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★★★★☆ Book Review: Just A Little Mynah by Evelyn Sue Wong and Dhanendra Poedjono

Screenshot 2020-09-05 at 2.02.13 PM

Introducing kids to our multilingual society with the help of a bird park. 

How often do you get to read a children’s book that features more than one language? With Evelyn Sue Wong’s Just A Little Mynah, kids will be introduced to a whopping four languages (English, Mandarin, Malay and Tamil), as the first in a new series of picture books to introduce preschoolers and early primary kids to the diverse languages and cultures of Singapore.

Of course, who better to introduce us to the diversity of languages than the little mynah bird, known for its singing voice and a common sight across all of Singapore? In the book, we meet one such bird who loves to chat, and follow her as she goes about her day speaking to her friends at the local bird park.

By far, the most striking thing about this book is Dhanendra Poedjono’s (“WalgDP”) bright, colourful illustrations, each page featuring a myriad of characters and backgrounds that look completely made of paper. There’s a playfulness to the presentation of this world, and a ‘crafty’ aspect to the work that makes it a fun experience just noticing the different patterns that make up each bird, whether it’s the brilliant peacock or even the range of textures that make up the mynah’s little body.

At the heart of this book is its intent to educate on the different languages in Singapore, something that is achieved with its presentation. Translations of simple phrases, from greetings to thank you, are provided with romanized pronunciations, and parents will have fun encouraging kids to say these words out loud as they run through the book with them. There’s even a glossary provided at the end to go over all that they’ve learnt and a QR code that links you to an audio recording of everyday words and phrases used in the story!

While the story is ostensibly simple, it still comes with an important message that every bird has its place in society, no matter how small, and can contribute their part (and even touches on the importance of environmental conservation!). A useful and entertaining read for children to educate themselves on Singapore’s races and languages, Just A Little Mynah is a delightful, artistic new work that deserves a place on your child’s bookshelf.

Recommended for: Collectors of local children’s books who love good art and a plucky heroine who learns to believe in herself. 

Just A Little Mynah is published by Epigram and available here

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