Saturday, 4 April 2015

China part 2 Tiz & Ott Beijing! The Bookworm Festival, and more surprises and delights

In my previous post I showed photos of about my first two days of of kids workshops and talks in Beijing at the generous invitation of the China Bookworm Literary Festival.
More words this time - about timing and serendipity and the Festival and more photos of Beijing to end with -  and hey, I had time to do one sketch!

After my Beijing Bookworm kid's workshop I go back to my beautiful zen hotel room at the Beijing  Opposite House (a room I'd like to take home!) 

Wow! In my room are two advance copies of my new book. Juliette my designer at the Tate Publishing in London has organized a speedy delivery across China from the printers in Shanghai..

 I check the gatefold.  
The ladder works beautifully!  Tiz Ott's Big Draw is real at last - 
and ready to hit the shelves in May 2015 
Here I am in China - the  other end of the world from where I drew and endlessly grew those two little characters, gathering doubts then finally the courage to show it to the Tate. 
Now the long wait for publication is almost over.  
I have to hurry to my planned meeting with Niu Shuo, the picture book publisher whom I met in our panel talk the first evening.   She travels two hours across Beijing to show me her lovely books and catalogue. Now I can show her my latest too!

 Niu Shuo, general manage of the Mengxi Jindian
holding my book.  And I am holding the first book she shows me. Surprise! 
It is the Chinese co-edition of a book illustrated by none other than Layn Marlow
my dear friend who is a mainstay of our picture book critique group in London!

Here is the cover of the Mengxi Jindian Culture Communication Co. publisher's catalogue.  
Niu Shuo explained that although China is a huge market, distribution is a problem. They also organize workshops to encourage interest in their picture books and co-editions across  communities of interested parents and child specialists.  

Niu Shuo was due to leave the next day for the Bologna Bookfair.  
She loved Tiz and Ott and told me that this end page

reminded her of Chinese calligraphy.  I replied that as a student I had spent two intense years studying Classical and Modern Chinese and culture.  I have forgotten most of the Mandarin I learnt so rapidly at 20,  but I loved writing Chinese characters. Fingers crossed there will be a Chinese edition of the book - as I want to return to China, improve my Chinese and do more workshops there! 
Among other more serious books by fellow authors, the Beijing Bookworm had a good selection in their shop of my books from France, the UK/ US and Australia to sign after my workshops.

Friends have asked me to write more about the China Bookworm Festival itself.   
It takes place in the Bookworm bookshop-library-bar-restaurant-event spaces  in three centres, Beijing, Suzhou and Chengdu.

I'm full of admiration for Peter Goff the managing director of the Beijing Bookworm, and Daniel Clutton in Suzhou and all those working for it.
"We’ve created Bookworm Literary Festival to be a forum for thought and dialogue – fundamentals of a progressive society. Literature is an ongoing, live, global discussion, and Bookworm Literary Festival is proud to be part of it."
I was proud to be part of the China Bookworm this year too!
This year writers as diverse as Tahar Ben-Jalloun,  Victoria and Ian Hislop (whom I didn't meet) to the venerable poet and  translator of Jose Luis Borges, Willis Barnstone (whom I was lucky enough to meet) came from all corners of the world.  I was sorry to miss Stephen Mooser,  writer and SCBWI co-founder.

Still I was delighted to a couple of talks with friend and fellow children's author-illustrator Frane Lessac from Australia.  More about our time in Suzhou coming in next post!

I am so grateful to Peter Goff and his team for selecting me out of an amazing international list of authors and illustrators, and for making me feel so welcome. 

Thanks too to Olivia Liu SCBWI China regional advisor, Angela Cerrito and Kathleen Ahrens  International SCBWI (all authors too) for recommending me and to my dear friend and desk sharer, author-illustrator Sally Kindberg who had gone through 3 years ago, for encouraging me to take up the surprise invitation that I received back in November. 
You can find more about the festival here.  Also a huge thanks to the volunteers and the sponsors for  their generosity.  Beijing Bookworm volunteers Carol Zhang, Naina, and Jack were perfect guides around the city when my work was done.  
Here are some of the sights they showed me.  You'll see I even managed time for one sketch!

After my school workshop, Jack showed me around the park of Tian Tan, the Temple of Heaven.

There were families visiting from other parts of China 
 areas where  retired people gathered to sing or play board games,
as well as quiet areas where people read

or in this case play an ancient instrument - not for the tourists, just for pleasure.

My one free day in Beijing was spent with lovely Bookworm volunteer
Carol Zhang who showed me around....

the Forbidden Palace - La Cité Interdite.
What a huge place...full of tourists from all over China, but 

off the main drag, to the east and west

there were plenty of details to discover - I found the roofs fascinating 

and inside one building, people were trying on traditional palace costumes.

 They were tourists too - look at their shoes!
So many interesting contrasts of old and new!

I'm not a dedicated sightseer though.
I am happiest when I can find a table somewhere to sketch.

And I loved these yellow tables - even  the fake flowers in little baskets.  
It was the only snack bar we could see
in the Forbidden Palace -  somewhere to sit down at last!
Carol took photos while I went into meditative sketching mode... 
....painting a courtyard, above the tables on the east side of the Forbidden Palace.
Just wish I had had time to do more sketching!

Still I caught a few other moments on my Iphone before the battery ran out.

This garden courtyard at the north end of the Forbidden City, was particularly beautiful 

and I loved the square doors, and the colours...

And later, after I recharged my phone outside the Palace, 
Carol and I walked around a popular lakeside area.
Here's a cafe on the lake for Tintin fans...

Back near the hotel in Sanlitun, our hip area of Beijing, this father was playing a classical instrument.
They looked like they had travelled a long way.  Were they guest workers?

Another contrast,  close to the hotel entrance 
I found a fascinating key to some of these contrasts  thanks to a book I found at the Beijing Bookworm, China in Ten Words, by the writer Yu Hua,.

More to come about that and Chinese children's books, and the Suzhou Bookworm and wanderings.

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