This week’s book traveled a long way. It was shipped to me by my friend Jessie, whose parents just happen to live near the only French book store in Taiwan that carried a copy of this book. It was that or travel to France, cheaper but not by much. Keep reading…
Mures mures, written by Chun-Liang YEH and illustrated by Gaelle Duhaze, derives from an ancient Chinese story written by GUO Ju-Jing during the Yuan Dynasty (A.D. 1271-1368). Rewritten and translated into French, it’s a tale about a little Panda named Yuanyuan who lives with his mom in the woods. One day on his way back from blackberry picking, he runs into a snake. This may not be the best story description provided by a publisher, but HongFei Cultures, a French publishing house, only publish seven books a year and every one of them is worth checking out (see their backlist on www.hongfei-cultures.com For Canadian fans I have been told that the HongFei books are distributed by Agence du livre, Quecbec. If you can’t find it in the bookstores, you can try order it through ADL). HongFei’s children’s books are based on stories and poetry from Chinese literature, rewritten and illustrated by French artists.
As I’m not fluent in French, I think a lot was lost during translation for me. I have been making due with the illustrations, which was not a hardship since they are amazing, just beautiful stuff. I am not 100 per cent sure of the technique but it looks like pencil crayons with some parts digitally rendered. The pages are filled with cute little critters that remind me of Japanese cartoon characters. The stylized plants and floral in the book remind me of the patterns found on Chiyogami Paper.
There are distinctive flavours to books produced in different countries and cultures: North American books tend to be more commercial-looking, glitzy and polished, while European ones seem more old school and have a find art feel to it. You can make a similar comparison with movies, American box-office driven movies versus foreign independent ones. I feel like there is more tolerance and a willingness to take risk in content and style in other countries. North American publishers tend to be overly cautious and therefore have less variety on their bookshelves.
Mures mures, a children’s book review by Thao Lam
Author Chun-Liang YEH
Chun-Liang YEH, traveller through different cultures, was born in Taiwan and has studied in Britain and France, where he lives now. He worked in a parisian practice of architecture before devoting himself to making books on architecture and design. Publisher of picture books for children since 2007, he is also the author of Pi, Po, Pierrot (ed. HongFei Cultures) and the Chinese translator of Paradis artificiels of Charles Baudelaire (Taipei, 2007).
I am always tickled pink when an author or an illustrator, takes time out of their busy schedule to reply to a fan mail.
“Thanks Thao for your kind presentation ! The illustration of Gaelle is lovely and touching… As for the story, I share it regularly with children in elementary schools and it’s really a pleasure.
Congratulations for your quality blog which I will keep visiting for sure!”
– Chun-Liang YEH –
Illustrator Gaelle Duhaze
Not a lot of background info on Gaelle Duhaze or it was in French, but she is represented by an agency and she has a blog. You can browse through her incredible portfolio of work here: www.costume3pieces.com/authors/wiesner and here www.perditacorleone.canalblog.com
Publisher HongFei (September 2008)