Sunday, April 14, 2013

Young Readers Gather at the "Sherlock Sam" Book Series Launch At Kinokuniya

Even as a grown adult, Red Dot Diva found local "Sherlock Sam" children's book series (published by Epigram) a smart, funny and invigorating read.

All thanks to its creative team - the husband (Adan Jimenez) and wife (Felicia Low-Jimenez) writing duo who call themselves A.J. Low and local-based illustrator, drewscape (Andrew Tan). The three of them seem to have a quirky blend of synergy which resulted in the light-hearted and entertaining book series.

(Click here to check out out Red Dot Diva's review on the first book "Sherlock Sam and the Missing Heirloom in Katong".)

The "Sherlock Sam" official launch held at the Kinokuniya flagship store's Crossroads area last month on March 16th was no less fun!

Prior to the start of the event, only about 10 people were waiting around the Crossroads section of the store, including this adorable "Sherlock Sam" fan and up-and-coming cosplayer (pic below). ;)

The small crowd caused a minor case of nervousness amongst the creators and organizers, as they were hoping to celebrate the launch with as many young readers as possible.

As it turned out, they should not have doubted their drawing power. When the launch kicked off at 2 pm, the gathering grew with curious onlookers - many of them wide-eyed children interested to find out more about "Sherlock Sam".

The creative team began by answering a few questions about their involvement in the book series, like why they decided to write Sherlock's sidekick Watson, as a robot. Felicia said,"Actually what we wanted to do was to have lots of gadgets in the books because we knew little kids love gadgets. And then we thought maybe, too many iPads and iPhones in the books may not be very interesting. So, we decided to combine all the gadgets together and give the kids a robot instead."

And how did drewscape get involved with "Sherlock Sam"? Andrew mentioned that he was called by "the boss of Epigram" to illustrate for the series, perhaps because his art style and humour were most suitable for the books. Adan then complimented how it was so much easier to work on the second book because Andrew had already designed the look of the characters and that Andrew was the consummate perfectionist.

Andrew nodded. "My own personal preference is that the story books is done with a natural brush and ink. A lot of modern books tend to use art drawn with a computer, which I personally find is a bit cold. So when I did the illustrations for this book, I made sure I used a real brush and ink to do it. Kind of an old-fashioned way but I think it gives a more textured, warmer feel to the drawings." And indeed it does, Red Dot Diva agrees.

Then, to keep the children more engaged, a couple of easy interactive games were played. Unfortunately, all the kids seem so painfully shy! (When Red Dot Diva bumped into Adan after the event, he mentioned that the opposite happens when the team does talks in schools. In a school setting, the children are usually livelier and eager to participate.)

The first game was "Rapid Fire Science!" where parent and child teams were asked to reenact the jubilant "SCIENCE!" pose that Sherlock's Dad does in the books. An enthusiastic parent (sans his very shy child) struck the pose with panache (pic on right ), to the delight of the audience.

For the second game, the children were invited to come up to the mic and speak like Watson the Robot. By then, some of the kids have warmed up and three brave young ones went up and showed off their best robot voice.

After which, the autograph line was opened, and almost all the children stood in line eagerly to get their books signed. It was lovely to see young readers getting all excited about the series. Even more heartening was catching sight of other local writers and artists, like Troy Chin, Jason Erik Lundberg, and Kong Hong Teng, giving support to Epigram, A.J. Low and drewscape at the book launch.

And of course, the inner child in Red Dot Diva cannot miss the chance of getting her "Sherlock Sam" books signed either!
(Thanks to Alvin - 1/3 of Here Be Geeks - for taking this pic!)

The launch was also a chance for Epigram to introduce the second book entitled "Sherlock Sam and the Ghostly Moans in Fort Canning". The story, an equally enjoyable venture by Sherlock and his gang into the realm of the paranormal, reminded Red Dot Diva of a little walk around the historical hillside, visiting the gravestones and royal tomb with her Evil Twin one Halloween night. Fort Canning sure does get a little spooky in the dark.

If one still cannot get enough of the adventures of spirited Sherlock Sam and his gang, you would be glad to know that the creative team is currently working on a third book entitled "Sherlock Sam and the Sinister Letters in Bras Basah", set to launch at Asian Festival of Children's Content in May 2013.

With such a steady stream of titles, "Sherlock Sam" is set to be one of the more successful local detective children's book series in recent times.

Red Dot Diva is sure Art ... and "SCIENCE!" has to do with that!


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