Open is a 10-year-old boy with a curiosity for life and the things that happen around him. He is on the autism spectrum and loves to draw. He is especially good at drawing monkeys. When his class is selected to perform in a Chinese Opera based on the Monkey King and the Journey to the West, Open must find it in himself to overcome his obstacles and boldly step on stage. A heartwarming story about friendship beyond barriers, Open is a gift calling to the largeness of our hearts.
Tagline: To a more open and inclusive society.
Publisher: Ethos Books Singapore
Author: Eva Wong Nava
Cover Art: Elizabeth Lim
Dimension: 130mm x 200mm
Rating: Middle School but good for ages 4 – 65+
Award: Bronze Medal at the Moonbeam Children’s Book Award, 2018
Praise for Book:
✭✭✭✭✭ Open: A Boy’s Wayang Adventure by Eva Wong Nava is a sweet and endearing story, beautifully written for readers from 4th to 6th grade, a book with powerful lessons on friendship and self-transcendence. Meet ten-year-old Benjamin Oh, “aka” Open, a boy who loves to read a lot, who enjoys drawing as well, and who loves drawing monkeys to the point that his friend, Bei Bei, tells him he is obsessed with monkeys. Born to a Chinese father and a Singaporean mother, Open is autistic. His life changes when his class is selected to do a Chinese Opera based on the Monkey King and the Journey to the West. This experience will test his inner strength and will allow him to go beyond his limitations, discovering new strength and a friendship that will bring a lot of light and inspiration into his life.
I loved this story and the author allows the perspective of the young protagonist to come out beautifully. Told in a strong first person narrative voice, Open: A Boy’s Wayang Adventure is a story that teaches readers the power of determination, the beauty of friendship, and how a young boy with Autism Spectrum Disorder could beat the odds to achieve his goal. Eva Wong Nava is a good writer and I enjoyed the simplicity of the prose and how the language conveys the thoughts of the protagonist. While this book is written for children, it has great lessons for adult readers, including the thought that we can always overcome our limitations and achieve more if we focus on reaching a better place in life. The second thing is what defines real friendship — empathy, acceptance, and compassion. One feels connected to the protagonist. He is flawed, a small boy with so much to worry about, but he discovers the tools to transcend himself when challenged to do something he is passionate about. Great narrative voice, beautiful prose, and a lot of fun! – Christian Sia for Readers’ Favorite
✭✭✭✭✭ Open: A Boy’s Wayang Adventure is a beautiful and fun story about a young boy, nicknamed Open, on a journey of self-discovery, set amidst the backdrop of a school production of The Monkey King.
I enjoyed hearing the story from Open’s perspective. This immediately drew me in, just as it would young readers. Open’s limits are tested as the story develops with the result of him gaining some lovely, new friendships.
As a qualified SEN teacher (and author), I felt that the story was a genuine reflection of what life can be like for some young people with autism. Eva has managed to capture insightful nuances of the struggles and joys of someone on the spectrum. She has clearly researched the subject very well. — Evelyn Bookless, Children’s Author of Captain Green and the Plastic Scene and Special Educational Needs Teacher
✭✭✭✭✭ Open offers the reader a convincing and an unadulterated insight into the world of a special child. The intellect of the 10-year-old protagonist, interspersed with his struggles to interact with others around him and to express his innermost feelings and thoughts, draws the reader in at every juncture. It is a book that has to be read by everyone–adults, parents, children, teenagers and educators alike. — Claudine Fernandez, Ed.M, Founder of Artistic Strategies Academy
✭✭✭✭✭ Wonderfully crafted. An eye-opening insight into the world of Autism Spectrum Disorders through the eyes of a child. — Edna McKinstry, MD
✭✭✭✭✭ Open: A Boy’s Wayang Adventure is an interesting depiction of Benjamin, a boy with autism and his journey discovering the joy of the Chinese performing art, wayang. At a deeper level, the story reflects how Benjamin’s parents care for and support him as they too embark on their life journeys of self-discovery. […] I congratulate the writer and the publisher for the production of this book. — Denise Phua, President, Autism Resource Centre Singapore, and Special Needs Advocate
✭✭✭✭✭ How would you describe this book about autism? Pretty much like how you will describe people on the autism spectrum – special. I love how the book portrays autism, not as a sickness or a health condition. This book comes from a perspective of genuine affection. When autism is sincerely understood and whole-hardheartedly embraced – you see autism as a gift, not a burden. Makes you wonder – “Does being different mean the same thing as being special?” — Marianne Inacay, Producer, News Booking Desk, Channel News Asia
✭✭✭✭✭ I found Open to be an engaging and sensitively written book told through the voice of a 10-year autistic child nicknamed Open. The story helped me see Open’s view of the world and the challenges that a special needs child faces in seeking to fit in and cope with school and life. — Emily Lim-Leh, award-winning author of 30 children’s books
My name is Benjamin Oh. People call me Open. I think it is because my Papa calls me Open and then everyone just copies him. I like to copy too so I can see why the kids copy my Papa.
The day I was born was the happiest day of my Papa’s life. It was a magical moment. I know this because he tells me this every day. The day I was born was also the happiest day of my Mama’s life. I don’t know this because she doesn’t tell me this every day but if it is the happiest day of my Papa’s life, it must also be the happiest day of my Mama’s life.
There is nothing more I like doing than to draw. Drawing is my favourite thing to do. I love to draw monkeys. Bei Bei says that I am obsessed with monkeys. That’s alright because Bei Bei is obsessed with being a princess. We all have our obsessions.
“You’re crazy, Open!” Bei Bei tells me often. “You’re obsessed with monkeys! All you ever draw are monkeys. Look guys, another monkey drawing.”
Guys are Ali and Raja. They’re both my classmates.
Mama hasn’t been coming home for dinner lately. She doesn’t eat with Papa and me often but she does try to pop in for dinner every once in a while.
I guess it must be very busy outside these days.
About the Author
Eva Wong Nava lives between two worlds. She reads copiously and writes voraciously. She holds a degree in English Literature and Language from the University of Hull where Philip Larkin was once the University Librarian; a Post-Graduate Certificate in Education (PGCE) from University College London where the Institute of Education resides, and a certificate in Art Writing from Sotheby’s Art Institute which she undertook to better understand what the craft entails. She holds a M.A. in Art History and has taught children and adults how they can use writing for communication and play. She is the founder of CarpeArte Journal, an online space, which publishes works of flash fiction. Eva’s flash fiction has appeared in various places and her writing on art have been published in international art journals. She was nominated for the Pushcart Prize recently and her debut children’s book was awarded the bronze medal at the Moonbeam Children’s Book Award, 2018.
Eva is a member of the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI).
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