Arts Books By The Book Kids literature Review Singapore

★★★☆☆ Book Review: Suka-Suka the Cement Truck by Ng Swee San and Han Qingping

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A colourful lesson on being responsible and picking up after yourself. 

The sheer number of cars is probably one of the biggest contributors towards global warming and climate change today. But perhaps that’s precisely why they make for the best characters to explain the importance of being responsible for one’s actions, and being conscientious towards others.

That’s the big lesson that Suka-Suka the Cement Truck has to learn, in Ng Swee San and Han Qingping’s new children’s book of the same name. As his name suggests, Suka-Suka does whatever he wants, whenever he wants, even though mixing cement is a process that involves doing things just right. In his little joyride on the road, Suka-Suka causes chaos when he spills cement everywhere he goes…but not before a little slip-up causes him to realise the error of his ways, and the importance of personal responsibility.

Han Qingping’s character designs are undeniably cute, with particular praise going out to characters’ animated, over-exaggerated expressions (these need to be turned into Telegram stickers). One wishes that there was more of the cartoony Singaporean landscape featured on the cover within those pages, where a blank white background is opted for instead. Still, there are some fun nods to our island city, such as the iconic dragon playground, to even Suka-Suka scolding an e-scooter for being on the pavement, referencing the recent restrictions imposed on PMDs.

As the unlikely protagonist of a children’s book, Suka-Suka is endearingly mischievous, certainly a relatable figure for naughtier, more energetic young readers out there. His cheeky, sassy personality is adorable, while an appropriate, measured use of Singlish throughout the book is much appreciated. While his final comeuppance does come as a little abrupt before the ending, perhaps as a book for beginner readers, it is enough.

Direct with its message and vibrant in its appearance, hopefully after reading this, your own kids will learn from Suka-Suka’s mistakes, and learn to grow into good responsible citizens themselves!

Recommended for: Parents who want their kids to learn the importance of responsibility, and love anthropomorphised vehicles. 

Suka-Suka The Cement Truck is published by Epigram and available here.

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