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Singaporean Author Josef Lee Makes the White Ravens List

A title by author and illustrator Josef Lee of Singapore is included in the 2023 White Ravens catalogue. 

The International Youth Library (IYL) is located in Munich, Germany. It specializes in children’s and young adult literature from around the world and is the largest library of its kind.  

Each year, the IYL publishes a “White Ravens” catalogue that includes 200 notable and newly published books for young people. Author and illustrator Josef Lee of Singapore made it into the 2023 edition with his latest picture book, When A Wolf in Sheep’s Skin Meets a Sheep in Wolf’s Skin.  

“I’ve always liked fairy tales and bedtime stories,” Lee told me in a recent interview. “I started thinking about the story a few years ago and about what type of story I’d like to read.”

Lee recalled that when he read fairy tales as a child, there was always a big, bad wolf. “This time around,” he said, “I wanted to write a story where the wolf was not so bad.”

In the book, the wolf and the sheep overcome stereotypes about each other to become friends. 


Lee told Eden that he was “very surprised” to be honored for his latest picture book.  


Over the years, White Ravens catalogues have spotlighted books from 84 countries in 30 different languages. Titles that have a wide international appeal are selected. 

Until this year, only four books by Singaporean authors had been included in the catalogues. I asked Lee how it felt to be a rare honoree. “I was very surprised,” he said, laughing. “I wondered who had submitted my book to the International Youth Library.”

It turns out that no one had. Librarians from around the world look for great books in the review copies and donations they receive.


Lee's book was written in English and translated into Chinese. 


Lee describes himself as an artist “who tells stories through pictures.” He has several talents, including as an award-winning designer. To date, he has published eight picture books and one novel adaptation.

Lee’s latest story about a wolf and a sheep isn’t finished. “When I planned the book, it was always with a series in mind,” he said.

He thought that his second book would focus on the wolf. But 80% of young readers reported that they liked the sheep character better. “Right now,” Lee said, “the second story will focus more on the sheep.”

Lee hopes to finish writing the sequel this year. When asked his advice for aspiring authors and illustrators, he had a lot to say. “Continue to write, and continue to draw,” he suggested. “Try to get your books out there. You have to start somewhere. How I started is that I like to tell stories. I had been putting them online for many years until one day, a publisher spotted one of my books.”


Lee created a small drawing and message for readers of Kids Press. 


Photo courtesy of the author