116. CCPPG’s Sino-foreign collaborative programme on children’s books

Since 2012, CCPPG (China Children’s Press and Publication Group 中国少年儿童出版社) has developed a number of Sino-foreign collaborative picture books – matching a Chinese author with a non-Chinese illustrator, or vice versa. In this post, we present some of the books that have been produced, and quote Sun Zhu 孙柱, President of CCPPG on the impact of these collaborations. Where we know of an English edition, we have given details for that book. For further details see Teri Tan’s article in Publisher’s Weekly, 17 April 2020, and the CCPPG Catalogue 2020.

Quoting Sun Zhu (source: Teri Tan’s article):

  • “The younger generation is much more inclusive and multicultural, and our program is aimed at cultivating more such world citizens“
  • “The illustrators whom we work with come from different parts of the world, with some having cross-cultural identities that are reflected in their works”
  • “This collaboration offers the opportunity to tell the same story from different perspectives” (Nian and the Boy)
  • “A Belgian author has different interpretations than those of Chinese authors, and this makes the story unique and multicultural” (Nian and the Boy)
  • “It is a story that appeals to local and overseas audiences” (New Year)
  • “We have continued to expand our pool of overseas illustrators for original works and further enrich our publishing program”
  • “Deepening our international exchanges and creative collaborations has effectively spread our original picture books into other markets around the world”
  • “Creating IP-based courses [intellectual property-based products] requires considerable planning. We must discover, mine, or cultivate an IP with derivative development properties. But at the core, the course must have high-quality content, character depth, internet-enabled scalability, continuity, transformability, and recognizability”
  • “Our program is planned around meeting the reading and learning needs of young readers. We are focused on publishing titles that will inspire, motivate, and resonate with them”

Collaborations, 2013

Collaborations, 2014

How to Teach an Elephant to Jump 怎么教大象跳, by Xiao Mao 萧袤, illus. Yosof Gajah 约瑟夫·盖佳 (Malaysia), 2014

Collaborations, 2015

  • Across the River 河对岸, by Xue Tao 薛涛 (China), illus. Anastasia Arkhipova 安娜斯塔西亚. 阿卡普瓦 (Russia), 2015a
  • I Want to Fly 我要飞, by Jin Bo 金波 (China), illus. Javier Angel Zabala Herrero 哈维尔萨巴拉 (Spain), 2015

Collaborations, 2016

Little E 小E, by author-illustrators Gunter Grossholz 昆特·国斯浩里兹 (Germany) and Wan Yuxi 万昱汐 (China), 2016

Collaborations, 2017

Collaborations, 2017

  • Raining 下雨啦, by Xu Pingping 许萍萍 (China), illus. Graça Lima 格拉萨·利马 (Brazil), 2017
  • Hush, hush! Don’t Speak! 嘘,别出声, by Lu Ruina 卢瑞娜 (China), illus. Miho Okai 冈井美穗 (Japan), 2017
  • Cheep, Cheep, Cheep 小鸡,叽叽叽, by Xiao Mao 萧袤 (China), illus. Hisana Sawada 泽田久奈 (Japan), 2017
  • Changing for a New Bed 换新床, by Li Yiman 李一慢 , illus. Li Xiaohuan 李小幻 (USA), 2017
  • My Home 我的家, by Lin Dan (China), illus. Sonja Danowski 索尼娅·达诺夫斯基 (Germany), 2017
  • Little Chick and Muddy 小小和泥泥, by Ge Bing 葛冰 (China), illus. Piet Grobler 皮亚特·格罗布勒 (South Africa), 2017
  • Ode to Mother 我爱妈妈的自言自语, by Jin Bo 金波 (China), illus. Alfonso Ruano Martin 阿方索·卢阿诺 (Spain), 2017
  • Red Oiled Paper Umbrella 红色油纸伞, by Xu Lu (China), illus. Anastasia Arkhipova 安娜斯塔西亚. 阿卡普瓦 (Russia), 2017
  • A Town of One Person 一个人的小镇, by Bai Bing 白冰 (China), illus. Pejman Rahimizadeh 帕杰曼•拉米扎德 (Iran), 2017

