Posts filed under ‘Recreational Reading’

A Conversation with Dave Chua and Koh Hong Teng

Written by Kean Patrick Murphy (2O412)
Photographs by Lu Wen Hao (2I314)

Gone Case Graphic NovelOn Monday, 19 April, for the first 2011 Library Week and World Book Day afternoon event, writer Dave Chua and artist Koh Hong Teng participated in a Book Talk about adapting Chua’s prize-winning novel Gone Case into graphic novel format, with Mr Jason Erik Lundberg as moderator.

I learned many valuable lessons from the talk. For instance, Mr Chua mentioned that a writer gets many inspirations, especially from other authors. He or she mainly uses past experiences as a reference in writing stories, while adding scenes from the imagination along the way. A good example would be the very book they were talking about, Gone Case. Mr Chua described the setting of the book as coming out of his life experiences and the HDB block that he lived in as a boy. He used the issues that he encountered in his home as a focal point for his story. This interests me as when I write narratives in school, I often do the same thing. Which means that this way of writing is constant not only from published authors, but anyone who writes. A writer also has to read widely to gain inspiration. Thus, if you don’t read many books, you can’t become a good writer.

Mr Chua brought up the fact that there is a difference between comics and books in terms of people buying them for the first time. Books are harder to assess at first glance, while comics are easier as people are able to judge them immediately by the quality of artwork. The artwork needs to be striking enough to attract the reader’s attention, while the first chapter of a book needs to be engaging enough to motivate the reader to continue on. Mr Lundberg added that sales are also affected by the stigma of self-publishing, with books suffering from it more than comics. I think this is so because many people have the mindset that a book is only self-published if established publishers have rejected it, and so it must be rubbish. I disagree, as some self-published books that I have read are very good, and certainly worthy of a publisher, but for a variety of reasons the author has chosen not to go the traditional route.

A good tip that I picked up was that no matter how unrealistic the story is, you must always remember to keep the story believable. If the story stretches your imagination, people enjoy it, but if it is ridiculous, they won’t like it. On a related point, you must make sure the scene fits the setting. For example, many student writers describe gun fights in Singapore, but guns are banned in Singapore, so the situation seems out of place; writers must be careful to avoid falling into this trap. Another tip is a good way to kickstart your drawings: Mr Koh takes reference photos of a scene he might want to draw, then goes back to the drawing board, takes the best photo angle for the scene or panel, draws it in his own style and adds in more personal details. Lastly, and perhaps most importantly, Mr Chua encouraged us to write what we enjoy! If you are writing about something that you have no interest in, the story will turn out bland and won’t be interesting. Once you write about something that captivates you, you can spend a long time on it and your passion for it will come through in the writing.

The issue of memorable characters was also brought up here. Some characters will stick in the reader’s memory long after the story has been read. Sometimes, they may not even be the main character, and may have a short “page life.” Mr Lundberg described the Malay barber in a scene from Gone Case being one of the most memorable characters for him in the graphic novel, despite the barber’s appearance lasting only a mere three pages; I can recall a few characters just like that from other books.

The graphic novel adaptation as a form has always puzzled me, as conversion from a prose work always seems to twist the story into something else, shortening the scenes and taking out some of its true meaning. Now I know that this technique is actually purposefully intended by comics creators. Mr Chua gave Mr Koh free reign over the story, letting him plan it like a director doing storyboards for a film, and then collaborating on the dialogue and other details.

In conclusion, this talk was very informative for me, and a valuable experience. I can’t wait for the next time authors come to HCI to give a talk. I am especially interested in two Singaporean authors, Jeffrey Lim and Wena Poon, whose writing I enjoyed after reading an anthology which included short stories by them. I used to think that Singaporean literature was a waste of time and of poor quality, but talks like these have broadened my vision and changed my views.


