By Felicia Low-Jiminez
I confess that I have never met Don Bosco in person. We’re friends on Facebook, we’ve exchanged emails, I have copies of his books, but I’ve yet to meet the man face to face. However, his reputation precedes him. Don is known as an innovator in children’s book publishing, someone who’s constantly coming up with new ways to entice kids to read, and a writer that takes risks with his projects. Plus, and perhaps most importantly, Don is also known as a Super Cool dad. He is perhaps one of the few writers I know who not only draws inspiration from his two sons, but directly involves them in writing and illustrating the books that he publishes. I honestly can’t imagine a better way to encourage and groom a new generation of readers and writers.
Tell us more about your newest book, Lion City Adventures.
Lion City Adventures is marketed as a book for children (8 to 11), but now we’re discovering that parents, teachers and other adults are fascinated with it too.
The book features 10 very different locations around Singapore, from the Singapore River to Little India, Gardens by the Bay to the Mint Museum of Toys.
The aim is to introduce children to Singapore’s rich heritage as well as its modern marvels, and we’ve done this by mashing up different types of content. Each chapter contains an exploration guide for the place, colourful illustrations, child-friendly activities, pages for sketching and journalling, and also a role-playing challenge where readers help to solve a mystery.
We’ve tried to be a little more creative with the role-playing aspect. There’s an epic background narrative about an old exploration society started by three children in Singapore back in 1894, called the Lion City Adventuring Club, and this runs throughout the book. Also, when readers get to the end, there’s an official Lion City Adventuring Club certificate waiting for them.
By introducing this alternate reality element which celebrates curiosity and exploration, we can eventually expand the story out of the book and into a wider trans-media package, with print, digital as well as real-world experiences. And so this book is an introduction to all that.