Sometimes if there’s a book you really want to read, you have to write it yourself.”Ann Patchett
As a mother of daughters, I spent years and years researching and trawling book shops and libraries for stories that will inspire my girls to dream big, know who they are, and to never let anyone stop them from doing what they love to do.
I bought the girls folktales of heroines and books filled with goddesses, read them stories of princesses who defied the rules of being a princess, and watched movies with them where female protagonists ruled the world.
Many of these books and movies were Eurocentric, even though they may focus on a diverse character like Mulan, Moana or Pocahontas. Where were the stories of Southeast Asian or other Asian sheroes and goddesses?
“Why not write these stories yourself?” a book angel said to me one day. And some time later, this mantra “Write the books you want to read” appeared on my feed. I say mantra because this has become my core story — I write lesser-told stories on the people and subject I want to read about. I write for my daughters; I write them for your daughters (and sons).
Over the years, I’ve worked hard to read up and do research on the women who’ve shaped Asia and whose stories are lesser told or not told at all. I put my research together and I proposed a 6 book series to World Scientific Asia to be co-authored with June Ho, my partner in crime, and illustrated by Debasmita Dasgupta.
I’m pleased to announce that ‘Women Who Shaped Asia’ was acquired on proposal and the first book is launching in August 2020.
Tun Dr Siti Hasmah Mohd Ali: The Accidental Doctor is the first in the ‘Women Who Shaped Asia’ series.
This book on the life and work of Tun Dr Siti Hasmah Mohd Ali is an important contribution to the movement in promoting inclusivity and diversity in children’s literature. Written in simple language by Eva Wong Nava and June Ho, and beautifully illustrated by Debasmita Dasgupta, the book is designed in picture book format. The book shines a light on Tun Siti, herself, whom most of us know as the wife of the seventh Prime Minister of Malaysia.
The reader gets to see her as an individual, first as a free spirited child, then a student growing up in pre-independence Malaysia, and later a doctor. Few of us realise that she was one of the first Malay woman to qualify for medical school and graduate as a doctor, and the important role she played in Women’s Health in the country.
The book also carries a feminist message and emphasizes the importance of educating girls and is educational as well. Dasgupta’s simple and vibrant illustrations carry the narrative forward and help to explain the more complex ideas in the book.”Datin Tutu Dutta
International nomad and author of Timeless Tales of Malaysia, The Jugra Chronicles, Phoenix Song and Nights of the Dark Moon.
Readers will be enchanted by this story of a young girl from humble beginnings who succeeds at becoming a doctor, which at the time was ground-breaking for a Malay woman. The striking and intricate illustrations bring to life Malaysia’s history weaving it into Tun Siti’s life story as she evolves into our First Lady.
As a GP with a special interest in women’s health, my career strongly resonates with Tun Dr Siti’s. I especially like the little female anatomy lesson and glossary of diseases at the end. This is a story that will appeal to children, their parents and grandparents.
My congratulations to the creators, June Ho, Eva Wong Nava, and Debasmita Dasgupta, on such an enchanting account of the life of this amazing woman. It is a charming tribute to a national treasure and two-time First Lady of Malaysia.”Dr Muzeena Mahamooth
BMedSci, BMBS, DSRH
Forum Health Center, Coventry
We know her as Malaysia’s indefatigable first lady, but her quiet heroism has helped so many in her capacity as a doctor and pioneer of women’s health long before that. In this sweetly illustrated book kids can get to know Tun Dr. Siti Hasmah as a girl with her own dreams and aspirations.”
Host of literary podcast ‘Two Book Nerds Talking’
The Launch of Tun Dr Siti Hasmah Mohd Ali: The Accidental Doctor
Join in the launch party here.