Monday, April 07, 2014

-Updated- Jordan's first book review- Imaginary Friends (A Giveaway too!)

When we were thinking about having kids or rather coming up with reasons why we would possibly not want kids, one of the reasons being tossed about was "What if they hate reading?"

It was as stupid a reason as it sounded but under all that ridiculousness was an ounce of truth and fear. 

Fast forward to 2014. I am happy to say that JED all have a love affair with books and stories to the point that we don't have enough book shelves for them. (I've tried to borrow books from the library but the problem is that the kids, especially Muffin get so attached to them that there is much bawling that accompanies any attempt to return the book!)

The one with the most ardent love affair with books is Jordan. 

If you asked her to introduce herself, her spiel would go something like that. "Hi, I am Jordan. I am six years old. I like drawing and reading. When I grow up, I would like to be an author. " 

The girl laps it all up. Her reading repertoire is a constantly growing and an interesting one. We've seen her spend hours engrossed in Packrat's 544 page Firefly Anniversary coffee table book. But then she could also spend the same amount of time with her Disney Princess stories. Recently, she even added Calvin and Hobbes into her reading diet. This is over and above whatever ballerina books, Geronimo Stilton books and Enid Blytons that we have lying around. We've lost her in our house before because she was so engrossed in her reading, she did not hear us tear the house apart looking for her.

We've had friends who have frowned upon the fact that she has Disney Princess books and fancies herself a princess. While we don't actively encourage it, we don't discourage it either because we think it's part of her world and we 've seen the stories that she weaves, on paper and in play. More often than not, they are more than just about the princess marrying the prince.  The scraps that she scribble and illustrate her stories on leave us little insights into the worlds that she creates in her head.

So it was of little surprise to us when Aunty Mel sent Jordan a copy of her book Imaginary Friends and she totally lost herself in it. Her eyes lit up when she received a package in the mail addressed to her and they positively glowed when she saw that it was a book. Aunty Mel's book was basically a collection of 26 short stories about 26 Imaginary Friends, ranging from A to Z. And for the next week, any free time she had and some time she didn't, she was with Aunty Mel and her 26 Imaginary Friends. She read it at meal times, she read it when she was supposed to be doing her homework, she even brought it to school.

When she had enough time with the book and I managed to wrestle the book from her (I had the electronic version but I'm old school and wanted her version!), I read it and asked her about what she liked about it. 

Mommy: So, what did you like about Aunty Mel's book?
Jordan: I liked the pictures. Aunty Mel said I could colour them if I wanted to. 

Mommy: Was there anything else you liked about it? 
Jordan: The stories had conflict and they had interesting characters. Aunty C (her kindy teacher) said all good books must have that.

Mommy: What were your favourite titles?
Jordan: Y is for Yogi the Yodelling Yak. I also liked L is for Lucy the Lucky Leek. So many of the same letters! (Giggles)

Mommy: Did you read all the stories? 
Jordan: I read some of them. Some I liked. Some I didn't understand. 

Mommy: Of the stories you read, which one did you like the most?
Jordan: I liked "B is for Bertie the Bored Butterfly."

Mommy: Can you tell me why?
Jordan: Because Bertie didn't like crowds and the boy was kind. He saved the butterfly from the Butterfly Park. And Bertie now lives in a small garden. 

Mommy: Is there anything else you liked about the book?
Jordan: Aunty Mel had a pink water bottle named Janet when she was 8 years old. She is like me. I have Elly but not the eraser (E is for Elly the Egotistical Eraser). 

Jordan: Mommy, you ask too many questions. Can I ask you one?
Mommy: What is it? 
Jordan: What did YOU like about the stories?
Mommy: I liked the fact that Aunty Mel made animals and things alive and interesting. I liked that Aunty Mel used them to tell us stories about what sometimes happens in our lives. 
Jordan: Huh?
Mommy: Never mind. When you grow older, you will understand it a lot more.

So there we had it. Jordan did her first book review and most of it was spot on.

Because the stories were mainly written for an adult audience, she obviously didn't get quite a bit of it. But it was sometimes wickedly funny and snarky with morals like "If office politics get too ridiculous, just get outta there." that totally resounded with me. Our joint favourite was "O for Olivia the Overachieving Octopus". 

She loved it because her new school bag has an octopus on it that looks like Olivia. The story had to do with the Sea King, King Neptune, a character she is familiar with and she knew enough to not like the restless daughter and feel sorry for Olivia. I loved it because it was a good reminder. That not one thing should define who I am. I learnt it in uni but as a mother and a somewhat ambitious person, I sometimes forget that as well.

Of course, there were phrases that were slightly mature for her age like "Never be too smug about success or good fortune; you'll never know when shit hits the fan". That required a lot of explaining but it was like reading Aesop's fables with her but much less macabre and far more enjoyable. 

I actually suspect that those bits, the moral of the story lines, were actually her favourite parts because it appealed to the big and naggy sister in her. She would try them out on Evan, only to get a rude brush off and an evil glare. 

But when all was said and done, reading Aunty Mel's book made me slightly wistful. I had dreams at various points in my life to write various books but life always got in the way. Mel did it admirably and did it most imaginatively, succintly and enjoyably. All this while looking after a toddler, which is no mean feat. 

