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We have all seen puppets and puppeteers at work and play. However, what we do not know and would probably love to know is how to learn the art.

Brian Zimmerman offered that opportunity to 23 students of SK St Thomas as he began his session, The Wonderful World of Puppetry, and every student – and teacher – present there hung on to his every word and move.

Brian took them through the techniques of bringing puppets to life, the children tried their hand at manipulating the puppets they were given and the teachers enjoyed watching the children enjoying themselves.

Brian was in Kuching as a speaker in Bookaroo Children’s Literature Festival held at the Pustaka Negeri Library.

John Jong


There are few children who will baulk at the opportunity to play with puppets and learn how to make them dance to their tunes.

The 24 students of SK Combined (ages around 9) were no different as Brian Zimmerman, puppeteer extraordinary, took them through the paces. On show was a puppet play, how to create and design puppets and how to perform with puppets.

The children and the teachers lapped it up with glee, the latter even joining in the game enthusiastically to help the students get their puppet right. It was a hushed audience as they made sure they did not miss any move of Brian’s. In the end, Brian left with an extremely happy bunch of children and teachers with a promise to come back some other time.

Brian was in Kuching as a speaker in Bookaroo Children’s Literature Festival held at the Pustaka Negeri Library.

John Jong


A group of 17 children and 10 adults assembled on the steps of the Old Court House in Kuching on Saturday morning  ready to travel back in time to unearth the hidden tales of Old Chinatown in Kuching guided by Joshua Chan Chin Hua.

Along the way everyone learnt a little about the White Rajah, the five foot way in front of shops and why there is a stone lion in front of the temples. The children were particularly fascinated watching the tinsmith at work.

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Joshua not only shared old stories with the children and their parents but he had also prepared a short activity for them. He asked the children to write a thank you letter to their parents. Almost all the children had never sent a real letter before, so when Joshua handed them the envelopes and stamps, they did not know where to write the address or put the stamp. This new experience was made even more special as they each posted their letters at the General Post Office, one of the beautiful old building from the days of the Rajah.

The walk ended at the theatre on the water front, where the children drew a picture of what had impressed them the most – almost all the pictures were of the tinsmith!

Now all the children and parents are eagerly looking forward to Pustaka Bookaroo in April next year.

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

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