Let’s Start Reading!
Reading is beneficial to everyone. The two exciting titles being recommended this time round are: Guji Guji for the lower primary school students, and The Persimmon-Lamp and the Leiothrix for the upper primary school students.
By Chen Chih-yuan
Published by Tomorrow Publishing House, 2012.
The gorgeous illustrated children’s book Guji Guji is captivating. It won the Hsin-yi Children’s Literature Award, and has already been published in over 10 languages. The author Chen Chih-yuan is a renowned Taiwanese creator of illustrated books, and his works are loved by many adults and children the world over.
It tells the tale of an egg that rolls into a duck’s nest. Mother Duck does not realise that something is out of place, and after a duckling with only blue spots, one with stripes, and one that was purely yellow hatch, the fourth egg produces an unusual blue-green duckling. It keeps making a guji guji noises, and hence is named Guji Guji.
Despite the differences in appearance and learning between Guji Guji and the other ducklings, Mother Duck loves Guji Guji all the same. One day, Guji Guji encounters three other animals that look like itself – they are crocodiles! The mean crocodiles mock Guji Guji for being foolish to learn to waddle like those delicious ducks. In fact, they want to eat Guji Guji’s family! Will Guji Guji give in to the instigations of these crocodiles? Find out in the pages of this delightful book!
This story is rich with learning value. Much as the author writes in the preface, in growing up we often encounter issues of self-identity and exclusion. With the love of the family of the ducks, Guji Guji finds acceptance and develops confidence. Can children learn to treat others inclusively and face the world with a benevolent heart? Every single life deserves to be treated with respect.
The Persimmon-Lamp and the Leiothrix
By Jin Bo
Illustrated by Fan Junli
Published by Fujian Children’s Publishing House, 2017.
The Persimmon-Lamp and the Leiothrix is a collection of 17 fairy tales by the poet and children’s literature writer Jin Bo, whose awards include the China Writers Association National Outstanding Children’s Literature Award and the Soong Ching-ling Children’s Literature Prize.
With his fertile imagination and elegant expression of the fairy tale form, the stories are filled with childlike wonder. Conveying truth, kindness, and beauty, the book is rich with feelings, and communicates positive messages. For example, in “The Dog and the Little Yellow Flower”, the Dog protects the Little Yellow Flower, ensuring that it would not be plucked away. After they had mistaken it for a bench, the Dog even lets an elderly couple continue sitting on it so they can appreciate the view of the flower. “The Tree-Castle” tells the tale of Amu, who secretly chops down a small tree, but learns his mistake and volunteers to become the guard the giant Tree-Castle.
Through beautiful writing and moving scenarios, Jin Bo introduces children to topics of life and death: In “The Persimmon-Lamp and the Leiothrix”, Grandma becomes ill, but does not forget to remind her granddaughter Tingting to harvest the ripe persimmons and to give them to the neighbours. She instructs Tingting to release her beloved pet bird, a Leiothrix, because she no longer has the energy to take care of it. Tingting leaves Grandma with a persimmon, which hangs on the tree and grows larger and larger. The Leiothrix flies away but eventually returns and builds a nest under the persimmon, so that it will not be blown away by the autumn winds. Together, the nest and the persimmon resemble a lamp. The final time that Grandma opens her eyes, she sees this persimmon lamp in the tree, and then smiles as she departs from the world. The Leiothrix tearfully sang that the Persimmon-Lamp will light the way for Grandma in the afterlife.
The book is fully annotated with hanyu pinyin, and includes illustrations too, making it easier to read for children.