Pictures of Change – a book review by The Advisor

The following is an extract from a review of Javier’s Day in the weekly Phnom Penh arts and entertainment newspaper The Advisor. The book is now being sold at Monument Books Phnom Penh.


In Javier’s Day, Singaporean illustrator Joshua Chiang captures the changing nature of family life inside Asia’s most outsized economic powerhouse.

At the time of her independence in 1965, Singapore looked a lot like Cambodia does today, with tree-lined quays, stilt homes and man-powered rickshaws dotting the streets. The wealthy lived in yellow two-storey colonials with brick walls, wooden floors and tiled roofs. The poor survived as day labourers. A third of the population lived in slums, unemployment clocked 14% and GDP per capita registered less than $3,000.

Over the last five decades, Singapore has grown into the world’s fourth-largest financial centre and built one of the busiest seaports on the planet. Such dramatic growth has also meant profound changes to the Singaporean family.

“At the heart of it, Javier’s Day is about the joys of growing up all over again through the eyes of the youngest member of the family,” says Chiang, who lives in Phnom Penh, of his first self-published illustrated children’s book. “It is also about how children are raised in the modern Singaporean context. We may have moved out of our kampungs long ago, but it still takes an entire village – plus the maid – to raise one child.”

read the rest of the article here.  

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