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  • 55.5/2017
  • Liz Page (bio)

International Children’s Book Day 2017: Let Us Grow with the Book!

Every year on or around 2 April, activities to celebrate International Children’s Book Day take place around the world as we remember Hans Christian Andersen and his wonderful world of stories. Since 1967, every year an IBBY National Section sponsors the special poster and message to the children of the world. In 2017, the materials are from the IBBY section in Russia (RBBY). Renowned author Sergey Makhotin wrote the message to accompany the motto and poster, and the 2016 Russian Andersen Award nominee Mikhail Fedorov designed and illustrated the colorful poster. The 2017 ICBD materials can be ordered from the Russian IBBY section or downloaded from the IBBY website, [End Page 66]

Literature: Another Form of Housebuilding Cao Wenxuan’s Acceptance Speech for the 2016 Hans Christian Andersen Award

Why do I write—or, why do I like writing? What state I am in when I am writing? I had been trying my hardest to give the best answer possible, only to find that the words and phrases I conjured up were so insufficient, so unsatisfying. Eventually, one day, I obtained an accurate, almost ideal allegory: literature is a form of housebuilding.

Yes, I write because it fulfills my craving for housebuilding, because it satisfies my desire for the happiness and delights of having a shelter.

I am writing, restlessly, I am writing; I am building houses, tirelessly, I am building houses.

I find that there is a “house-building” complex within everyone as I examine this “labor of love” case very closely. It is only that we employ different means to build our houses—I, for example, choose words. As I see it, the “house-building” complex is something born within us, something embedded into our soul’s deepest desire.

I have childhood memories of housebuilding. When we played in the field or along the river, we would often build a small “cabin” with clay, tree bark, and grass. We would work together, as busy as bees, like a real family putting up a real house, and everyone had their own duty: a mason, a carpenter, or a handyman who ran to and fro, following the orders of someone else. As we were building a “house,” we were also envisioning the ways it could be used. Certainly, it should not be an empty house; we should adorn the rooms with beds, tables, and bookshelves. We would discuss the allocation: who will have which bed, who will sit on which specific side of the table; we would discuss the different rooms, and their different functions…Sometimes the discussion went smoothly, but occasionally, we had fights. The worst situation was when a boy, being a bully, abruptly kicked down the nearly complete house, claiming an unreasonable request regarding the division of rooms, which, naturally, had been rejected by all the others. When such a thing happened, very likely the bully boy would be isolated or cursed with bad words or even beaten black and blue and cried loudly for mercy. It was a serious matter to all of us, as if it was a real house, solid and true. It was a serious matter to the boy who wished the house could stay under the tree unharmed for a long time; it was a serious matter for the boy who wanted to recklessly destroy the house as well.

Of course, on many occasions, the scene was very delightful. When the small house was finished, we usually celebrated by trying to imitate the sound of fireworks with our mouths—piz-pa, piz-pa, piz-pa. Then we sat or knelt in front of the cabin, appreciating it in silence. We were so reluctant to part with it when it was time to leave for home, turning our heads and looking back at it every few steps. Even after we got home, the small house still appeared in our minds now and then and one of the boys may have run to it after a while—like a person who, after wandering through the world for many days...


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pp. 66-71
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