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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)
Happy Mid-Autumn Festival
by Meng Yanan
Age Range: 6-8
Mother bunny sets off with her basket to gather food. First, she pulls up some carrots, then she gets some hawthorn berries, pine nuts and honey from her friends who live in the forest and Uncle Beaver even gives her two intricate floral moulds. Mother Bunny trades two of her carrots with a farmer for a bag of flour so she can bake mooncakes for the Mid-Autumn Festival.
Chinese author and illustrator Meng Yanan’s engaging story not only provides information about the cultural celebration of the Mid-Autumn Festival but also shows the importance of friendship, kindness and forgiveness. There is a clever and amusing subplot that takes place entirely within the artwork where a wolf with an ulterior motive watches and follows Mother Bunny wherever she goes and a lovely heart-warming twist at the end. Yanan’s warm and expressive watercolour illustrations are endearing and funny, particularly of the wolf in his desperate attempts to catch his prey making this a perfect book to share and read aloud.
The original Chinese text of Happy Mid-Autumn Festival provided towards the back of the book is ideal for Chinese-reading children and families as well as students of Chinese.
This book is particularly significant in terms of its young translator Jasmine Alexander, who has done an excellent job of translating Yanan’s charming story. Alexander, then a student at St Paul’s Girls’ School in London won the 4th Bai Meigui translation competition in 2018 run by the Leeds Centre for New Chinese Writing, the first year it was opened up to secondary school students. Alexander received mentoring from award-winning translator Helen Wang, who won the Marsh Award for Children’s Literature in Translation with Bronze and Sunflower by Cao Wenxuan.
There is a foreword by Alexander and short biographies and photos of the author and translator as well as details about the Bai Meigui translation competition at the back of the book.
Happy Mid-Autumn Festival won the Bronze and Sunflower Picture Book Award in 2016.