Sayoni Basu was at AFCC, Singapore, recently, and writes of her experience there.
Anushka and I have been going to the Asian Festival of Children’s Content in Singapore for several years now. It gives us great joy to see it growing every year, with participants from many Asian countries, Australia and New Zealand and other places.
This year, India was the country of focus, and the whole National Book Trust contingent was there, with several Indian writers and illustrators. There was an NBT pavilion, which displayed books from India (one might quibble with the choice, but hey, there were lots of books on display!). And a host of lovely Indian writers and illustrators who one gets to see all too infrequently in India: the elusive Manjula Padmanabhan, Atanu Roy, Sampurna Chattarji, Payal Dhar, Subhir Shukla, Nina Sabnanai and Deepa Agarwal, among others. And of course the wonderful Leela Seth (Leela Seth grimly jaywalking across a Singapore road is probably my favourite memory!) and eternally optimistic Atiya Ziadi of Ratna Sagar.
I could attend only a few of the sessions by Indian authors, as I had several conflicting ones. But I did get to listen to Manjula Padmanabhan and Atanu Roy on illustrations, and Leela Seth and Atiya on gender issues in children’s books, both of which were very interesting.
I was one of the judges for the Scholastic Asia Book Awards, which selects three unpublished manuscripts from across Asia for publication by Scholastic throughout the region. There were sixty-nine entries from several countries, and the two top prizes this year were both won by Sophia Marie N. Lee (fifth from left in the photo below) and Catherine Torres (second from right) from the Philippines, and the third prize by Vivek Bhanot (first from left) from India (photo courtesy Marjorie Coughlan).
I also had great fun at a panel on YA publishing, with Stacy Whitman from Lee and Lowe, USA, and Cheryl Robson from Arora Metro Books, UK, where we discussed trends in YA books and what was happening in our respective markets (photo courtesy Mitali Perkins).
I also got to meet a lot of writers and publishers from all over Asia, both at the sessions which I was part of—First Pages, Speed Pitching and the Rights Table—and was fascinated by the diversity of books being published and the passion which drives the creators of these.
AFCC is always deeply fulfilling because of the passion which drives all the participants. And that is why it is always thrilling to be there!