As Christmas 2019 draws to a close, the decorations come down, and the Christmas books go back on the shelf for a few months. In this post, we’ll look back on five different blog/web posts:
1: Made in China (Caomao and Weixiaoqun)
In a timely piece on the Cotsen Children’s Library blog, Minjie introduces a beautifully illustrated story “Made in China”, and, as usual, adds her own insights and extra information that helps us read between the lines. Minjie writes:
“Made in China” is an exquisitely composed essay-story, contrasting two carefully edited images of life in an old-fashioned town before and after it became China’s so-called “Christmas Village.” As the manufacturing center for Christmas merchandise, Fotang (佛堂) has an uncanny name, the literal meaning of which is “Buddha’s hall.” The town is administratively part of the city of Yiwu, the seat of the world’s largest small commodities market. Though on a minor scale, the essay recalls Mardi Gras: Made in China (2005), a documentary that traces the life cycle of glittering festival beads from New Orleans back to a factory compound in rural China, where the cheap disposables were made by workers as young as teenage girls fresh out of middle school.
2: From the Heart (Huang Beijia)
HUANG Beijia 黄蓓佳 was the author of the month for the Leeds Centre for New Chinese Writing‘s website in December 2019. The chosen short story was 《心声》”From the Heart” – you can read both the Chinese original, and the English translation by Helen on the website.
The story is about a young boy Jingjing, who finds a kindred spirit in Chekhov’s Vanka, in which Vanka writes a letter to his Grandfather at Christmas. It’s a well-known story (Minjie remembers reading it as a child!)
Huang Beijia is China’s nominated author for the Hans Christian Andersen Award 2020, along with nominated illustrator Zhu Chengliang 朱成梁. Good luck to both of them!
3: Teardrops of a Christmas Tree (Cheng Wei)
When Minjie interviewed Qiuying Lydia Wang in July 2018, and asked about her favourite childhood stories, she chose “Teardrops of A Christmas Tree” by CHENG Wei 程玮. This story was first published in 1981, when Christmas decorations were rare in China, and an advent calendar brought from overseas was the focus of attention in the classroom. It was first published in Literature and Arts for Adolescents 少年文艺 (Nanjing edition) in 1981 and reprinted in an anthology of Cheng Wei’s short stories White Shells 白色的贝壳 (2008). Read the interview here.
4: 60 Christmas Picture Books in Chinese
This is a selection of picture books available in Chinese (many translated from Europe, the USA and Japan) that was posted online by You shu er 有树儿 in 2018.
5: 28 Christmas decorations to make yourself
Another Christmas post from the same website as the 60 picture books! You might recognize some of these craft projects, but it’s interesting to see which decorations have appealed to the author’s taste. Here’s the weblink.