What Makes a Great Children Book

A great book is…

  1. One that contains a simple and original idea presented with clarity and great power.
  2. One that connects with the reader, asserting its world directly into the reader’s mind.
  3. One that makes the world seem larger and more interesting.
  4. One written with humor and a light touch.
  5. One that is a realization of a complete but very different world.

-by Richard Robinson, President and CEO of Scholastic Inc

Source: Abrams, Dennis. (2012). What Makes a Children’s Book Great? We Have Some Answers. Publishing Perspectives. Available from: http://publishingperspectives.com/2012/06/what-makes-a-childrens-book-great-we-have-some-answers/

What Makes a Great Children Book

Henri Cartier-Bresson’s Decisive Moment

What Cartier-Bresson understood by the decisive moment is best explained by the famous quote from his lengthy introduction to the book: “Photography is the simultaneous recognition, in a fraction of a second, of the significance of an event as well as of a precise organisation of forms which give that event its proper expression.”

Cartier-Bresson always emphasised the importance of composition, and liked to “instinctively fix a geometric pattern” into which a chosen subject fitted.


Henri Cartier-Bresson’s Decisive Moment


“In the age of texts and twitter, the postcard is a dying art form. This underrated medium marries an iconic image of place with personal reportage. The postcard ‘voice’ is one of new experiences and disappointed expectations, in a life edit that merges the essential with the inessential. What do we think matters at a single moment in time? It’s a question posed poignantly by some of the work on the filling pages.

So let’s indulge in some A6-size nostalgia. We asked a writer to create a message, and send it on to an illustrator, who created an image. From the image, to the stamp, to the postcard voice, our writers and illustrators explored all the available space. And the postcard brought cards from the most unexpected places.”

Just thought it was really interesting and enlightening of what a postcard is when the foreword of the book so succinctly described it so: what do we think matters at a single moment in time?

To communicate this particular concern at that instant, usually it would be the writers who would source for the postcard with the most appropriate image for that content; or as I believed since it is so for me.

But to have this process reversed in this book, with the illustrator creating the image after the message was written, is intriguing as to how the whole personal reportage of the writer could be distorted or enhanced. Then again, a postcard wouldn’t come about if not for the illustrator’s ideas translated into the image. It seems like the initiation of this image and text relationship is a hen and egg question: who is imposing whose ideas on who? Perhaps this is why the writer wrote ‘And the postcard brought cards from the most unexpected places’.


The greater interestingness of art over another does not rest on the greater number of things that stylistic decisions in that work allow us to attend to, but rather on the intensity and authority and wisdom of that attention, however narrow its focus.

Pg35-36, On Style by Susan Sontag

Note to self: It’s much more important to focus on one thing that you want to say than to try to do so many; thereby lacking in intensity. It’s not about trying to be ‘fanciful’ but making decisions so that only that point stood out clearly.


Just attended a British/Japanese artist talk organised by The Japan Foundation and it was awesome and rewarding for my 2060 brief!

Previously for 2060, there had been talks on speculative and critical design but they tend to have a more serious and practical tone. Hence when I saw Sputniko! works, I was really excited because her works, despite being also of speculative design, they were presented in a very lighthearted and humour way. Her design ideas are often furthered into music film of diegesis style that have strong distinctive Japan Pop culture elements. As a result of such presentation, the message in her works become receptive for a broader audience. For instance, with the intention to demystify mythologies with science in her latest work “Red Silk of Fate-Tamaki’s Crush”, she started with the concept to recreate the East Asia myth about the red silk of fate by genetically modifying a silkworm to produce red string with love hormones-oxytocin. Following on, she would incorporate the idea and product into her film. Hence, in “Red Silk of Fate-Tamaki’s Crush”, it unravels a story about the protagonist Tamaki, an aspiring genetic engineer, who engineers her own “Red Silk of Fate” in the hope of wining the heart of her crush.

More could be found on her website: http://sputniko.com

Another thing that was really inspiring and worth learning was how she used social platforms to seek collaboration even during her RCA days to help in the realisation of her projects. She mentioned how she came to such working methodology was actually due to  initial skills gap with her peers in RCA having come from a Math and Computer Science background instead of having years of art foundation. TO BE CONTINUED 🙂