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‘We need the literature of other countries to expand our
horizons and stimulate our ideas. Without it, we are not only
diminished, we are starved’
(The Times, Magnus Linklater 29/06/05)
Sleepy, Sleepy New Year
by Meng Yanan
Age Range: 6-8
Sleepy, Sleepy New Year is an appealing story from Chinese author and illustrator Meng Yanan about Chinese New Year following on from her book Happy Mid-Autumn Festival. A particularly special dimension to this book is the young translator thirteen-year-old Izzy Hasson, a student from Benenden School in Kent, who won the sixth Bai Meigui translation competition run by Leeds Centre for New Chinese Writing in 2020.
Bao Bear is feeling very sleepy as it's about time he settled down for the winter, but he overhears the Bunny family discussing Chinese New Year and making dumplings. He's never heard of either, so he takes the Encyclopaedia of the Forest from the bookshelf and looks up the meaning of Chinese New Year but finds it all rather confusing. Suddenly Bao has an idea, he will invite all his friends from the forest to come and spend Chinese New Year together. The problem is he’s still fast asleep on Chinese New Year’s Eve. The fox, mouse and bunny families all come along to help with the decorations and making the dumplings as well as trying to keep Bao awake.
This is a charming story by Yanan, excellently translated by Hasson with mentoring by award-winning translator Helen Wang. Yanan’s soft and expressive watercolour illustrations help Bao to understand what Chinese New Year is and how it is celebrated.
The original Chinese text of Sleepy, Sleepy New Year provided towards the back of the book is ideal for Chinese-reading children and families as well as students of Chinese. There is also a translator’s foreword by Hasson and short biographies and photos of the author and translator as well as details about the Bai Meigui translation competition.