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Brushes with rural childhood brings countryside into view

By ZHANG KUN | CHINA DAILY | Updated: 2024-03-01 07:50

Some of Chen's illustrations. CHINA DAILY

Golden Childhood is about the whimsical childhood world of the book's main character Yangyang, where animals and water are supporting characters too.

The illustrations depict the games popular with children in the Chinese countryside, such as sliding down haystacks, riding straw horses, and making grape popsicles. Festive New Year scenes, including dragon and lion dances and bustling market gatherings, are also beautifully illustrated.

This book celebrates the simple pleasures of life, the joys of playing freely outdoors and enjoying nature, and is sprinkled with interesting nuggets of Chinese culture and the old ways of living.

It took more than a year for Golden Childhood to be released to foreign readers. The book was published last year. "I can't believe there are such beautiful paintings," stated an editor with the publishing company.

Founded in 2015, Balestier Press is an independent publisher dedicated to presenting the hidden gems of contemporary world literature, including picture books, graphic novels and memoirs, and has a particular focus on Asia and the Pacific.

The book not only exquisitely captures rural life, but serves as a cultural ambassador, a showcase of China's historical richness, the critics say. Chen Huifang says its publication has boosted her confidence and will inform future efforts to present Chinese culture to foreign readers.

"I believe it is the enduring vitality of China's outstanding traditional culture that captivates and endears foreign readers," the illustrator says.

Lin Jinyi contributed to this story.

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