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  • Jul 27, 2019
    The Cradle of Taiwan’s Picture Book Creators: Hsin Yi Picture Book Award
    By Arni Liu ∥ Translated by Sarah-Jayne Carver

    Over 30 years ago, almost all of Taiwan’s picture books were translations from English and Japanese. There were very few local artists involved in the creation of picture books at the time, and if you walked into a bookstore it would have been difficult find a picture book featuring Taiwanese children. Under these circumstances, the Hsin Yi Foundation, which promotes reading in early childhood, established the Hsin Yi Picture Book Award in 1987 to encourage local creativity.

     

    In 1988, the inaugural award was won by Let’s Get Mung Beans, Momma! Today, it is a classic Taiwanese picture book, and the Hsin Yi Picture Book Award has become the country’s most important prize for original picture books. By the award’s 31st year, a total of 145 prizes have been awarded, 90 original works have been published, and more than 30 titles have been published in other languages.

     

    On My Way to Buy Eggs

     

    They include the 13th prize-winner, On My Way to Buy Eggs, which was featured in Publishers Weekly’s Best Children’s Books of the Year. Guji Guji, which won the 15th prize, has been translated into 15 languages, it won the Peter Pan Award in Sweden and the English edition topped the New York Times bestseller list. Guji Guji tells the story of a crocodile who grows up with a family of ducks after his egg rolls into a duck nest. One day, three malicious crocodiles find him and try to convince him to eat some ducks with them. The story, which deals with issues such as adoption, love, and identity, has become popular in many countries. It is filled with many dramatic twists and turns, and has been adapted for the stage in Sweden, New Zealand and Spain.

     

    Guji Guji

     

    For over thirty years, the award-winning titles have covered a huge range of different childhood experiences. Let’s Get Mung Beans, Momma! includes the processes of growing mung beans, cooking mung bean soup and making mung bean popsicles, which are common childhood memories for Taiwanese people. The book has a succinct writing style, but alongside the meticulous illustrations, it captures the friendliness of the grocery store and everyday life as mother and child, adding plenty of details for children to look at. In the sixth prize-winner, Spit the Seeds, a piglet accidentally swallows papaya seeds and starts to worry that a tree will grow out of his head, but then he imagines small birds building nests in the tree and people cool-off in its shade, which shifts his mood and fills him with anticipation. This humorous way of thinking not only makes children laugh, but also conveys the most precious characteristic of childhood: the power of imagination.

     

    Spit the Seeds

     

    Similarly, many of the books explore the power of childhood imagination. In On My Way to Buy Eggs, a young girl looks at the world through a blue glass bead and imagines that she is a fish in the ocean, then later she has a make-believe game where she pretends to be her mother talking to a shopkeeper. As School Library Journal said, “This universal tribute to the power of a child’s imagination will strike a familiar chord with dreamers everywhere.” The 14th prize-winner, I Really Want to Eat a Durian, features a small mouse that has never eaten durian and really wants to know what it tastes like, so he goes around asking other animals about it, resulting in all the animals in the forest wanting to eat durian. The small mouse represents a child, and the string of words illustrated in the sky above him, “I want to eat durian”, reflect the unabashed innocence of children. The imaginative scenarios depicted in these books are all from the perspectives of young children and reflect the purpose of the Hsin Yi Picture Book Award. Interestingly, Thailand, which produces a lot of durian, was the first overseas country to publish I Really Want to Eat a Durian.

     

    Some of the prize-winning works are demonstrations of local Taiwanese culture, such as the 27th winner, Little Peach, which tells the story of the Hakka rice cake; while in the winner of the 30th prize, A Busy New Year’s Eve, the adults are busily preparing for Chinese New Year, creating a fun atmosphere for children to learn about all kinds of New Year’s customs. The subject of the 20th winner, The Sword-Lion Who Lost His Sword, is a tradition from Tainan known as a sword-lion. With the blessing of his homeland, the sword-lion sets out to find the double-edged sword, but when it is nowhere to be found, the village residents ask the gods for a prophecy. The author incorporates folk beliefs into the highs and lows of the story, so that it is still enjoyable to read for children who aren’t familiar with the cultural background.

     

    The Sword-Lion Who Lost His Sword

     

    With time, we’ve also seen prize-winning works which have their fingers on the pulse of modern society. When stray dogs became a cause for concern in Taiwan, the 10th prize-winner, The Stray Dogs Around My House and I, featured a protagonist who took a different route to school to avoid stray dogs. The winner of the 20th prize, A Trip from the Zoo, has the animals tour Taipei by riding the subway; while in the 21st prize-winner, One Afternoon, the protagonist shows the reader around Taipei by bicycle; and Papa’s Red Umbrella, which also won the 21st prize, depicts sky lanterns in Pingxi. These works all portray a popular way of life in Taiwan today.

     

    A Trip from the Zoo

     

    Many of the winners have said that they started creating to participate in the prize, or that they compete in the prize every year. The award’s most significant achievement is that it has encouraged more people to create for children and supported many important creators of picture books, such as Chunlun Lee, Bei Lynn, Chen Chih-Yuan and Liu Hsu-Kung etc.

     

    The Hsin Yi Picture Book Award has captured Taiwan’s landscape and culture, through words and illustrations in the form of picture books. These books not only give children a local culture they can identify with, but let children across the world enjoy their charming stories.

