Picture book writer Yang Zhicheng dies, telling Chinese stories in the West

Picture book writer Yang Zhicheng dies, telling Chinese stories in the West

This morning, a reporter from the Beijing News learned that Yang Zhicheng, a well-known Chinese picture book writer, passed away on September 30. In the pouring rain on the night of the full moon, Yang Zhicheng left peacefully in his sleep. In his own words, 'He lives in the grace of the miracles of life,...... His daughter is around. His family, dear friends and caring students are deeply grieving. Now, he and his dear Professor Cheng are somewhere in the universe. The news came from Ellyce Cavanaugh, a student of Yang.

Tan Fengxia, a professor at Nanjing Normal University's College of Arts, confirmed the news. Tan Fengxia said, "At four o'clock in the morning, I received the mail on the platform of the railway station, and the beloved Mr. Yang Zhicheng drove the crane away. He has a wonderful life, may heaven be safe. His last email to me the day before yesterday was about his book donation. Review the two pictures sent by him in the previous email exchange, and cry thousands of lines, and I am deeply touched. In Ed's own words, He lived in grace among the miracles of life. )”

Yang Zhicheng was born in Tianjin in 1931. At the age of 3, Yang Zhicheng moved to Shanghai with his family. Here, Yang Zhicheng's father, Yang Kuanlin, China's first generation of architectural structure engineering designers, rented a piece of land and personally designed and built a small building for his family to live in. In 1948, Yang Zhicheng went to Hong Kong to study, and in 1951 he went to the United States to study. In the United States, he studied architecture for two years before transferring to the California Art Center School of Design. After completing his studies, he worked as an advertising designer in New York.

Yang Zhicheng has a rich life experience and a wide range of hobbies, and he has lived and lived in many cities and regions, which have had a profound impact on his creation. During his lifetime, Yang Zhicheng created about 100 picture book works, such as "The Princess's Kite", "Wolf Mother-in-law" and "Seven Blind Mice". His work has received many honors, including a gold medal and two honorary mentions for the Caldecott Award, the highest award in the American children's book industry, a lifetime achievement award from the American Society of Illustrators, a two-time nomination for the Hans Christian Andersen Award, and a selection of his works as one of the New York Times Top 10 picture books.

In 1968, Yang Zhicheng won the honorary mention of the Caldecott Award for "The Princess's Kite". In 1990, his work "Wolf Mother-in-law" won the Caldecott Gold Award. In 1992, Yang Zhicheng's "Seven Blind Mice" won the Caldecott Award Honorary Award again. In addition, his other works have won many domestic and international honors and awards. Among them, "Seven Blind Mice" was selected as one of the "100 Chinese Good Books of 2014" by the National Library; In the "2016 Children's Book Laureate" selection, "Seven Blind Mice" was named "Best Children's Book of the Year"; In 2017, "Wolf Mother-in-law" won the "White Crow Award", an international children's literature award. Up to now, many of his important works, such as "Seven Blind Mice", "Wolf Mother-in-law", "Ye Limit", "Snow Mountain Tiger", "The House Built by Daddy", etc. have been introduced and published. (Introduction: Written by/He An'an)

A special correspondent from the Beijing News interviewed Yang Zhicheng in 2019, and here we publish this old article as a memorial.

Chinese picture book artist Yang Zhicheng,

A person born in a special historical situation

Written by|Beijing News special correspondent Zeng Menglong

Around 1977, Ed Young, who was studying and working in the United States, finally had the opportunity to return to China to visit family after nearly 30 years.

"It's an amazing thing. Because I hadn't seen my mother for more than 20 years, I didn't know how I felt when I returned to China, and I didn't know how my mother would feel. In the movie, I haven't seen people for 20 years, crying and laughing. At that time, I came back by plane, it was not easy to pick up the plane, I didn't have a car at home, I didn't have a taxi, and I took the bus from the airport to get home. The bus stop is outside the courtyard, which is actually close to home. My mother, who was also in her 70s at the time, was waiting for me at the bus stop. I am dark. She came to me. My family calls me Ed. She said, Ed, did you have dinner? I said, I have eaten, but it is all food from the plane. She said, I made porridge, there are preserved eggs, meat floss, you eat a little tonight. So, she took my hand and we walked all the way back. It seems that I just left the day before, and when I came back this day, I was not excited at all, as if I had never gone out. Yang Zhicheng recalled.

