First of all, a confession. I am one of those authors that shudder at the thought of a "book launch". Don't get me wrong - I do a lot of storytelling and school visits as part of my job, but I see this as completely different as a "book launch". The very utterance of these words makes my blood cold... And I think I can explain why. I don't like to have a book launch for the sake of having one. To me, it's not a must-do. I didn't always think this way, but now I do. Now that I am slightly older and wiser in the world of publishing, I feel that it is more important to work towards a medium to long term effort to market your book and make it relevant to your target audience. A launch at the start is fine, but to me, a meaningless event if it's just a one-off thing. The other reason I hate book launches is that I don't want to be responsible for ensuring that it is well attended! :PPP
So when my publisher started asking me if I would be keen to do a book launch at this year's Asian Festival of Children's Content (AFCC) I was super hesitant. I decided that I would only do it, if the two boys who inspired the B-Boy Brothers story, would come and perform. I felt that for this a book launch to be meaningful, I had to highlight/ showcase/ feature these amazingly talented boys who, while intellectually disabled, could beatbox, breakdance and play the cajon! If this book and indeed, the series A Place for Us, was going to do what it set out to do - create awareness about special needs, and promote the message of social inclusivity - then we have to involve the people who inspired the series.
So I was truly delighted that Farid and Ashraf, the original B-Boy Brothers agreed to come and perform. It fit AFCC's theme this year of Celebrating Diversity - we would celebrate neuro-diversity!
Farid and Ashraf. Ashraf has graduated from MINDS Towner Gardens School, while Farid is finishing up his last year. Isn't it uncanny how the book cover Nicholas illustrated captures their chemistry? Nicholas had never seen them in real life or seen their photos before.
There’s always a first at every book launch and this time, it was having breakdancing, beatboxing and rapping performance in a public library no less! We didn’t get in trouble for it too! Faird and Ashraf are not professionals but two teenaged boys who love to perform and have a great chemistry with each other and I am so pleased the audience embraced them for who they are.
I am so indebted to the Movement for the Intellectually Disabled of Singapore (MINDS) for supporting this event, and to Farid and Ashraf, the original B-Boy Brothers for performing. Thanks to the teachers and staff for coming down to ensure everything went smoothly!
Thank you to all the parents and kids who came to the event and for purchasing the book! I had such interesting conversations with you from special needs teachers of other SPED schools, to parents who said they were using the A Place for Us series to talk about special needs and disabilities with their kids and so on. These are moments that I cherish deeply. And thank you to friends for coming to support me.
It was an adventure with Nicholas Liem who gamely went along with the live illustration, and Cheryl Soh who pulled off a stellar attempt at emceeing!
Titles from A Place for Us can be purchased from Popular Bookstores, Amazon.com, The Play Fair and www.armourpublishing.com.