If you're happy and you know IT...

Updated: 2010-12-24 11:20

By Mei Jia (China Daily European Weekly)

Twitter Facebook Myspace Yahoo! Linkedin Mixx

Chinese J.K. Rowling's best-selling children's works are rapidly finding a foreign audience

One of children's author Yang Hongying's earliest fantasies as an elementary school teacher in the 1980s was creating a pair of glasses for angry teachers that magnified the merits of their students, so everyone was happy. Yang understood then the limits of the country's educational thinking and was determined to change this by emphasizing trust and happiness in her books.

If you're happy and you know IT...

Top: Children's book writer Yang Hongying says her career of an
elementary school teacher helps a lot with her writing. Above:
(from left) Mo's Mischief, translated to English and French,
and Diary of a Smiling Cat, translated to German, are some of
Yang's books that have gained popularity outside China.
Provided to China Daily

Hailed as "China's J.K. Rowling" in terms of success and influence, Yang is the first Chinese children's author to enter the mainstream English book market.

"The performance of Yang's books is the best among the books we've introduced from China to the English-speaking world," says Stella Chou, managing director of Harper Collins China Business Development.

Harper Collins has acquired the multilingual copyrights of Yang's works, such as Mo's Mischief and Diary of a Smiling Cat. It has so far published 200,000 copies of six books from the Mo's Mischief series in English, targeting countries such as the United States and Britain.

"Yang is the best-selling Chinese writer with the most favorable traits required to be introduced abroad," says Chou, who became interested in Yang's works 10 years ago.

Chou thinks her books have a universal appeal. "Yang's books also offer insight into contemporary society through a typical Chinese child, and a typical Chinese cat," Chou says. "They're good reads for people with an increasing interest in China."

Having sold an astounding 40 million copies of her works in China, Yang has occupied a prominent place on the list of the Richest Chinese Writers since 2006. It is compiled by the Shanghai-based Wu Huaiyao and is based on extensive market research.

"Most of the bookstores I went to for the survey, even in small towns, have a whole wall of Yang Hongying's books for sale," Wu says.

But the writer is reluctant to talk about her financial success. The Richest Chinese Writers list has been a headache for her, she says.

"I keep myself detached from the adult world to maintain a quiet and pure mind, as my job is to write for children. I want to build for them a warm and lovable world, free of grown-ups' judgment and thinking," Yang says in her Beijing apartment.

Yang moved to the capital from her hometown, of Chengdu, Southwest China's Sichuan province, two years ago. The 48-year-old has been writing for children for almost three decades.

In 2000, when Yang's novel, Girl's Diary, became a hit, people started talking about her sudden fame. It is a common misunderstanding that her achievements were just a marketing triumph, Yang says.

"No selling strategies can be more effective and persuasive than the quality of the works," she says. "The secret is, I keep on writing sincere stories from my heart, fully concentrating on just one thing at a time."

As the youngest daughter of an office clerk's family, Yang credits her parents, especially her father Yang Tianxiao, for allowing her space to develop her own character.

   Previous Page 1 2 Next Page  


Ear We Go

China and the world set to embrace the merciful, peaceful year of rabbit

Preview of the coming issue
Carrefour finds the going tough in China
Maid to Order

European Edition


Mysteries written in blood

Historical records and Caucasian features of locals suggest link with Roman Empire.

Winning Charm

Coastal Yantai banks on little things that matter to grow

New rules to hit property market

The State Council launched a new round of measures to rein in property prices.

Top 10 of 2010
China Daily in Europe
The Confucius connection