The Hedwig Anuar Children’s Book Award (HABA) is presented biennially to an outstanding children’s book written by a Singapore citizen or Permanent Resident. Six books have been shortlisted for HABA 2020. Find out more about the books below!


  • To encourage the quality and quantity of books published for children; 
  • To promote the publication of books, set in a familiar and meaningful background that is relevant to the Singapore children.

The award ceremony for HABA 2020 will be held online for the first time and will be live-streamed on the Asian Festival of Children’s Content (AFCC)’s Facebook on 4 October 2020 at 6.00pm (SGT).



The six shortlisted works were selected from a record number of 87 submissions for the award. Since the award was established in 2011, the number of submissions for the award has increased with every edition. Four of the six shortlisted authors have been shortlisted for the first time for HABA.

The authors and illustrators who are shortlisted for the first time for HABA include Eisner-nominated comic artist Drewscape (Andrew Tan), publisher Ekkers (Goh Eck Kheng), film director Ken Kwek, animator Lim An-ling, Nanyang Academy of Fine Arts student Lolita Chiong, Singapore Literature Prize winner Peh Shing Huei, book editor Lynette Teo and illustrative designer Xinnie Ng. Author-illustrators Ben Lai and Quek Hong Shin complete the shortlist.


“It was not an easy deliberation with so many entries of such high quality. We considered each entry in its appeal to its intended audience and how it would measure up in its own genre. Generally, we kept to the criteria guidelines—literary merit, visual merit, readership appeal, and originality, The shortlisted books stood out from the rest in their masterful narration of original subject content with a strong interplay of text and visuals.

We are indeed privileged to have read and viewed such a wide array of children’s books that are locally written. We are heartened that among us exist such promising writers and illustrators that are on their way to making a mark not just locally but also internationally. We look forward to a rich and vibrant scene in children’s literature especially in a world we can call our own”.


by Ekkers (Goh Eck Kheng) / Illustrated by Lim An-ling

Jun has a secret. It is about Mok, the uncle from the neighbouring village who has come to help Ma and Pa. Jun is happy that Mok has taught him how to swim, but there is something that Mok does which worries him and gives him nightmares. What should Jun do? What will happen to him?

Ekkers (Goh Eck Kheng) is a book editor and the founder of publishing house Landmark Books. He is a keen photographer and potter, and also a long-time collector of children's books. He was the chairman of the Speak Good English Movement and participated in a volunteer children’s reading programme at one-room HDB flats. Eck Kheng is the author of two children’s books, Jun and the Octopus and Friends, A Counting Book

Lim An-ling is an animator and illustrator. Her hand-made animated short film has been shown in major animation festivals. She has illustrated fiction and non-fiction books for both adults and children. She has also worked on mixed media projects for the Singapore Discovery Centre and illustrated several issues of Singapore stamps.


by Ken Kwek / Illustrated by Lolita Chiong

Kelly Mao has got quite the headache: her tiger mum is threatening to ground her, her tuition timetable barely gives her time to eat, and she suspects her twin brother is up to something. On top of everything, the PSLE is looming! When the pressure gets too intense, Kelly decides to secretly join a dance crew called the Krumps, but slowly she gets entangled in her brother’s troubles with an evil genius named Fang Boy.

Ken Kwek is a screenwriter, film director, playwright and author of the best-selling Timothy and the Phubbers, his first children's novel. Ken studied literature at the University of Cambridge and dramatic writing at New York University. He worked as a journalist and a cook for a few years, then wrote and directed several movies.

Lolita Chiong is the illustrator of Timothy and the Phubbers. She is currently studying illustration with animation at Nanyang Academy of Fine Arts. She loves drawing cartoons, pixel art and comics. In her spare time, Lolita loves going to the bird park to draw the birds, and the prawning pools to catch prawns. She also loves eating chicken nuggets with her boyfriend.


by Peh Shing Huei / Illustrated by Drewscape (Andrew Tan)

Panjang is the tallest kid around. He hates standing out, but little does he know, he's on his way to greater heights…This book tells the childhood story of Singapore's second prime minister, Goh Chok Tong, and how he conquered his self-consciousness to become a leader. This "tall" tale inspires children to embrace the things that make them different.

Peh Shing Huei is a Singapore Literature Prize-winning author of several books, including the bestseller Neither Civil Nor Servant: The Philip Yeo Story. He is a founding partner of content agency The Nutgraf, and former news editor and China bureau chief at The Straits Times.