Yang Zhicheng, 88 years old, is a well-known Chinese-American picture bookmaker. He has created about 100 picture book works, such as "The Princess's Kite", "Wolf Mother-in-law", "Seven Blind Mice", etc., and has received numerous awards, including one gold medal and two honorary mentions for the Caldecott Award, the highest award in the American children's book industry, the Lifetime Achievement Award from the American Illustrators Association, two nominations for the Hans Christian Andersen Award, and his works selected as the New York Times Top Ten Picture Books.

In the United States, children's book historian Leonard . Leonard S. Marcus believes that it is not easy for a Chinese to be accepted, respected and accomplished by the American children's book publishing industry and readers. Katherine M. C. Smith, a children's book expert at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Kathleen T. Horning said: "Regardless of the medium and style chosen, Yang Zhicheng carries a deep natural and humane care for each of his illustrated picture books. A grain of sand sees the world, a flower sees heaven. ”

In China, A Jia, a children's reading promoter and translator, commented: "He actually reorganizes the best things in China in a certain world language, or a language that Westerners can accept, the language of contemporary art, and presents it in a certain way, which has a special contribution to the whole world culture." If I had to say what he was trying to do with his whole work, I think it might be called a balancing act. ”

From Tianjin to Shanghai, Hong Kong, and then to the United States, Yang Zhicheng has traveled between different regions and cultures with the changes of the times throughout his life. His creation and experience are also closely related, and he claims to "learn the West when he is in the East, and learn the East when he is in the West". Between East and West, Yang Zhicheng is looking for a way to balance. In a sense, his art and life are also a modern Chinese history.

"He is a character born in a very special situation, and his life cannot be replicated." Ajia said.

Picture book writer Yang Zhicheng dies, telling Chinese stories in the West

Ed Young (1931–2023), Chinese-American illustrator. Born in 1931 in Tianjin, China, he grew up in Shanghai before studying and settling in Hong Kong and the United States. After graduating in architecture from Illinois State University, he transferred to Los America Art Institute to study advertising design. His illustrations have a strong Chinese flavor and have won the Caldecott Award, the highest honor in American children's literature, three times.

From the East to the West

Yang Zhicheng was born in Tianjin in 1931. That year, the 918 Incident broke out and the situation was turbulent, and he moved with his family to Shanghai at the age of 3 to spend his childhood and adolescence. In 1948, when China was in the midst of a civil war, Yang Zhicheng went to Hong Kong to study.

Yang Zhicheng feels that from primary school to middle school, he is a "mixed" word. "If you don't study, just pass. Shanghai plays, Hong Kong plays, the transcript can't see people, and there is not much hope for applying to universities in Hong Kong later. ”

In 1951, Yang Zhicheng went to the United States to study. Because his parents were in Shanghai, before leaving, his uncle, his guardian in Hong Kong, called him to the office and told him, "You have lived 19 years before and have not studied hard." Now you can't rely on others, when you get to the United States, you have to rely on yourself. Because we broke off from you, you alone in America. This money is given to you, and there will be no more in the future. This is money that your brother and sister have not used for you. There is another thing, after you come to the United States, you have to be responsible for personal affairs, you are Chinese, we cannot go to the United States, what you will do in the future is to do it on our behalf. If it's a bad thing, you cut the road off. ”

"This sentence planted the seed under my 'Zhicheng', that is, I want to read." Yang Zhicheng said.

Yang Zhicheng has an older brother, a younger brother, and two older sisters. Influenced by his father, the three Yang brothers studied architecture and engineering, so he first studied architecture at Illinois State University in the United States.

