This date, April 2, has been established as International Children’s Book Day to commemorate Hans Christian Andersen’s birthday and “to inspire a love of reading and to call attention to children's books” around the world. The International Board on Books for Young People (IBBY.org) is the sponsoring group and each year a different national section creates a promotional poster for this day. This year, it’s Thailand, with the theme of “Books enlighten; knowledge delights.” For a poetry tie-in look for Minfong Ho’s collection Maples in the Mist: Children's Poems from the Tang Dynasty (Lothrop, 1996) which she compiled and translated from the Chinese. Ho was born in Burma and grew up in Singapore and Thailand. She has authored several picture books and novels for young people set in each of these countries including: Rice Without Rain, Hush!: A Thai Lullaby, The Clay Marble, The Stone Goddess, Sing to the Dawn, among others. Here’s one of my favorite poems from Maples in the Mist.
by Meng Jia
My loving mother, thread in hand,
Mended the coat I have on now,
Stitch by stitch, just before I left home,
Thinking that I might be gone a long time.
How can a blade of young grass
Ever repay the warmth of the spring sun?
From Maples in the Mist: Children's Poems from the Tang Dynasty (Lothrop, 1996) collected and translated by Minfong Ho
Tuck this one away and save it for Mother’s Day, too.
P.S. I’m excited to announce that Dr. Cathy Kurkjian (in Connecticut) and I will be serving as the next editorial team for Bookbird, the international journal of children’s literature, the quarterly publication of IBBY, beginning in January, 2009.
Picture credit: http://www.ibby.org/index.php?id=317