Recently I had an opportunity to look at local children’s books to give to a Yakan elementary school in Basilan. I went backpacking there last September and was surprised to see that the whole elementary school only had a handful of tattered children’s books to use for several years now. Dept. of Education had been awfully remiss in supplying their important education and teaching needs.
Asking for donations from my foreign hiking clients, I was able to purchase a few wonderful Filipino books and they are all wonderful! This is my first time to actually read them. I am really impressed with the quality. I took a picture of some of the pages to encourage you to buy and read them too.
Keyk Paakyat ng Langit (A Cake Reaching to the Sky) by Norico Chua (translated into Filipino by Rebecca T. Añonuevo) by Tahanan Books is one of the most poignant and beautiful books I have ever read. This is a story of a boy who noticed that one day, his grandmother does not eat cake with him anymore. With vivid and extraordinary imagination he describes the perfect cake he will bake in order to reach his grandmother all the way up to the heavens. There are also dark elements in the book, describing the boy’s feelings of gloominess, that the children can interpret based on their own contexts and experiences.
It is quite sophisticated in tackling the nuances of a child’s (and adult’s) emotions like grief and moving on. It brings a tear to my eye. I am definitely on the lookout for more of Ms. Chua’s books. And Ms. Anonuevo of course is one of the Philippines’ literary greats, a poetess of extraordinary talent.
The book’s text is both in English and Filipino and is unique in that you reading it from the top going down.
This is the first page of the book, read from top to bottom:
The book’s introduction:
Ito ang Diktadura by Equipo Plantel, illustrated by Mikel Casal, is an impressive addition to Adarna House’s run of socially-relevant books for children. This Filipino translation of a Spanish book, published in 1977 right after Franco’s death, describes what happens during a dictatorship. Using easy language for children below ten years old, it shows the dictator’s many bizarre characteristics like God-like pretenses, extreme arrogance, megalomania and fear of being usurped. There is a kind of innocence in how they show him to be a naive, child-like creature who does not have any friends and how he always wakes up in a bad mood. The colorful and highly stylized vintage illustration is superb. I am really in love with this book and will definitely purchase another copy for my own use.
One of the pages also became viral two years ago as it showed former President Marcos’ face in a collection of world dictators, along with Stalin, Hitler, Pol Pot and Kim Jong-Il.
This is one of my favorite images in the book:
The back cover and the other book from the same author, also by Adarna House:
Salusalo Para Kay Kuya by Ergoe Tinio and JC Galag (Adarna House) won the Best Reads for Children title from National Children’s Book Awards last 2016 while on 2013 it placed third at Palanca Award for Maikling Kuwentong Pambata. The story opens with a family preparing a birthday feast for an older brother who will not be there to join them. The narrator talks about his close relationship with this brother, what they liked to do together, and the things he was taught. I found it very touching in the way it showed the special bond between siblings and how little acts of kindness endure long after the actor has gone. One learns about the importance of remembering the past as well as how art can comfort and heal us.
It is also very inspiring in encouraging us to be creative and to be confident in expressing ourselves through art. It definitely deserved its awards!