Chinese, Western children's publishers eye cooperation

Chinese and Western professionals in the world of children's publishing on Wednesday discussed collaboration projects here at the Bologna Children's Book Fair in Italy after Chinese writer Cao Wenxuan's win of the Hans Christian Andersen Prize.

Cao on Monday became the first Chinese author to ever win the prize, which is awarded by the International Board on Books for Young People (IBBY) and is considered as the highest international recognition in the field of children's literature.

Martin Salisbury, a professor of Cambridge School of Art, and also an illustrator and author, said Chinese picture books - books whose pictures are very well integrated together to tell the story - have a great future ahead.

"Chinese picture books are graphically very exciting," Salisbury said at a round table held at the fair. It will be interesting to see what happens with the Chinese graphic traditions enriched by new forms of visual authorship, he said.

The world of picture books, he added, opens up new collaboration opportunities also on the education side for Britain and China to learn from each other.

Every year China features several thousands of children's books, and many of them exert huge influence, said Li Yan, Vice President of China Publishing Group, whose Chinese Story Seeds & World's Illustration Flowers series has published Cao's works.

"A few years ago we launched the project of the Chinese Story Seeds & World's Illustration Flowers. We hoped that using illustrated books with this approach, we could better connect China's storytellers and illustrations from other countries so to promote the interchange and collaboration between Chinese publishing groups and other major publishing groups abroad," he said.

Ljiljana Marinkovic, General Manager of Kreativni Centar, the largest Serbian publisher of children's books and the publisher of the Serbian version of Straw Hut, one of Cao's most famous novels, said her publishing house has being trying as much as possible to encourage different programs and introduce Serbian readers to other cultures.

"We are not only publishers, we are really trying to make the public aware of the importance of children's literature for our country's culture," Marinkovic said.

She noted that readers in Serbia are already familiar with traditional Chinese literature for children, but they do not know much about contemporary Chinese children's books.

For this reason Marinkovic said she was particularly glad to publish the Serbian version of a children's book whose author is an important representative of China's literature for children.

Three agreements were signed at the round table including a memorandum of understanding between China Publishing Group and Giunti Editore Group, Italy's main publisher of children's books.

In an interview with Xinhua on the sidelines of the event, Sergio Giunti, publisher and president of the Giunti Group, said the memorandum of understanding envisages a series of scientific children's books which will likely be presented in 2018, when China will be guest of honor at the Bologna Children's Book Fair.

The series, Giunti said, will result from a collaboration between Chinese and Italian writers and illustrators, and will feature a variety of scientific topics from astronomy to animals and seas. "It is not an easy project, but we believe that children's books can be an important bridge for international dialogue, and a hope for a better world," he said.

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