Yang Zhicheng's father, Yang Kuanlin, was a first-generation Chinese architectural and structural engineering designer, graduated from the College of Arts of St. John's University in his early years, went to the United States to study at the age of 20, received bachelor's and master's degrees from the University of Michigan, and returned to China in 1917. In 1920, he opened the Huaqi Engineering Division, which was one of the earliest structural design firms Chinese founded by himself. He participated in the design of buildings including the Majestic Theater in Shanghai, Daxin Department Store, Nanyang Brothers Tobacco Company, Wangfujing Department Store and Xinqiao Hotel in Beijing, and supervised the construction of the Military Museum of the Chinese People's Revolution and the Beijing Workers' Stadium.

Simple research, Yang Kuanlin's family history is very interesting. His father, Yang Shaoting, was a pastor, his mother was the daughter of Huang Guangcai, the first Chinese pastor of the Anglican Church in the United States, and his aunt, Huang Su'e, was the wife of Bu Fangji, the president of St. John's University for 52 years. Luo Yuanxu, a researcher at Harvard University's Fairbank Center for Chinese Studies, has written a book, "East Becomes West," which studies seven Chinese Christian families in Shanghai. They founded St. John's University, the Commercial Press, the Chinese YMCA, the Red Cross Society of China and many other institutions, which became a bridge between China and the West for a century, and Pastor Huang Guangcai and his descendants were the first family written by Luo Yuanxu.

Therefore, influenced by his family, Yang Zhi received a Western education from an early age like Lin Yutang, and his English was very good, but he had no roots in Chinese studies. But in the end, like Lin Yutang, he also became a messenger of cultural exchanges between China and the West.

At that time, after studying architecture in the United States for two years, Yang Zhicheng felt that he liked art, so he transferred to the California Art Center School of Design, and after graduation, he engaged in advertising design in New York, but felt that it was "not too interesting" and sold things that he did not like. Usually, he likes to go to New York's Central Park to draw animal sketches, and he is also keen to paint all kinds of old buildings in New York, "New York City is my university."

Once, his friend thought that since he liked animals so much, it was better to simply draw children's book illustrations, so Yang Zhicheng recommended himself and ran to the publishing house to submit articles. "I was dressed very modestly, just carrying a big broken bag. When I arrived at the Children's Book Publishing House, the doorkeeper gave me a look and asked me to go up through the back door (for delivery people). I didn't care, after I went up, I sat in the editor's office, put my bag down, and didn't leave. The editor looked at me and asked me what I was going to do, and I told the editor that I was here to submit, pointing finger bags. It turned out that they all treated me as a box lunch, and wondered why I put down my bag and didn't leave. ”

At that time, Ursula Nordstrom, known as "the greatest editor of American children's books of the 20th century" and "Max Perkins of children's literature", saw Yang's paintings and gave Janice May Udry a manuscript. However, Yang Zhicheng rejected the book. Because he feels that animals have the life and dignity of animals, they should not use animals to tell human stories. Ursula asked him to take the book back and think about it again. After being persuaded by friends, since he does not like animals without dignity, he can draw what he thinks is dignified according to his mind. After thinking about it, he thought that this was also a way to learn how to make children's books, so he finally took the book.

In 1962, the children's book, titled The Mean Mouse and Other Mean Stories, won the Graphic Design Association Award for Outstanding Work upon publication. Various publishing houses invited the fledgling Yang Zhicheng. As a result, he entered the children's book industry by mistake, and he worked for more than 50 years. Interestingly, he never worked with Ursula again.

Also in 1962, Yang Zhicheng accidentally met a person who changed his creation, Zheng Manqing. At that time, Yang Zhicheng's knee was ill, and it was useless to see a lot of Western medicine. After being introduced, he found Zheng Manqing, the "Five Peerless Old People" and Chiang Kai-shek's personal doctor, for help. Zheng Manqing used Chinese medicine to cure Yang Zhicheng's illness, and Yang Zhicheng also became interested in Zheng's "Five Jue" (poetry, books, paintings, Chinese medicine, and taijiquan), learning from his teacher and helping him translate.

Since then, Yang Zhicheng has become more and more familiar with Chinese culture, and the Chinese taste in his works has become stronger and stronger.

