NOTE: Don Bosco is the author of the award-winning LION CITY ADVENTURES series, about a society of children dedicated to exploring Singapore, making new friends and solving mysteries. This post is part of a series about the creative inspiration behind the books, the publishing process, etc.

For Secrets of the Heartlands, Book 2 of the Lion City Adventures series, I wrote about the old housing estates of Singapore. The neighbourhoods where people have lived and raised families and kept their communities alive with fun and food and family gatherings. It was a celebration of everyday life and everyday people.

But for Island of Legends, Book 3, I wanted to explore another side of Singapore. Its superheroes. The stuff of legends!

When you’re young, superhero stories are particularly captivating. They feature interesting characters, blessed with a special power or two, or a rare talent, doing their best to be helpful to others, even to the point of making a really big sacrifice.

What makes such a story work is not the special power that the superhero has. Instead, it’s the scale of the challenge that she has to tackle. How big is the danger? How dangerous is the journey? What will happen if she fails?

For children, it’s a lot more fun to encounter superheroes who might not be that super themselves. Characters who fumble, panic, get distracted, make silly jokes. But by the end of the book, we want to see that they’ve managed to pull their act together and finish their adventure, solve the mystery, win the prize.

It’s also a real joy to read about superheroes that come from our own communities. We feel like we are part of their world, and we actually own them in some way.

Princess Radin Mas Ayu, for example, who lived about five hundred years ago, was known during her time for her beauty. But she’s now remembered across the ages for her bravery instead, because at the top of the hill, where Fort Canning is today, she tried to save her father from some treacherous enemies in the royal court.

Or take the example of the young boy who came up with the idea to build a long wall made of banana stems, so that the killer swordfish would get stuck in them when they tried to attack the fishermen. With his clever invention he managed to save an entire village from the savage attacks.

Or take another example, the magical turtle of Kusu Island, which appeared one day during a terrible storm and saved two old friends who were lost out at sea and had no hope of getting back safely.

These might look like humble folk tales, but at the heart of it they are truly superhero stories. Our very own superhero stories!

Children need superheroes that they can relate to. That they can identify with. That they understand, and feel like they have a connection to in some way. It’s so much fun to insert my jokes here and there too.

This is how we help keep the legends alive for another generation!


Book 1: Lion City Adventures

Book 2: Secrets of the Heartlands

Book 3: Island of Legends

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Yes, SECRETS OF THE HEARTLANDS (Lion City Adventures, Book 2) has been nominated for this year’s POPULAR READERS’ CHOICE award. Please take some time to vote for your favourite books, and you might win a $50 voucher plus 1 year Popular card membership. For readers in Singapore only.

Vote and win here:

For updates about Don Bosco’s new book projects, visit the Super Cool Books website here.