I think the best indication of how well this trip went was how many books the Singapore American School sold!

They’ve had some wonderful authors in the past, some really nice names, but the head librarian of the intermediate school told me that they’d NEVER sold as many books as they had with me!

And the orders were still coming in!

At least 170 copies of BIG RED LOLLIPOP alone! And dozens of copies of WANTING MOR and THE ROSES IN MY CARPETS and MUSLIM CHILD!

Everywhere I went children ‘hello’d” me!

And the gifts they gave me on behalf of the school! Wow! Let’s just say that one of them is over a hundred years old and definitely a piece of Singapore!

But really it all comes down to the friends I’ve made!

I met some real kindred spirits here in Singapore!

I’d even say ‘sisters of another faith’.

Of course it wasn’t all peaches and cream. There were a few teachers who decided they would not attend my sessions and so they had no way of following up with the students afterwards.

I did a followup session with one of these groups today. The teachers asked for a writer’s workshop so I gave it to them.

It was tough because only half the group had seen The Roses in My Carpets presentation, so I had to read the book to them before I could do one of the exercises.

Fine, I thought. I went ahead and read it to them, then we analysed it for story structure.

At the end the kids got a chance to ask questions, and then the teacher herself asked a question. “What gives you your inspiration?”

I just looked at her blankly, thinking, Geez, if you’d bothered coming to the presentation you would have heard all about that! That’s what I was thinking, but what I answered was, “It takes me a whole hour to explain that.”

And then I turned to answer another kid’s question.

Later she interjected, “So you get inspiration from things you experience.”

“Sometimes. But it’s more than that.”

I just left the answer like that, dangling.

It was late on a Friday afternoon, on my last day of a two week author in residence. She’d had every chance to find out what my inspirations were.

She just hadn’t bothered coming. I wasn’t going to give her an impromptu presentation right there and then.


But never mind her. Life’s too short to bother with people like that.

One of the things that surprised me the most, but shouldn’t have, was how a couple of the Malaysian sisters who worked as instructional aides at the school gave me a gift too! A beautiful hijab and some pins and a chain for my glasses!

It was SO sweet of them!

I did a little session for the Malaysian sisters on Wednesday evening. The head librarian had arranged it because they never held any professional development for their instructional aides!

The way it works is each teacher is also given an instructional aid. About seventy percent of whom are Muslim!

I think it was really interesting for the children to hear me speak and unusual at the same time. This was a situation where the kids were all used to seeing women in hijab, so that didn’t faze them at all. But to hear a hijabi be funny, I think that surprised them.

The librarian had many of the children make little ornaments for the Christmas tree out of cards with the covers of their favourite books on them.

One wise guy made a picture of my pathetic little book Waldo the Worm, as his ‘favourite’ book! I told the kids don’t call it your favourite book! It’s not even publishable. But it’s funny how many kids still like it!

And then for la piece de la resistance! The head intermediate librarian took me for a walk through the Singaporean rainforest!

She said there is no other place on earth where, in twenty minutes, you can go from the airport and be standing in the middle of a rainforest!

It was remarkable! We didn’t get to go to the treetop canopy. It was under repair or construction, so she said I’d just have to come back one day. But still, walking through the rainforest was the same and yet completely different from walking through a boreal forest in northern Canada!

The smells were oddly similar and dissimilar at the same time. There was the earthy smell of decaying vegetation, from all the leaves on the ground. It’s the monsoon season so the ground was very damp in places. In fact the ground must have been so saturated a huge tree had fallen right on top of the path. The leaves were still green and we had to climb through a tangle of branches to continue along the path on the other side.

Alhamdu lillah the rain held off.

As we walked up and down the pathway, I could hear the creak of frogs in the forest, heard but not seen.

And somewhere far off were the sounds of large animals swinging through the trees. Apparently they often see monkeys. My host had warned me not to ever look the monkeys in the eye as they’d see that as aggression. She even said that a friend of hers had made the mistake of applying lipbalm. Then two monkeys had jumped her thinking that she had food.

We walked about forty-five minutes through that rainforest. There was a little creek along the side of the path.

And it was just magical.

A perfect ending for an amazing experience!