Collaborations, 2018

  • Who is the Highest? 谁最高?by Mei Zihan 梅子涵 (China), illus. Hachiyo Kawamura 川村八夜 (Germany), 2018
  • Black and White 黑和白, by Bai Bing 白冰 (China), illus. Seok Cheel Won 石哲元 (Korea), 2018
  • Tata Wants Meat 塔塔想吃肉, by Zhang Xiaonan 张晓楠, illus. Petr Horácek 彼得·霍拉塞克 (UK), 2018
  • Big Uncle’s Savage Island 大个子叔叔的野兽岛, by Bai Bing 白冰 (China), illus. Amin Hassanzadeh Sharif 阿明哈桑·谢里夫 (Iran), 2018
  • I Love You 一句话的故事, by Chen Shige 陈诗哥, illus. Pia Valentinis 皮娅·瓦伦蒂尼斯 and Mario Onis 马里奥·昂尼斯 (Italy), 2018
  • Mid-Autumn Festival at Xiao Wei’s House 小威的中秋节, by Maria Jesus Gil 玛利亚·耶稣·基尔 (Spain), illus. Zhu Chengliang 朱成梁 (China), 2018
  • Little William’s Great Wall Adventures 小威廉长城历险记, by William Lindsay 威廉林赛 (UK), illus. Zhang Da 张达 (China), 2018

Collaborations, 2019

  • Flying Little Umbrella 会飞的小伞, by Xu Lu (China), illus. Yoko Miyahara 宫原宜子 (Japan), 2019
  • Big-teeth Dinosaur and Small-teeth Dinosaur 大牙恐龙和小牙恐龙, by Sun Yu 孙昱 (China), illus. Ross Kinnaird 罗丝·金奈尔德 (New Zealand), 2019
  • Up and Down 上去和下来, by Bai Bing 白冰 (China), illus. Seok Cheel Won 石哲元 (Korea), 2019
  • Dinosaur Bus 恐龙公交车, by Huang Yu (China), illus. Ross Kinnaird 罗丝·金奈尔德 (New Zealand), 2019
  • Little Fish Meets Little Bird 小鱼遇到小鸟, by Huang Chunhua 黄春华 (China), illus. Manon Gauthier 玛农·高蒂尔 (Canada), 2019
  • New Year 过年, by Mei Zihan 梅子涵 (China), illus. Qin Leng 冷沁 (Canada), 2019
  • Nian and the Boy 年和男孩, by Wally De Doncker 瓦力·德·邓肯 (Belgium), illus. Xiong Liang 熊亮 (China), 2019
  • Panda Family Series 熊猫 (10 vols), by Bai Bing 白冰, Gao Hongbo 高洪波, Jin Bo 金波 (China), et al, illus. Yu Rong 郁蓉 (UK), 2019
  • Milly, Molly and Lily series 开心的米莉茉莉和莉莉”系列 (30 books), by Gill Pittar 吉尔•皮特 (New Zealand), Jin Bo 金波, Gao Hongbo 高洪波, Bai Bing 白冰, Ge Bing 葛冰, Liu Bingjun, illus. Cris Morrell 克雷斯·莫雷尔 (New Zealand) and Zhao Xiaoyu (China), 2019

Collaborations, 2020

  • Little Hedgehog’s Clothes 小刺猬穿衣服, by Ge Bing 葛冰 (China), illus. Zhang Ruihua 张瑞华 (UK), 2020
  • Eek [or What a Scare] 吓一跳, by Huang Chunhua 黄春华 (China), illus. Mahboobeh Yazdani 马布贝·雅兹达妮 (Iran), 2020
  • Grandpa and Me 爷爷和我,  by Xu Lu 徐鲁 (China), illus. Javier Angel Zabala Herrero 哈维尔萨巴拉 (Spain), 2020
  • The Story of the Three Buddhist Monks 三个和尚, by Zhang Xiaoling 张晓玲 (China), illus. Andrea Castro Naranjo 安德里亚·卡斯特罗·纳兰乔 (Columbia), 2020
  • The Long-haired Girl 长发妹, by Chen Mengmin 陈梦敏, illus. Chiara Nasi 基亚拉·纳西 (Italy), 2020

115. The winners of the 2020 Chen Bochui International Children’s Literature Awards

The 2020 Chen Bochui International Children’s Literature Awards 陈伯吹国际儿童文学奖 were announced in Shanghai on 12 November. Congratulations to all the winners!

The international jury of nine included Gao Hongbo 高洪波 (China, jury president), Liu Jianping (China), Mariela Nagle (Argentina, Germany), Elena Pasoli (Italy), Qin Wenjun 秦文君 (China), Xu Yan (China), Yu Rong 郁蓉 (UK), Zhang Li (China), Zhao Xiaoyin (China).

