96. Frogs and Tadpoles

Bibbit Jumps, written and illustrated by Bei Lynn 林小杯, will be published in English by Gecko Press later this year. It’s a delightful book about Bibbit, a frog who loves to jump, and his little sister, who’s quite a lot braver than him. Of course, both of them were once tadpoles, and then grew into frogs.

Bibbit Jumps, written and illlustrated by Bei LYNN, tr. Helen Wang (Gecko Press, 2020). ISBN
9781776572786 (Image source: Gecko Press)

We keep coming across Chinese picture books about tadpoles – see Minjie’s earlier post, including a link to “Little Tadpoles Look for their Mummy” 小蝌蚪找妈妈 books.

Screenshot from Minjie’s earlier post

The original story, by Fang Huizhen 方惠珍 and Sheng Lude 盛璐德, was published in 1959. It’s about a group of tadpoles who go looking for their mother, but they don’t know what she looks like, so they ask several creatures along the way until they eventually find her. The story was made into a famous animation Where is Mama? 《小蝌蚪找妈妈》 (1960), under the artistic direction of Te Wei 特伟 (1915-2010). This was one of the earliest ink-wash animations (perhaps the first?), and was based on the paintings of Qi Baishi 齐白石 (1864-1957). You can watch it on Youtube here (it’s about 15 minutes long).

I decided to do a very quick survey of tadpole books in China and the UK. On Minjie’s link to the Chinese online bookseller douban there are almost 30 different titles.

For comparison, I took a quick look at tadpoles in English picture books – a search for “little tadpole” on amazon.co.uk and abebooks brought up these titles:

I guess from this very brief survey that the story of the little tadpoles (which even featured on postage stamps in 2013!) is one that’s known by almost all children in China, but by almost no children in the UK.

Little tadpoles postage stamps, 2013 (Image source: http://www.518yp.com/xiaobenpiao/4660.html)