In an interview with Taiwan's Heying Publishing House, he once said: "My Chinese painting teacher had a considerable influence on me, and he often gave me guidance and helped me understand things that I couldn't understand or see. Once when we went for a walk, he asked me to pay attention to the green shoots popping up from the treetops and look at the 'qi' on the branches. At that time, I didn't understand the meaning of his words, nor could I see what he called 'qi'. So he asked me to look closely, and when I calmed down and looked at it, I seemed to really understand the meaning of his words. There are many factors that contribute to the formation of a tree, including the way the tree grows, the stretching of branches and leaves, the wind, the roots, and even the stones next to the tree and humans, and the heart of the tree is created by these 'heaven and earth' factors. I had never heard of these things in art school, so I found Chinese view of nature and things particularly profound. According to the mainland painting teacher, I had to transform myself into a tree in order to appreciate and experience the growth of the tree, because every life has its own story. ”

Picture book writer Yang Zhicheng dies, telling Chinese stories in the West

"Ye Limited: China's "Cinderella" Story", Louis Ailing/Wen, Yang Zhicheng/Figure, translated by Chang Li, Pu Lan丨 New Century Publishing House, April 2019 edition

Tell the East in the West

In 1968, after 6 years of illustration for children's books, 37-year-old Yang Zhicheng won the honorary mention of the Caldecott Award for "The Princess's Kite".

The illustrations in this book use Chinese folk paper-cutting techniques and leave a lot of white space like Chinese paintings. The story tells that in ancient China, there was a princess named Xiaoxiao, in the eyes of her father, her four brothers were like the sun, and her three sisters were like the moon, and Xiaoxiao was like a small star, so her father often ignored her. However, when the emperor was kidnapped and her brothers and sisters were all helpless, only a small person bravely chased after her and successfully rescued her father with a kite.

"At the time of the book 'The Princess's Kite,' China and the United States had not yet established diplomatic relations. The American who wrote the book was a folk tale, but he did not have much research on Chinese folklore. He is a very good storyteller, telling a Chinese story with a Chinese background, but not a story that comes out of Chinese soul. I don't hate this story, because the story told is a story of the whole world, but I think what can I learn from this story? Find paper cuts from folk art? I thought, I have never done paper-cutting, nor have I learned it, so I took this opportunity to learn paper-cutting. How to cut? Cut it yourself. Cut, broken, cut another one. Broken, cut another one. What paper is paper used for? What kind of knife is used? What color is used? How to cut? How? I don't know how many times I drew it, but I succeeded and felt a bit like it, so I made it into a book. ”

"Another point is that in Chinese folk tales, the illustrations are very old-fashioned, they are all a state of stillness, not living. And this book, like a kite, flies in the sky and is alive. This was a problem for me because I had to find something alive from authentic Chinese art. In this book, I want to draw kites so that they can fly in the sky and find life in silence. When I was done, I felt like it came to life. Yang Zhicheng said.

After winning the Caldecott Award, Yang Zhicheng has a little more confidence in his creation, "At this time, I have received such a high award, I feel qualified to learn more, so I can rest assured that I can learn something else, which is to start with this one."

Yang Zhicheng loves to say that he "does not have enough foundation" and likes to learn, so his works have no fixed style, and the whole creative career is a process of continuous breakthrough. After "The Princess's Kite", he stopped making books entirely using the paper-cutting technique and began to experiment with pencil drawing.

The same is true in terms of subject matter. "I started with a book about animals, and all the editors love your book and let you draw animal stories. I became a painter who could only paint animals. I said, I'm not specialized in drawing animals, I like a lot of things. I studied architecture and I like to draw houses. Why just draw animals? I drew a story about a house. They always give me a net and catch me here. I like freedom, I'm not this or that, I'm going to draw this! ”

"Of course, you can't blame them, they don't know what I'm going to draw. My condition is that you give me all the freedom to draw as I want. They trust me, so I can freely choose my materials. So every book I make breaks through another book, and every time I do something, I always learn an art. To a certain extent, when you can no longer go up, you succeed. ”

Yang Zhicheng's working methods are interesting. It is said that he went to the studio every day, and the same story, first with pencil, then with watercolor, or paper cutting, or collage, arranged in different media and different expressions, so that each page was connected into a story. Just like the same family, the composition and ordering of the paintings have their own rhythm. "If the story is worth telling, I'm going to find the best way."

