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I reached Kuching for the Pustaka Bookaroo, excited and doing a Zumba step in my head (as one does). My bag did not share my enthusiasm – it dragged its feet and stayed back in Kuala Lumpur. Clearly, this was a good move. When I got to the marvellous Permai Rainforest Resort, my bag had attained a celebrity status we children’s authors can only aspire to. Everyone had heard about it, everyone asked about it, and when it finally came, it was greeted with joy by so many people who had never met it before that I’m afraid it must have quite gone to its head. Enough about it.


A treehouse at the Permai Rainforest Resort


We had a lovely long lunch, which epitomised what such festivals are all about. Delicious, exotic food (see the photograph), conversations that ranged from cricket to the history and geography of Sarawak, children, reading and books, and catching up with old friends and new – Rosemarie and Vinod Somaiyya from Singapore, Ameen Haque from Bangalore, Golda from Sibu in Sarawak.


Food for Thought

Food for Thought

Jo, Swati and Venky, the tireless Bookaroo team, joined us for dinner with Wendy Cooling, Wendy and Graham Knight. Mas, who is organising the transport and the arrangements at the resort, was there with her husband Rahim. Great food and many wonderful conversations later, we headed to our rooms, to get an early night.


A lovely day, and this is just the beginning! Tomorrow begins with breakfast at seven, and a visit to a faraway school.


Anushka Ravishankar


It was a great feeling to be welcomed by a group of 40 students at the SMK Semerah Padi Petra Jaya. We were glad to have the founder of Heart Treasures, Kiew Boon Siew, as a speaker for Pustaka Bookaroo in the City in Kuching.

A happy gathering

A happy gathering

It was not just me – all the 13-year-olds attending the session were inspired by the creativity of Heart Treasures in transforming junk into aesthetically usable items. We had so much fun in making craft by using old magazines and it turned out to be nice puzzle boxes.

Umi from SMK Semerah Padi said Bookaroo has setup a good start to bring children and books together. The members of the school are looking forward to be in part of Bookaroo event in future.

“Bookaroo is planting seeds of reading to the community. Don’t abandon the resources of knowledge that we have around us,” said Kiew.

By Grace Rong Rong

On Monday afternoon, Golda Mowe and I were welcomed by about 100 enthusiastic 13-14-year-old students of SMK Batu Lintang.

What's your favourite book?

What’s your favourite book?

Golda certainly lived up to the title of her talk – ‘Book Traveller’s Guide to Stories’. It was a hot, steamy afternoon in the school’s auditorium but Golda took their young minds away from the heat and challenged them all to think about the books they’ve read and loved and to share their favourite titles with one another.

We were reminded of wonderful classics like ‘Gulliver’s Travels’, ‘Peter Pan’ and ‘The Jungle Book’ and what they made us think of. We discovered that some of these students enjoyed reading fantasy and science fiction and many enjoyed contemporary books like the ‘Diary of a Wimpy Kid’ and of course, the Harry Potter books.

Golda reminded the students that books help us to learn about people and their culture and history and she recommended several distinctly Sarawakian books. Audience participation was invited and students came to the microphone to nominate their favourite books. I am glad to say that I now have a new list of exciting books I will be buying as gifts for my young nephews and nieces.

By Rosemary Giles

It was the first day of Pustaka Bookaroo in the City in Kuching. Around 50 students of primary 6 attended Junk for Joy, the craft sessions on recycling. The session – conducted by Kiew Boon Siew and Kelly Bong – began with a short story from a picture storybook that was about a granny who doesn’t want to waste any single thing on Earth.

Recycling is fun - and we are doing ourselves a favour too

Recycling is fun – and we are doing ourselves a favour too

This was followed by activities using recycled material to create variety of beautiful craft. When Kiew showed them the craft Heart Treasures had made in the past, the students could only keep saying, “Wow, that’s beautiful!”

Ms Bong then took over the session to instruct students on how to make a recycled paper bag from old magazine paper. It was a hit as the children kept asking her if they could take the bags home.

After the session, the children circled Kelly and Kiew to ask questions and take a closer look at their handiwork. One student confessed that he had never imagined that rubbish could turn into something so beautiful.

By Ping

It turned out to be quite a meaningful and informative session with the author Golda Mowe at Pustaka Bookaroo in the City Kuching.

The bigger picture

The bigger picture

It was when Golda started sharing her traveller’s guides to stories with the pupils that we discovered how reading can be so much fun even though there were many unfamiliar words in the stories.

Golda stressed that contextual reading could help readers understand the story better. Pupils were asked to draw a picture of “packlebom” (a meaningless word). Frowning with concentration, everyone used their imagination to draw their own ‘packlebom’ according to their interpretation from reading the whole sentences.

Some drew aliens, others drew a house. Two of the pupils were called up to the stage for not drawing anything on their papers. It transpired that they couldn’t think of any objects depicting that word. This kind of activity helps children to think deeply deeper and form a bigger picture in their minds while reading.

By Venus Lim

Wendy Cooling, poet and author, started proceedings for the Pustaka Bookaroo in City programme at SMK Sungai Maong with over 30 students in Form 2.

‘Buzz into Books’ was the focus along with honey that doesn’t stick, the stinkiest stink and buzzing around like bees. Stories and poems from Icarus to Mr. Stink – all wrapped into the power of imagination and dreams from books – were shared with the children.

Buzz into Books

Buzz into Books

Wendy talked about her passion for books and the stories she loved when she was young. Some students shared their dreams and hopes of becoming pilots.

It was a wonderful start to the First Pustaka Bookaroo in the City programme in Kuching, Sarawak.

By Richard Lee

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