91. Our first 90 posts!

  1. Chinese books for young readers (Sep 12, 2016)
  2. Gerelchimeg Blackcrane (Sep 13, 2016)
  3. Chinese children’s literature and the UK National Curriculum (Sep 14, 2016)
  4. Happy Mid-Autumn Festival! (Sep 15, 2016)
  5. The Reason for Being Late (Sep 16, 2016)
  6. Why Translations? Don’t We ‘Already Have Chinese Stories in English’? (Sep 27, 2016)
  7. A Brief History of Chinese Literature for Children, What Sells Now, and More (Oct 1, 2016)
  8. The “Warring States” world of picture books … in a big Hangzhou bookshop (Oct 2, 2016)
  9. Poems for Children – selected by Bei Dao (Oct 7, 2016)
  10. Happy Double Ninth (Chongyang) Festival! (Oct 9, 2016)
  11. Literature: Another Form of Housebuilding – Cao Wenxuan’s acceptance speech
    (Oct 14, 2016)
  12. Crossing Cultures: Belle Yang, A Story of Immigration (Oct 16, 2016)
  13. I am a tiger! (Oct 20, 2016)
  14. Bronze and Sunflower shortlisted for the Marsh Award (Oct 24, 2016)
  15. Nami Island International Picture Book Illustration Concours 2017 – shortlist (Nov 2, 2016)
  16. Zhang Xinxin and Little People’s Books (Nov 3, 2016)
  17. Calling them Asian-American books isn’t sufficient… (Nov 8, 2016)
  18. Made in China: 10 picture books you can’t miss (Nov 13, 2016)
  19. A picture’s worth a thousand words… (Nov 14, 2016)
  20. Reflecting Teenagers on a Sichuanese Mirror: Yan Ge and her stories from Pingle Township (Nov 19, 2016)
  21. Context and contradiction in translating Aroma’s Little Garden, by Qin Wenjun (Nov 30, 2016)
  22. Jin Jin (1915-1989) (Dec 27, 2016)
  23. Bing Xin and The Little Orange Lantern (Dec 29, 2016)
  24. Tyrus Wong (1910-2016) and Bambi (Jan 3, 2017)
  25. Yu Rong’s paper cuttings (Jan 11, 2017)
  26. The Good Things That Come out of Collisions (Jan 15, 2017)
  27. Helen Wang Wins the 2017 Marsh Award for Children’s Literature in Translation (Jan 30, 2017)
  28. The Ventriloquist’s Daughter: Between Fantasy and Reality – by Lin Man-chiu (Feb 23, 2017)
  29. One Child: The Story of China’s Most Radical Social Experiment – by Mei Fong (Feb 24, 2017)
  30. St Gregory’s School ‘Reading China’ book group – by Theresa Munford (Feb 25, 2017)
  31. The Story of Ink and Water – by Chun Zhang (Feb 26, 2017)
  32. Sister – by Peng Xuejun (Mar 5, 2017)
  33. I Am Mulan (Mar 13, 2017)
  34. Bronze and Sunflower – now available in the USA and Canada! (Mar 21, 2017)
  35. The King of Hide-and-Seek (Apr 8, 2017)
  36. Bilingual books from Candied Plums (Apr 17, 2017)
  37. Chinese literature festival in London, 12-14 May (May 5, 2017)
  38. The Ventriloquist’s Daughter – now available! (May 25, 2017)
  39. A Tree (Jun 9, 2017)
  40. Stephanie Gou on how Bronze and Sunflower opened a door to her memories (Jun 13, 2017)
  41. Who is Wenzheng Fu? (Jun 18, 2017)
  42. Author-illustrator Lipei Huang (Jun 25, 2017)
  43. Starfish Bay Children’s Books (Jul 10, 2017)
  44. “Plums” for Your Tongue: Chinese Children’s Literature for Language Learners (Jul 21, 2017)
  45. The 10th National Outstanding Children’s Literature Awards, 2017 (Aug 6, 2017)
  46. The Only Child, by Guojing (Aug 11, 2017)
  47. CFP: Asian Festival of Children’s Content (Aug 30, 2017)
  48. Little Soldier Zhang Ga (Sep 30, 2017)
  49. Happy Mid-Autumn Festival 2017 (Oct 4, 2017)
  50. 12 Books for the Holidays (Oct 5, 2017)
  51. David Jacobson’s survey of translations of children’s and YA Literature translated from Chinese, Japanese and Korean (Oct 16, 2017)
  52. List of Chinese-Themed Books for Kids and Teens – by the Canadian Children’s Book Centre (Oct 19, 2017)
  53. A Cross-Cultural Conversation Between Two Master Storytellers at the 2017 USBBY Conference (Oct 27, 2017)
  54. Chinese children’s and YA books, in English, 2017 (Dec 11, 2017)
  55. The 2017 Bai Meigui Translation Competition is now open! (Dec 12, 2017)
  56. What’s the difference between children’s books in China and the US? (Jan 7, 2018)
  57. Dong Yanan’s picture books (Jan 18, 2018)
  58. China Welfare Institute Publishing House: Picture Books from China, with Love & Beauty (Jan 22, 2018)
  59. Interview with Chloe Garcia Roberts, translator of the picture book “Feather” by Cao Wenxuan and Roger Mello (Jan 25, 2018)
  60. Getting to Know Rural Young Chinese Readers and Their World(s) (Jan 29, 2018)
  61. Our first 60 posts! (Feb 4, 2018)
  62. The NCTA Freeman Book Awards (Feb 6, 2018)
  63. Witness China’s New Love: the Changing Landscape of Chinese Children’s Literature (Feb 14, 2018)
  64. Books from Taiwan (Mar 1, 2018)
  65. The Tortoise Family goes to the Sea, and Blind Little Red Riding Hood (Mar 12, 2018)
  66. Children’s Books in China 2018 (and 2017) (Apr 6, 2018)
  67. Chinese Dinosaurs in an English Village (May 20, 2018)
  68. The Cao Wenxuan Children’s Literature Award (Jun 10, 2018)
  69. Teardrops of the Christmas Tree: A Memorable Childhood Reading Experience (Jul 10, 2018)
  70. Vikki Zhang, illustrator with a love of textiles and fashion (Aug 14, 2018)
  71. Let’s Talk to Kids about Sex… in Chinese, Q&A with Minjie Chen (Sep 3, 2018)
  72. People Reading in Chinese Art (Sep 15, 2018)
  73. Our First 72 Posts! (22 Oct 2018)
  74. Theresa Mumford, Chinese Teacher (1 Nov 2018)
  75. Jennie Liu’s Childhood Reading in the USA, 1970s-80s (8 Nov 2018)
  76. Children’s Literature from Hong Kong in English (6 Dec 2018)
  77. Science Fiction for Children – Selected by Liu Cixin and Han Song (10 Dec 2018)
  78. Childhood in a Courtyard House (14 Dec 2018)
  79. Asian Children’s Literature, Film and Animation (special issue of SARE 2018) (3 Jan 2019)
  80. Translator Dong Haiya Studies Children’s Literature at Reading (14 Jan 2019)
  81. Justine Laismith and the Secrets of the Great Fire Tree (31 Mar 2019)
  82. White Horse by Yan Ge (29 Apr 2019)
  83. Interview with Yangsze Choo, author of “The Ghost Bride” (14 May 2019)
  84. Exams, Handwriting and School Stories (20 May 2019)
  85. The Moose of Ewenki (27 Aug 2019)
  86. International Research on Chinese Children’s Literature (IRSCL 2019) (12 Sep 2019)
  87. The 10th Asian Festival of Children’s Content – Sparking New Ideas (15 Sep 2019)
  88. Two Temples, and Two Approaches to Depicting Religions to Children (30 Oct 2018)
  89. “My Favourite Children’s Books” – children in China vote for their Top 30 books of 2019 (3 Nov 2019)
  90. Christmas in China (5 Jan 2019)