April 19, 2011 at 12:01 pm 9 comments

2011 Library Week and World Book Day!

Embiggen for a Print Quality Image

“I Read, Therefore I Am”

Next week, 18-21 April, celebrate 2011 Library Week and World Book Day at Kong Chian Library!

Gone Case Graphic NovelOn Monday, writer Dave Chua and artist Koh Hong Teng will conduct a Book Talk about adapting Chua’s prize-winning novel Gone Case into graphic novel format. In addition to discussing the challenges of adaptation, they will talk about other graphic novels and prose books that have influenced them, and the state of graphic literature in Singapore.

Tuesday will see two events: the Chinese Share-a-Book will be conducted in the Seminar and Conference Rooms, as an extension of the Chinese reading done during the Term 1 sabbatical week. The NLB Mass Book Borrowing will take place at Oei Tiong Ham Hall from 8:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.; Mrs Rosalind Lee will soon post the schedule for the lower sec classes on the EMB, and upper sec students are highly encouraged to drop by during lunch time.

The annual Scrabble Challenge will be conducted on Wednesday once again by Mrs Yeong-Loke Lai Fun and Ms G. Kalavathi, with the winners competing against students from the junior college to determine ultimate HCI Scrabble supremacy!

Towerhill coverDuring lunch time on Thursday, the Young Editors Club will launch their new publication, an anthology of poetry and prose entitled TOWERHILL.Reclaimed. YEC members will be on hand to answer questions, recite poetry, and sell copies of the anthology; copies will be sold for $10 and all proceeds will go directly to the Disaster Relief Fund of the Embassy of Japan.

All week long, our afternoon Big Book Sale will be located in the Reading Area and feature a variety of titles; the money collected will go toward the Needy Student Fund. Also during the week, we will facilitate the Know Your E-Resources Online Quiz, the Lower Sec Door Wrapping Competition, individual class Book Swap, and a special exhibition of the winners from the Micro-Fiction Writing Competition.

Stay tuned here and at our official Facebook Event Page for up-to-the-minute details, and join us next week in the celebration of books and reading!

HCI Official WBD Logo Designed by Khor Haoyu of Class 2I2

April 12, 2011 at 12:56 pm 4 comments

HCNY Book Club Gathering

Written by Koh Jian Way (3A311)

On 4 February 2011, a group of 18 Hwa Chong Library Club members, including four Sec 4 mentors, went over to Nanyang Girls’ High School for the first time this year to meet with their English Society members for the HCNY Book Club gathering. After arriving at the school’s 思源馆 (Memorial Hall) at approximately 2:30 p.m., we introduced ourselves.

Icebreakers started after that, using a game called “Whacko.” The game requires two circles of people; the HCI boys first sat in the inner circle, and they were paired with the NYGH girls who stood in the outer circle. The Roamer occupied the very center, and aimed to “whack” the head of the boy (with a rolled up sheet of paper) whose name had been called out by one of the girls. The person that he had been paired up with, however, had to be fast in calling out another boy’s name, so that the Roamer would aim to hit that boy’s head instead. When the Roamer did finally whack one of the boys, that boy’s partner in the outer circle was required to take over as the Roamer, whilst the boy that initially sat down would now stand up in the outer circle, and the initial Roamer would then sit down in his place. In my opinion, for this game to be fun, you need to know the name of every person in the room, and you need very fast reflexes.

After the game, we split up into groups of four, two boys from HCI and two girls from NYGH. Tan Hee (my partner) and I paired up with Nicole and Alice, and had a short chit-chat session; this get-to-know-you session helped improve our understanding of each other. This was essential before we got down to serious work, as we really needed to discover the preferences and attitudes of the girls in our group.