Best Literary Works in Chinese Language

A Non-existent Villa 不存在的小镇, by Huang Yingzhao 黄颖曌 (China Juvenile and Children’s Publishing House 中国少年儿童出版社, 2019). ISBN: 9787514856064 (image source: douban)
Building a Ceramic Kiln and Giving It to You 建座瓷窑送给你, by Peng Xuejun 彭学军 (21st Century Publishing Group 二十一世纪出版社, 2019/20). ISBN 9787556845361 (image source: douban)
Xiao Su and I 我和小素, by Huang Chunhua 黄春华 (Anhui Juvenile and Children’s Publishing House 安徽少年儿童出版社, 2020). ISBN 9787570707683 (image source: douban)
Running Dai Er’niu 奔跑的岱二牛, by Huang Beijia 黄蓓佳 (Phoenix Juvenile and Children’s Publishing Ltd 江苏凤凰少年儿童出版社, 2019). ISBN 9787558417412 (image source: douban)
A Smile Among Thorns: Xiao Cong 荆棘丛中的微笑:小丛, by Yang Xiaoyan 杨筱艳 (21st Century Publishing Group 二十一世纪出版社, 2020). ISBN 9787556847433 (image source: douban)

Best Picture Books of the Year

1.º Direito (First Floor Right) 一楼右侧, by Ricardo Henriques; illus. Nicolau Fernandes (Pato Lógico Edições, Portugal, 2020) ISBN 978-989-54344-1-1 (image source: Pato Lógico Edições)
Mr. Black and His Dog 布莱克先生和他的狗, by Jiu’er  九儿 (Guizhou People’s Publishing House 贵州人民出版社, 2019) ISBN 9787221154897 (image source: douban)
A Falling Whale 天上掉下一头鲸, by Xi Yuke 西雨客 (Daylight Publishing House 天天出版社, China, 2019) ISBN 9787501615254 (image source: douban)
The Snow Comes Around 下雪天的声音, by Mei Zihan 梅子涵, illus. Igor Oleynikov 伊戈尔.奥列伊尼科夫 (Guizhou People’s Publishing House, China, 2019). ISBN 9787221156341 (image source: douban)
The Truth about Old People 老者的真相, by Elina Ellis (Two Hoots, UK, 2020) ISBN 9781509882274 (image source: panmacmillan)

Special Contribution Award

Zhang Qiusheng 张秋生 (China) – writer of fairy tales and children’s poems, publisher (image source: CCBF)

Best Author of the Year Award

Ed Young (USA) – illustrator and picture book writer

114. Interview with Kate Titmuss, teacher of Mandarin in the UK

Kate Titmuss recently contacted us about buying Chinese books in the UK. She very kindly agreed to an interview. Thank you, Kate!

Kate Titmuss

Hi Kate, please tell us about yourself. What would you like our readers to know about you?

I am currently on maternity leave from teaching. I have taught Mandarin to students aged between 4 and 18 in the UK.

What’s it like to be a teacher of Mandarin in a UK school? 

Positive: It is great to be able to introduce students to a language and culture so different to our own and include authentic material such as films, food and traditional crafts such as paper cutting.

Challenge: Some students can be hostile to learning a foreign language and a teacher must be resourceful and innovative to keep all of them engaged always.

We often receive emails asking where to find, and buy, Chinese books in the UK. Do you buy Chinese books for yourself or for your school? What’s your experience of this? Do you have any particular criteria for selecting books? Where do you buy Chinese books? Do you have any tips for our readers who want to buy Chinese books in the UK? 

I tried to borrow Chinese books from my local library but they were mostly in Traditional Chinese, so I couldn’t read them. I buy books for myself and my children from either Cypress Books or Purple Culture. I prefer Purple Culture because I can email them directly (purple@purpleculture.net) and they can get whatever book I need and send it to me from China. I have also recently discovered a Chinese bookseller based in the UK called De Ziremi. My criteria for the books I buy my children are that they should be what Chinese children would be reading, as opposed to books for ‘learners’. Most of the children’s books on Cypress Books are for learners, and the illustrations aren’t as nice as authentic books. To find books, I follow the links on your blog – eg to the White Ravens Catalogue or Publisher’s Weekly. The books I have bought are mostly for my daughter who is 2 and she likes to look at ones with colourful illustrations, such as “I Really Really Want to Eat strawberries” 《好想好想吃草莓》 and “Mr Octopus Sells Umbrellas” 《章鱼先生卖雨伞》 . So far I haven’t taken any of my own books into my lessons.

