Hedwig Anuar Children’s Book Award 2020 To Be Virtual
Six children’s books have been shortlisted for the Hedwig Anuar Children’s Book Award (HABA), a biennial literary award recognising the best children’s literature in English written by a Singaporean or permanent resident. The winner from this shortlist will be revealed at the award ceremony, which will be held online for the first time and will be live-streamed on the Asian Festival of Children’s Content (AFCC)’s Facebook on 4 October 2020 at 6pm.
The authors and illustrators who are shortlisted for HABA for the first time are Eisner-nominated comic artist Andrew Tan, publisher Goh Eck Kheng, film director Ken Kwek, animator Lim An-ling, Nanyang Academy of Fine Arts student Lolita Chiong, Singapore Literature Prize winner Peh Shing Huei, book editor Lynette Teo and illustrative designer Xinnie Ng. Author-illustrators Ben Lai and Quek Hong Shin complete the shortlist.The authors and illustrators who are shortlisted for HABA for the first time are Eisner-nominated comic artist Andrew Tan, publisher Goh Eck Kheng, film director Ken Kwek, animator Lim An-ling, Nanyang Academy of Fine Arts student Lolita Chiong, Singapore Literature Prize winner Peh Shing Huei, book editor Lynette Teo and illustrative designer Xinnie Ng. Author-illustrators Ben Lai and Quek Hong Shin complete the shortlist.
The shortlisted books showcase a range of themes that are distinctly Singaporean and relatable to children. We Can and Panjang: The Tall Boy Who Became Prime Minister portray Singapore’s icons and culture and second Prime Minister respectively while Kelly and the Krumps address the pressures of PSLE.
The winner of HABA will join the ranks of former recipients Xie Shi Min (2018), Hidayah Amin and Idris Ali (2015), Chew Chia Shao Wei and Anngee Neo (2015), Edmund Lim and Tan Zi Xi (2013) and Yixian Quek and Grace Duan Ying (2011).
The six shortlisted works were selected from a record number of 87 submissions for the award—representing a remarkable 33% increase since the award’s last edition in 2018. Since the award was established in 2011, the number of submissions for the award has increased with every edition. For HABA 2020, close to a quarter of the 87 submissions were first-time submissions, and four of the six shortlisted authors have been shortlisted for the first time for HABA. These trends reveal a heartening observation—that Singapore’s children’s literature is a growing genre, with new players in the scene writing and illustrating books for children with fresh, quality perspectives.
There have also been changes to the prize for the winner of HABA necessitated by the impact of the pandemic on its organiser, the Singapore Book Council (SBC). The cash award of S$10,000 has been reduced to S$3,000. The writer and illustrator of the winning book will each receive S$3,000.
The judges for HABA 2020 consisted of chief judge Dr Donna Lim who is a lecturer at the National Institute of Education (NIE), Nanyang Technological University (NTU), Singapore. She is joined by illustrators Charles Santoso and Lee Kow Fong, aka 阿果(Ah Guo). They jointly praised the quality of the entries that were submitted and expressed faith in the development of children’s literature in English:
“It was not an easy deliberation with so many entries of such high quality. We considered each entry in its appeal to its intended audience and how it would measure up in its own genre. The shortlisted books stood out from the rest in their masterful narration of original subject content with a strong interplay of text and visuals.
We are indeed privileged to have read and viewed such a wide array of children’s books that are locally written. We are heartened that among us exist such promising writers and illustrators that are on their way to making a mark not just locally but also internationally. We look forward to a rich and vibrant scene in children’s literature especially in a world we can call our own”.
For more information about HABA, please visit: https://bookcouncil.sg/awards/HABA
Guess the HABA Winner
In the lead up to the virtual award ceremony, SBC has launched an online contest, “Guess the HABA Winner” on AFCC’s Facebook and Instagram, encouraging the public to guess the shortlisted book that will win the award. Participants who guess the correct book will stand to win a book voucher to AFCC’s official bookstore, Closetful of Books. The contest will end on 29 September, and the winning participants will be announced after the HABA 2020 award ceremony on 4 October 2020.
HABA 2020 Award Ceremony
Date: 4 October 2020, 6pm SGT
Venue: Online on AFCC’s Facebook Page