Our first five books have been printed, all aimed at making it fun and easy for young children to read. Since we weren't yet a registered business at the time, we published these in cooperation with Dokked, a respected Vientiane publisher.
The Vientiane Times has run a story about Khamla, Thongkham, and Big Brother Mouse.
Our sixth book has been published, in cooperation with Action with Lao Children, an NGO that has been working for many years to establish libraries and distribute books all over Laos.
Update magazine in Vientiane has run a story about Big Brother Mouse.
Khamla has received his official business license as well as the publishing license needed to operate Big Brother Mouse. Now we can publish our books under our own name!
Sasha gives a writing workshop, sponsored by Room to Read, for young writers in Vientiane. We continue to work with Room to Read to get books into more villages in Laos.
We've opened our first shop and office in the center of Luang Prabang. Visitors to Laos can see what we're doing, and buy books to take to villages in Laos, or to take home as gifts.
The World Bank will feature Big Brother Mouse in a booklet about sustainable tourism, suggesting activities that visitors can enjoy, while also helping to improve living conditions for people in Laos.
Seven more books just rolled off the press, bringing us to a total of 13, including our first book suitable for teenagers.
We've already outgrown our first shop, so we've opened a second location in Luang Prabang. Here we invite visitors to help local young people practice English, or play with local children. Families are especially welcome!
High season is arriving in Laos. Visitors are working with our local staff to write books, teach computer skills, or take books into far-off villages.
Our office in Vientiane opened in late December, opposite Wat Mixay.
The year started with five more books coming off the press, bringing us to a total of 18. The new titles include
Dinosaurs! – our second non-fiction book for older readers.
We have had several more book parties in the villages around Luang Prabang. Our staff is gaining valuable experience introducing our books into these communities, and creating a fun-filled afternoon for the kids. The energy level at these events is very high, and both our Lao staff and the village kids have a great time playing and interacting together.
"Stay Another Day," the booklet sponsored by the World Bank to highlight sustainable tourism in Laos, has brought many new visitors to our shop. Big Brother Mouse is prominently featured on the cover, and we're the first project listed after the Information Center. Check out the Stay Another Day website for more interesting projects in Laos.
Khamla and Sasha spoke at the "Creativity and Madness" conference of the American Institute of Medical Education in Bangkok. As the only speakers without a string of initials after our names, we were a bit unsure how we'd fit in. However, from the enthusiastic comments we received afterwards and the invitation to come back two days later for a discussion group, we must have piqued their interest.
Our goal, one year ago as our first books rolled off press, was to produce 30 books in our first year. On March 28, we sent our 29th and 30th books to press.
Book number 29 was our Lao Animals Coloring Book, with short captions in Lao, English, and Hmong.
It's our first book to include the Hmong language, and our first book with a sponsor: thank you, Bob King!
The 30th book was a classic, The Story of Dr. Dolittle, delightfully illustrated by 15-year-old Chittakone.
Travel Indochina, an Australia-based tour agency, has agreed to sponsor our forthcoming Animals of Australia, which our superhuman volunteer, Jane Burren, will soon finish writing. This is our third sponsorship; thank you!
Vanhsai has been working with Ron Wheeler, a volunteer with woodworking experience, to open a small workshop where we can make toys, games, and puzzles. Thank you to Colin Cotterill for helping us make that connection.
We've made return visits to some of the villages where we did book parties, and left swap boxes as "mini-libraries". In each location, the books were still available – sometimes continuously, sometimes just at certain times each week, but often enough. Many of the children still carried their book with them, and could discuss the books they had read.
Our biggest book to date, a children's Picture Dictionary by 18-year-old Tha Thao, is printed. Tha Tao selected 550 words, drew a picture for each word, then learned the desktop publishing skills to lay out the pages. His current project, Do You Want to See?, was inspired by Bill Martin Jr. and Eric Carle's book Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See? It involves cutting colored paper to make pictures of animals.
With the end of the school year, we'll stop book parties for three months. We are now looking for funding to increase this program in the next school year.
In February we began trying to get permission to publish Lao editions of several important books. The first is now approved: Anne Frank's Diary of a Young Girl. Thank you to the Anne Frank Foundation of Switzerland, and Butterfly House in Thailand, for their generous cooperation.
Tax laws and organizational structures are different in Laos than in many western countries. Big Brother Mouse is officially organized as a business, but while we hope to one day be a self-sustaining publishing company, for many years we will depend on donations to fund distribution of books to rural villages, and our educational activities. We have just received an official "tax exempt" status from the provincial tax department, for this educational work.
The new school year began in September, and we arranged with the Education Department to hold more book parties at schools in rural villages. The first three just took place on Oct. 17-25, and we're training three new people on our staff, so we can do more.
Now you can get a full description, see the cover, and read two sample pages, from all of our published books and some that are forthcoming. A link for each title is on our books page.
If you were at Luang Prabang's Fire Boat festival on Oct. 27, you must have seen a large-eared mouse proudly riding in one boat.
We were proud too. Like many creative initiatives here, the boat and mouse were the work of Sonesulilat, who has written songs and devised games for our book parties, and is working on several books. And he won't celebrate his 18th birthday until 2008!
Three new book sponsors have recently come forward. Thank you to Viengchampa Tours, the first Lao-owned business to sponsor a book (Aesop's Fables);
Julie McIntyre for sponsoring Baby Care; and George Grubb (Ancient Egypt).
We have permission to publish a Lao translation of Dalton Trumbo's anti-war classic, Johnny Got His Gun. Thank you to Christopher Trumbo for his fast and generous cooperation on this.
Books are our main focus, but we also want to be responsible citizens. Some of the most important elements of Lao culture are being eroded in Luang Prabang by thoughtless tourists who are oblivious to our customs. In cooperation with the Luang Prabang Provincial Tourism Department, we've prepared an illustrated brochure with suggestions for visitors, which is given out at the Luang Prabang airport. Here's what we'd like visitors to know about Lao culture and customs.
Archived News from 2006-2007. From 2008.
Publishers Weekly, the leading U.S. magazine for publishers, wrote about Big Brother Mouse.