By Tienny The
On Sunday, 4 June, 2018, I was privileged and honoured to have Kitaab Publishing arrange the book launch of Turtle City: Cavity Monsters at the Singapore Writers Festival.
I was thankful for the presence of my mother, husband, son and friends (Jessica Yeo, Kisato, He Shu Xin, Teresa, Katherine Seow, Rusyinni Rusanto, Thomas Tee, Rachel Tee, Jonathan Tee, Evangeline Neo, Winston Chan Boon Hock, and Sherrley Seah) who witnessed the publication of this book. I am also grateful to those who came for the launch to give their kind blessings and support and to Perine Seah who was my moderator as well.
The idea of this book was born in 2013 when my son was three years old. Around this time, he began to lose interest in brushing his teeth. It was a great challenge to engage his interest in doing so and many questions flashed in my mind. What if people don’t brush their teeth? What if the teeth are gone? With these, the characters of cavity monsters began to appear in my head. Visual events and story situations flooded my imagination and I shared the story with my son. The story convinced him to take action, to resume the good habit of brushing his teeth. Now he expects more such stories from me. It is a challenge to create series of bedtime stories for him and I have to come up with new ones every day.
The idea is to ‘preach’ and ‘reach’ each child. However, preach to them too much, they will be irritated, so it is better to tell them stories that capture their interest while being conscious of their short attention span. The story is about family and I wanted it to be captivating for kids as well as parents.
Finally, I chose to develop the concept in visual and written form. Along the way, I took up courses and workshops to further improve my skills. I am grateful to my friends who have been helping me with this story idea and also gently highlighted the visual inconsistencies and helped me improve my writing. I would like to thank Mr Zafar Anjum for the support in publishing this book and Ms Shabana Zahoor for her kind patience to see this book through to completion and in final print.
How do I hope this book would help others? Since this story helped my son, I hope the book will help parents to convince their kids to brush their teeth as part of nurturing hygienic habits. The book could be the bridge of communication between parents and children.
This book marks the beginning of a series of my future books on hygiene. The next series will be about nail biting.
In total, there are seven plus four characters in the book. There are two groups of families – the protagonist and the antagonist. The group of armies represents the Cavity Monsters characters; their names originate from the different levels of army rankings but have been improvised to make it easy for the kids to pronounce.
Why did I name the book Turtle City? Why is it a city? I love turtles. This story series revolves around a family of pre-historic turtles that are still alive somewhere in a remote part of the sea. I relate to this family of turtles and their value system – patience, perseverance, and hard work.
In 2014, I began working on this book. So the total production time is four years – two years of pre-production and the writing process and another two years of giving full focus to this final book.
I would like to thank the other friends who helped in this book process. Ian Chou, Perine Seah, Betty Lim, Winston Chan Boon Hock, Tan Wei Ying, Jerry Hinds, Meihan Boey, Wang Chu Qiao, Shireen Kriplani, Rusyinni Rusanto, Rita Liu, Rita Chua, Dimple Shahri, Kavita Shahri, Doreena Kuckreja, and Pallavi Narayan who made this journey possible.