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I was quite nervous as I waited in the lobby of the hotel from where I was to pick up Evi Shelvia, whose beautifully illustrated books I had heard so much about. She turned out to be a very pleasant and friendly person.

On our way to the first school, she showed me her books and what inspired me the most was how she started in this field in the beginning. She even gave me tips on how to make my 7 year old pursue her interest in books – my daughter is really a big fan of writing and illustrating her own picture storybooks since attending Bookaroo events for 2 years in a row.

Evi is here for Bookaroo Kuching thanks to Oyez Books. We arrived at the first school, SK Siol Kanan, earlier than scheduled. The children were curious about the new visitor as we made our way to the admin room. We could hear laughter from one of the classes where, probably, a teacher was telling a joke.

The Guru Besar (principal) greeted us with tea as we waited. It was Evi’s first visit to Kuching, and she was already getting a feel of Kuching’s warm hospitality.  Evi’s session was ‘Monster Mine” based on her book “The Rabbi(t)lution”.  She showed them a book of animals and revolution. The children were then asked to close their eyes and imagine their own monsters, whether it was square eyed, scary or cute!

While they imagined their monsters, some could be seen smiling and others looking terrified. Evi then asked them to draw what they had imagined. It was amazing to see the children’s imagination on paper. The whole point was for children to make their own stories from picture books and, at the same time, use their imagination. That is the one thing that many children don’t get the chance to express, for various reasons. Today, that was something that the children and  I learnt.

By Mas Marzuki

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The next stop for Emila and I was at SK Empila, a school that had more than 55 students. Most of the students who participated in this session are those aged 10 years and above.

Emila, the master craftsperson, whose visit has been made possible by Oyez Books, laid down the theme first. And what could be better in Kuching than cats.

The children made some lovely cat crafts from papers. They had lots of fun. It was an experience in cooperation and hands-on learning as the children – with some help from Emila – came up with simple yet stunning designs.

At the end, the smiles said it all.

By George Abraham

It was a reasonably long journey that Emila Yusof and I took to meet the students of SK Tanjung Tuang. The school is located in Kota Samarahan, about 40 km from Kuching.

The distance did not matter as it was worth going to SK Tanjung Tuang. More than 100 students were waiting for Emila to arrive. Emila, whose visit is supported by Oyez Books, got into the act rightaway with a 3D paper cutting session. The children had a great time with the entire activity. The main objective of the session was to develop the fine motor skills that young children need in order to hold pencils.

Before the activity began, Emila gave them a talk and laid out guidelines. With a little help from the teachers, not only did the children execute their plans well, they also enjoyed themselves immensely.

By George Abraham