Liu Hangyu 刘航宇, “I Really Really Want to Eat Strawberries” 《好想好想吃草莓》(Jieli Publishing House, 2018). ISBN 9787544858151
Han Xu 韓煦, “Mr Octopus Sells Umbrellas” 《章鱼先生卖雨伞》 (Jieli Publishing House, 2018). ISBN 9787544857802

What are you reading at the moment?

At the moment I am reading “The Girl With the Big Feet” 大脚姑娘 with my children. It’s set in a small fishing town in the past, when small feet were seen as elegant and beautiful. Unfortunately for the main character, her big feet prevent her from being happy and finding a husband. However, her big feet help to save lives when a giant wave threatens to take lives, and her fortune changes. The girl experiences a rollercoaster of emotions throughout the book, sometimes very angry (as on the front cover), but she also has times of loneliness, joy, awkwardness, success and disappointment. The book has two styles of text on each page. There is the modern left-to-right typed text which narrates the story in a straight forward vernacular, and the traditional top-to-bottom handwritten text that tells the story using rhyme and is rich in idioms, antiquated phrases and cultural references. The art work is of an original and unique style. I particularly liked the traditional wedding scene, depicting customs such as the sedan chair, veil and bridal chamber, all in a vibrant shade of red.

Wan Wan 弯弯and Yan Xinyuan 颜新元, “The Girl With Big Feet” 大脚姑娘 (Guizhou Renmin chubanshe, 2017) ISBN 9787221140296
The wedding scene in “The Girl With Big Feet”

I am also reading “Xi Jinping Tells a Story” 《习近平讲故事》 compiled by Renmin ribao (People’s Daily) 人民日报. These are 109 very short stories and speeches and thus do not require a lot of time or a long attention span to read them. Also, the book is written for young people so I think the language is simpler to understand. I would definitely try and teach one of these stories to a high-ability class in the future, perhaps an A Level class, not only to improve their language but also to show them what kind of books young Chinese people may read. 

“Xi Jinping Tells a Story” 《习近平讲故事》 compiled by Renmin ribao (People’s Daily) 人民日报

Follow Kate on Twitter :   @KT_Mandarin and on Instagram:  kt_mandarin

113. Nicky Harman, on Huang Beijia’s novel “Flight of the Bumblebee”

In June, Nicky Harman told us about Huang Beijia’s novel I Want to Be Good. We are delighted to hear she has just finished translating another novel by Huang Beijia – Flight of the Bumblebee. Of course, we wanted to know more, and asked Nicky to tell us about it. Thank you, Nicky!

Flight of the Bumblebee, by Huang Beijia (Jiangsu Fenghuang Shaonian Ertong chubanshe, 2018. ISBN 9787558409714 (image source: douban) 黄蓓佳:《野风飞舞》江苏凤凰少年儿童出版社

HW: Flight of the Bumblebee was published in China in 2018, so it’s still quite new. How similar (or different) is it to I Want To Be Good 我要做好孩子 (an old favourite by Huang Beijia, published in 1996, that has since been made into a TV series)?

NH: When I first read it and started to translate, I thought it was completely different. It’s for a different age group (teens), and a story which, although personal, is set against a broad historical backdrop. It’s not one girl and her mother coping with exams. It’s one girl growing up in a big family in wartime. Quite apart from its personal appeal, the historical details are fascinating.

HW: What’s Flight of the Bumblebee about? 

NH: Flight of the Bumblebee is a novel about a family who are evacuated to West China when the Japanese invade the east of China before and during World War 2. The father is a professor at Nanjing University, and the university moves en masse – profs, students, lab equipment and all – and resettles on a new campus in Chengdu. There are five children, and one more, Tianlu, is adopted after they arrive. The story is told by the middle child, a girl called Orange, who is eight years old when they arrive in their new home and fifteen by the time they leave to go back to Nanjing. They’re living through a particularly brutal war but Orange has ways of amusing herself and her friends and family…and the story is hugely entertaining, as well as perceptive about growing up. Orange is a bit of a wild child, and her characters, and her friendship with the boy Tianlu, is beautifully drawn. (Be warned, the ending is very sad… have your handkerchief at the ready.)

