Hedwig Anuar Children’s Book Award goes to dementia story and tale of a restless boy

SINGAPORE – A fantasy book responding to the issue of dementia was one of two titles to win the Hedwig Anuar Children’s Book Award on Friday (May 27).

Daryl Kho’s Mist-Bound: How To Glue Back Grandpa, which was published by Penguin Random House South-east Asia, came tops in the middle grade category; J. H. Low’s Lemonade Sky, published by Epigram Books, won the picture books category.

The biennial award, organised by the Singapore Book Council, recognises outstanding children’s books by Singaporeans or permanent residents.

This is the first time that there have been two prize categories since the award’s inception in 2011. The winners won $3,000 each during a ceremony at the Asian Festival of Children’s Content (afcc.com.sg), which runs till Sunday (May 29).

Kho, 42, a Malaysia-born, Singapore-based media licensing professional, wrote his debut book after his father suffered two strokes and developed vascular dementia. The first stroke happened three months before his daughter Alexis, now 12, was born.

Mist-Bound tells the story of Alexis, a girl whose grandfather’s memories have been shattered. She journeys to the land of mist to gather ingredients for Memory Glue, but must do so before his memories are gone for good.

The idea for the book came to Kho in 2014. The first draft was easy, but it was “a real slog” after that and he sat on the project for several years. When his father died in 2018, it was a wake-up call and he decided he had to finish the book.

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