At around 4:15, we set off for the NYGH Library. We were tasked with choosing a Science Fiction book for the book club discussion, and we found several interesting titles, such as I, Robot by Isaac Asimov and a novelization of the Transformers movie. We brought our choices up to the library’s second level and started to read our books; mine was I, Robot, which kept me guessing about what would happen in the next part of the story. After approximately 30 minutes of reading, we stopped and gave a summary of what we had read to each other. We initially settled on I, Robot, but unfortunately another group had already picked the book. So we went back to the shelves and decided instead on Flowers for Algernon by Daniel Keyes. From the back cover blurb, it appears that the book was written from the perspective of a mentally retarded adult man who undergoes brain surgery to increase his intelligence by artificial means; I feel that this book will be a very interesting read as it is written from a unique perspective.

At around 4:50, we all went back to the 思源馆 and had a short discussion on the books we had chosen and why we had chosen them. After that, there was a short briefing on what we were supposed to do during our six-week separation from each other before meeting again, and then we were dismissed. The afternoon was a fruitful one, and I managed to make and learn from new friends.

March 22, 2011 at 11:51 am 3 comments

Reaching Teens with Reading in Michigan

Linda S. Mah, writing for the Kalamazoo Gazette, reports on the recent Youth Literature Seminar organized by the Kalamazoo Public Library and held at Western Michigan University’s Fetzer Center:

Linda Braun, president of the Young Adult Library Services Association, and James A. Owen, a novelist and comic-book publisher and artist, both talked about alternative ways to engage young adults in reading.

Ask a teenager what they’ve read during the day, and they’ll often respond that they haven’t read anything, Braun told the teachers, librarians and others attending the seminar[.] That’s because, as far as they’re concerned, if they’re not reading a novel or reading for school, then they haven’t read.

Braun talks about reconceptualizing what “reading” includes, like SMS messages, blog entries, and Facebook or Twitter status updates. This is language that teenagers are coded to understand, and educators and librarians must attempt to understand them as well in order to drawn them into the literary conversation.

James A. OwenOwens, author of “Here, There Be Dragons” and other books in the Chronicles of the Imaginarium Geographica series, echoed that point, noting that the latest electronic devices will give readers new options. Four comic-book publishers, he said, recently signed agreements with a computer company to create a format that will display full-page graphic displays of comic books. That technology will have implications for picture books as well, he said.

“They used to say, ‘You can’t curl up with a computer the way that you can with a book,’” Owens said. “You can now.”

As Hwa Chong progresses in its commitment to be a future school, it is incumbent upon the teachers and staff to incorporate these technologies into inculcating a lifelong love for reading. Secondary Two and Three students are very fortunate this year to be introduced to a plethora of new media as part of the FS programme.

Read the full article here.

February 18, 2011 at 3:25 pm 16 comments

Philip Pullman to UK Govt: Hands Off Our Libraries!

Philip PullmanLast week, Philip Pullman — bestselling author of the His Dark Materials trilogy (Northern Lights / The Golden Compass, The Subtle Knife, and The Amber Spyglass), The Good Man Jesus and the Scoundrel Christ, and many other books — spoke to a packed audience in Oxfordshire to defend the immeasurable value of public libraries, and to decry the recent government slashing of public funding in the UK, which is currently resulting in library closures all over the country.

Here are some choice excerpts:

The greedy ghost is everywhere. That office block isn’t making enough money: tear it down and put up a block of flats. The flats aren’t making enough money: rip them apart and put up a hotel. The hotel isn’t making enough money: smash it to the ground and put up a multiplex cinema. The cinema isn’t making enough money: demolish it and put up a shopping mall.

The greedy ghost understands profit all right. But that’s all he understands. What he doesn’t understand is enterprises that don’t make a profit, because they’re not set up to do that but to do something different. He doesn’t understand libraries at all, for instance. That branch – how much money did it make last year? Why aren’t you charging higher fines? Why don’t you charge for library cards? Why don’t you charge for every catalogue search? Reserving books – you should charge a lot more for that. Those bookshelves over there – what’s on them? Philosophy? And how many people looked at them last week? Three? Empty those shelves and fill them up with celebrity memoirs.

