I came across this book while looking for books to read for my bi monthly storytelling at a public library near my place. My name is Nadia and I have Autism is a bilingual book about a 8 year old girl Nadia Sander who has autism. It is written in both English and Malay. It shows that Nadia, despite her developmental difficulties, is just like any other child her age.
I chose this book to read to my group of children on 13th Nov. I was a little trepiditious as I was new to reading books about children with special needs and was a little concerned if I could explain autism to the children in a simple concise manner and wondered how the children will respond. When I seeked permission to read this book, I found out that apparently, I was the first storyteller to read a book about autism to the children in that library.
It was 7.30pm when all the children had settled down and I was overjoyed to see 12 eager children in front of me. I started off by announcing that I had a really special book to read and got the children's attention right away. But to hold their attention and eagerness for the next 30 minutes, I informed them that I will only read the special book at the end. I started reading the other 3 books first and when it came to this book, they were at the edge of their seats.
When I read the title, many questioning eyes looked at me. What is autism ? I explained very simply that some children view and react to the world differently from us and they get affected by loud noises and bright lights. That they are special, that's why they are called special needs children and we shouldn't look or treat them differently from us. Confused looks followed until I opened the pages and starting reading and showing the pictures of Nadia's experiences. In the end, when I posed the question in the book to the children - 'I am Nadia, will you be friend?' and probed 'Who will be Nadia's friend?' many hands went up which gave me an immense sense of fulfillment.
I hope I had introduced special needs children to these group of children so that they realise that special needs children should not be judged or stared at or worse bullied and that they are just like all of us.
Researching more on this book, I unearthed that Nadia is a 9-year-old autistic girl from Johor, Malaysia whom Huda, the author, met whilst conducting her research for her personal study. After meeting Nadia and her family members, Huda felt the urge to do something more. It didn’t take her long before she decided to retell the story of Nadia from a first person narrative. Huda says this :
“I hope this book will help to raise the awareness of autism in the community; it still carries social stigma and there is a lack of understanding about it. As mentioned by Dr Mariam Aljunied in the foreword of the book, ‘with better awareness, early intervention and good understanding as well as support from people around them, children with autism are being helped to reach their full potential’.”
I enjoyed reading this book to the children and it also helped me to understand autistic children a little better since I have expressed my interest to volunteer to help at a school for autistic children near my place. The pages are illustrated very colourfully to appeal to the children and its written very simply to allow many kids to understand autism better. Apparently, there is also another book in this series called My Name is Mikhail and I have Cerebral Palsy. Interesting. Perhaps one of my next books to read to the children?
Book rating : A
This novel open with this proverb -
'An invisible thread connects those who are destined to meet regardless of time, place and circumstance. The thread may stretch or tangle. But it will never break'
-An ancient Chinese proverb
Once in a blue moon, we come across an exceptional novel. A novel so worthy of its name. An Invisible Thread is one such novel. Its a true story of compassion. It reminds us about the humanity of the strangers we come across every day in our lives.
It was 1986.
A successful sales ad rep, Laura Schroff, walks by an eleven year old beggar on the streets of Manhattan. He asked her for spare change but she kept on walking. But something stopped her on her tracks. She was in the middle of the road! She went back to him.
'Stopping was never part of the plan...' she said but the boy had such sad eyes and told her he was really hungry. An instead of just giving the boy, Maurice, a quarter, Laura took him out for lunch.
They made a plan to meet every Monday and from then on, what started off as an innocent lunch turned into a life-changing unexpected friendship that spanned three decades!
As Laura tells us Maurice's story, she also relates her own father's alcoholism and abuse. It makes me as a reader realise how both Maurice and Laura needed each and eventually saved each other.
This is a book of restoring faith in each other and the very fact that maybe everything is going to be ok after all.
This novel has 19 chapters and 231 pages. There is also suggestions for book club discussions at the end. I finished the novel in 4-5 days. I simply couldn't put it down. Its written very concisely and simply and moving at some parts. No wonder it was NY Times Bestseller!
Overall rating : A+ (yes believe it not, this novel got the highest rating. Read the novel, you'll agree with me)
Gedung Kuning by Hidayah Amin
'It is said that one can fake a smile but never the true expression in one's eyes. And in every photo, the eyes sparkle and speak warmly of a bygone era'
Fresh out of my docent training at the Malay Heritage Centre, I was interested in all things Malay. The history of the beautiful precinct of Kampong Glam and its majestic Istana Kampong Glam which is now the Malay Heritage Centre, The glorious Sultan Mosque originally built in 1824 and restored to its present glory in 1928. But not much is known about an adjourning building in front of the main entrance of the Malay Heritage Centre - Gedung Kuning at 73 Sultan Gate. I was keen on finding out more about the history of this building and was fortunate when a fellow docent had this book to pass it on to us.