HW: You’ve mentioned before that Huang Beijia writes beautifully. Could you say something about her writing in this book?

NH: I think that sometimes when an author writes well, it feels effortless. That’s the case with Huang Beijia in Flight of the Bumblebee: it reads completely naturally. So, rather than pick out any particular bits, I’ll just say that she writes exactly the way you would expect a young girl to speak. And that’s a compliment. I should add that the other characters are also very cleverly drawn: the aloof but dedicated professor father, the put-upon mother, the clever elder brother, the elder sister who is completely different from Orange, with whom she’s always fighting.

HW: Could you tell us about the title? Flight of the Bumblebee is a famous piece of music by Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov. What’s the significance of the title? Is music a significant part of the novel?

NH: Yes, Flight of the Bumblebee is a well-known piano piece, infamously difficult to play, but Orange sets herself the task of learning it so that she can play it to Tianlu when he gets back from the war. There’s a lot of music throughout the novel, and what I found truly fascinating was the range of the pieces mentioned: classical piano exercises, western opera, Chinese opera, folk songs and resistance songs, a song from Shakespeare and a verse from Shelley. It was a salutary reminder of how cosmopolitan many educated Chinese were in the 1930s. Many scientists had been educated in the U.S. and knew their Verdi just as well as their Peking opera. Just to amuse myself, when I finished the translation I went through and recorded little snippets from the music mentioned in the story and embedded the sound files in the text, and sent it to the editor and to the author to have a listen.

HW: What was it like for you while you were translating this novel? Did it get under your skin? Did it open your eyes to anything you didn’t know about before? Anything particularly surprising or interesting? 

NH: It took me five months to translate it, but I was working on other projects at the same time. And certainly it got under my skin. I was rooting for them all, and was quite shattered by the end. I’ve already said that the historical backdrop was interesting; well, apparently, according to Huang Beijia, there is a history of life in the universities that relocated to Chengdu during the war, and reading it inspired her to write this novel. Some of the stories (for instance, the British RAF arriving to set up a base, and playing a football match with the male students) are actually true, and drawn from that book. And, although I haven’t seen the history book that Huang Beijia refers to, I’m guessing that some of the fascinating information about the universities’ work on improving plant and animal strains came from there too. But she includes that material with a very light hand; it never overrides the main story line – Orange and her family.

Thank you, Nicky! We’re looking forward to seeing this book in English!

For more about Huang Beijia, see our interview with Nicky in June (click here) and the Leeds Centre for New Chinese Writing website, where Huang Beijia was author of the month in December 2019/Jan 2020 (click here)

For more about Nicky Harman, click here.

See also Minjie’s recent post, 105. The Sino-Japanese War as Portrayed in Youth Literature

112. Interview with Lidong Xiang, PhD student in Chinese children’s literature at Rutgers University

Lidong Xiang 项黎栋 is currently studying for her PhD in Chinese children’s literature at Rutgers University-Camden. We’re very grateful to her for taking the time to tell us more about her work. Thank you, Lidong!

Hi Lidong, please tell us about yourself. What would you like our readers to know about you?
Hi everyone! I’m Lidong (she/her/hers). I am currently pursuing my PhD in the Department of Childhood Studies at Rutgers University-Camden. My research focuses are literary and cultural constructions of Chinese childhood and the geographies of girlhood in modern and contemporary Chinese literature, children’s literature, and other media productions, such as film and newspapers. So far, I’ve researched picture book adaptations of Chinese folktales, child citizenship and national discourse in Chinese children’s periodicals, and the negotiation between ideas of modernity and childhood in Chinese newspapers from the early and mid-twentieth century. I am currently working on literary and cinematic narratives of Chinese urbanism and girlhood. To enrich perspectives and understandings, I worked as an editor intern in two Chinese children’s publishers, and occasionally translate children’s books and write for children’s magazines.