It also made me want to take out my whole Calvin and Hobbes collection to re-read and also  reminded me of the times when I had imaginary friends and tea parties with them. 

So, if you, like me, would like a chance to read some stories of seemingly childish kid things and their shenanigans and think about your own childhood, the lessons you learnt while you played with your friends real or otherwise, here's an opportunity to do so. And you will be amongst the first in Singapore to get your hands on the books! (They are only released this coming weekend in Singapore.)

Mel is very generously giving away 5 signed copies of her book to Diaperbag readers with friends like hers. 

All you have to do is to 

1. Let us know who your imaginary friend was/ is and how it/he/she was your best friend in the comments below. Please leave us your name and an email address so that we can contact you if we pick your entry. 

2. Pop over to Imaginary Friends' Facebook page and 'like' the page so that you can get to know the Friends a little bit better. 

3. And if you really like this book or knows someone who might, please share this post with them!

Share with us your imaginary friend tale by 14 April 2014.

This giveaway is only open to readers from Singapore. 

If you really want a copy of the book and we didn't pick you, do not fret. The books will be available at $10.70 at all major bookstores from next week on!

- Melanie, the author of Imaginary Friends, has decided that each and every entry deserves a copy of the book, so congratulations to everyone who took part! Melanie will be contacting you soon!-

Disclaimer: We received a copy of Imaginary Friends but all opinions expressed are entirely Jordan's and mine. They are in no way influenced by any external sources.


  1. She used to go with me just about everywhere.

    She's there in the eyes of the
    old man hunched at the street corner,
    She's there in the morning
    when I open my eyes.

    She's always around
    when someone passes...
    and when someone says goodbye.

    She knows when I'm really smiling
    and when my heart
    really wonders why.

    She holds the hand
    of the girl next door,
    and comforts her while
    she rocks herself to sleep.

    She never questions me
    Why I do the things I do
    She knows me better
    Than I know myself.

    She greets me,
    when I open my eyes -
    and her silhoutte blocks the sun.

    She used to always be around
    Then one day,
    She walked away.

    It's time that
    I must go,
    She said.
    she really couldn't stay.

    Fill your days with
    joy and laughter,
    love and happiness
    Let your heart be alive
    once more,

    For only then -
    You will remember me.

    I watched her go
    with a twinge of sorrow,
    for she has been my friend
    for far too long.
    But I know that
    the time has come for her to leave
    For here;
    she would never truly belong.

    My friend and constant companion -
    'Sadie' was her name.

    1. Oops... My Name: Regina Soejanto

  2. Well its not me! But my little one Lulu (aged six) picks up fallen mangoes - big, small, fat, thin - looks after them, lives with them and sleeps with them until they rot. They get names like Mary and Maryn-dell, and they live in the lap of luxury as they are powdered, bathed and tucked to bed in downy cotton sheets. (cotton pads)

    We all love imaginary friends!

    - Sher,

  3. My little girl sage continues to tell us tales about her imaginary friends, who are also her siblings. They go by the names of Gabriel, Daybriel and Ariel. She giggles with joy whenever she does her roll call for her siblings and relishes the times she spends dancing on the bed with them, having tea while she downs her cup of Milo and even making space for them to sleep on her bed! They are so vivid these days that I am starting to imagine what life will be like if I really had that many children! My word!
    How fun to possess a vivid imagination!
    Sophie SL

  4. First of all, I wanted to say, wow! Jordan has an impressive reading repertoire - and what a great book review! I can only hope that my two will continue to love books as they do today (at ages 3 and 1, too young to read on their own).

    My son has an imaginary monkey friend, who doesn't have a name yet so we call him 'Monkey'. They sing together and whisper together in bed at naptimes and bedtimes. When he used to have trouble sleeping at night, I told him to cuddle up with monkey under the blanket and be brave together, and they could talk together and sing too (their current favourite is 'Zipadeedoodah'). And he's slept well ever since!

    Sharlene (

  5. Wooo! I like that he turned around and asked YOU at the end of that interview! Haha! Smart kid! I love this book, and growing up, even though I had three siblings, the large age gap between us meant... I spent a lot more time with my imaginary friend Sophie, playing house and yakking away! Haha!

    Sandra (

  6. Have an imaginary friend called Kinky when was a kid, she will play and sleep with me :-)

    Kaye (

  7. My imaginary friend didn't have a proper name, but she was my treehouse friend and my best pal (besides my younger sister) when it came to building our imaginary treehouse together out of the humble sofa in the little living room of my flat, some drapes, cardboard boxes and lots of masak masak (=cooking) toys. The living room floor was the field and picnic ground. The sofa seat was where the treehouse was and if it rained, we would move our tea-time and picnic onto the treehouse. We would use drapes and twist them around and tie one end to the armrest of the sofa, and pretended that was our ladder for climbing up and down the treehouse. Every afternoon, after I returned from kindergarten, she would call out to me and my sister to join her on treehouse to read or play, and vice versa. My imaginary friend came from England and she would regale us with stories similar to those written by Enid Blyton, our favourite childhood author. She spoke of rolling pastoral hills and dancing little streams. It was like life come round one full circle when I finally did go to England when I grew older, and saw for myself all those landscapes that I had read about in books or heard from her. But my little secret dream is to be able to build a real treehouse one day, and perhaps then I will meet my imaginary childhood friend again.