years.

Alchemy of Writing

10.30am – 11.30am / Living Room

The Importance of Place in Children’s Literature: How to Make the Most of “Regional” Writing by Liz Rosenberg, US.

Southern American author Eudora Welty has written about “the importance of place” in her own writing. Prize-winning author Liz Rosenberg, poet, novelist and children’s book author, talks about the role that location and culture plays in great writing for young people. Writers struggling to make use of local culture, scene, experience etc. will find this session invaluable in developing tools for their own writing. Bring a pen and some paper, as informal writing will be encouraged (though not required!).

12.00pm – 1.00pm / Gallery

Mythical Stories and Images of Asia by Choi YangSook, Korea/US.

What is the connection between a Chinese dragon and the number nine? We know about Middle Earth and wizards and witches at Hogwarts. But how have Asian writers and illustrators used their own histories? Are there legends, myths, and stories that need to be told once again?

2.30pm – 3.30pm / Play Den

Boys Will Be Boys: Writing to Engage Boys by Ken Spillman, Australia

From Biggles to Captain Underpants, the reading tastes of boys have always differed from those of their female contemporaries. It’s an unpalatable fact, however, that a majority of today’s reluctant readers are boys, and that some boys don’t read at all. Where does the fault lie? What are the broad consequences? What can writers, publishers, parents and educators do about it? Ken Spillman was a boy once, and is now well-known as a writer and speaker. In this session, he will discuss gender issues for writers and those committed to connecting books with tomorrow’s men.

2.30pm – 3.30pm / Living Room

Exploring History Through Children’s Literature by Dianne Wolfer, Australia

Dianne Wolfer’s historical picture books have won a children’s choice award, been shortlisted for an historical fiction award, and translated into Japanese. So how does an author know which stories will appeal to children? And what research methods do she use? Dianne will answer these and other questions giving examples and background from her historical picture books, Lighthouse Girl and Photographs in the Mud.

5.30pm – 6.30pm / Play Den

Of Power and Emotions: Writing Fiction for Young Adults by Holly Thompson, US/Japan

Writing young adult (YA) fiction involves much more than creating a teenage protagonist. This session will explore current definitions of YA fiction and demonstrate the range of styles and genres evident in YA fiction published in major markets today. The unique role of YA fiction will be discussed, as well as basic considerations for writers such as typical word count, audience age level and point-of-view. Challenges in crafting believable dialogue, developing characters that resonate with teens, and establishing a distinct voice will be included. Some typical first-time YA author mistakes will be shared, along with advice and resource lists for writers in Asia tackling YA fiction.

Illustrators’ Palette

4.30pm – 5.30pm / Gallery

The Illustrator Who Wants to Write by Choi YangSook, Korea/US.

For anyone who is a visual artist first, writing can be tricky. Your visual thinking process will influence what and how you write. The challenge is to find a balance between drawing and writing to tell a story that reads well and captures readers’ minds. We will look at creative ways in developing your own writing skills that work best for you.

Insider’s Guide to Getting Published

10.30am – 11.30am / Gallery

It Takes Two (or More) to Tango: Collaborating with an Illustrator, Musician, or Animator by Christopher Cheng, Australia

This session will examine the ins and outs of working with another creative force to produce a work. Christopher has recently provided the lyrics for a children’s musical and the text for a picture book and he is currently developing a script for an animation. He will discuss the challenges and the joys of creating these works with other people.

12.00pm – 1.00pm / Play Den

The Role of an Agent and De-mystifying the Publishing Process, Cradle to Grave by Kelly Sonnack, US

The journey that a traditionally published book takes is a long (and sometimes circuitous) one. Using real-life examples, Kelly will de-mystify that process by explaining industry lingo, how a book gets sold (including how an auction works), what subrights are and why they’re important, what agents and editors do (and don’t do), and other important parts of a book’s life.

4.00pm – 5.00pm / Play Den

Going Independent? Some Dos and Don’ts, Wills and Won’ts by Emily Lim & Leigh Cunningham, Singapore.

What do you need to consider when self-publishing your work? How do you market your books and what platforms are most helpful? Award-winning independent authors, Leigh Cunningham and Emily Lim share their dos and don’ts and wills and won’ts to help you on your own publishing journey.

4.00pm – 5.00pm / Living Room

Bringing Art to Children: The Making of Salted Fish, A Picture Book by the National Art Gallery, Singapore by Yeo Wei Wei, Ye Shufang and James Teo, Singapore

Salted Fish is the first title in the Dreaming Art Series, which celebrates the enduring legacy of Asian artists through the creation of new art in picture books. For each title, a writer and an artist/illustrator work together to produce a story featuring an iconic work of art. The series aims to provide fun and engaging avenues of introducing art to children. In this panel the author Yeo Wei Wei, illustrator Ye Shufang, and book designer James Teo from ampulets, will share their experience of working together to create Salted Fish.