In the 1990s, Yang Zhicheng ushered in a peak of creation. In 1990, his Lon Po Po won the Caldecott Gold Award. Two years later, "Seven Blind Mice" won a Caldecott Award for honor.

Using chalk rendering from Chinese paintings and a "screen-style" composition with oriental aesthetics, "Wolf Mother-in-law" tells the story of a long time ago, whenever her mother went out, the wolf mother-in-law would come knocking on the door, and Ashan, Tao and Baozhu finally outwitted the wolf mother-in-law. "Seven Blind Mice" uses paper cuts and collages, and divides the space with a large area of black. The story is adapted from the Indian folk tale "The Blind Man Touches the Elephant", which tells the story of seven blind mice who encounter a strange object by a pond, and no one knows what it is. So each day, different mice took turns "observing" and returning to report their findings, but each time the answers were not satisfactory. On the last day, it was the turn of the white mouse. The white mouse ran all over the strange thing up and down, left and right, and finally came to the conclusion that this strange thing was an elephant.

Both books are about the East, and his story of the East in the West has gained more recognition in the American children's book industry. Compared with his previous works, he not only broke through his painting style, but also became a storyteller with words, no longer just an illustrator.

Later, he told many oriental stories, such as China's "The Story of the Zodiac Rat", "The Monkey King Sun Wukong", "Seon Lost Horse", "Leaf Limit", "Voice of the Heart", Japan's "Wabi-sabi", "Tsunami", Nepal's "Snow Mountain Tiger" and so on. It is worth mentioning that in "Voice of the Heart", he restored the connotation of Chinese hieroglyphs in a pictorial way, all the capitals are related to "heart", and he hoped to explain the 214 radicals in the Kangxi Dictionary. In addition, his personal website is also navigated by Chinese hieroglyphs.

The concept of the same body of calligraphy and painting in Chinese literati painting also influenced his creation. In an interview with Publishers Weekly, he said: "A traditional Chinese literati painting without an inscription often loses its center of gravity. Text and picture complement each other. Words can convey meanings that sometimes pictures can never convey, and vice versa. When text and illustration coexist, the foundation of the overall reading experience is constructed. ”

However, if Yang Zhicheng is just an artist who tells the East in the West, it does not fully understand him. In fact, he will not only use Eastern techniques to tell Eastern stories, but also integrate Western art and tell Western stories. In recent years, for example, he likes collages, saying that he was inspired by Henri Matisse; Leo Lioni inspired him to write Seven Blind Mice; Al Parker and Mary Cassatt also influenced his illustrations.

This kind of shuttling between East and West, blending diverse cultures, and seeking universal values behind it may be the reason why Yang Zhicheng is internationally recognized.

He once said: "I participate in picture book work, on the one hand, I want to introduce Chinese stories, we have too many good stories!" On the other hand, coming to the United States as a foreigner, I also hope to understand more Western stories so that I can expand my own vision and expression. Every time I plunge into an exotic cultural story, I benefit a lot from it. ”

However, multicultural integration is not easy and can be misunderstood. For example, after "Seven Blind Mice" was published in the United States, it received some criticism, such as why the seventh mouse is a white mouse, not a black mouse? Is this an allusion to the racial problems of blacks and whites in the United States? Yang Zhicheng responded that it was not for association, but for light. The sunlight is white, and as soon as the magnifying glass comes, the seven colors come out. You can't look at the idea of a story with one lens. He also said that foreign rats have male and female, but fortunately the English version of the story shows that the six mice are male, and the elephant rat is finally found to be female. If the six mice are female, and it is finally found that the elephant mice are male, it is estimated that the problem is big.

In fact, he painted without thinking about gender, race and so on. So many times, he feels that "the problem is not the story, but the person himself."

Picture book writer Yang Zhicheng dies, telling Chinese stories in the West

"Tiger of Snowy Mountain", Robert Burleigh/Wen, Yang Zhicheng/Photo, translated by A Jia, Pu Lan丨New Century Publishing House, April 2019 edition

From the West back to the East

In 2012, Yang Zhicheng came to Beijing to promote the new book "Moon Bear", and Ah Jia also met him for the first time. "What impressed me the most was when we were eating and talking, and he couldn't help but talk about the house his father built in Shanghai when he was a child. I was dumbfounded. Ajia said.

