I declined dear Melanie Lee's offer of a complimentary reviewer's copy of her new e-book 'Imaginary Friends' - 26 Fables for the Kid in Us, illustrated by Sheryl Khor. It's a book, and as long as it's of a genre I'd read, I'd gladly pay for a copy- to support a friend, and in support of Singapore writing. At US$4.99 on Kobo in a digital format that could be downloaded into both iPad and Kindle, it's a steal.
MPH Digital Consulting Editor Oon Yeoh is "immensely proud of this book" and thought it had "universal appeal" and could strike a chord with people around the world. True. I'm a total fan of Neil Gaiman, and I love 'The Dangerous Alphabet', which really, isn't a book for children. Melanie's little book of contemporary fables belongs to that genre of dark humor with bits of snark. In Neil Gaiman's words from a recent speech that reverberated around the world, he said,
Prose fiction is something you build up from 26 letters and a handful of punctuation marks, and you, and you alone, using your imagination, create a world and people it and look out through other eyes.
I read 'Imaginary Friends' twice. They're like, modern fairy tales. A quick overview right through the 26 fables for a feel of the tone, and a second reading to see what other levels of interpretation I could glean from it. Quite a delightful read. All deets on its facebook page. The fables chug along, then come the punchline at the end in the form of the "moral of the story". Some of the happenings in the plot, mores and its resulting moral simply flew over my head, i.e 'J is for Jessa the Jelly Bean' and 'Y is for Yogi the Yodelling Yak'. I ermm...don't totally understand the references used, syntax or the phrasing. But the others, I like.
One favorite, not because it has to do with tea, but it's just a good story, is 'T is for Timmy the Tenacious Teabag'. It tells the tale of Timmy the Teabag who lives in an office pantry and wishes to escape from his fate of being 'killed' in a cup of hot water, and wants to become a plant again and "go back to the tea plantation again to restore his soul". So he cosies up to a den of rats, and predictably ends up with the same fate.
Before Timmy could say "rubbish", he was thrown into the teacup with hot water. The rats clapped and cheered.
Moral of the story: You can never go back to your past again.
E-copies are my way of cheating on luggage weight overseas and really, to test if I want to purchase a hard copy, and one advantage- reading can be done in dimly lit bars or cafes. Oof. I hang out alone a fair bit; an e-reader is an awesome companion. I do hope Melanie's e-book will be published in hard copy too. Sheryl Khor's illustrations are really cute, and they would look so fine in print, on thick beautiful paper.