When we met at the IRSCL Congress [International Research Society For Children’s Literature] in Stockholm last year, you gave a paper looking at girls in Cheng Wei’s novels. Could you tell us about Cheng Wei, and her girl-centered stories? And your research on them? Why did you choose Cheng Wei’s novels?
Sure. Cheng Wei 程玮 has been a renowned Chinese children’s literature author since the 1980s. She studied in Nanjing University and the city of Nanjing is the primary domestic urban setting of her stories. She moved to Germany in 1993. Besides her roles as a filmmaker, scriptwriter and translator, she continues to write for children. Most of her works center around girl characters. In comparison to other female authors of Chinese children’s literature, such as Chen Danyan 陈丹燕 (her most recent novel “A Spirit Who I Call Mom II” 我的妈妈是精灵 2, 2019, being an exception) and Qin Wenjun 秦文君, Cheng Wei’s works involve explicit narration of Chinese singletons in a globalized framework in depicting and exploring the idea and ideal of Chinese girls’ identity – for example, the “Sundays with Alice” 周末与爱丽丝聊天 series (2016), and “Sundays with Milan” 周末与米兰聊天 series (2014). Two of her girl-centered novels have award-winning film adaptations: In Their Teens 豆蔻年华 (dir. Qiu Zhongyi 邱中义, Xu Geng 徐耿 1989) and A Girl’s Red Hairpin 红发卡 (dir. Xu Geng 徐耿, 1996).

Cheng Wei, “A Girl’s Red Scarf” 程玮 / 少女的红围巾
The Girls in Red series by Cheng Wei 程玮少女三部曲

The three novels that I chose to analyze for my paper at the congress in Stockholm are: “A Girl’s Red Hairpin” 少女的红发卡, “A Girl’s Red Scarf” 少女的红围巾, and “Girls’ Red Shirts” 少女的红衬衣, collectively known as the “Girls in Red” series 程玮少女三部曲 (2008), republished by the Zhejiang Children’s Publishing House in 2018. They present contemporary Chinese girls’ experiences both in the urban and transcultural context. Chinese girls’ literature emerged alongside the rise of urban settings in Chinese children’s literature in the late 1980s. Cheng Wei’s novels are representative of this genre, and have been celebrated by the children’s book market and academia as embodying contemporary Chinese girls’ power. Drawing on the historical development of Chinese girls’ literature, I admit the increasing visibility of girls in the form of main protagonist and/or first-person narrator as well as more nuanced and various representations of girl figures. Taking Cheng Wei’s novels as examples, and from a feminist lens, my conference paper argued that Chinese girl characters, although challenging previous marginalized representations, are still stuck within the heteronormative framework – in other words, the heterosexual relationship is the only norm. Those girls with transcultural experiences still follow the neoliberal girlhood ideal or the “can-do” girl figures, largely regardless of the socio-economic stratifications.

In my observation, Cheng Wei’s girl-centered novels have achieved high visibility not only in the publishing market but also in literary reviews. I’m concerned that the visibility of this type of girl overshadows alternative types of girls. Have we given enough attention to, say, the tomboy Dai An 戴安 in Yang Hongying’s 杨红樱 “Tomboy Dai An” 假小子戴安, and Fan Fan 饭饭 who struggles with her queer relationship with another girl, the first-person narrator in Huang Chunhua’s 黄春华 “Once Was a True Love of Mine” 她从前是我深爱的人? This drives me to reflect on my role as a researcher, and on my own assumptions, and how they guide my research. I am aware of the responsibility of the researcher, and that the inclusion or exclusion of some titles in my research will impact on the knowledge production and understanding of girls/girlhood in China.

Also at Stockholm, you stated the importance of understanding the relevant Chinese discourse when looking at Chinese children’s books. Could you say some more about this?
At the conference in Stockholm, I moderated the panel “Chinese Transcultural Relationships”. I noticed that “subjectivity” was one of the essential shared ideas across the panelists’ presentations. Given the title of that panel, I asked whether we are all using the same concept of “subjectivity” in addressing children/child characters in the transcultural context or whether the “subjectivity” in our discussions shared the same connotations? On this subject, I have found a couple of publications very useful: Subjectivity in Asian Children’s Literature and Film: Global Theories and Implications, edited by John Stephens (2013), and Sarada Balagopalan’s chapter “Childhood, Culture, History: Redeploying ‘multiple childhoods” in Reimagining Childhood Studies edited by Spyros Spyrou, Rachel Rosen, and Daniel T. Cook (2019). Balagopalan’s chapter is not literary research, but I find it intellectually stimulating in questioning the division “between the empirical ‘south’ and the theoretical ‘north’” in framing child-related research. Her critique reminds me to reconsider how I draw on theories or adopt a certain theoretical lens in analyzing my focused texts.

