Palanca awardee launches 1st children’s book in Dumaguete
DUMAGUETE CITY, Negros Oriental––A recipient of the Don Carlos Palanca Memorial Awards for Literature (Palanca Awards) on Sunday launched his first children’s book at the Dakong Balay Art Gallery in this city.
Ian Rosales Casocot, a novelist, released a 16-page picture book titled “The Great Little Hunter.”
The book is about a boy named Ngayam whose fearful fantasies triggered by the dark conjure Philippine lower mythology’s monsters – a wak-wak, a sigbin, and a tikbalang – and how Ngayam eventually masters his nightmares by befriending the monsters.
This narrative is familiar to the author as it mirrors his mental health struggle.
“I, too, was and still am afraid of the dark,” Casocot said during the book signing at Dakong Balay. “Over time, I realized that it is okay to venture into the despairing dark and confront what you fear.”
“That was the story I wanted to tell children – that you can prevail versus the darkness by befriending the very monsters that haunt you.”
Casocot admits that crafting a children’s book was new to him despite having penned critically acclaimed novels such as “Beautiful Accidents” and “Heartbreak & Magic: Stories of Fantasy and Horror.”
“It’s not easy to write for children,“ Casocot said. “You have to understand the parameters in terms of language and vocabulary, word count, and appeal while being mindful not to underestimate this audience’s comprehension and sophistication.”
Casocot was quick to admit that prose alone could not fully convey the book’s message.
“Without the art, we would not have the immediacy and the compelling visual poetry that lure us into the story,” Casocot said.
This led to a collaboration with Hersley-Ven Casero, the celebrated visual artist behind the iconic Laughing Boy image.
“Hersley understands me and, more importantly, the tale of Ngayam,” Casocot said.
“Thanks to him (Casero), we now have an interconnected visual narrative where each picture spills into the next with almost magical continuity.”
While it was crucial for Casero to represent Ngayam’s evolving story through visual art, he, stressed the importance of making the illustrations truly Filipino.
“I wanted our book to preserve our culture as Ngayam’s tale unfolds,” Casero explained.
“I tried to show glimmers of our beautiful peculiarities – from Philippine mythological creatures to the flora and fauna you will discover in the book,” he added.
To retain the value and uniqueness of the book, publishers have decided to put out only 100 copies of The Great Little Hunter – all numbered and signed by Casocot and Casero themselves. Limited copies are now available at www.inspired.ph.
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