Mini Monsters Books & Product Launch @ AFCC2015

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This entry sort of deviates slightly away from my usual entries in that it is not directly about Singapore‘s Malay entertainment scene per se. However, I still find it extremely relevant and important to share this with my readers as it involves an individual who has been a mainstay in our local Malay entertainment scene since she graced our television screens in the old days of Bengkel Kanak-Kanak TV SBC, and now as a highly-respected talkshow host that delves on social issues in our community. Rilla Melati Bahri, a name that needs no further introduction, has just launched her latest educational products via her company Mini Monsters Ltd. this past Sunday, 31st May 2015 at the National Library, in conjunction with the Asian Festival of Children’s Content 2015 event currently happening at the Plaza section of the building, from 30th May -6th June 2015.

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I was honoured to have been invited to cover this event, a momentous one I should add. Rilla, from the time I knew her years ago, has always been a strong advocate of good education and learning. She has always championed for our younger generation to be nurtured and cultivated in good learning techniques in the field of language and being comfortable in our mother tongue. In fact, these newly-launched products were conceived from her own experience more than a decade ago, as a young mother looking desperately for educational materials in Malay to aid her in teaching the language to her son, Nadim, in a fun way. Back then, there were hardly anything in Malay in the bookstores and toystores. Through this experience, she took it upon herself to do this project for other mothers with toddlers.

MiniMonstersBookLaunch2015 (3)A very decent turn-out at the launch event. Former national footballer Zulkarnaen Zainal (second row, left) was also in attendance…

Hence, the birth of Siri Bacaan Cekap Kanak-Kanak & CD Bacalah Bersama!”(Confident Reader Series & Audio Read-Along CD) and the collaboration with Masfe Sendirian Berhad for “Set Gantungan Pembelajaran” (Educational Wall Hanging Set) in Malay for toddlers aged two to six years. Mini Monsters are also proud to have been appointed the exclusive sole distributor of the first ever customised Malay educational wall-hanging resources and this exclusive collaboration between them and Masfe Sdn Bhd represents a like-minded approach between both companies in taking the learning of the Malay language to greater heights for children during their formative years.

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Rilla Melati addressing the audience and relating how the books and wall-hanging products came about…

This set comprises of mini detachable 2D “softies” which children can pull and paste to corresponding outlines on a standard thematic storyboard that comes with the Malay word to describe the individual softie. The educational objectives of this wall hanging resources are to cultivate early interest in reading through fun, interaction and play methodology, to develop children’s fine motor skills and encourage word-object recognition through touch-and-feel and to plant the seeds of love for the Malay language to children as young as 2 years old through visual stimulation. Although these sets are already in existent and used throughout Malaysia, this is the first time that the set is piloting in the Malay language exclusively for the Singapore market to be distributed by Mini Monsters Ltd. as a licensee.

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Role-play performance by participants of Mini Monsters‘ “LaguRIA” weekend workshops…
This educational wall-hanging paraphernalia will add on to Mini Monsters Ltd’s current staple of Malay educational resources and will help to spur its efforts in taking the teaching of the language to the younger age group of children i.e. toddlers and nursery-going kids. For a start, three thematic storyboards will be made available for the Singapore market. They are the Garden Insects Set, Jungle Animals Set & Transportation Set. These wall-hanging resources are made of colorful, non-toxic materials that are safe and have been tested and approved by the relevant authorities for use with children. Another interesting feature of these sets – they are handcrafted by communities in need in Malaysia. An effort Mini Monsters Ltd. is proud to support.
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As for the Siri Bacaan Cekap Kanak-Kanak & CD Bacalah Bersama!”(Confident Reader Series & Audio Read-Along CD), this set comprises of eight storybooks featuring characters inspired by the alphabets from the very popular Malay phonics reading system “Fonik Ria – Cepat Membaca” that was launched by Rilla and her Malay linguist father Drs Bahri Rajib at the same festival in 2013 and a read-along CD comprising of all the eight titles narrated by the author in Malay. For the uninitiated, “Fonik Ria – Cepat Membaca” was created to develop literacy skills for children learning to read Malay. Back then, Mini Monsters Ltd. had launched “Siri Bacaan Awal Kanak-Kanak” (Children’s Beginner Reader Series) in 2013 for pre-schoolers aged 4-6 as a complementing set.
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The newly-launched educational products by Mini Monsters Ltd
Today, expounding on the success of the previous series and the positive response Mini Monsters Ltd. have obtained from many parents, teachers and children alike, another eight titles have been added to this continuous effort of growing and complementing their reading system with its own customised set of reader series. This new set – “Siri Bacaan Cekap Kanak-Kanak” (Children’s Confident Reader Series) aims to create and develop fluency in children who can already read, and guide children to continue to read independently. The accompanying Audio Read-Along CD meanwhile, aims to assist in building upon a child’s imagination and listening skills, expose the child to the Malay language through reading and listening at the same time and encourage parent-child bonding.
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The staff of Mini Monsters are ever ready to welcome you to their booth till this Saturday 6th June 2015
Parents can choose to listen to the story with the child, anywhere, anytime. Together, this set hopes to create a wholesome reading experience for the child and plant the seeds of love for the Malay language in the hearts of budding readers!!! This new set also completes the “Fonik Ria Cepat Membaca” reading system, making it one of, if not the only, locally developed and produced Malay phonics reading system for children that is comprehensive, unique and attractive as an educational teaching tool for the development of Malay language in Singapore. You can get these educational resources from the Mini Monsters Ltd. booth at the Plaza @ NLB building between 30th May to 6th June 2015, as well as their other Malay language educational resource materials, publications and Malay language course details that they conduct for schools and the public. Or you can purchase them online via the Mini Monsters Ltd webpage.  Congratulations to Mini Monsters Ltd. for this successful launch and thank you once again for inviting me and the family to grace this lovely event… 🙂

