by Lausanne Barlaan

THE STORY

Bumasa at Lumaya 2 is the second installment of the first ever resource and reference book on Philippine children’s literature. Edited by Ani Rosa Almario, Neni Sta. Romana Cruz and Ramon Sunico, and featuring works by renowned children’s literature writers like Rene O. Villanueva, Eugene Y. Evasco and Dr. Luis P. Gatmaitan, Bumasa at Lumaya 2 shares information on the current state of local children’s literature, offers different perspectives from different aspects of the industry and lays down the many opportunities left for children’s literature.

WHAT I LIKED

When you hear the words “reference” and “sourcebook,” you sometimes think of long blocks of text and boring content. That is not the case, thankfully, with Bumasa at Lumaya 2. Perhaps it is because of its subject matter (children’s literature, a kind of literature that is one of the least dreary), but also probably because of the impeccable arrangement of the book sections. Philippine children’s literature luminary Rene Villanueva sets off the book with a poem as fun a read as his stories, setting the mood for the rest of the book. You know you’re in for an interesting read.

The book offers a holistic look at the Philippine children’s literature industry through its various sections. “Looking Back” walks readers through the developments in local children’s literature. In an essay by Eugene Evasco highlighting the developments in Philippine children’s literature from 2000-2013, readers are presented with little known but very uplifting information on significant developments like picture book mobile applications and the international acclaim they’ve been reaping.

“The Writer’s Heart” gives the point of view of children’s literature writers and offers essays on writing for children, poetry for children and retelling old children’s stories for the current generation. This section offers valuable insight on budding children’s literature writers, reiterating the need to offer children not just whimsy but also the truth, and that children, even in their earliest stages of development, are capable of understanding much more than what adults credit them for.

“Writers Speak” features forums and essays from children’s literature writers and tackles their writing process, young adult literature in the country and writing nonfiction for children. The Writer’s Forum 2008 is a good avenue to learn about the people that make up the industry, find out how they got started and how they work. Much like the Writer’s Forum, Sulataktakan also offers helpful insight not just for children’s literature writers but writers in general, with gems like:

“Stories are everywhere. We don’t always find them, but they’re there. We’re not always ready to see them, we’re not always ready to write them, but they’re there. We just need to pick them up.”—Mailin Paterno Locsin in 2011

Carla Pacis and Ramon Sunico’s essay on Young Adult Literature in the country does not shy away from sharing the reality of the form, how YA literature fights for its growth despite discrimination from people in the industry. Mailin Paterno Locsin’s essay on “Telling the Truth: Nonfiction for Children” presents writers with a challenge to create interesting nonfiction at par with the current generation’s easy access to information portals like Google.

“Know what you don’t know, and be willing to find out.”—Mailin Paterno Locsin

“The Bookmaker’s Art” takes the reader to the side of the illustrators, the different techniques and styles and the state of illustration for children’s literature in the country. The section is an interesting take on the other side of the children’s literature spectrum. It outlines the stunning growth of children’s book illustration in the country, and gives hope to aspiring illustrators that there is a lot of material to work with – from picture books to comics – enough to last a sustainable career in illustration.

“The Reader’s Part” is a guide of sorts on building love for reading in children, as well as getting started in creating community libraries. Reading about community libraries like The Library That Could provides inspiration that might just inspire the next big library that will cater to the young readers in the country.

Bumasa at Lumaya 2 concludes with “Book Reading and Learning,” where acclaimed Philippine children’s literature writers discuss teaching reading.

The book put in laudable effort to provide a guide on how to help grow Philippine children’s literature. The different perspectives offered in Bumasa at Lumaya 2 inspires and educates budding writers. The essays, though nonfiction and loaded with information, never feel tedious, supplemented with recognizably Filipino illustrations by Ruben De Jesus. Featuring simple yet striking sketches of Filipino children, the illustrations make readers feel that they are looking at themselves as children, and gives a feeling of wanting to continuously see in children in the peaceful state of reading.

HOWEVER…

The book does not have much to improve upon, with the already exceptional range of essays and insights on children’s literature. However, maybe due to the fact that Bumasa at Lumaya 2 is still in its first year of printing, there were some typographical errors that can hopefully be edited in the next printing (which we hope there is).

tl;dr

Whether you’re a reader, a writer or just an enthusiast of children’s literature, Bumasa at Lumaya 2 offers you something useful: be it reading suggestions, writing advice or just a chance to learn from established Philippine children’s literature writers. It’s an informative and interesting read that’s sure to entice even non-readers of children’s literature. Do yourself a favor and read this book, share it with others and help develop children’s literature in the country. Our kids deserve it. ☁

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