Maxilla by Lianne Ong


Public libraries have always been our second homes. On a recent trip to the States, my toddler and I spent several mornings a week at our local library to read, to sing, to play, to craft. Here, too, we also spend an inordinate amount of time at the library. Because, in Singapore, the libraries’ toddler-specific events aren’t as extensive as they are back home*, we often find ourselves crashing activity sessions designed for older children!

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Earlier today, on the invitation of the author herself**, we attended a reading of Maxilla, a picture book by Lianne Ong and illustrated by Shing, at Woodlands Regional Library. Maxilla tells the story of Reuben, Lianne’s son, who finds a caterpillar in the school garden, names it Maxilla, and decides to keep it as a pet. Spoiler alert: Maxilla grows to become a butterfly!

Lianne is a freelance writer who writes  about parenting, education, and fashion. Maxilla was inspired by events that took place while she and her family were expatriates in California. (They recently returned to Singapore.) Lianne is a lively reader and really knows how to engage her audience.

Maxilla offers readers a quiet and touching story, and is a wonderful introduction to the concept of metamorphosis for the older pre-school set. Shing’s illustrations are soft and inviting. (Shing, a nominee for the 2012 Sovereign Asian Art Prize, also created “Bulbous Abode”, a public art piece located on the walls, floors, and columns of Telok Ayer MRT Station.)

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* National Library Board’s six-part “Fun with Tots” emergent/early literacy series looks fantastic, but the events take place much past my toddler’s bedtime! (I get it. Children, even young toddlers, go to bed much later in Asia than they do in North America.)

** Full disclosure: Singapore is tiny, yo. Our toddlers attend the same gymnastics’ class AND we have mutual friends. A copy of Maxilla was sent to me, for review, by Lianne’s publisher, MPH Publishing.

5 responses

  1. My nephew loves the Hungry Caterpillar, but I think he would also love this book from the sound of it! Thanks for the review. I’ll pick it up the next time I’m in town!

  2. I had to google the NLB’s tots series to see what time it is, and wow, it is late for 1 to 3 year olds! Then again, my friends/relatives in Singapore have their babies/toddlers sleeping past 10. One even sleeps at midnight. So to them, 730 is nothing.

    (I’ve been lurking around your blog for a bit, think I came across it via Yu-mei’s blog. I just wanted to chime in cos I recently talked about Maxilla too – I met Lianne when she lived in the Bay Area, we were introduced by a mutual friend :))