Lagu-Lagu Kita CD Launch

After years of being fed a diet of English children’s songs, Malay kids, parents and educators in Singapore can now look forward to a newly created package that has been created to revitalise and rejuvenate the Malay Children’s music industry. Lagu-Lagu Kita is a compilation CD of 40 carefully selected Malay children’s songs from a span of 40 years (1950s-80s). It is a project by Mini Monsters and is supported under the National Heritage Board’s Heritage Industry Incentive Programme (Hi²P), a co-funding scheme designed to encourage more the development and creation of innovative heritage products and services that will reach out to as many Singaporeans as possible

For the uninitiated, Mini Monsters is the Education Outreach arm of television production house Dua M Pte. Ltd. and Music & Movement Pte. Ltd. Headed by Creative Director, Najip Ali and Chief Creative Officer, Rilla Melati Bahri, Mini Monsters aims to revive an interest in the Malay Language by offering an interesting and fun approach in its learning. With their motto – “Berhibur dan Belajar” (Entertain and Educate) – Mini Monsters believes in partnering like minded establishments and educational institutions in order to promote active Malay learning. Their courses and products are aimed at giving the best to all kids – at school or at home – while instilling a lifelong love for the Malay language through confidence-building and creative ways.

This project serves to put a name and a face behind every lyricist and composer of these endearing Malay children’s songs that we grew up with, in hope of reviving the songs for the generations to come.  Aimed at children aged 4 to 14 years, kids can sing-a-long while they learn about Malay values, lifestyle and customs through the lyrics. This edu-tainment pack is not just targeted at Malay children but children of all ethnicities who are willing and keen to learn Malay in a fun and entertaining manner. Projects like “Lagu-Lagu Kita can not only bring back the heritage that we may have forgotten but also introduce a brand new audience to the many hidden and forgotten gems of Singapore’s heritage.

I had the honour of being invited to cover the event when it was held on the morning of 10 June 2012 at the Upper Concourse of the Esplanade, Theatres by the Bay. Thanks to the kind people at Mini Monsters for the invitation, I felt obliged to attend and in turn, come out of my blog “retirement”, as this is something I feel close to my heart since young. Back in primary school, I recall learning and singing some of these songs during my mother tongue classes. Coupled with educational shows like Mat Yoyo and other beneficial Bengkel Kanak-Kanak TV programmes, I admit that they have in a way introduced and strengthened my knowledge on the Malay language. Which was why I brought my children along that day to expose them to the songs that my wife and I had learned when we were young.

Seeing the performances of the singers that day (Imran Ajmain, Dalina Jaapar, Rudy Djoharnaen) and listening to the songs they performed, was like a walk down memory lane. I felt nostalgic thinking back of my lost childhood. At the same time, I felt so thankful towards this initiative to revive and to preserve these treasures for our younger generation to pick up and learn and in turn, to pass it down for generations to come. It has been a month since the CD was launched but my daughters insist on listening to them every day!!! This is indeed an effort which deserves to be supported by our community and of course by the schools. Our children can most definitely learn a lot from the messages imparted through the songs, be it in language, moral, religious and ethical values.

The CD pack contains a book & two audio CDs including a CD on the oral history of Malay children’s songs in Singapore as told by veteran songwriters and composers such as Nona Asiah, Yusnor Ef, Drs Bahri Rajib and Khamaliah Salleh. The 40 specially selected songs have been re-arranged and updated to appeal to today’s kids and teenagers. The songs in this compilation are sung by popular and well-known young artistes such as Imran Ajmain, Hyrul Anuar, Syarif SleeQ, Rudy Djoharnaen, Dalina Jaapar and Nurulhuda Ramdzan.

Another special feature of the pack – these 40 songs are categorised into stages to suit children across different age groups.  The stages go from Tahap 1 (Beginners) to Tahap 3 (Advanced) and together with a companion guide, it serves to educate them further by explaining the themes, values and reflections found in each of the individual song lyrics. What is interesting is that the book also contains photographs and a brief history of our Malay children’s programmes on national television since the 1970s. One of the photographs featured the book, a picture of the 1988 batch of Bengkel Kanak-Kanak TV graduates has my other half and several friends I’ve made along the way, in it.

Lagu-Lagu Kita” is priced at $29.90 and can be purchased at the following places:

  1. Esplanade Shop
  2. Museum Label @ National Museum of Singapore
  3. Museum Label @ Singapore Art Museum
  4. Museum Label @ Asian Civilisation Museum
  5. Muzika Rekods
  6. Warisan Media
  7. Wardah Books
  8. Mini Monsters – Send your emails to Ms. Lydia Cheriyan (lydia@minimonsters.com.sg)