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December 28, 2014

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Author Qin looks for fresh perspectives

ENTERTAINING young minds for the past 30 years, Qin Wenjun has written more than 50 books for children. She covers themes like scholastic pressure, grievances over family changes and anxiety over society’s dark side. The 60-year-old writer has won numerous awards including the 2002 Hans Christian Andersen Award for Writing and the 2010 Astrid Lindgren Memorial Award.

“Children’s literature is not limited to children,” Qin says. “It bridges the gap between parents and their kids.”

She talks to Shanghai Daily.

Q: What’s the best book you’ve read recently?

I was reading “Kwaidan: Stories and Studies of Strange Things” (1904) by Patrick Lafcadio Hearn, known also by the Japanese name Koizumi Yakumo, on my flight to Paris in April and I was totally attracted to the weird stories and the sad beautiful temperament between the lines. The book is a collection of Japanese legends and ghost stories. Hearn was of Greek origin, but it was in Japan that he found a home and his greatest inspiration. I was surprised to find many of the modern day Japanese ghost movies have actually drawn upon ideas in this book.

Q: What books do you find yourself returning to again and again?

James Barrie’s “Peter Pan” and Mark Twain’s “Adventures of Huckleberry Finn,” reading which gives me the pure happiness of fantasy and enjoyment.

Q: Who is your favorite novelist of all time?

I admire Mark Twain. First and foremost, he was a born storyteller. His understanding of human nature gives him the wit and satire in his articles, which is truly a gift from God. Though we may reach a certain point through imitation or hard work, none can compare with his uniqueness and magnificence. Twain lived in Hartford, Connecticut, between 1874 and 1891, where he built a large house of his own. He wrote his best works there including the “Adventures of Huckleberry Finn.” I have visited the Mark Twain House twice. Very impressive! It looks as grand as a palace museum. I like his library most.

Q: What kinds of stories are you drawn to? And how would you describe the kinds of books you steer clear of?

I am not an easily satisfied person. I don’t like writers who only write the “common life of ordinary people.” He or she should at least lead me to a perspective in life that I have overlooked, or offer a more sophisticated explanation to the mediocre. What makes a story worth telling if it isn’t fresh, interesting and different?

Q: What kind of reader were you as a child?

I was lucky to be born with parents who love books. I started reading when I was little. When I went to school, I owned my first library card with the Children’s Library in town. During the summer holidays, I would go to the library to borrow books in the morning. I would start reading on my way home. By the time I reached home, I would have finished reading them all. So I went back to the library to return the books and borrow more.


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