Panda and Penguin live together and share everything, including the beloved tatty old sofa they love to sit on. They decide to go and buy a new one, but none feels quite right, and for good reasons.
Fifi Kuo’s The Perfect Sofa (Boxer Books) is absolutely delightful; its succinct text is teamed with bold colourful double-spreads and together they create a quirky, fun tale with a cleverly observed and conveyed , child-friendly message about consumerism and throw-away attitude at its heart. There is just warmth and contentment radiating from the final spread, and this will undoubtedly spark discussions about appreciating belongings rather than always yearning for more. The dynamics between the two characters is joyful and will delight little readers and make it a great, fun read aloud.
I am so happy to welcome Fifi to Library Mice for another fascinating Fabulous Five!
Five Fabulous Books that inspire me
to look at the world in a different way
by Fifi Kuo
I’ve always loved to draw and dream. I believe that pictures can tell stories that we cannot put into words. Together, words and pictures can help us see the world in a different way. Dreams can come alive. Problems can be resolved. Picture books can speak to us however old we are.
Here are five books that inspire me to look at the world in a different way
I was five years old when my mother introduced me to The Snowman. I live in Taiwan, which has a tropical climate, and had never seen snow but immediately fell in love with this classic. At about this age I started to learn English but one of the good things about wordless books is that the story is told through the pictures. I loved the warmth of the friendship between the boy and his Snowman. I really wanted to fly and get a bird’s eye view of the world. I still do!
A Fish That Smiled at Me
Jimmy Liao, also from Taiwan, is one of my favourite artists. He studied art at Chinese Culture University, and then he worked at an advertising agency as an editorial illustrator for many years. After surviving leukaemia in the 90s, Jimmy devoted himself to his art, and has since created about forty picture books which have sold millions of copies around the world. When I studied for an MA in Children’s Book Illustration at Cambridge School of Art I realised that Jimmy is not well known in the UK. I really admire the way he tells a story through text and drawings. Sometimes the stories are sad but still have some tiny warmth inside. He makes us realise that even when life is sad, lonely or tough there are still tiny joyful things to give us hope.
When The Moon Forgot
I go to the Taipei International Books Exhibition every year especially to see him and to get his books signed. Sadly, some of my favourites, like A Fish That Smiled at Me, are not available in English but When The Moon Forgot was translated into English in 2009. In this story a young boy becomes close friends with the moon when he falls out of the sky. But without the moon in the sky things go wrong in the world and so the boy realises that he has to help the moon return to the sky even though this means that they have to part. I love the fanciful surreal illustrations.
A Chance of Sunshine
It is really hard to limit myself to just three books by Jimmy Liao. His books are so beautiful. In A Chance of Sunshine he shows us that we do not know where destiny will lead us. This love story was turned into a film called Turn Left, Turn Right. In the book the characters are not given names only referred to as ‘him’ and ‘her’ and I think that this device makes us realise that the story could be about ourselves.
Duck, Death and the Tulip
My thesis for my MA degree looked at the subject of death in Children’s Picture Books. This wonderful picture book, originally published in German, is unashamedly sentimental. Duck and a character called Death become friends and discuss, life, death and what any afterlife might be like. Their conversations are really charming. Of course, in the end duck dies and Death lays her gently in the water putting a tulip on her. Erlbruch shows us how picture books can deal with difficult subjects with sensitivity, warmth and humour. Like all the other books I’ve selected, this picture book is not just for children. I would like my books to be shared by people of all ages.
Many thanks for this post Fifi and for introducing us to Jimmy Liao, his books look absolutely fascinating!
The Perfect Sofa is out today and you can purchase a copy here.
Source: review copy kindly provided by publisher