Author's kidding around comes full circle
Updated: 2011-05-27 08:01
By Mei Jia (China Daily)
Primary school student Mi Xiaoquan is ashamed of his name - literally, "small circle" - which was given to him by his architect father.
When Mi was an infant, he scribbled a circle on one of his father's blueprints. The father was exhilarated about his son's prospects as a painter - the dream he never fulfilled - and named his son to encourage him in this pursuit.
"If I had drawn a chick or a puppy, would my father have named me Mi Xiaoji (chick) or Mi Xiaogou (pup)?" the 6-yearold writes in his diary.
Mi is the protagonist of the new children's picture book series, Mi the Circle Goes to School.
The stories are written as the main character's diary entries and are loved by children ages 5-12 for their hilarious depictions of school life, family and friendship. Most importantly, it's written in the kind of language kids understand.
The fifth of the series' six books has just been released. Every book has an independent storyline and is illustrated with more than 100 cartoons.
The 29-year-old author, Liu Zhigang, says the secret to his success is his ability to think like a child.
"Unlike some children's book writers, I don't push to educate children or encourage good behavior," he says.
"I just make it fun."
He reads hundreds of primary school students' blogs to see how they record their days and draws from his own childhood experiences.
Children raised in the multimedia era will only read books that are "about things that seem real and are fresh and new to them", Liu says.
When Liu is not writing about children in his books, he's writing for children as a cartoon screenwriter. He is accustomed to brainstorming with the creative team and deciphering young audiences' true interests.
The native of Heilongjiang's provincial capital Harbin found writing enabled him to rise during the lowest points of his life.
He worked as a welder after graduating from college and tried to become an author with his teen novel about a young boy's experience with love.
The novel Very Lovely was published to critical acclaim in 2005, as was its 2007 sequel Very Happy.
"Those were my literary pilot projects," he says.
"But the readers remember me for my humor and funny language."
Liu hoped to overcome a spell of writer's block following Very Happy by moving to Beijing in 2008.
The author believes his primary talent is making the ordinary fun. His work is filled with vivid imagery and exaggerated movements, "like cartoons".
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