Past Program / 2021 Program / Tang Ling
Dear publishing colleagues in Korea, I’m very happy to have this opportunity to share our experiences. My name is Tang Ling, I’m the director of the Preschool Branch of Jieli Publishing House and I have been working in the children’s publishing for 13 years.
Founded in 1990, Jieli Publishing House is specialized in children and adolescence literature with a high reputation at home and abroad. Jieli has won many awards so far. They include the “BookBrunch International Children’s and Adolescence Publisher Award” at the London Book Fair in 2016 and “Bologna Prize for the Best Children’s Publishers of the Year” – winner for Asia in 2020.
“Let’s make the world’s young readers experience the wonders of China, and let’s make Chinese young readers read books at the same pace with the world.” That is the publishing philosophy that Jieli Publishing has always adhered to. For this, we constantly have been focusing on publishing Chinese original cultural works as well as introducing bestsellers and classics from various countries. We have published many world classic children’s books such as 〈Barbapapa Series〉, 〈The 14 Forest Mice Series〉, 〈David Walliams’ Humor Novels〉 and so on, these books have got great attention in China.
The one I would like to present is a picture book by Baek Hee-Na from Korea. The Chinese versions of Baek Hee-Na’s picture books are mostly published by Jieli Publishing House. We have published 10 titles one after another, and the sales have been very good. We also made a nice hardcover and it has got great attention by readers.
Our editors and readers who love Baek Hee-Na call her “Sister Baek” in a friendly way. It is because many of the stories she writes are like stories that might happen around us. Among them, the book 〈Bath Fairy〉 impressed me the most. The style of this book is very unique, the impact of the pictures is so great, and that makes the book very attractive to readers. Again, this book is like no other in the market and it has completely impressed people. This book was published in July 2016 and the cumulated number of prints has reached 108,000 copies since its publication of the Chinese version. This result proves that our judgement at that time was correct.
We get information on Baek Hee-Na’s books mainly through agents or international book fairs. For instance, I clearly remember that I met this book 〈 Bath Fairy〉 at the Beijing International Book Fair. And colleagues in the international cooperation department are also helping us find excellent Koreans books by sharing information on Korean books with us in a timely manner.
The interesting thing I had during working on Korean books is that I felt very strong visual impact because some of the illustration styles of Korean picture books were relatively exaggerated and strong. For example, the book I mentioned earlier – 〈Bath Fairy〉, we got really surprised when we first saw the cover of the book. The story was pretty good though, I was worried that the Chinese readers would not accept this “unbeautiful” style of painting. And in deed, for a year or two after its publication, many colleagues and readers called this book 〈Ugly Grandma〉 as if they had forgotten the title of the book when referring to this book. However, with constant publicity and explanation by the editorial staffs and PR personnel, people gradually accepted this book, and more and more people like it. And this relatively strong artistic style became accepted at last.
Readers response to Baek Hee-Na’s works has been always good, and whenever each of the books was published, it sold well in the Chinese market. However, the picture books that we published earlier, such as 〈Half Past Four〉 and 〈Yellow Umbrella〉 were classic and poetic but their storytelling was relatively weaker. So they had relatively fewer readers and did not sell well.
Since the reading style of Chinese readers has become more diversified, Korean picture books as well as science comics get more popular in China. For example, 〈Quiz! Scientific Commons〉, 〈Fantasy Math Wars〉, and works by Baek Hee-na and Hwang Sun-mi, they all perform well in China. In the field of adult books, 〈Kim Ji-young, Born 1982〉 is also very popular.
At present, we have already contracted with three Korean authors. One is Lee Gee-eun, who won the Bologna Ragazzi Award in 2021. Another author is bonsoir lune (안녕달). She has already published some works in China. The third one is Kim Ji-an. We think they are all young writers, whose works have shown their talents and abilities in their work. And we are very optimistic about their potentials for future development.
The Turtle Family Goes to the Sea / Jieli Publishing House
The first book I would like to recommend to everyone is 〈The Turtle Family Goes to the Sea〉. The most unique point about this book is that it was not painted with a brush, but it was hand sewn one by one by a mother who loves her child. You see the three turtles on this cover. The fine stich marks on the backs of the turtles represent a mother’s deep love. This is the picture book of textile art. It is very Chinese style.
The Moose in Evenki / Jieli Publishing House
The second book I would like to recommend is 〈The Moose in Evenki〉. This book is about the lives of the ethnic minorities in northern China. They live in primeval forests, and this book tells the story of a hunter and a moose. This book is very touching. It tells the story of nomads living in close relationship with animals and sharing their destiny with them. It is quite thick with a total of about 60 pages. It can be regarded as a masterpiece in the field of picture books. This is a book about the history of our endless coexistence with all things in nature. I highly recommend it to all of you.
I Beat Sleep Monster with 32 Farts / Jieli Publishing House
The third book I would like to recommend is 〈I Beat Sleep Monster with 32 Farts〉, which is currently very popular in China. By the cover, you will see right away how funny, exaggerated, and humorous the story is. This is the latest masterpiece by Peng Yi. Very funny and very exaggerated, and it is a humorous story written from the children’s point of view. I do recommend such different Chinese picture books like these to you everyone.