Author: Si-Hoe S.S. & Sim Ee Waun
Illustrator: Lim An-ling
Number of pages: 172
Adventure-loving Sing and her enormous family are back in this sequel to The House on Palmer Road.
Set in World War II Singapore, The House on Silat Road tells the adventures and experiences of nine-year-old Sing and her family during the Japanese Occupation. Barely have they moved into their big new house on a hill which Father built, that the first Japanese bombs fall on Singapore and their idyllic life is turned upside down.
Through Sing’s simple but vivid storytelling, readers witness some of the most iconic events in Singapore’s history—the Battle for Singapore, the fall of the island, the Sook Ching and finally the return of the Allies. Follow Sing and her family as they do their best to survive the Japanese Occupation—buying groceries under ration, growing their own vegetables, outwitting the Japanese while having English lessons, and listen to rumours of the outside world from people with hidden radios. Then through Sing’s eyes, witness historic events that are not often described—the first Allied bombings as they re-take Singapore, the incredible shower of leaflets that announced the end of war, the seaborne return of the Allied Fleet, amongst others.
Based on the childhood of 85-year-old author Si-Hoe S.S., the authors hope to bring readers into the life of an ordinary family in Singapore in these tumultuous times—from how unprepared people were for the reality of war to their tenacity and resilience when the worst actually happened.
This book also brings alive again the exceptional house built by Si-Hoe’s father, a self-made man of particular foresight. Anticipating that the war would come, the contractor had bought land on a hill and expressly built the house as high as he could to gain a vantage point of the surroundings. In the house, he also built a secret hidden floor, and a garage strategically tucked into the hillside which turned into a bomb shelter.
All these and more are captured vividly in over 40 illustrations by Singaporean artist Lim An-ling who drew them using references from photos and models of the house which had long been torn down.
Above all, The House on Silat Road is a story about hope and strength of ordinary people who lived through extraordinary times, and indeed the triumph of the child. For even in the darkest times, Sing and her siblings found happy moments, from the simple pleasure of getting scraps of candy, catching worms for chickens to sneaking a ride on a stubborn mule.
In its happy ending, The House on Silat Road pays tribute to the brave Singaporeans and all others who endured the war here, and who emerged the finest generation of our times.
This book is supported by the National Heritage Board and Our Singapore Fund.