One of the many Chinese awards for picture books is the Feng Zikai Children’s Picture Book Award 丰子恺儿童图画书奖. The latest, and 5th, awards were announced last summer and I’ve recently read two of the books on that list – one that won an award, and one that had to make do with getting included in the shortlist (no small feat). Continue reading
Peng Xuejun’s 彭学军 award winning novel Sister 《你是我的妹》 is a beautiful and dramatic story for older children that takes place in Yunnan, sometime in the early 1970s. The young protagonist and narrator is a nine-year-old girl whose mother has been sent down to the countryside to learn from the people. The family (the narrator has a sister) settles in a tiny village with a population of farmers belonging to the Miao people, and although life here is very different and certainly harder and more austere than in the city, it’s also a new and interesting world for the children to explore. Continue reading
Mr Pang and Mr Shou (that is, Mr Fat and Mr Slim) live on opposite sides of a river, together with their families. For some unknown reason they don’t like each other and are always fighting. Their children are not allowed to talk to each other – they don’t even let their dogs Pointy Ear and Round Ear play together. But then one morning the families are cooking breakfast. The white smoke from one of the fires mingles with the black smoke from the other. And when the families see this, they start to change their minds … Continue reading
I am a tiger, who am I scared of? 《我是老虎我怕谁》 is the name of this lovely picture book by Wang Zumin 王祖民 and Wang Ying 王莺. Tiger isn’t a very nice animal. He’s big and strong and as the king of the animals (well, in his own opinion, at least) he doesn’t need to be considerate or nice to anyone. Continue reading
It happened when I was three or four years old, and it’s one of my earliest memories. That day, I was playing alone outside and happened to find a lump of dark clay in a ditch by the road. I must have been bored, for the lump immediately caught my attention. I picked it up, and with the help of a stick that I’d found I sculptured it into something that looked a bit like a cat. I was very proud of this little thing that I’d made and I wanted to share my joy with someone. And so, with the lump in my hands I ran home to find my mother. I remember the look on her face – it was as if I’d given her a treasure. Gently, she lifted the little thing into the air and studied it, then very carefully placed it in one of our flower pots. We stood there and watched it together a long time. It must have been the first thing I ever created. When I think of it now, so many years later, I realise I should have thanked her. If she had thrown the little black clay cat away I might not have become the writer I am today. People always ask me why I became a writer. It’s really very simple: I want to write a book that would make my mother proud of me.