Thinking about this unpacking work around concepts and discourses, in my undergraduate days, I attended a lecture given by Ming Cherng Duh 杜明城, in which he claimed that some Tang dynasty legend 唐传奇 texts may be regarded as children’s fantasy works. His presentation pointed to a rethinking of the hegemonic Western definition of fantasy works/novels. At that time, I had just started children’s literature studies. My major was in Chinese literature, and I was reading Tang dynasty legends in my classical Chinese literature course. Before that lecture, it had never occurred to me that there might be a connection between these two genres since my understanding of fantasy works was largely framed by western popular fantasy novels such as Harry Potter and The Chronicles of Narnia. In his book Demonic Warfare: Daoism, Territorial Networks, and the History of A Ming Novel (2015), Mark Meulenbeld has a chapter – “Invention of the Novel: From Stage Act and Temple Ritual to Literary Text” – that pushed me even further to rethink the idea of the “novel”. I think it’s essential to continue to think critically about such matters.

What is it like studying Chinese children’s literature at Rutgers? Is it difficult to navigate international research and discourse on children’s literature?
I enjoy the space to look around and learn different approaches to child-related issues during course studies and from works by faculty members and other graduate students perceiving and researching children and childhood from multi-disciplinary views and across different periods and geographical locations. It’s an amazing environment to be in, with so many talented people! But it’s also hard to navigate around these diverse conversations and methodologies. For me, the greatest advantage lies in the symbiosis of the freedom to explore the field and the inevitable discomfort in navigating the field. That may sound contradictory, but I constantly feel the urge to unpack assumed discourses and clarify contexts when talking about my research on Chinese children’s literature and childhood. Sometimes I feel the disadvantage of being a sort of “outlier” from other disciplines and discussions, and I grapple with the value of my work. It’s mainly because I’m studying materials and approaches that my colleagues are not familiar with, so it can feel that I am in a tiny minority talking about Chinese children’s literature. If you imagine a word cloud, where the size of the words varies according to frequency of use or visibility, then Chinese children’s literature can feel very small and niche.

My journey into international research about children’s literature started from my first
conference presentation at the IRSCL congress 2017 at Toronto. I sincerely appreciate the friendship and mentorship that I’ve encountered since then, especially several scholars and Chinese graduate students who also research Chinese children’s literature and the history of Chinese childhood in other institutions outside of China. We communicate similar frustrations and share suggestions to support each other now and then.

However, one thing I find challenging and confusing is the labelling and de-labelling of my research. Among my limited conference experiences, I often find myself in panels where the keyword is “Chinese”. I’m glad to have the chance to engage with people in other child-related China studies. But I also hope that my research can be considered in other ways, where the shared topic might be affection/emotion, urban studies, body geographies, and so on.

Would you tell us about your own childhood reading? Did you have a favourite book/author when you were little? A favourite place to read? A favourite person to read with?
The Lianhuanhua 连环画 (linked picture book) version of Journey to the West 西游记 used to be my favorite set of books. I found them in the storage cupboard at my grandparents’ house one summer. Ever since then, I reread those books almost every summer when staying with them. I enjoyed both the adventure stories with demons and ghosts and the illustrations. I was born in the Year of Monkey and regarded Monkey King as my role model when I was a kid. My favorite place to read was my grandpa’s “table”, which was actually a wooden door, placed on two treadle sewing machines, covered with a piece of cloth. He was a tailor and used to work on that big wooden “table” during the day. I would occupy a specific corner of that “table”, away from the steam iron. For a lively, energetic kid like me, it was a perfect spot to read – I could read and have fun stepping on the pedal at the same time!

Reading and pedalling at the same time! (with thanks to Lijie Zhang 张丽捷)

Follow Lidong Xiang on twitter: @lidong_xiang

111. White Ravens – Chinese titles, 1984-2020

The 2020 White Ravens Catalogue was published today. It includes eight new Chinese titles, published in 2019 and 2020.

The White Ravens Catalogue 2020 presents 200 outstanding books in 36 languages from 56 countries, selected and published by the International Youth Library, Munich. Click here for the pdf.

The annually published White Ravens catalogue is the most important ongoing publication of the International Youth Library (IYL), in Munich. It is published each autumn to be presented at the Frankfurt Book Fair. All new White Ravens titles are introduced at the Bologna Children’s Book Fair the following year.

From the large number of reviewer’s copies and donations which are received from publishing houses, institutions, organizations and friends of the library, the IYL language specialists (Lektoren) select 200 new outstanding books from more than 50 countries in over 30 languages to be White Ravens each year. A copy of each book is held in the collection of the IYL.

