Chinese Government to Restrict Foreign Picture Books – News from China

According to these two articles, one by the Guardian, Peppa Pig pulled: China cracks down on foreign children’s books and one on South China Morning Post, What does China have against Peppa Pig?, the Chinese Government has started to limit the number of picture books originally published overseas in order to both foster local children’s book publication and have a firmer control over the kind of ideology conveyed through the local picture books. (Thanks, Jeff Gottesfeld, for posting these links on Facebook!)

I am monitoring this progress and will report back for those interested in following this topic.  But, right out of the bag, I’d like to point out that the number of translated books for children in China has always been huge and overpowering.  Look at this screenshot of the top paperback picture book bestsellers on their largest online children’s bookstore: 2 from the Netherland, 4 from the United States, and 2 from France.  Not a single title is by Chinese authors or illustrators.

Screen Shot 2017-03-14 at 10.26.33 AM

Compare this to the top selling picture books on Amazon in the U.S. (There is no such category, only best selling children’s books.)  There are eight picture books in the first twenty titles which are mostly Harry Potter books: First 100 Words by Roger Priddy, The Going-To-Bed Book by Sandra Boynton, The Wonderful Things… by Emily Winfield Martin, Giraffes Can’t Dance by Giles Andreae, The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein, Oh, The Places You’ll Go! by Dr. Seuss, Richard Scarry’s The Gingerbread Man (Little Golden Book) by Nancy Nolte (Author), Richard Scarry (Illustrator), and Goodnight Moon by Margaret Wise Brown.  All of them are published in the U.S., by U.S. authors and illustrators.  In fact, it has always been rare for foreign, translated work for children to thrive in the U.S. marketplace.

So, I imagine that the need for #OWNVOICE is real and urgent in China.

There is a reason I used this hashtag since I saw that someone invented this other hashtag on Facebook to stress that China Need Diverse Books: #CNDB (modeling after the #WNDB, We Need Diverse Books hashtag) as if the Chinese market is flushed with nothing BUT Chinese creators’ works.  The reality is quite the opposite.

Let’s truly examine the full ranges of the issues of picture book fields in these two countries before making judgements regarding the nature and influence of this potential “government mandate.”

The fact is: the U.S. has no government mandate, but a free market, that dictates what gets published and sold.  And what we have is usually an extremely U.S. or Western centric slate of titles year in and year out.  Any publisher is BRAVE enough to bring a couple of culturally unfamiliar, translated books into the U.S. market is praised, patted on the back, but rarely sees monetary success because of such courageous move.  (And why isn’t the Betchelder Award ever cites the Translator along with the Publisher.  Or for that matter, why aren’t translators’ names always prominently placed on the cover or title pages? That’s another whole blog post to come.)

As some of you know already, I am working with Candied Plums, a new children’s book imprint, to bring contemporary Chinese books to the U.S. There is no mandate from anyone or anywhere, except for the publisher’s and my desire to bring more cultural understanding and accessibility to the U.S. readers.  These picture books, in my opinion, do not promote the “Chinese/Communist Dogma,” nor do they convey any specific ideology except for displaying all ways that we can be human.  These books should be as popular in China as all the imported books.  So, perhaps, just perhaps, the publishers who have been working hard at publishing their #OWNVOICES would have a better chance at reaching their #OWNREADERS with this new, drastic mandate from the Government?

 

 

 

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Chinese/English Bilingual Books from Candied Plums

It’s FINALLY happening!!  So excited to report that the first group of books (20 titles) from Candied Plums, an imprint of Paper Republic, located in Seattle and Beijing, are finally available in the U.S. marketplace.

You can purchase the titles through Amazon or Baker and Taylor (and hopefully more venues in the immediate future.)

I have proudly served as Candied Plums consultant for the last year and a half and am impressed by the diligence and vision of those who venture into this new territory with me.  Manager Richard Li (Li Yun), editorial and rights coordinator Lisa Li (Li Xiaocui,) and editor Nancy Zhang (Zhang Tong) have poured their heart and soul into bringing the best contemporary children’s picture books to American readers: both Mandarin Learners and non-Chinese readers.  Some titles are available in both English and Bilingual Chinese (with English translation at the back of each book) versions while some are only available in Bilingual Chinese version.

Kirkus has reviewed some of titles and it seems that the reviewers all adore the stories and illustrations but worry about the fact that the English translation of the bilingual version does not appear along side the Chinese text.  This is a deliberate choice by the editorial team.  We want to present the books as close to their original version as possible while still giving the English readers a completely clear sense of what each page conveys.  It is a bold and risky choice — but perhaps it is also a chance for readers of all ages to get excited about something new and groundbreaking.  The company’s budding website will include companion audio recordings of each title.  I can see a fun library program where the librarian can play the audio version, stopping to translate each page with the provided English text, and give the young audience the pleasure of the storyline, the illustrations, and hearing an unfamiliar but widely used language in the world.

To give a bit of a taste of what the books are like, here are two titles and links to their reviews by Kirkus.

candiedhawberries

Who Wants Candied Hawberries?

buddyannoying

Buddy is So Annoying

Candied Plums’ Winter 2016/2017 Catalog also offers detailed information, description, and language learning levels.

