12 November 2022. Following on from a reading in KL on 29 October 2022 organised by Sharon Bakar of Readings KL, I had the privilege of being in conversation with Malaysian literary novelist, Preeta Samarasan at an event in our hometown of Ipoh, generously hosted by Peter Bucher and The Sharpened Word, a local literary organization. Moderated by Aida Nazeri and Dr. Paul GnanaSelvam, our conversation took place in a gorgeously restored heritage building on 22 Hale Street. I revisited my prose poem, Life We Can No Longer See, first published by online literary journal, Cha in 2019 while Preeta shared her latest riveting work, Tale of the Dreamer’s Son, published by World Editions in 2022.

The conversation was particularly memorable as it was attended by our respective parents, our secondary school English teacher, and was our first literary appearance in our beloved childhood town. The local press teaser can be found here.


1 July 2022. SCBWI announced the results of the Ann Whitford Paul – Writer’s Digest Manuscript Award 2022 for the most promising picture book writers and my unpublished picture book manuscript, The Magic in Ming’s Hands, received an honorable mention – out of nearly 900 submissions – from the respected picture book doyenne herself! The announcement, together with a brief description of my manuscript, as well as those of the winners, can be found here.


12 May 2022. The results of the annual UK WriteMentor Novel and Picture Book Awards for unagented and unpublished writers were announced in a live ceremony. Imagine the shock when judges Clare Wallace and Lydia Silver chose – out of over 1,000 entries – my picture book text, The Magic in Ming’s Hands and Aoife Doyle’s novel, The Music Weaver’s Call as the winners! I feel such immense gratitude to Stuart White, the founder of WriteMentor, and his team as well as the kidlit writerly community for inspiring, encouraging and supporting kidlit creators everywhere. The replay of the awards ceremony can be seen on YouTube here. It was worth staying up until 2 a.m. for!

Stories That Stay With Us

Looking for a book that will make you unintentionally snort out your breakfast? Clutch your chest in despair? Keep you up into the wee hours of the morning? Change your mind, teach you something new, make you remember something you’d forgotten? Well, you’ve come to the right place!

I have always loved children’s books: when I was a child myself and more recently, when I had children of my own. Living in Hong Kong however, has meant we don’t have access to the same wide and varied range of English language books as you’d find in North American or European bookshops. In particular, I find myself constantly despairing at the lack of diverse reads and translated world literature in local bestseller and popular book lists. This sorry state of affairs prompted me to start a book review blog in 2018.

On Stories That Stay With Us, my two children and I regularly post our honest reviews of English language children’s books that we have read, individually or together, and loved. We cover all genres – classic and contemporary, wordless and wordful, quirky and contemplative, prose and poetry, graphic novels and chapter books. We try to be as inclusive, eclectic and wide-ranging as possible as our goal is to recommend age-appropriate, non-mainstream storybooks to all readers: children, parents, educators and librarians alike. Our reviews are also driven by my own personal ambition, to read and review as many well-written, authentic and thoughtful books about and set in Asian cultures as possible, books where Asia is not just a setting or a plot device or a tourist attraction. Asia is a place where people live, and love, and are happy, not just a place that everyone wants to escape from.

Most importantly, the stories we blog about must be so compelling that they affect us, provoke a reaction from us in some way, and remain with us, like the memories of the worst and best days of our lives.

Above are some of the books we’ve previously reviewed. You can click on the links on the covers to read the the full reviews.

The universe of children’s book is vast and we know there are still many, many books out there that we have not yet discovered, that we need to read and rave about, so if you know of a book that we haven’t reviewed but we should, please do get in touch. If you’d like to sign up for notifications of new posts on our book review blog, you can sign up here.

Read, read, and keep reading. There is no better way to become yourself.


7 March 2022. The 11th annual Hong Kong Young Readers Festival 2022 kicked off with an international and local author line-up featuring admired luminaries such as Michael Morpurgo, Malinda Lo, Elena Favilli and Christina Soontornvat. I was honoured to be included on the roster for the first time and enjoyed sharing one of my author talks via Zoom, “What You Can Do With Your Phone – Make Good Art.” Details of the festival can be found here.


20 January 2022. We Need Diverse Books (WNDB) announced their selection of 17 aspiring writers for their year-long 2022 Mentorship Program and I found out I’d been chosen by critically-acclaimed children’s author, Cindy Baldwin, to be her middle-grade mentee. To say that I was overjoyed is a little bit of an understatement! I am looking forward to displaying my lovely WNDB badge (below) and most of all, to working with my mentor to bring out the best in the middle-grade manuscript that I have been working on since 2020.

WNDB is an American “non-profit and a grassroots organization of children’s book lovers that advocates essential changes in the publishing industry to produce and promote literature that reflects and honors the lives of all young people.” The full press release can be found here.

Thank you for telling us that we should put down our phones and do not imprisoned by our phones. Nowadays actually many people use their phones all the time and never put it down, also I am the one. After listening to you, I think I would like to try a day without my phone, and I can already foresee many new experiences with my ‘daily’ life 🙂 ~ Secondary student.

I am actually amazed how you can squeeze in so much content within a short hour! … I really love the idea of using sounds and sight as stimuli for the production of art. ~ Teacher.

I loved your talk, it was remarkable. The group size was good, the book introduction was enjoyable, and the activity about using the 5 senses to write was amazing…I learnt to look deeper into things and how to use my smartphone in a better way. ~ Secondary student.