Archive for the ‘Books’ Category

Interview with Grace Lin

Grace Lin‘s picture books have beautiful and lively illustrations that children love. Her book One Is a Drummer was one of L’s favorites and it almost single-handedly taught him how to count. The books are in English but introduce Chinese culture and especially food in a very inviting way. On the China Sprout blog, Xiaoning interviews Grace about her work and her transition to writing longer novels for older kids.


Christoph Niemann and his Character Creations

Those of you who are familiar with the wonderful book The Pet Dragon: A Story about Adventure, Friendship, and Chinese Characters, by Christoph Niemann, may enjoy this two-part interview with Niemann about his work. | chinese
In the second part, Niemann tries to create an image out of increasingly complex characters:

Baby Books

With T now one year old, we are all constantly tripping over board books left lying around in odd corners of our house. “Book” was one of her first words and she can read several of them, repeatedly, and be completely enthralled for all ten lines of text, before pointing frantically and saying, “Mama book mama book mama book” until it is read again, and again. Even though I am never sure how much she really understands of the text, she definitely has strong preferences and won’t touch some books while others are already getting worn at the edges.

In the three years since L was in the board book phase, I have noticed that an incredible number of popular books are now available in Chinese (or maybe they always were but now I know where to look). I ordered a random selection for her and these are now among our favorites:

Elmer’s Day (English-Chinese) (or others in the Elmer series): This incredibly simple story about a patchwork elephant and his friends has colorful, lively drawings that hold a baby’s attention.

The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle. A classic and the simple, rhythmic narrative translates easily.

Sleepyhead. A night-time story that teaches body parts in a gentle rhyme.


King of All Monkeys

With a four-year-old boy in the house, we spend a lot of time talking about, dressing up as, watching, and otherwise channeling the great spirit of Sun Wukong, the Monkey King. L and his Baba spend many hours telling the numerous, intricate stories from the epic Journey to the West, and the full DVD set of the CCTV animated mini-series (52 episodes), provided by an uncle in Shenzhen, is just about the only movie or TV L watches. He loves the characters: A magical, omnipotent but mischievous monkey; his traveling companions a Buddhist monk, a pig, and a white dragon horse, and all the creatures they encounter on their way to India, where they have been sent to retrieve Buddhist scriptures.

We have many books which tell stories of Sun Wukong’s adventures. L’s favorite, which has beautiful illustrations with tales adapted into short but detailed stories easily digested by four-year-olds, is published by the Shanghai Century Publishing Group (上海世纪出版集团少年儿童出版社) and is hard to find outside of China. But another favorite that is in both English and Chinese, and is more widely available here (including from Amazon) is Tang Monk Disciples Monkey King. This is part of a series by the same authors.

The CCTV-produced animated series is a rich, beautifully conceived piece of work which, with 52 episodes, provides endless entertainment. The full set can be bought on VCD through ChinaSprout. L has memorized and frequently belts out the theme songs from the series. Clips of the songs are on YouTube (see below). Read the rest of this entry »


Best Books: Translated Story Books

Some of the best Chinese books that L likes to read over and over are translated from popular English children’s books. There are more of these available than I ever imagined, and while many lose something in the translation (ie Dr. Seuss books, which for some reason are translated literally), these are among our favorites:

- Frog and the Wide World (English-Chinese), by Max Velthuijs. Frog tries to be brave on an adventure around the world, but ends up missing his friends at home. Part of a series about Frog. For those in the Bay Area, these books are also available at the Berkeley Central Library.

- The Little Bear and Frog & Toad series. The text of these sweet stories is in both English and Chinese, and some books come with a CD of the book read aloud (in English only).

- Sylvester and the Magic Pebble. This popular English story is nicely translated and also comes with both English and Chinese text. Also available from ChinaSprout.

- What Am I? (English-Chinese), part of the Who Am I? What Am I? series of riddles about common animals, vehicles, etc.