Please also visit the Candied Plums’ Website.  Spread the word and give us feedback so we can continue bringing the best of Chinese children’s books to American young readers, schools, libraries, and families.

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The Book of Dust Trilogy – Philip Pullman. I’m freaking out!

I kind of knew about this upcoming fantasy for a while but didn’t realize that it’s not just ONE book, but a TRILOGY.  Woot!

Can’t wait to have new words, new phrases, new characters, new magical experiences and new emotional responses to Pullman’s creation.  The world is a richer place because it contains His Dark Materials and the wisdom of Philip Pullman!

Read the Guardian article here:

Philip Pullman unveils epic fantasy trilogy The Book of Dust

willandlyraschair

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Nameless City by Hicks – RWW Review

I’d like to draw attention to this thoughtful review of Erin Hicks’ graphic novel Nameless City over at Reading While White blog, I could not bring myself to reading most of the book, because of my own strong emotional (mostly adverse) reaction the raised concerns explored by Angie Manfredi in her review.  I did not speak up about this title because I strongly believe that one cannot critique a book without reading the book in its entirety and closely examining its many components.  (I felt the same about Ryan Gaudin’s The Walled City and Richelle Mead’s Soundless, both “inspired” and “loosely based” on an exoticized old China without the authors’ true understanding of the very real, and very much “living” culture or paying tribute to the long established literary tradition in this particular country.)

 

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Extreme Vetting

I woke this morning and looked out the window.  I saw three flying cars and two tooth fairies. I closed the blinds and SHRIEKED!  Suddenly one of the tooth fairies busted through my window and grabbed one of my teeth.  She pulled it straight out of my mouth, blood gushing, and then my house turned into a cat.

At least I made 10 bucks!

I used the money to buy another cat.  It was green and I named it Bob.  Then, with my leftover money, I bought a unicorn. The cars were still coming at one of my cats (my house!) Suddenly, my cat (the house) collapsed and it fell on me!

My unicorn bought ice cream and pizza for us so we can come back to life.  (Cause it’s yummy.)  When we were revived, we started to pass gas, used the bathroom, and barfed everywhere.  Then the ice cream and pizza came to life and said, “What’s your favorite color?”  Then we ate the cat and the unicorn.  

Next, we had a funeral for the cat and the unicorn.  It was a very sad and depressing ceremony.

Can you guess what my name is?  (Hint: DJT)

(This is an extremely silly story made up by 4th grade students as part of a “Search Engine” experiment.)

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An Average Day

This morning I woke up and looked out the window. It was snowing like crazy! Mayor Miranda decided that it would be a snow day. All the kids who attend schools were excited that it was a snow day. Then all of a sudden, a giant monster ate Mayor Miranda!!! The monster stomped around causing fear and destruction.

Everyone stayed inside all day because of the monster. Some kids could see the monster stomping around the city. The monster burped and destroyed most of the houses. Then, Bob the Builder the Assassin killed the monster with a bomb. Even though he killed the monster, he also destroyed the city with the bomb.

Then, a mutant underwear ate the bomb. But there was another assassin and the two assassins tried to kill the mutant underwear. Bob the Builder called the Pink Fluffy Unicorn to help. But Dumbledore was so mad that he started shouting the elder curse but without saying all the “beeeeeeeeeps.”

A new assassin, the Poop Assassin, came and killed the Pink Fluffy Unicorn and it called for all the mutant fingernails to kill every other underwear and toxic poop. The wizard guy trapped the people into the Underworld and killed all the people and then killed himself.

But then, since the monster that ate Mayor Miranda didn’t chew her but only swallowed her, so when the monster died, Mayor Miranda survived.

That was a Nasty Dream!

(This is a 4th grade class exercise for Search Engine efficiency, strategy, and reliability.)

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The Odyssey Experience!

This past year, I had the extreme pleasure of serving on the Odyssey Award Committee for the best audiobook produced for children and/or young adults.

The following are actual numbers of time spent by me on this Listening Odyssey – including unfinished listening and also re-listening, not including note-taking or review writing and posting on the private conversation online bulletin board.

Minutes Listened: 40000
Hours Listened: 667
Days (24 hours) Listened: 27.8
Weeks (24 hours/7 days) Listened: 4
Months (24 hours/7 days) Listened: 0.9
Work Days (8 hours) Listened: 83.4
Work Weeks (8 hours/5 days) Listened: 17
Work Months (8 hours/5 days) Listened: 4

So it is with great pleasure and relief that we unveiled our selection on January 23rd. For more detailed information, please check out the official website.  I love every single one of these titles TO PIECES!  Each does something magical to enhance the already wonderful original text.  All four deserve to be listened to and be read.  I also love how we have different age brackets represented — and an outstanding Graphic Novel adaptation in the midst!

Anna and the Swallow Man written by Gavriel Savit, narrated by Allan Corduner, from Listening Library, won the Gold medal.

The three honored titles are:

Ghost written by Jason Reynolds, narrated by Guy Lockard and produced by Simon and Schuster Audio.

Dream On, Amber written by Emma Shevah, narrated by Laura Kirman and produced by Recorded Books.

Nimona written by Noelle Stevenson, narrated by Rebecca Soler, Jonathan Davis, Marc Thompson, January LaVoy, Natalie Gold, Peter Bradbury, and David Pittu, and produced by HarperAudio.

 

 

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