Drewscape (Andrew Tan) is a freelance illustrator and an Eisner-nominated comic artist. He is the author of two graphic novels- Monsters, Miracles and  Mayonnaise and The Ollie Comics: Diary of a first-time dad. He enjoys experimenting with new art styles and drawing tools. His illustrations can be found in the children's series Sherlock Sam, magazines like the Young Parents, print ads and picture books.


by Quek Hong Shin

In this sequel to The Amazing Sarong, a beautiful Chinese wedding basket is used in myriad ways. Xiaoming delivers a batch of ang ku kueh with the basket, then fashions it into a prop for a lion dance. When the sun beats down on him, he repurposes the basket's cover as a hat! At home in a second-floor shophouse, the basket is attached to a rope to pass a comic book and a bowl of noodles.

Quek Hong Shin is a freelance illustrator who has illustrated several picture books including The Amazing Sarong, Lolly's Secret and the Ahoy, Navy! series for RSN's 50th anniversary. The Amazing Sarong was shortlisted for Best Children's Title at the Singapore Book Awards 2016. He conducts workshops for primary school children and is an advocate for Superhero Me, an inclusive arts movement for children with special needs.


by Ben Lai

No child is an island! Join Ah Girl in her day-to-day interactions with her family and friends. Discover local culture and icons while exploring the many ways we can achieve more when we work and play with others.

A multidisciplinary designer and illustrator, Ben Lai is a picture bookmaker and an advocate of play. He draws inspiration from things that enable people to appreciate their relationships with our surroundings and people.


by Lynette Teo / Illustrated by Xinnie Ng

While A always gets to be first and Z has the final say, X and O are the quiet overachievers of the lot. X and O are BFFs! is a warm and light-hearted tale about X and O—best friends, partners in crime, the yin and the yang. This story is an engaging read about how X and O together, have a role in the language of love, music and play.

When Lynette Teo isn’t thinking up fun escapades for X and O, she is, oddly enough, a full-time copywriter. She is also a wife, daughter, sister, and a lucky mom to a happy and energetic five-year-old girl who inspires her to be better every single day. You can find more writing by Lynette at her blog, where she muses about parenting and other stuff.

Fuelled by the love of creative exploration, Xinnie Ng creates and concocts illustrative designs that brew and balance a love for the handwritten and digital. Born and bred in Singapore, her background in art, industrial design and intense people-watching guide her creative process and perspective.


Which of the six books that have made the HABA shortlist will win the Hedwig Anuar Children’s Book Award at this year’s AFCC?

Pop over to AFCC’s Facebook Page and make a guess in the comment section in the contest post.
If your guess is correct, you will stand a chance to win a book voucher to AFCC’s official bookstore, Closetful of Books.


Dr Donna Lim (Chief Judge) is a lecturer with the National Institute of Education, Nanyang Technological University, Singapore. She specialises in primary English Language methodology. Her interest area is in developing literacy with a focus on teaching writing. She has considerable teaching experience with young learners and finds it fulfilling to work with fellow educators to enhance EL teaching and learning. Dr Lim serves as the Chief Judge for HABA 2020. 

Charles Santoso loves drawing little things in his little journal and dreaming about funny, wondrous stories. He gathers inspiration from his childhood memories and curiosities he discovers in his everyday travels. He has illustrated books for publishers in the USA such as Simon & Schuster, Scholastic, Harper Collins, Penguin Random House, Disney Hyperion, Abrams, Bloomsbury, Little Brown and MacMillan. He has also illustrated the New York Times bestseller Wishtree book by Katherine Applegate.

Lee Kow Fong (Ah Guo) holds a Postgraduate Diploma in Translation and Interpretation from Nanyang Technological University and received his MA in Children’s Book Illustration from Anglia Ruskin University in 2011. Besides teaching part-time at Ngee Ann Polytechnic, he is also actively involved in the promotion and creation of children’s picture books in Singapore. So far, he has published near to 20 books and is now a full-time illustrator.

About Mrs Hedwig Anuar

Mrs Hedwig Anuar was the first Singaporean Director of the National Library of Singapore, a position she held from 1960 until her retirement in 1988. She put in place the foundations of the modern library system in Singapore and made contributions to all aspects of library work. This award recognises her outstanding contribution to children's librarianship and the promotion of books and reading for children.

View past HABA winners here