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Before the Sun Sets

A story about stepping out of your comfort zone for the first time

Photo of Yi Jun Kwek

Written by

Once upon a time, there lived two best friends.

Coco the dragon and Blushy the Bunny. 

They lived on the island of Rye – oh what a paradise!

It was a land of beauty, and all things nice.

Every evening, Coco would wonder

 “Where does the sun go?”

She longed to follow the sun, but was afraid to fly.

She had never flown high enough to touch the sky.

One morning, Blushy goes:

“Oh no Coco! Where did your colours go?!”

Pan the wise ox, whose words were always gold said

”Follow the sunset Coco, that’s where the secret to your colour unfolds."

 “Before the sun sets…It’s a race against time!” 

Coco looked up and she started to cry

“The mountains! I’m still scared about flying” 

“Don’t worry Coco, I’ll be your eyes!"

"All you have to do, is just fly!”

Off they went!

They fly so high, they almost touch the sky!

But Blushy gets blinded by the sun!

Ahhhh! (Blushy falls down) 

“Blushy where are you?!” Coco called, with her heart racing with fear

"I’m all the way down here!” 

Coco opened her eyes, with a scare

It was just too high…

But she knew she had to face her fears.

She could not lose a friend so dear!

Coco swoops down saving Blushy

You did it Coco! You’re not afraid of flying anymore! 

Onwards they went, chasing the setting sun.

And Coco caught the colours of its last rays.

Just before the day was done

[Word Count of Story - 248]

Caregiver notes: 

It is natural to feel scared when trying something for the first time. What are your child’s firsts?

As a role play activity, ask your child to imagine that they were Coco. Guiding questions:

  • What are you afraid of? Why?
  • What if Coco stayed on the Island of Rye?
  • Coco has Blushy to help her. Who is your Blushy?

Describe the intended vision for your early childhood book manuscript in 1-2 sentences

When was the last time you did something for the first time? For our little ones, each first time can be extremely daunting e.g. first day of school. “Before the Sun Sets” hopes to share an honest truth: that personal growth comes from discomfort. It tells a simple story of two friends, Blushy and Coco who leave their comfortable home in the Island of Rye, in a race against time to catch the last rays of the sunset.

Share your suggested book title

Before the Sun Sets

PLEASE USE THE VERSION OF THIS QUESTION AT THE TOP OF THE SUBMISSION FORM: Share a draft of your manuscript (250 word limit, not including title).

Once upon a time, there lived two best friends. Coco the dragon and Blushy the Bunny. They lived on the island of Rye – oh what a paradise! It was a land of beauty, and all things nice. Every evening, Coco would wonder “Where does the sun go?” She longed to follow the sun, but was afraid to fly. She had never flown high enough to touch the sky. One morning, Blushy goes: “Oh no Coco! Where did your colours go?!” Pan the wise ox, whose words were always gold said ”Follow the sunset Coco, that’s where the secret to your colour unfolds." “Before the sun sets…It’s a race against time!” Coco looked up and she started to cry “The mountains! I’m still scared about flying” “Don’t worry Coco, I’ll be your eyes!" "All you have to do, is just fly!” Off they went! They fly so high, they almost touch the sky! But Blushy gets blinded by the sun! Ahhhh! (Blushy falls down) “Blushy where are you?!” Coco called, with her heart racing with fear "I’m all the way down here!” Coco opened her eyes, with a scare It was just too high… But she knew she had to face her fears. She could not lose a friend so dear! Coco swoops down saving Blushy You did it Coco! You’re not afraid of flying anymore! Onwards they went, chasing the setting sun. And Coco caught the colours of its last rays. Just before the day was done

How has this book been informed by early childhood language development research and evidence? (response minimum 250 Characters)

I was inspired by the early childhood development research from Unicef. In particular, it highlights the importance of having parents involved with their child’s early development. Hence the starting point was to ensure that the stories resonate with parents. The inspiration came by asking myself: how would I write a letter to my 3 year old self? What would I say? I then asked my peers who were parents themselves, and we came up with the idea of teaching important life lessons right from the start. To encourage language development for kids, I wrote the stories in simple language (tier 1, tier 2 vocabulary where possible) and also in rhyme. The best children’s book has rhyme e.g. Dr Seuss! Unicef research also has proven that learning through play is important. So the story of “Before the Sun Sets” is written as an adventure that parents/caregivers can role play together with their kids.

How have you crafted this manuscript to resonate with and/or reflect the experiences of those living in urban contexts? (optional question)

“Before the Sun Sets” is a story about stepping out of your comfort zone for the first time. I believe this is a relatable experience for everyone and grounded on a universal truth –we can only grow when we take on what makes us uncomfortable. My personal experience of growing up in Singapore was the inspiration for this manuscript. The "Island of Rye" in the book is a metaphor for Singapore - a comfortable city paradise. The first test of stepping out of my comfort zone was when I was posted to other developing countries for work e.g. Vietnam, Philippines and Thailand. It was definitely challenging to adapt to a new environment and cultures, but nonetheless rewarding experiences!

Location: Country

Singapore

Location: State or Department

Singapore

Location: City

Singapore

Tell us more about you / your team

Hi! I’m Jun, the founder of Fables - an early education start up. We believe that education in most countries is still highly focused on acquiring skills and knowledge. But there are some important life lessons which we learn too late as adults e.g. dealing with failure, disappointment, rejection. Hence we are on a mission to make it easy for parents to teach life’s most important lessons to children at an early age. Our goal is to provide the next generation of kids with the best start to life! How do we define what are "important lessons"? We know that experience is the best teacher, so each of our stories is inspired from our personal journeys of dealing with setbacks. The stories we write about are a result of what we have learnt through that process. We want to promote good values at scale, and are looking to partner with education non-profits that emphasize the importance of reading (e.g. reading programs) to run donation drives to kids in need.

Provide an example visual identity for a look and feel you might like to achieve. ( (optional question, 3-5 visuals)

I'm currently working with an illustrator for initial sketches of characters (Blushy and Coco) and the book cover. I have 3 design principles: 1) Imaginative: Adult and real world logic don't apply. Children live in their own imaginative world, hence the characters of "Before the Sun Sets" and the world they live in have fun features that provoke curiosity and questions with kids. 2) Vibrant: Mood & tone is uplifting 3) Simple: Visually non-cluttered. Few details, clean lines

Multiple Choice - Have you been previously published (online, self-published, and print included)?

  • No

Do you have an agent?

  • No

How did you hear about the Challenge? (optional question)

  • LitWorld

What best describes you? (optional question)

  • We are an early education start up

16 comments

Join the conversation:

Comment
Photo of Ann Malaspina
Team

I think young readers will enjoy your characters and the theme of friendship. I think in the future you could experiment with writing in prose instead of rhyme and see how it turns out. You will have more freedom as a writer to develop the story without worrying about the rhyme. Good luck!

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