5.45pm – 6.45pm / Gallery

Developing Your Book into an Animation Property by Wong Kok Cheong, Singapore

It takes more than one to turn the content of a storybook into a TV series and/or movie. There are various forms of participation which the original writer, creator or illustrator can partake in the production process. We’ll also discuss the transforming of illustrations of a book into a form which is suitable to be adapted in an animation production and the exploration of ideas into multiple platforms in the various media forms.

The Marketplace

10.30am – 11.30am / Play Den

The Global Market for Asian Children’s Books: What travels, What Doesn’t…and Why? by Neal Porter, US

Globalisation is a term heard with increasing frequency these days; in most countries one doesn’t have to walk very far to find a McDonalds or Starbucks.  Yet many children’s books that achieve remarkable success in their home market fail to travel abroad, while others become international sensations. American editor Neal Porter, who has attended the Bologna Book Fair for more than 25 years and has worked for German, British, and French owned companies, will discuss the role that cultural identity plays in the world of children’s books.

10.30am – 11.30am / Screening Room

Author/Illustrator School Visits: Developing Your Best Programmes by Holly Thompson, US/Japan

Authors and illustrators often visit schools to give presentations and workshops, sometimes as volunteers, often as a source of income. What do teachers and librarians want? What will appeal to kids? How can you sift through your works to create presentations that will give students a memorable and meaningful experience with an author or illustrator? Planning and developing school programmes; timing your presentations; creating good props; preparing for specific audiences; coping with technology, contracts, fees; and more will be covered. Whether you are pre-published or published, if you are writing for children or teens, it is never too soon to begin thinking about school visits.

5.30pm – 6.30pm / Screening Room

How to Market Yourself as a Writer or Illustrator by Christopher Cheng, Australia

This session will investigate how authors and illustrators can embrace the many forms of social and traditional media to promote their newly created titles. What makes a good website; who are press releases sent to; how to approach magazines and newspapers for articles and reviews; creating blogs; creating book trailers; and developing some unforgettable ideas to promote you and your new book. We will also discuss how to work with the publisher’s publicist as well as doing promotion independently – all to create a marketable product – YOU!

Understanding Children’s Literature

12.00pm – 1.00pm / Living Room

The Representation of the Island as Space/Place in Film and Picture Books by John Mckenzie, New Zealand

This workshop will give an overview of the island/beach/coast as a literary and filmic trope that reveals this landscape as a liminal space, a borderland betwixt and between childhood and adolescence, nature and culture, fantasy and reality, being and becoming. That is, the island forms an ideal locale for a coming-of-age story. This workshop will detail a range of resources and strategies that could be used to develop an eco-critical curriculum.

12.00pm – 1.00pm / Screening Room

Rediscovering the Lyric and Narrative in Children’s Poetry by Desmond Kon, Singapore

What distinguishes poetry written for an adult or child audience? Do the same aesthetic and interpretive principles apply to both? In this talk, you will discover that literary giants like T. S. Eliot, Rudyard Kipling, Seamus Heaney, Robert Graves and Ted Hughes, did write poems specifically for children, while continuing to develop their own practice and craft. In children’s poetry, one can rediscover both the lyric and narrative at work, both sensibilities providing poems with musicality and story. You’ll also learn about writing resources dedicated to poetry written for children and young adults. Child poet Joshua Ong guests as a reader.

2.30pm – 3.30pm / Screening Room

On Fairies (Diwata), Mousedeers (Sang Kancil), Merpeople, and Magic Spells: Threads that Bind Children’s Tales from Singapore, Philippines, Malaysia and Indonesia by Rhoda Myra Garces-Bacsal, Singapore

What are the unique cultural elements, as well as commonalities and divergences in mythology, characterization of children, families, values, aspirations, and dreams from these four countries? This analysis will provide a more nuanced understanding of a collective Southeast Asian heritage and to foster a deeper awareness of the cultural ties that bind us, as seen through children’s favourite stories from this part of the world.

4.00pm – 5.00pm / Screening Room

A Book Reviewer Speaks: Trends in Children’s Literature in America by Liz Rosenberg, US

Author Liz Rosenberg has also been a book reviewer for the past thirty years, writing for Dallas and Austen newspapers, then for Parents Magazine, and for the past fifteen years as a children’s book review columnist for the Boston Globe. She will talk about current trends in writing for young people, with special attention to some of her favourite Asian American authors.

5.30pm – 6.30pm / Living Room

More than Monkeys, Maharajahs and Mangoes: An Overview of South Asian Literature for Kids by Pooja Makhijani, US/Singapore

Multicultural literature has proven to be necessary in helping young people to develop an understanding of diverse cultures, people and perspectives. As an independent scholar and writer in the United States, Pooja Makhijani has documented ways in which South Asian characters have evolved over time to suit the ideas of society in and for which they were written. This presentation will not only address the influence of cultural materials on children and but will provide parents, educators and librarians with ‘best practices’ to select authentic books for their classrooms and communities.


The festival organisers reserve the right to change speakers, events and/or session times, dates, and other details as necessary.


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