"His father built a house for their family that could carry bombs. Best of all, his father actually built them a swimming pool next to the house, which was the second privately owned swimming pool in Shanghai. In fact, their family's financial resources could not support the operation of the swimming pool, and his father used the club method to pull the returnees together and operate it together. Their family does not pay, but they maintain it together. Their family, especially several children, are in very good health, all day long, swimming when they can swim, and riding crazy in that place when they can't swim, which is such a kind of childhood. It's quite surprising. And although the family lives in Shanghai, they usually mainly speak English with their father, followed by Shanghainese. I had never imagined such a family before. ”

Shanghai when Yang Zhicheng lived was a special historical period, successively experienced the Japanese occupation and then the Kuomintang rule, and was "a childhood under a very specific situation", "his father was a very great man, including Mr. Yang Kuanlin's family, which actually had a great influence on China, but it is not mentioned by ordinary people." After hearing that Yang Zhicheng had created the picture book "The House Built by Daddy" with this experience, Jia immediately bought the English version and thought it was "too interesting", and then translated the book.

Yang Zhicheng also told us the story of this book: "That book has been in the works for more than two years. Because the subject matter is not enough, I have to imagine the actual structure of my father's house, without a pattern. I drew it myself, no, or my two brothers helped me do it, because they are engineers, and they are better at size and whatnot. Later, my relatives sent me photos and collected a lot of materials, so I did it for a long time, and the more interesting it was, I felt that I had brought up my past story in my memories, and it seemed like I had lived another life. ”

He also talks about his parents' influence: "My mother was very artistic and designed everything in the house. My father was a teacher and taught at a university, and without any money, my mother earned money to sell things and subsidize the family. At that time, the family was very hard, and our 5 children had to grow up and did not have enough to eat. You have to add something at home, but if you don't have food, you just add sweet potatoes or something to it, eat more. Our children don't know, only that there is not enough food at home. So this is the characteristic of my mother, she is very talented in art and can do anything. ”

"My mother was always worried about my future and didn't understand what kind of tree I was. She said, you are always different from people, I don't know what you will do in the future? Compared to my mother, "my father knows children very well, he is a teacher, everyone has everyone's (genius), so I got this aspect from him." ”

In December 2019, after 17 years, Yang Zhicheng returned to Shanghai, and after some twists and turns, he found the old house built by his father on Weixin Road (now Wuyi Road), and the design of the letter "Y" representing the Yang family was still retained on the door, and he also went to St. John's University (now located at East China University of Political Science and Law) where his father once worked.

"There is a story in America about a man named Rip van Winkel who went out hunting, went to a woods and saw a group of little people with beards, like the dwarfs in Snow White, wearing long hats. He had never seen such a person. They have their sport, play ball, and love to drink very much. He drank with them and fell asleep. When he woke up, he didn't know where he was, and a lot of trees had grown in the place where he was drunk. He didn't know how long it took him to wake up and see that his gun was rusty and his dog was gone. He returned home and found that his home had changed, and no one in the countryside knew him. He asked people. He said, I used to come out of this village, I don't know if you have seen this family at the door? The man said, oh, there is no one in this family anymore, it's all gone. He said, I had just returned from hunting. The man said that one person had not returned. ”

"That story is the story of my return to Shanghai. Back in Shanghai, looking at my hometown, seeing St. John's University, I became unacquainted. People have changed. The streets are all downtown, right where my house is, all built. Once upon a time the house was separate, it was a suburb, now it is full. The gate is also invisible, and there are things on the side. So this is my feeling that it is not before, it is all in the past. ”

In addition to returning to Shanghai, Yang Zhicheng also returned to Beijing this time to promote his new books "Ye Limit" and "Tiger of the Snowy Mountains", while visiting relatives. In a lecture, Yang Zhicheng sat on a yoga ball and recalled the creative process of "Leaf Limit". At that time, he needed to study the Miao people, including clothing, hair, shoes, etc., so he collected information everywhere. Because photography could not be taken at exhibitions in Beijing at that time, his sister-in-law Qian Yuan (daughter of Qian Chongshu and Yang Wei) drew Miao costumes from memory and sent them to him.

