Author-illustrator Lipei Huang

Curious to know more the illustrator who created the cover of the new English edition of The Ventriloquist’s Daughter by LIN Man-Chiu, I tracked down Lipei HUANG 黃立佩 (it wasn’t difficult!) and asked if she’d tell us about herself and her work. Thank you, Lipei, for responding so quickly and in English!

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Lipei Huang’s logo @LipeiHuangIllustration

Hi Lipei, who are you? where are you? Please tell us about yourself! What would you like people to know about you?

Hi there! I’m a freelancing illustrator from Taiwan, currently living in Taipei. Actually, my work for The Ventriloquist’s Daughter was created when I was based in NYC, after graduating from the Illustration program at the School of Visual Arts.

I worked full-time for a publisher and a bookstore for the last couple of years. And I felt like switching my career back to freelancing this year. My most recent published work are the illustrations for an LGBT-themed novel for teens written by Man-Chiu Lin.

Now I’m working on a project about trees, and recently finished the field study. It was a great chance to see many kinds of plant, including a beautiful 200-and-something-year-old Coral Tree, and to taste various herbal beverages. That’s my favorite part of my job. I mean, travel experiences can be nice or bad, but planning these things is always exciting.

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Image by Lipei Huang – this is a still life of Li Ping-Yao’s book Plants Grow Towards the Sun 李屏瑤《向光植物》

The Ventriloquist’s Daughter has a very striking cover! It’s sweet and sinister at the same time. There are more colour illustrations in the original Chinese book. Could you tell us about your experience of working on this book? 

Thanks for your kind compliment! The character design was one of the most interesting parts to me. Like, since the Peruvian doll plays a significant role in the story, I spent a lot of time doing cultural research to figure out its appearance and what it might wear. The author Man-Chiu and my editor gave me a number of reference photos and suggestions too.

And, it was challenging to set the moods and style at the beginning. I found the story mysterious and gloomy, but also positive for young readers. So I decided to make it feel dark but not too scary. I did the work during the winter, when there was a snowstorm outside the window of my warm place. I guess the situation somehow helped me to get the balance.

 

(left) The English cover for The Ventriloquist’s Daughter (LIN Man-Chiu, tr. Helen Wang, Balestier Press, 2017); (right) illustration from the Chinese edition

Is the artwork you did for The Ventriloquist’s Daughter typical of your work now?

I think it’s typical in a way, yet not 100%. The work contains some elements that you can find in many of my paintings in the same media, like the way I use the color black, a simple composition, and a quiet atmosphere. I’ll adjust the style depending on subjects and clients’ need, or sometimes just for fun. I make art with different media as well. For example, recently I started to draw digitally and experiment with new color palettes.

I read somewhere that you also write? And that you create graphic novels? Could you tell us more?

I enjoy storytelling, no matter via images or words. I am the author and illustrator of two picture books, Silence Can Be Beautiful (2012) and Forever (2014). I also did Roots under Ashes for a graphic documentary anthology titled Frontline Z.A. about social movements in Taiwan. Besides, I’ve done book reviews & intros – that kind of writing – when I worked as an editor for a children’s book publisher.

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Silence Can Be Beautiful, written and illustrated  by Lipei Huang (Heryin Publishing, Taiwan, 2012) (untranslated)

Silence Can Be Beautiful: The story follows a deaf girl who views life from a different perspective. Her sister presents her with a clay whistle that creates sounds only she can hear, unleashing her imagination and broadening her world. The story reflects upon the idea that something invaluable can be gained through the loss of something else that is important.

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Forever, written and illustrated by Li Pei Huang (Liyan Books, Taiwan, 2014) (untranslated)

Forever: The story follows a little girl undergoing the loss of her mother, who signed the DNR order after finding out she had lung cancer. For the first time with only her father to celebrate her birthday, the girl receives a letter her mother prepared beforehand. The words from the girl’s mother are about memories they share, and the meaning of life and death.

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From Lipei Huang’s documentary comic Root Under Ashes, published in the anthology FRONTLINE Z.A. by sloworkpublishing.com (Image: supplied by Lipei Huang)

For more information and more images of the books mentioned here, see Lipei Huang’s website and Facebook page.