89. “My Favourite Children’s Books” – children in China vote for their Top 30 books of 2019

The  “My Favourite Children’s Books” (我最喜爱的童书) titles of 2019 have just been announced. The winning books are selected by children (the first award of its kind in China). [The awards are similar to the annual Children’s Book Awards in the UK – if you’d like to compare, the UK list starts with 50, is shortlisted to 10 – here’s the 2019 list, which has 3 winners and 7 runners-up.] Continue reading

88. Two Temples, and Two Approaches to Depicting Religions for Children

Natasha Heller is Associate Professor in the Department of Religious Studies, University of Virginia, and studies Chinese Buddhism—past and present—in the context of cultural and intellectual history. She’s currently completing a book tentatively titled  Raising Bodhisattvas: Picture Books and Parenting in Modern Taiwan, which looks at children’s literature published by Buddhist organizations in Taiwan in the context of global parenting. We’re delighted that she agreed to share some of her work with us here; you can also follow her on Twitter: @nheller  Continue reading

87. The 10th Asian Festival of Children’s Content – sparking new ideas

I’ve just returned from the Asian Festival of Children’s Content, in Singapore. It was the 10th AFCC, and my 1st time to the AFCC or Singapore. I’m so grateful to the Singapore Book Council – in particular William Phuan, Caroline Wan and Chloe Tong and their team – for inviting me (I gave a keynote, was on a panel, gave a lecture, and a masterclass). Continue reading

84. Exams, handwriting and school stories

Minjie recently published a very interesting post about crib sheets on the Cotsen blog titled Cheating in Examinations for Cheapskates? – A Centuries-Old Tip from the Chinese Collection of the Cotsen Children’s Library. This sparked off an email conversation between us…  Continue reading

83. Interview with Yangsze Choo, author of “The Ghost Bride”

One book leads to another… last November Lin Man-chiu and I were invited to talk about The Ventriloquist’s Daughter at an event at the LSE. The chair of the event, Prof Fang-long Shih, suggested that the story might be linked with ghost brides (on which she is an expert). Lin Man-chiu rejected this idea, but the discussion stuck in my mind, and when I saw Yangsze Choo’s novel The Ghost Bride, I was intrigued. Amy Matthewson devoured The Ventriloquist’s Daughter and Yangsze Choo’s two books The Ghost Bride (2013) and The Night Tiger (2019) in quick succession, and was thrilled when Yangsze Choo 朱洋熹 agreed to an interview. They discussed both of her books, but agreed that while The Ghost Bride is suitable (albeit scary) for young adults, The Night Tiger is more of an adult read. We are very grateful to Yangsze and Amy for this interview! – Helen  Continue reading