  • May 10, 2019
    Translation Grant Program, Ministry of Culture, Republic of China (Taiwan)
    By Books from Taiwan

    Books from Taiwan supports the translation of Taiwanese literature into foreign languages with the Translation Grant Program, administered by The Ministry of Culture of Taiwan. The grant is to encourage the publication of translations of Taiwan’s literature, including fiction, non-fiction, picture books and comics, and help Taiwan’s publishing industry to explore non-Chinese international markets.

     

    •    Applicant Eligibility: Foreign publishers (legal persons) legally registered in accordance with the laws and regulations of their respective countries.


    •    Conditions:

    1. Works translated shall be original, published works (for example, fiction, non-fiction, picture books, and comics but not anthologies) by Taiwanese writers (Republic of China nationals) in traditional Chinese characters.

    2. Priority is given to works to be translated and published for the first time in a non-Chinese language market.

    3. Applicants are not limited to submitting only one project for funding in each application year; however, an applicant may only receive funding for up to three projects in any given round of applications.

    4. Projects receiving funding shall have already obtained authorization for translation, and be published within two years starting from the year after application year (published before the end of October).

     

    •    Funding Items and Amount

    1. Funds may cover licensing fees going to the rights holder of the original work, translation fees, and promotional fees (limited to an economy-class airline ticket for authors who are citizens of the Republic of China traveling abroad to attend promotional activities), and book production fees.

    2. The maximum funding available for any given project is NT$600,000 (including income tax and remittance charges).

    3. Priority consideration will be given to those works that have not yet been published in a language other than Chinese, as well as winners of a Golden Tripod Award, Golden Comic Award, or Taiwan Literature Golden Award (list appended.)


    •    Application Period: Twice every year. The MOC reserves the right to change the application periods, and will announce said changes separately. The first application period for 2019 is May 10 through June 10.


    •    Announcement of successful applications: Winners will be announced within three months of the end of the application period.


    •    Application Method: Please visit the Ministry’s “Books from Taiwan” (BFT) website (http://booksfromtaiwan.tw/), and use the online application system.


    For full details of the Translation Grant Program, please visit http://booksfromtaiwan.tw/grant_index.php
    Or contact: books@moc.gov.tw

     

    *Recommended Books for Translation Grant Program 

  • Jan 15, 2019
    When Two Worlds Collide: The Representation of Taiwan in International Collaborations of Picturebook Productions (II)
    By Liu Meng-ying

    International collaborations in picturebook creations about Taiwan are not few, and HongFei Cultures in France and Grimm Press in Taiwan are two of the most well-known publishing houses that dedicate in combining illustrators and writers from different cultures to create picturebooks. Both publishers provide fruitful creations of picturebooks of my interest.

    Some of the stories are adaptations of ancient texts, some of them are original creations that are drawn from the authors’ own experiences, some of them are new creations of fictional stories set in ancient time, and some are with cultural neutral backgrounds that can be located in anytime, anywhere. As the main focus of this article is intercultural collaborations, I first targeted on texts with strong cultural reference.

    After careful examinations, I narrowed down to one picturebook from each publisher, The Other End of the World (L’autre bout du monde, 2011) and Grandpa’s Toy Kingdom (爺爺的玩具王國, 2018). They are both written by the publishers themselves, illustrated by European artists, with realistic Taiwanese backgrounds, and have similar themes concerning the relationship between grandparents and grandchildren.

    The Other End of the World

    Written by Taiwanese author Yeh Chun-Liang and illustrated by French artist Sophie Roze, The Other End of the World is based on the writer’s own experience of childhood and his relationship with his grandma (Yeh, 2017). Langlang rides on a cruise with his mom to visit Grandma on a small island because she wants to give him a special gift for his first day of school.

    During the visit, Grandma plays games with Langlang and tells him lots of stories of the past. When Grandma was young, she learns from a teacher and has bounded feet like most young ladies from good families, but Fangfang couldn’t receive education and have bounded feet like everyone else because she needs to help her dad at work. Nevertheless, with the words learned from Grandma, she is able to travel to many cities, which makes Grandma envious. At the end of Langlang’s visit, Grandma gives him a pair of shoes with wings on the sides and tells him to go far and explore.

    Grandpa's Toy Kingdom

    Grandpa’s Toy Kingdom is written by Taiwanese author Hao Kuang-Tsa and illustrated by Italian artist Monica Barengo. The story talks about the relationship between a grandpa and his grandson. Xiao-Yu’s grandpa is an expert in toy-making, and Xiao-Yu enjoys his time with him. Among all these toys, Xiao-Yu loves spinning tops the most.

    When Xiao-Yu grows up and needs to leave home for his studies, he and Grandpa exchange the gifts of memory, which is—the spinning tops! As time goes by, Grandpa grows more and more forgetful and gradually forgets about his family. But he never forgets about the toys. Understanding his memories won’t serve him anymore, he tries to write down all that was left in his mind.

    However, as Xiao-Yu comes back and starts to make spinning top with Grandpa, the old Grandpa seems to be back. Grandpa then hands in the notebook he has been scribbling down to Xiao-Yu and says, ‘I know, by the time when Xiao-Yu comes back to see me, I might not be able to recognise him anymore. By the time when he comes back, please hand him my notebook. With these notes, Xiao-Yu would always see the old grandpa as he was!’