I first saw copies of local author Phua San San’s “What’s Inside the Red Box” at Popular Bookstore, and was intrigued by it, because I had read Mr Heng Swee Keat’s post about Mr Lee Kuan Yew’s red box. His post gave us all a glimpse of how much our country meant to Mr Lee, and how deeply he cared about every tiny detail. 《小红盒 大梦想》is the Chinese translation of “What’s Inside the Red Box”, and both books make Mr Heng’s story about Mr Lee’s red box more accessible to children.
When Once Upon a Bookstore asked if I would like to review 《小红盒 大梦想》, I admit that I had serious doubts, because I honestly didn’t know if Noah would understand it. Would a preschooler be able to grasp the significance of the red box, and how it embodied Mr Lee’s passion for Singapore?
Thankfully, the text was generally simple, ie I was able to read the words without using a dictionary, but I had to verbally translate it line by line for Noah, since his Chinese isn’t good. I was pleasantly surprised that he sat through the entire story, because like I said, I didn’t know if he could relate to it. I think the colourful illustrations helped to hold his attention, and he was most amused by the children stealing the red box, for some strange reason.
Like the three children in the story, we took time to admire the contents of the red box, and Noah kept asking if I could bring him to the “beautiful garden”, which I think he associates with Gardens by the Bay. Inspired by Mr Lee’s red box, the three children decided to make their own red boxes, and to fill them with their own hopes and dreams for Singapore.
The book ends on an inspirational note, encouraging the readers to dream big, and to work hard in order to achieve our goals. It emphasises that age doesn’t matter, as long as we strive towards improving the world we live in. There is also a page for children to write or draw their ambitions and dreams for Singapore, which I thought was a nice touch, because it allows the children to verbalise and visualise their ideas, reinforcing the message that no one is too young to play a part in building a better Singapore. For the record, Noah says he wants to be a policeman, so that he can “catch all the bad people”.
This book is a lovely tribute to Mr Lee Kuan Yew, and illustrates his love for Singapore. I think it’s a good way for us to tell our children about who he was, since they are probably too young now to fully appreciate what he has achieved for Singapore. Older children can be encouraged to think about their role in society now, as well as when they grow up, and consciously reminded that they too can make Singapore a better place.
Buy the Book
《小红盒 大梦想》 from Once Upon a Bookstore
Check out the previous Friday Flips posts HERE. I’ve also created a photo album on Facebook with some other good reads, and will be updating it whenever I come across more books that we enjoy. Do pop by for a look HERE.
Disclaimer: We received a copy of 《小红盒 大梦想》 for the purpose of this review. All photos and opinions are, as always, our own.
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