There is an inferiority complex operating in Canada.

I’m sure people from other ethnicities experience it too.

I remember in Singapore, talking to some very passionate people about children’s books, who’d turned to self-publishing because their books were considered too ‘regional’ to make it in a North American market (and if you want to be successful, you gotta make it in America, dontcha know!).

And along the way, kids growing up in that culture have no literature that expresses their identity.

There are brave people who try to thwart this trend. Who begin regional publishing endeavours and work their darnedest to bring quality literature to their indigenous cultures.

One of them is Daphne Lee, who lives in Malaysia.

She began a publishing endeavour and when I met her in Malaysia she had produced one single title, but oh, what a charming little book it is!

Daphne was at the Asian Festival of Children’s Content, both as a speaker and as a participant. The light in her eyes from all the things she was learning was what immediately drew me to her!

You can tell that just as much thought and love went into this little book as many a New York bestseller! Daphne must have studied the format, layout and even font that all successful books use, and chosen appropriately.

She got all the elements right! A sweet and simple story that any pre-schooler could relate to, and naive pictures that burst with colour!

And it’s set in a Malaysian garden so that children of that part of the world can recognize the local flora.

I could just see my four year old granddaughter absolutely loving this book, searching for the flowers and plants that are in a sort of art glossary in the back (how ingenious!).

I hope other Malaysians appreciate how delightful this little book is!

I doubt it will ever make the New York Times bestseller lists, but does that mean a book isn’t worthy?

And I see, that my friend Uma Krishnaswami also thought so. Here’s her assessment of it and boy is she bang on!

No need to repeat her points!

Check it out for yourself.

We have our own share of this ‘regional’ phenomenon in Canada. Living in the shadow of the U.S., our students are often more familiar with American authors and media than home grown talent.

Such a shame.

Perhaps with the internet, more and more ‘obscure’ books will get a chance to be discovered.

I can only hope so!