They say that the eavesdropper never hears anything good about himself, but there can be exceptions to that.

Just found out that my book Wanting Mor has been nominated for the Red Dot Award.

What has been happening is that many of the international schools, in order to foster a greater love of literacy and for other reasons, have decided to band together and choose their own award winners.

China has the Panda awards, Japan international schools have their awards and the Red Dot awards are for Singapore.

I was in Singapore last May, and have been invited back for the Asian Festival of Children’s Content again this coming May. The director said that many people hadn’t had the opportunity to see my presentations so he wanted to bring me back so they could partake.

Frankly it was very flattering.

And this time, who knows, with Wanting Mor up for the Red Dot award, I’m sure I could arrange to do some kind of tour of the international schools in Singapore.

I had such a good time there! And I learned so much at the Asian Festival of Children’s Content, particularly about what the rest of the world is doing with regards to children’s literature.

We tend to think that North America and Europe are the be-all-end-all of children’s literature and yet think about it, Japanese anime has taken over the cartoon and comic book industry. Asian ingenuity is infiltrating these artistic endeavours!

One of the lovely librarians I met in Singapore alerted me to a conference she went to in Australia where other librarians from international schools had arrived and were talking about children’s books with a passion.

You can listen to the session here. Click on the button that says Building Internationally Literate Communities and listen to how frankly these passionate children’s librarians talk about their favourite books!

Before she put it up on the web, the librarian asked me if I was comfortable with what was said at the session and in particular how she had shared some things we’d talked about.

I was surprised when she asked me if I’d mind, especially after I heard the session. I found myself wishing I could see the visuals and know more about the books they were talking about, and then when I came across the references to myself and what we’d talked about, it was a bit jarring, but perfectly mild. Nothing too controversial at all.

And yet, I’m not sure I’m a good judge of what is controversial and what people would find offensive.

I’ve been woefully wrong in the past, where I’ve casually said something that turned out to be very hurtful to other people.

So then I tried avoiding saying anything personally critical, but I made the erroneous assumption that talking frankly about books, about people’s work, was fair game.

I’ve had some people trash my books to my virtual face, and honestly thought, okay, so what? That’s YOUR opinion.

This kind of attitude is both helpful and hurtful in this field. It’s helpful because it lets criticism roll right. You know that people each have their opinions and there’s an old adage that at least 10% of the people will disagree with something.

Not everyone will get you or your work. You can count on it!

So why should I be surprised if someone cares to trash my work?

And yet, this same thick skin I so thoroughly cultivated over the years as a boon to me, has been a handicap as well, because then, when I say something a little too frank about someone else’s work, they get extremely upset.

It is a given that most people, despite trying to cultivate a thick skin, really can’t stand criticism.

I remember hearing of one lady who was approached by a reviewer who was planning on panning her book in the next issue. She told the reviewer, “Then don’t review it!”

I was shocked!

She really would rather have the lady NOT review it, than review it badly??? Besides, if they have a point, wouldn’t you want to know it so you can improve yourself???

Something I learned way back in the first children’s writing workshop course I ever took was that good writing provokes a reaction, not always a good reaction, but a reaction. Some people will react extremely angrily to what you’ve said, and others will speak glowingly of the same piece.

That’s a good thing!

The extreme anger as much as the admiration!

It means you poked them– or touched them, depending on their perspective.

The worst reaction is not hatred, it’s apathy.

A sort of “Meh”… with a shrug.

But that said, when it comes to dealing with other people, I’ve learned to sensitize myself, err on the side of kindness, hopefully.

I still end up trodding on a few toes, but I try really hard not to.