Yang-Huan, illustrated by Hsiao-yen Huang,
Yang-Huan, illustrated by H.Y. Huang & A. Yang,
Where is Spring?
Although written more then fifty years ago, the poems of Taiwanese poet Yang-Huan have lost none of their charm for today’s young children. He was only twenty-five when he died, leaving behind a collection of twenty children’s poems, which, as the cover blurb informs us, have “served as a creative standard” for modern Chinese children’s poetry. Two of these, Homes and Where is Spring?, have been translated into English and published as beautiful picture-books by Heryin, each one offering a flight of imagination into a child’s view of nature and their part in it.
The earlier publication, Homes, focuses on the kinds of tiny creatures that children themselves can find when out and about: caterpillars, insects and crabs, which all have their homes in trees or plants or creeks. However, “Poor wind has no home” and nor do clouds, whose tears fall “Whenever the sky darkens”. Young readers will enjoy this gentle exploration of a world they can refer to, and feel reassured by the ending, of children, safe in their homes.
“Where is Spring?” is the question posed by a boy who knows it’s “here” but can’t quite put his finger on it. He sends his kite up into the air to find out. The birds give a variety of answers and the kite, with the boy running behind through a wide, varying landscape, finds spring everywhere as it flies past rivers, woods, factories, “bustling streets” and “quiet alleys” until: “lightly Spring climbs over your neighbor’s wall/ Lightly Spring enters your home.” In fact, the happy smiles on everybody’s faces, as well as the exuberant flash of the kite really do make you think of the freshness of spring after a long, grey winter.
Both these poems are very visual and their illustrations complement the verses perfectly. With swooping perspectives and sweeping panoramas, they invite children to fly like a bird or a butterfly, a cloud or a kite and feel the spirit of the words. Indeed, the words themselves are one with the pictures, imaginatively printed to follow lines in the landscape or swirl like the wind so that small fingers will want to follow them.
Just right for sharing, each of these books exudes tranquility and is an enchanting read-aloud, especially for sleepy children at the end of a busy day.