I attended the festival and found it be exhilarating and stimulating. It was also good that it was in neighbouring country Singapore and was a four-hour drive from Kuala Lumpur.
There was an impressive roster of speakers. Nury Vitachi's opening speech had everyone in stitches but he also pointed out the need for greater creative expressions among Asians who tend to be factual.
There were so many sessions available - one is spoilt for choice. Apart from writing and illustration-oriented sessions there were also sessions for publishers, parents and teachers/educators.
I was most interested in talks on new media and technology by Greg Childs and Warren Buckleitner as the way forward in publishing for children. Teri Tan from Publisher's Weekly talked on books from Asia that have been successful overseas as well as the many production methods that add value to products. Daphne Lee [writer, editor and columnist of StarMag - Tots to Teens] spoke on the importance of multicultural literature. She also spoke later at the Earshot Cafe on her new imprint, OneRedFlower Press and the first book published under the imprint, My Mother's Garden by Emila Yusof.
Malaysian artist and award winning children's book writer and illustrator, Yusof Gajah launched a collection of his books with special guest, former Malaysian Ambassador to Singapore, Dato' Parameswaran. We were also treated to a video of Yusof with Beethoven's resounding Symphony no 9 playing in the background.
The Festival also provided the opportunity to meet several Malaysians including Margaret Lim, author of the Payah series, set in Sarawak; SCBWI member Gwen Smith; Mohana Gill, author of the wonderful books - Fruitastic and Vegemania and Sharon Bakar who moderated a session.
At the media mart, a number of publishers brought books from Singapore, Indonesia, Philippines and India. I did not miss this opportunity to enrich my collection of children's books with a few more books from around the region - wish I could buy more!
The Festival was truly an excellent opportunity to learn from experts and to understand better the children's book industry in the region, meet people and network, and make new friends.
Be there next year!