 

 

 

Who is Wenzheng Fu?

Wenzheng Fu 符文征 is the author and illustrator of the picture book Buddy Is So Annoying 《我真讨厌宝弟》 published in China in 2016, and now available in English, and in bilingual Chinese/English editions, thanks to Candied Plums and translator Adam Lanphier. This warm story about a little boy and his (sometimes annoying) friend Buddy, the boar, won a China Excellent Children’s Book Award in 2014.

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Buddy Is So Annoying 《我真讨厌宝弟》(Source: Candied Plums)

On the Candied Plums website (which is bilingual and full of interesting things like sample pages, audio books, reviews and information), we read that “Fu Wenzheng is an art professor as well as a picture book creator. She loves travelling on vacations. She is working on her next picture book The Messenger A Wen.” She has received the following awards: “Excellent Award for 2016 Golden Pinwheel Young Illustrators Competition, and The Best Children’s Books of the Year 2014.”

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Wenzheng FU 符文征 (Source: Candied Plums)

Fu is her family name, and Wenzheng is her given name. In China it’s more usual to put the family name first and call her Fu Wenzheng. The English style is to put the family name last, and call her Wenzheng Fu.

We wanted to know more! There’s not much information available in English (yet), but Minjie found an interesting interview in Chinese, and now we know a little bit more about her!

Wenzheng Fu teaches in the Cultural Products Department at Fujian Normal University’s Union College. In the interview on her college website, she says, “When I was little, I was quite a tomboy. I used to play with the neighbours’ children – three boys who were older than me, and a girl who was younger. We had such a crazy time, running about all over the place. We did exciting things and were so creative. We’d go up into the hills and bake sweet potatoes. We’d search for water snails in the river. We’d show off, and want to be the best. We’d copy each other’s homework. We’d stay out really late. We’d play “Don’t Cross the 38th Parallel” [drawing a line on the ground or table that the others weren’t to cross – referring to the dividing line between North and South Korea], and we’d be as cheeky and lippy as Sun Wukong [The Monkey King]! Buddy Is So Annoying is full of things from my childhood!”

It seems Wenzheng Fu was destined for a career in art. At kindergarten, she was always drawing with chalk on the ground. A turning point came when she scratched a picture on a brand new red metal door at home. It was a picture of Zhu Bajie [Pigsy, The Monkey King’s friend in Journey to the West]. Her parents’ solution was to send her to art classes.

Years later, Wenzheng Fu did her undergraduate studies at Fujian University’s College of Fine Art, then went to study Illustration at Zhejiang Science and Engineering University’s School of Art and Design. This was when she started creating picture books. One of the picture books she created at this time was published: Mr Crocodile Takes the Elevator 《鳄鱼先生坐电梯》. It also won a university prize and a regional prize.

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Mr Crocodile Takes the Elevator 《鳄鱼先生坐电梯》 (Source: www.yejychina.com – there are more images of the inside of the book)

Wenzheng Fu’s most recent book is Ah Shi and the Flower Patterned Cloth 《阿诗有块大花布》 (untranslated). Her striking artwork for this book – in red, white and grey – was exhibited at the Bologna Children’s Book Fair in 2017.

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Ah Shi and the Flower Patterned Cloth 《阿诗有块大花布》 (Source: weibo)

 

Wenzheng Fu is a big name in China, especially in Fujian, where she and her books were the centre of attention for World Book Day, in April 2017.