Gedung Kuning translates to Yellow Mansion in Malay. It was originally built as a home for the Prime Minister (or the Bendahara) to the Sultan, It was bought over by Haji Yusoff 'Tali Pinggang' and was their family home from 1912 to 1999. It was then acquired by the Singapore government under the Land Acquisition Act in Aug 1999. What used to house 6 families all under one roof is now preserved as a historic building under the Malay Heritage Centre.
Hidayah Amin (featured below), one of Haji Yusoff's great grand daughters revisits her childhood home. She writes about the many memories of growing up in this beautiful mansion.
This is what Hidayah had to say :
'Gedung Kuning is indeed as regal as its name and owner. It stood strong during the Japanese occupation. It witnessed the seasons of Haji Yusoff's family through four generations, births, death, graduations and weddings. It shared the joys and sadness of the family...Its mighty halls reverberated with pride to Quranic verses read during religious ceremonies. Its gate welcomed the poor who came to ask for alms. Even to the very last day when the family moved out, Gedung Kuning stood proud befitting its royal colour and stature.'
I took less than a week to read the 189 pages of her very personal account. It was well told and quite an enjoyable read. Throughout the novel, I felt the underlying sadness of the fact that its no longer her family home. Its perfectly relatable. I would have felt it too.
Overall rating : B
Inaugural Book Review - My Daughter My Friend, Letters to a Daughter by Irene Chua
Hi guys, welcome to very first book review.
I created this page to recommend books that I have read and would like to share with you. Have you noticed that when you are in a public transport or in restaurants, practically everyone is deeply engrossed in their smartphones or other gadgets? Watching movies, videos, texting, surfing etc. I hardly see anyone reading nowadays. It is a sad sad end to a beautiful pasttime. Through this page, I hope to do my small part in trying to keep reading alive.
I love reading but I don't fancy ereading. I prefer to hold a book in my hands and enjoy getting lost in its story. The book that gets the honor of being the first book to be featured is My Daughter, My Friend, Letters to a Daughter by Irene Chua.
I got to know about this book through a friend of mine - those who have read a certain previous post under Healthy Vegetarian Recipes will remember Supermom who had shared her A Unique Melt-In-Your-Mouth Banana Cake with us. I immediately liked the title of the book 'My daughter, My friend - Letters to a Daughter'. It seemed like a tear jerker, I told Supermom who replied that it won't evoke tears but it is rather a light-hearted read. After her recommendation, I ordered it online and got a copy to have my reading fill for the week.
It is a paperback with 180 pages and was first printed in 1996. Another edition was printed in 2013. It starts off with a forward by Ms Chua's daughter, Ms Sheena Tan ( or Ming - to whom these letters were written to when she was 18). Apparently Ms Chua (who is a dentist by profession), became a mini celebrity when the book was released in Singapore in 1996. Needless to say, Ms Tan couldn't understand what the big fuss was about !
Ms Chua then jumps straight into the many life lessons, through the form of letters, that she had wanted to pass on to her teen daughter. This includes topics like :
Beauty (Inner vs Outer beauty)
Getting Physical (touching on the topic of sexual intimacy before marriage)
Father's Day (relationship between a daughter and her father)
Umbrellas and Stones in the Pocket (dressing modestly when stepping out)
Chicken Drumsticks (male and female equality status in a family)
There are a total of 45 letters that Ms Chua had written to her daughter. All heartwarming and still applicable to today, 20 years later. Being a devout Christian, Ms Chua has also injected spirituality into her advice. I especially like the fact that at the end of every lesson, there are questions to ponder over. This will be very useful for a Book Club meeting.
I would highly recommend this book to all mothers who have preteens or teen daughters. It is one of those books which would have a permanent placing in your book shelves. One of those books you would read and pass it down to your daughter to cherish and to keep it for her own daughter one day. Thank you Supermom for your kind recommendation. Do keep those one of a kind recipes and recommendations coming :)
My Daughter, My Friend can be ordered online at www.ethosbooks.com.sg and costs around $20 Singapore dollars. It would make a great gift for your lady friends with daughters.
While blogging and the book lying next to me on the couch yesterday, it caught my 13 year old daughter's eyes. She started reading it in between her homework. Her exact words - "This is a book I would enjoy reading'.
My passing down this book to her has already begun :)