Monday, October 5, 2009

You Can Write Chinese

Finished You Can Write Chinese by Kurt Wiese. It won the Caldecott Honor Medal in 1946. An American boy whose family has moved to China attends school in Chungking. There are only boys in this school. The teacher explains that there is no alphabet in Chinese. Each character is an actual word. As he draws the words on the blackboard he shows his students how the characters visually resemble what they mean. Some of the examples are very clear. Others seem a bit forced conceptually. However, I think this approach for young children is entirely appropriate. The cover of the book shows the boy and his sister with the teacher, but his sister does not appear anywhere in the book. Perhaps she appears on the cover to make the "you" in the title more universal.

Kurt Wiese illustrated many books for children. He won the Caldecott Honor Medal again in 1948 for Fish in the Air. His work also won one Newbery Medal and several Honor Medals. His most recognizable illustrations are perhaps for The Story About Ping and The Five Chinese Brothers.

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