IB: Why did you become a children’s books author/illustrator? Where you interested in stories and pictures as a child, or was it your own child that needed stories, or is it a way to make the world a better place to live in?
MB: When I started to establish the Society for the Advancement of Children’s Literature in 1987, means 26 years ago, my primary attention was to develop children’s reading in Indonesia. I want the parents to instill reading habit to their children which is very important to their education and upbringing. I also wanted to encourage the improvement of the quality of children’s books in Indonesia.
So, it was a coincidence that I now become also a children’s book writer and it proves that this is a good way to know children more directly and personally. And I am happy about my own development in my relation with children and children’s books. I am also a researcher on children’s book in Indonesia. But I always put myself as a promoter of reading. First and foremost I travel in many villages and schools in Indonesia for this purposes.
IB: Do you write also for adults?
MB: No, so far I haven’t write reading books for adult. Perhaps never, but we will see in the future. So far I have written two guide books, one for researcher on folktales and one for parents on storytelling and reading promotion.
IB: Do you believe that children’s books should be read by grown ups as well?
MB: Yes, I believe that adults (teachers, parents, publishers, editors, illustrators, educators, etc) should also read children’s books. Otherwise they do not know what they are doing to promote reading habit and make better the quality of children’s books. And in fact, adults can also learn a lot from good children’s books.
IB: Do you remember when and where your first text/illustration was published?
MB: My first book was published in 1997, coincidently, when I was asked to lead a publication of three folktales and I couldn’t find one more good manuscript while the deadline was already approaching and I am happy as my first book received the Honorary Mention of The Janusz Korczak International Literary Prize (1998) from Poland. Then I continue to retell folktales into picture books.
IB: What are you working on right now?
MB: At the moment I still have many programmes for reading promotion that I still have to fulfill, so I am not writing a new manuscript. But a publisher has asked me to write new books and I agree to do so. In a few months to come, I will start to work on it.