Deep inside a Malay village, hidden away from the public is SK Stapok, a school that has 100 students. Today was their appointment with Ummi Sham, the story teller. Ummi doesn’t just tell stories. She sings, dances, uses puppets and brings in origami too to keep her audience in thrall.

The session started as Ummi began with Sup Bati or Stone Soup. Ummi, whose visit was made possible thanks to the support of MBBY (the Malaysian Board on Books for Young People), stirred the pot with an unusual story about animals.

Even before the cheers for the first story could die down, Ummi started another one but this time accompanied by origami. When the story ended, each child had made a box using A4 paper. Not only were the children excited, they were amazed with what they had done.

All good things come to an end. So did Ummi’s session. Reluctantly they bid her goodbye and each one respectfully kissed her hand on the way out. A visibly touched Ummi too came away with some reluctance.

By Yitping Tay