Picture book writer Yang Zhicheng dies, telling Chinese stories in the West

Illustration of "Leaf Limit"

Yang Zhicheng recalled that the Qian family helped him a lot. "She has the same thing as me. She is a reader and writes poetry. She didn't necessarily study well before, so she sympathized with me and gave me the nickname 'Black Sheep', which means that there is a black sheep among the white sheep. So I wrote to her, sometimes drawing a black sheep. Qian Yuan and their family have a good impression of me. Teacher Qian gave me several books, all of which were white, and asked me to draw, which was very important to me. I make books, many of which are Chinese themes, and Mr. Qian helped me. Sometimes when it is not right, he will write letters. For example, this is this dynasty, and it is not right to wear this clothes. They have their foundation, I don't, so sometimes he points me out. ”

"One of my later books was 'Nine Sons of the Dragon Born'. The original text of "Nine Sons of the Dragon" was given to me by Qian Yuan. Qian Yuan sees that there is a place to help me, and she will send it to me. And she said, Ed, look, this makes sense. I've been putting in that place without doing. Later, after she 'passed', I watched "The Nine Sons of the Dragon", and I said it was so interesting. The dragon's nine children have nine personalities, and each dragon gives it a talent. With talent, it does what it loves to do the most, which is tutoring. ”

Yang Zhicheng said that in the future, he will select about 13 of his 100 most groundbreaking picture books to tell the story behind them. And unlike previous picture books, this book will be published first in China.

After living for almost 90 years, he said that his biggest regret in life was that "there are so many things to discover in the world!" "I often wonder why God has given us so much to learn, but I don't have much time to do it."

He felt that people are roughly divided into two categories, one relies on the "heart" and the other relies on the "brain". He is a person who relies on the "heart", whether it is creation or life, he listens to the heart. In a sense, he also thinks that this is "life".

Picture book writer Yang Zhicheng dies, telling Chinese stories in the West

Illustration of "Tiger of the Snowy Mountains"

During the interview, the waiter brought a cup of coffee, and Yang Zhicheng saw two "heart" shaped latte flowers on the coffee, and immediately said to the editor next to him: "This is a very good painting, you take a picture of it." After letting it go for a while, before finally drinking, he did not forget to remind the editor: "Did you take a photo?" ”

The heart and soul are related. In his opinion, the so-called good picture books, "in a word, every story has a soul, there is no need to talk about books without souls, and the soul you can catch is a good book." But books that capture the soul may not be loved by the masses. Jia said that Yang Zhicheng is not particularly mainstream in the United States, but many people say that it is amazing. Because he is really pursuing an art, pursuing a Tao, it seems that he is not too accommodating to the public. Some foreigners really can't stand him, but those who like it like it very much. This is more similar to Chen Zhiyong, who is also a Chinese painter, and the general public readers are not particularly able to appreciate it, but there are more recognition in professional painters and critics.

However, Ah Jia believes that Yang Zhicheng has found his balance. "If the child can't read and doesn't like it, let it go." The artist is such a temperament. Why balance? If an artist does this, how does he live? He sold illustrations for ordinary readers, and for children, but Yang Zhicheng did it. He has been pursuing it all his life, he is almost 90 years old, and he is still doing this kind of thing. He can still do it, he can still earn money to do it, and people have given him reputation, a special status in this industry, and then he can do it with impunity. That's how he balances his life, and he does a particularly good job. ”

Ah Jia feels that 88-year-old Yang Zhi is as simple and sincere as a child, direct and cheerful, perfectionist, and lives a simple and transparent life. "After a lot of contact, when I think about it, I think, ah, it's really good to have such people in the world!"

Introduction Writing/He An'an

Written by/Beijing News special correspondent Zeng Menglong

Editor/Li Yongbo

Proofreading | Zhai Yongjun, Xue Jingning

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