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The banner reads: “Let’s read, Fujian!” “Reading for pleasure, that’s the way to go!” 2017 World Book Day Main Event: “You Are Unique. You Are a Treasure” – a special event to share the picture books created by Wenzheng Fu

UPDATE (19 June 2017): See more of Wenzheng Fu’s work on zcool.com.cn

Stephanie Gou on how Bronze and Sunflower opened a door to her memories

Stephanie Gou (Gou Yao 勾尧) is a freelance writer based in the UK. As the mother of a daughter of pre-school age, she is looking out for good books, and has recently started reviewing children’s books from China. Her first review was about Cao Wenxuan’s Bronze and Sunflower (which she read in Chinese: 曹文轩:《青铜葵花》). The original review is in Chinese and available on WeChat. It’s interesting to see Bronze and Sunflower from Stephanie’s perspective, and, with her help, we’ve prepared an English version of it here. Continue reading

A Tree

Ett träd 1One of the most beautiful picture books that I’ve seen in the last few years is the bilingual A Tree 《树》 by the Chinese writer and illustrator San Zhi 三只. I’m not surprised that it was one of the books on the “10 picture books you can’t miss” list that we’ve written about earlier.

In very simple words and with beautiful illustrations San Zhi gives us the biography of a tree, from its “conception” as the seed sinks into the earth until the day that the tree dies and itself becomes new soil.

The illustrations are delicate, in pastel shades of green, blue-gray and brown. The tree is surrounded by animals – squirrels, foxes, birds, insects, deer, rabbits – who all benefit from it and contribute to its growth. With illustrations like these you don’t need many words to make readers see the importance of trees.

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A Tree is a bilingual book, and it seems that the author translated the book herself. San Zhi (real name: Gan Wei 甘玮) was born in Chongqing, and studied Illustration at the University of the Arts, London. In 2015 she set up the VE Art Studio (VE艺术工作室) in Chongqing.

This book is published by Tsinghua University Press and the ISBN is 978-7-302-40421-7. You can find it on the publisher’s website, on amazon.cn and on worldcat.

 

The Ventriloquist’s Daughter – now available!

The Ventriloquist’s Daughter, by Lin Man-Chiu, translated by Helen Wang, and published by Balestier Press is now available! Details here.

Read the author’s introduction “Between Fantasy and Reality” here

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Author’s name and book-title in Chinese: 林满秋:《腹語師的女兒》

 

 

Chinese literature festival in London, 12-14 May

China in Context promises to be London’s first annual literature festival celebrating Chinese writers and writing. Lots of events for all ages, and over a 1000 books from suppliers Cypress Books!

China in Context, a UK celebration of writers and writing from and about China, will be held at China Exchange from 12-14 May.  Here’s the programme – see you there!

 

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Bilingual books from Candied Plums

Candied Plums launched its first season of books in the USA a few months ago. All of them were originally written and published in Chinese and have been translated into English. Most of the books are bilingual editions. At first sight, the bilingual editions look like Chinese picture books with Chinese text and pinyin, but turn to the back of the book and you’ll find thumbnail pictures with the English translation. Continue reading

The King of Hide-and-Seek

The King of Hide-and-Seek [躲猫猫大王] / written by Zhang Xiaoling 张晓玲; illustrated by Pan Jian 潘坚. Jinan, China: Ming tian chu ban she, 2008.

When I first came to the United States and lived in a campus town, I was struck by how often I encountered people in wheelchairs—maneuvering coolly on the street, wheeling onto buses that knelt gracefully before letting down a ramp, shopping in the store, and studying in classrooms and libraries. “Why is there a higher rate of disability in the US than in China?” I wondered for a moment before realizing my mistake. The accessibility-compliant public facilities and educational services in the university allowed more people with disabilities to carry on active, and visible, social and academic lives.  Continue reading

Bronze and Sunflower – now available in the USA and Canada!

The US edition of  Bronze and Sunflower was launched on 14 March 2017, almost two years after the UK edition (2 April 2015). Both editions have the same gorgeous cover art and illustrations by Meilo SO. The UK edition is paperback; the US edition is hardback. There are also two audio books – narrated by Ming-Zhu Hii, and Emily Woo ZellerContinue reading

I Am Mulan

In November, Tony Blishen wrote a post about children’s author QIN Wenjun 秦文君, and in January Anna wrote about children’s illustrator YU Rong 郁蓉 . We didn’t know at the time that Qin Wenjun and Yu Rong were collaborating on a new picture book based on the story of Mulan! Recently, Yu Rong invited me to translate I Am Mulan, and has kindly agreed to an interview here. Continue reading