That’s all the greedy ghost thinks libraries are for.


I still remember the first library ticket I ever had. It must have been about 1957. My mother took me to the public library just off Battersea Park Road and enrolled me. I was thrilled. All those books, and I was allowed to borrow whichever I wanted! And I remember some of the first books I borrowed and fell in love with: the Moomin books by Tove Jansson; a French novel for children called A Hundred Million Francs; why did I like that? Why did I read it over and over again, and borrow it many times? I don’t know. But what a gift to give a child, this chance to discover that you can love a book and the characters in it, you can become their friend and share their adventures in your own imagination.

And the secrecy of it! The blessed privacy! No-one else can get in the way, no-one else can invade it, no-one else even knows what’s going on in that wonderful space that opens up between the reader and the book. That open democratic space full of thrills, full of excitement and fear, full of astonishment, where your own emotions and ideas are given back to you clarified, magnified, purified, valued. You’re a citizen of that great democratic space that opens up between you and the book. And the body that gave it to you is the public library. Can I possibly convey the magnitude of that gift?

Somewhere in Blackbird Leys, somewhere in Berinsfield, somewhere in Botley, somewhere in Benson or in Bampton, to name only the communities beginning with B whose libraries are going to be abolished, somewhere in each of them there is a child right now, there are children, just like me at that age in Battersea, children who only need to make that discovery to learn that they too are citizens of the republic of reading. Only the public library can give them that gift.


One final memory, this time from just a couple of years ago: I was trying to find out where all the rivers and streams ran in Oxford, for a book I’m writing called The Book of Dust. I went to the Central Library and there, with the help of a clever member of staff, I managed to find some old maps that showed me exactly what I wanted to know, and I photocopied them, and now they are pinned to my wall where I can see exactly what I want to know.

The public library, again. Yes, I’m writing a book, Mr Mitchell, and yes, I hope it’ll make some money. But I’m not praising the public library service for money. I love the public library service for what it did for me as a child and as a student and as an adult. I love it because its presence in a town or a city reminds us that there are things above profit, things that profit knows nothing about, things that have the power to baffle the greedy ghost of market fundamentalism, things that stand for civic decency and public respect for imagination and knowledge and the value of simple delight.

You can read the entire speech online at False Economy.

January 27, 2011 at 3:04 pm 10 comments

“Hooked on Books” Campaign 2011

From Senior Librarian Kris Koo:

Are you someone with an insatiable appetite for books? Well, if you are, you’ll be delighted to know that Kong Chian Library has launched the 2011 “Hooked on Books” Campaign, which aims to encourage reading amongst members of the school population.

The top borrower from each level, for each term from January to September, will be awarded ATTRACTIVE prizes! The list of the winners will be announced in the EMB at the beginning of each term.

If you haven’t been actively borrowing books for the past two weeks, it’s not too late to start. Immerse yourself in the breathtaking world of horror, romance, adventure, fantasy, philosophy, science, and more!

So, embark on a journey of self-discovery or explore the various disciplines with which you are unfamiliar — Kong Chian Library is THE PLACE for you!

“Good friends and good books: this is the ideal life.” –Mark Twain

January 27, 2011 at 2:01 pm Leave a comment

I’m Reading a Book!

Writer and musician Julian Smith presents a hip hop warning: “Don’t you ever interrupt me while I’m reading a book!”

January 24, 2011 at 5:44 pm Leave a comment

Older Posts

Library Club Leadership

Teachers In-Charge:
Mrs Rosalind Lee (SC)
Mdm Chan May Lun
Mdm Shieh Le-shiang
Mrs Kris Koo (Senior AO)
Mrs Wang Meng Juan (AO)

2011-12 ExCo:
Foo Yang Yi (Chairman)
Kervin Tay (Vice-Chairman)
Ian Wong (Training & Recruitment)
Zach Wang (Public Relations)
Joel Lee (Welfare)

July 2018
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