Town Boy by Lat

By Maureen Tai, 10 May 2018

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“And so…there we were – my family and I … beginning a new life in this new place. We have become town people…”

On this first day of a new era for my home country, it is fitting that I should pay tribute to one of my favourite comics from my youth.  Malaysia’s much-loved cartoonist, Datuk Mohammad Nor Khalid (fondly referred to as Lat, short for bulat or round) wrote Town Boy almost three decades ago.  It is an semi-autobiographical tale, set in the 1960’s, of a young Malay boy growing up in a small town.

It is my childhood too. And it is the childhood of several generations of Malaysians. Continue reading

Bake Sale by Sara Varon

By Maureen Tai, 15 April 2018

“I’m in a baking rut. I got up early to make a new recipe but I just made a mess. I wish I could make something besides the usual baked goods.” – Cupcake

Several years ago at a writers convention, I discovered that a charmingly soft-spoken children’s book historian (I’ll call him Mr. M) and I shared a common love – reading comics and graphic novels.

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We talked excitedly about the comics of the past – Beano, Dandy and Richie Rich – and the exciting graphic novelists of the present – Kazu Kibuishi, Raina Telgemeier and the incomparable Shaun Tan.  In an embarrassing flash of hindsight, it was probably me who gushed excitedly while Mr. M – whom I found out afterwards is one of the world’s pre-eminent authorities on children’s books – kindly indulged me.  Bake Sale was his parting recommendation, and Sara Varon’s endearing novel found a home in my library not long after that chance encounter.

Continue reading