CM February 9, 
1996. Vol. II, Number 17

image The Children of China:
An Artist's Journey.

Song Nan Zhang.
Montreal: Tundra Books, 1995. 32pp, cloth, $19.95.
ISBN 0-88776-363-4. CIP.

Subject Headings:
Minorities-China-Juvenile literature.
Children of minorities in art.
China in art.

Grades 7 and up / Ages 12 and up.
Review by Donna J. Adrian.

image Song Nan Zhang, a former art professor at the Central Institute of Fine Arts in Beijing, survived the repressive grey society and "re-education" of Mao Tse-Tung's cultural revolution by dreaming of the freedom of the nomadic people of China and their colourful costumes. When freed, he travelled the Silk Road of China and visited these peoples, absorbing the colour and glow of the children, sketching and photographing them, and then re-creating their lives in these fifteen beautiful paintings.


This personal journey combines the past with the present, and evokes the joy of childhood, the daily life of the young nomads, their colourful clothing, and their freedom. The first and last pictures in the book are of Zhang's son -- taking his first steps in front of the Sun Temple Park, and on his father's shoulders, looking triumphantly at the world. Between are drawings of nomadic children, and their families: riding, playing, dreaming, tending animals -- each one reflecting freedom and acceptance of life.

The backgrounds of the paintings reflect the decorative world of the Orient -- its colour, patterns, and costumes. They combine nature, people, clothing, history, and tradition. The paintings are realistic, balanced, and full of intricate detail. Each season of the year is represented, along with home life and festivals. Faces and activities are as common and as different as people and nationalities are.


Some paintings are as delicate as impressionist art, others exotic and oriental. Animals in the paintings are worthy of a Bateman.

The accompanying text is effective story, which enhances the paintings, explaining the background of the painting and the people.

The book can be used for art, for history, and for social life and customs of China.


Highly recommended

Donna J. Adrian is a Library Coordinator for the Laurenval School Board in Quebec.

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Copyright © 1996 the Manitoba Library Association. Reproduction for personal use is permitted only if this copyright notice is maintained. Any other reproduction is prohibited without permission.

Published by
The Manitoba Library Association
ISSN 1201-9364

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