He’s brilliant and amazing to look at.
It feels great to come across a book that you can keep, give away and pass around, all because it contains themes that everyone can enjoy and learn from. 😊
Musings on the Moon – Loony Rhymes for Playful Minds is one such book, what with its entertaining rhymes and thought-provoking tales. In fact, the team behind the project says it’s meant “for kids of all ages”.
“We wanted to bring back simple, classical stories with positive values and encouraging messages in a fun, engaging way that we hoped kids today can still somewhat relate to, especially in view of the types of wildly distracting and overwhelming content out there,” states author Florence Lim, or Flo-Jo.
“We also think the stories (in Musings on the Moon) are relatable to adults because they can easily recognise and access the deeper meanings in them.”
Musings on the Moon follows Mau, the main character. Flo-Jo describes him as “a brave, fun-loving, curious and nice cat who loves adventuring and challenging boundaries”.
“I think as project creators, we both aspire to be like Mau, although we certainly fall short!” (By “we”, Flo-Jo is referring to the book’s artist Rex Lee, whose input is included in her answers here. More on Rex and the rest of the team later.)
“But this is why we created him – he’s like the best parts of what we want for ourselves, and he’s also allowed to be silly and fail and still be happy with himself, and grow in a positive way regardless.”
It shows in their favourite parts of the book, and their personal interpretations of them. (It also offers you a glimpse of what Musings on the Moon is about, and how it will make you think.)
How would you interpret the following lines and stories? 😊
#1 From “Teatime”:
“If upon your cake you feed,
Your cake shall be no more.”
“I don’t know about most people, but as a child I often struggled with the English idiom about why I couldn’t have my cake and eat it too,” Flo-Jo muses.
“Its meaning simply did not translate well for me, and it took a while before I accepted that, well, in a literal sense, I guess once you eat your cake then it’s gone and you can’t have it anymore.
“But then there was a fighter in me that would question why, why, why. And even as an adult, I recognise that this idiom does not sit well with my own belief system. Yes, I get that one should not endeavour to bite more than one can chew, or incline oneself towards greed. But I think it’s just one of those sayings that makes me sit up and think, ‘Why not? If I can push boundaries and create a new solution out of a situation that first appeared to limit my options, why shouldn’t I endeavour to attempt it?’
“Yes, I understand it’s a fine line,” she adds. “I’m not advocating that lines should be pushed at the expense of someone or something else in a negative way. But I definitely would encourage people to think outside the box when presented with limitations. That’s why the cat eats the mouse in the end.” (Me: Yikes.)
#2 “Tiny Island”
“I think another piece that was quite personal was ‘Tiny Island’. I had just returned from Sweden earlier in the year, and was quarantined for two weeks at a hotel in Sentosa,” Flo-Jo recalls.
“I wasn’t used to being confined, and quite frankly was rather depressed by the entire situation and how the global lockdowns were affecting millions of jobs and lives in very significant ways that were being played down in favour of a fear-based narrative. I’m not going into this because it’s a very complex issue that deserves a lot more thought and discussion. But that was the mood that drove me to dream about freedom, and about the courage to create something positive no matter how confining the circumstances may be.
“In particular, aside from feeling very much for people around the world who were suffering tremendously in ways that we cannot even fathom (being fortunate as we are to be in Singapore), my heart went out to my peers in the local creative industry because our work and lifestyles were seriously threatened,” she explains.
“So all that drove me to create these stories. To uplift. And to show that we can still work hard and continue to create meaningful content and beauty in this world, because we will not be stopped by this pandemic.”
Their first group of readers would probably agree, and understand where Flo-Jo is coming from. “We’ve passed the book around to as diverse a group of readers from different parts of the world as was available within reach, to get the feedback we wanted,” Flo-Jo reveals.
“We think the process was very enlightening and helpful, and it was encouraging to know that our delivery was simple enough to cut through cultural, age and gender barriers. It was most important to us to know that the stories could delight people and make them smile, and it seemed like the readers who sampled them enjoyed them. Each had their own unique take on the stories, and people found the themes easy to relate to, which was very encouraging to us.”
They also gave Flo-Jo and the team a boost. “We’ve read (the book) ourselves maybe over a hundred times, haha,” she jokes. “And after several edits, I suppose you just get to a point where you know enough is enough, and that you’re just happy with the choice of art and words, and happy to leave the rest up to the reader to make what they will of it all.
“But we can honestly say that we’re happy with it – we feel we’ve achieved what we wanted for it, which is to uplift others.”
It’s the look
Yes, it’s the stories and lessons from Musings on the Moon that will stay with us – but so will the images.
Because before you even get to the first word, it’s the hand-drawn, pen-and-ink drawings that will strike you and move you. And it’s all thanks to Rex.
It’s true: With Rex’s work on Musings on the Moon, we are able to connect with Mau better. “Mau is the best of you and me put together in a cuddly package that makes him a favourite friend we want to be with, and sometimes be like,” Flo-Jo declares.
Plus the process of creating Musings on the Moon brought out the child in them too.
“I think there was a genuine purity of spirit in our cause. We felt the pain of the gloom around us, and looked inward for inspiration to uplift others with our craft,” she maintains, considering that most of their work on the book happened during the pandemic and global lockdowns.
“We naturally fell back to certain values and things we grew up with as children. It all sort of came together and translated itself into Musings on the Moon.”
The book is a first for their company, Bold Ideas Studio, which was founded by Flo-Jo, Rex, Mark Lim and Damian Lee. Flo-Jo tells us it’s a creative firm that specialises in a range of advertising, design and marketing solutions.
“We started out wanting to create beautiful and meaningful content for everyone. This was in part also in view of the events of this year,” Flo-Jo remarks.
“We’d like to think that all kids, big and small, would find something refreshing or familiar in the (book’s) story themes, whether by discovery or personal experience. We’d like for people to be able to relate to the stories in their own ways, while underlining some familiar and timeless values that keep us all going in life.”
It might also help us rediscover things, don’t you think? So who will you share Musings on the Moon with? 😊
P.S. The photos are courtesy of Flo-Jo and Rex. ↓