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

A Tree

Ett träd 1One of the most beautiful picture books that I’ve seen in the last few years is the bilingual A Tree 《树》 by the Chinese writer and illustrator San Zhi 三只. I’m not surprised that it was one of the books on the “10 picture books you can’t miss” list that we’ve written about earlier.

In very simple words and with beautiful illustrations San Zhi gives us the biography of a tree, from its “conception” as the seed sinks into the earth until the day that the tree dies and itself becomes new soil.

The illustrations are delicate, in pastel shades of green, blue-gray and brown. The tree is surrounded by animals – squirrels, foxes, birds, insects, deer, rabbits – who all benefit from it and contribute to its growth. With illustrations like these you don’t need many words to make readers see the importance of trees.

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A Tree is a bilingual book, and it seems that the author translated the book herself. San Zhi (real name: Gan Wei 甘玮) was born in Chongqing, and studied Illustration at the University of the Arts, London. In 2015 she set up the VE Art Studio (VE艺术工作室) in Chongqing.

This book is published by Tsinghua University Press and the ISBN is 978-7-302-40421-7. You can find it on the publisher’s website, on amazon.cn and on worldcat.

 

The King of Hide-and-Seek

The King of Hide-and-Seek [躲猫猫大王] / written by Zhang Xiaoling 张晓玲; illustrated by Pan Jian 潘坚. Jinan, China: Ming tian chu ban she, 2008.

When I first came to the United States and lived in a campus town, I was struck by how often I encountered people in wheelchairs—maneuvering coolly on the street, wheeling onto buses that knelt gracefully before letting down a ramp, shopping in the store, and studying in classrooms and libraries. “Why is there a higher rate of disability in the US than in China?” I wondered for a moment before realizing my mistake. The accessibility-compliant public facilities and educational services in the university allowed more people with disabilities to carry on active, and visible, social and academic lives.  Continue reading

I Am Mulan

In November, Tony Blishen wrote a post about children’s author QIN Wenjun 秦文君, and in January Anna wrote about children’s illustrator YU Rong 郁蓉 . We didn’t know at the time that Qin Wenjun and Yu Rong were collaborating on a new picture book based on the story of Mulan! Recently, Yu Rong invited me to translate I Am Mulan, and has kindly agreed to an interview here. Continue reading

One Child: The Story of China’s Most Radical Social Experiment – by Mei Fong

In October 2015 the Chinese government announced major changes to their population policy, commonly known as the One Child policy. Instead of curbs that limited one-third of Chinese households to strictly one child, Chinese families across the nation could have two children starting from 1 Jan 2016. With incredible timing, Pulitzer Prize winning journalist Mei Fong‘s book One Child was at the publishers! I was invited to review it for the Los Angeles Review of Books and found Mei Fong’s book very readable – there was a perfect balance of detailed research and stories of individual people in real circumstances.   Continue reading