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Vietnam’s Mekong Delta-themed picture book wins Asian award

Saturday, October 31, 2015, 12:59 GMT+7

A Vietnamese children book has won the top prize at an award that honors outstanding unpublished picture books with distinct Asian themes.

Writer Phung Nguyen Quang and illustrator Huynh Kim Lien were announced winners of the Scholastic Picture Book Award 2015 with their “The First Journey” book, according to the organizers, the National Book Development Council of Singapore (NDBCS) and Scholastic Asia.

The award-winning picture book tells the story of a boy named An, who has his first trip to the Mekong Delta in southern Vietnam during flood season.

“Facing rain and flood he crosses the Melaleuca swamp and although it is full of crocodiles and snakes, he is not afraid because he knows at the end of the road, wonderful places are waiting for him,” the NDBCS said on its website, citing the book content.


Illustration from “The First Journey.” Photo: Room To Read

Quang, a 26-year-old man based in Ho Chi Minh City, was mentioned on the website as “a professional author and illustrator of children books,” who “believes that every book is a separate world which can fire children’s curiosity and imagination.”

In the meantime, Lien, 23, has participated as an illustrator in the Children’s Books Publishing Program by Room to Read, a non-profit organization for improving literacy and gender equality in education in the developing world, in Vietnam.

According to Room to Read, the two authors have collaborated with the organization since 2012 to create children’s books in the Vietnamese language.

“Collaborating with Room to Read open up our imaginations,” Room To Read quoted Lien as saying.

“We applied all the skills we learned in their workshops to this story.”

Lien said Room to Read has “changed us completely,” as it taught them how to design a script, interpret our ideas and illustrate them.

“Now we feel confident we can approach many types of children’s stories,” she said.


Illustration from “The First Journey.” Photo: Room To Read

The Scholastic Picture Book Award seeks to foster the creation of picture books with Asian content by Asian writers and illustrators, to promote public awareness and interest in picture books with Asian content, as well as to recognize and award a prize to an excellent picture book with Asian content, according to the NDBCS.

This year it attracted 135 authors, both amateur and established.

Other winners of this year’s awards include 1st runner-up “Pandu, The Ogoh-Ogoh Maker” by Indonesian writer Ary Nilandari and illustrator Dewi Tri K., and 2nd runner-up “Purchased Dream” by Mongolian writer Ganbaatar Ichinnorov and illustrator Bolormaa Baasansuren.


Writer Phung Nguyen Quang (L) and illustrator Huynh Kim Lien. Photo: Scholastic Picture Book Award 

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