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

Yu Rong’s paper cuttings

smoke_cvr_frontMr 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

Tyrus Wong (1910-2016) and Bambi

When Walt Disney’s “Bambi” opened in 1942, critics praised its spare, haunting visual style, vastly different from anything Disney had done before. But what they did not know was that the film’s striking appearance had been created by a Chinese immigrant artist, who took as his inspiration the landscape paintings of the Song dynasty. The extent of his contribution to “Bambi,” which remains a high-water mark for film animation, would not be widely known for decades. Continue reading

Bing Xin and The Little Orange Lantern

Bing Xin 冰心 (1900-1999) is a major figure in Chinese literature, and the Bing Xin Children’s Literature Award 冰心儿童文学新作奖 is one of the four major Chinese literature awards. This month, one of Bing Xin’s most famous works, The Little Orange Lantern 《小橘灯》,was featured on Brigitte Duzan’s website Chineseshortstories (including the memoir -essay in Chinese, her translation into French, and the background to the story). Inspired by Brigitte’s post, I have created a similar version for English readers here. Continue reading

A picture’s worth a thousand words…

On 3 November, we posted a piece about Zhang Xinxin and Little People’s Books. Zhang Xinxin created the beautiful banner for our blog, and she kindly highlighted our blog on her Weibo page. It seems we are not the only people who like this image. On 11 November, the Chinese periodical Wen yi bao (“Literature and Arts Paper”) reproduced it in its print and online edition.  Continue reading

Made in China: 10 picture books you can’t miss

This was the title of an article by Li Hongrui in China Daily, 14 July 2016. Li gave an illustration, an English title, and a short review for each Chinese book. While it’s great to see picture books being recommended, we need more information to make it easier to find them and read them for ourselves. So, I’m adding the authors, illustrators, publishers, ISBNs and an online link here. One of them (no.10) was A New York Times Best Illustrated Children’s Book of 2011! And we’re looking forward to seeing another one (no.3) published in English in 2017! Continue reading

The Reason for Being Late

Haven’t we all searched for a good reason for being late–one that has the appearance of being legitimate, that is beyond our control, and that we hope to give to our friends, teachers, and colleagues without having to own our faults? In The Reason for Being Late (迟到的理由), a delightful picture book by a 26-year-old Chinese artist named Yao Jia (姚佳), a piglet does just that in an unnervingly quiet school hallway, searching hard for the best reason to give to his second-grade teacher before timidly pushing open the door to his classroom. Continue reading