A few years ago, I started to put together a list of all the Chinese titles that have been selected as White Ravens over the years, collecting data online and visiting the IYL in July 2019. Lucia Obi, the East Asian language specialist at the IYL kindly checked my work, edited it and enhanced it. Together, we can now share this impressive list of 139 Chinese White Ravens, 1984-2020:

The titles are hyperlinked to my original source of data:

The eight Chinese titles selected as White Ravens in 2020

A spirit who I call Mom — Chen, Danyan 陈丹燕 (text) and Echo Anjing Echo_安静 (illus.), 2019. Wo de mama shi jingling 我的妈妈是精灵. Fuzhou: Fujian shaonian ertong chubanshe.
Big boat — Huang, Xiaoheng黄小衡 (text) and Guituzi 贵图子 [Liu, Jing 刘静] (illus.), 2019. Da chuan 大船. Beijing: Zhongxin chubanshe.
Firework — Li, Donghua 李东华 (text) and Kongque 孔雀 [Zhao, Min 赵敏] (illus.), 2019. Yanhuo 焰火. Wuhan: Changjiang wenyi chubanshe.

Where are the tickets? — Liu, Xugong 刘旭恭 (text/illus.), 2020. Chepiao qu naer le 车票去哪儿了. Wuhan: Changjiang shaonian ertong chubanshe.

The river — Yu, Dawu 于大武 (text/illus.), 2019. Yi tiao da he 一条大河. Beijing: Zhongguo shaonian ertong chubanshe.
The little bear’s new clothes — Huwei虎威 (Francis Wong Hooe Wai) (text/illus.), 2019. Xiao xiong de xinyi 小熊的新衣. Singapore: Lingzi chuanmei siren youxian gongsi (Lingzi Media).
Is there still anybody in these rivers and lakes? — Chang, Yeou-yu [Zhang, Youyu] 張友漁 (text)  and Lin, Shain [Lin, Yixian]  林一先 (illus.), 2019. Jiang hu, hai you ren ma? 江湖, 还有人吗?Taibei: Yuanliu chuban shiye gufen youxian gongsi (Yuan-Liou Publishing).

The story of Grandma Snow Flower — Chou, Yi-Fen [Zhou, Yifen] 周逸芬 (text) and Wu mao 烏貓 [Zhang, Chao张超] (illus.), 2019. Xue ying nainai de gushi 雪英奶奶的故事. Zhubei shi: Heying wenhua shiye youxian gongsi (Heryin Books).

If you’d like to see all 139 Chinese titles selected as White Ravens, 1984-2020, click on the link below:

110. Chinese books published by Reycraft Books, 2019-2020


Following on from our conversation with Wiley Blevins (no. 109), here is a list of the Chinese books published by Reycraft Books. For convenience and interest, I’ve added the Chinese text for titles, authors and illustrators. I’ve also added images of the covers of the Chinese books, where I can – it’s interesting to see how Reycraft Books kept, adapted or changed the cover art in the English editions. Click on the book-titles to go directly to the relevant pages on the Reycraft Books website, where there are summaries of the stories and details of the authors and illustrators. The titles are given in alphabetical order below. Check out Reycraft Books on Youtube too.

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109. Wiley Blevins (of Reycraft Books) on Chinese picture books


Earlier this year, while checking new publications of Chinese children’s books in English, we came across over a dozen new titles published by Reycraft Books (Ch: 新銳出版社). They seemed to have appeared out of nowhere in 2019 – we weren’t aware of a big launch or any publicity and when we checked the Reycraft Books website and catalogue and saw the wide range of picture books they were publishing, we were intrigued. Wiley Blevins of Reycraft Books kindly agreed to an interview and to tell us more. Thank you, Wiley!

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108. Chinese children’s books collected by Arvind Gupta

In September – which is also #WorldKidLitMonth – I came across the library of Arvind Gupta “The Toymaker” on archive.org, and was intrigued to find well over 50 Chinese children’s books in his collection.

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107. Chinese children’s books in Swedish – by Anna Gustafsson Chen

Anna Gustafsson Chen is a prolific translator of Chinese books, and yet we haven’t featured her translations of Chinese children’s books before. So, this post is to highlight her translations of children’s books – scroll to the end of the blog. It’s also a homage to Anna, who posts a new Chinese book cover design on her instagram/ Facebook/ Pinterest every week, and writes the Bokberget [Book Mountain] blog about Chinese books in Swedish.

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