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China's Hans Christian Andersen - Zheng Yuanjie
    2008-06-19 17:59:01     CRIENGLISH.com

Pick out any Chinese person from the streets of China, and ask whether he or she knows Zheng Yuanjie and nine out of ten will say yes and may even tell you some of his most famous characters, like Pi Pilu and Lu Xixi, Shu Ke and Bei Ta.

He is the Chinese King of Fairy Tales and the writer of hundreds of popular stories. This Saturday, one of his best known works will take the stage at the Chinese Children's Art Theater in Beijing for the first time.

Our reporter Zhou Jing introduces more about Zheng Yuanjie, China's Hans Christian Andersen.

Zheng Yuanjie [photo source: xinhuanet.com]

A fairy tale drama named "Red Sofa Music City" will soon be seen by audiences in China. It was adapted from one of the best known stories written by Zheng Yuanjie.

The story is about the adventure of twin brother and sister, Pi Pilu and Lu Xixi, in a music city that they accidently found in a red sofa in their home.

The twins have been two of the most popular characters for Chinese children. 

"When I was young, I enjoyed his works so much. Girls in our class all took Lu Xixi as a model. If you praise a girl by saying she is like Lu Xixi, she will feel flattered." 

"People from our generation grew up with the stories of 'Pi Pilu and Lu Xixi', 'Shuke and Beita'. We read the books, watched the cartoons on TV and I clearly remember that the best gift I ever got in middle school was a large schoolbag with a picture of 'Pi Pilu and Lu Xixi' on it."

But when Zheng Yuanjie began writing 30 years ago, he couldn't imagine that one day he would write such successful stories, and be called the "Chinese King of Fairy Tales." 

"The first work I published was a poem. That was one of my most exciting moments. Afterwards, I wrote many different types of articles, including prose, novels, and even science fiction. However, I found I wasn't very qualified, because I only had a four-year primary school education. So I turned to writing fairy tales."

In 1979, Zheng Yuanjie published his first fairy tale and hasn't stopped since. Later, he began thinking of ways to make a breakthrough in his writing career. 

"After reading many other writers' books, I divided writers into three groups. Some are very famous but the characters they created are not. Some are the opposite. But writers like Lu Xun are different and are the most successful in my opinion. Both he and the characters in his books are well known. That's what I wanted to be."

With this goal in heart, Zheng Yuanjie created a series of cartoon characters with household names.

Among all the characters, Pi Pilu is probably the most popular and successful. He's not an "A student" at school, but he is kindhearted and willing to help others. He is curious about everything and later encountered many supernatural events.
Boys love Pi Pilu because they can relate to him, while girls all dream of having a brother like him.

In 1985, Zheng Yuanjie established a children's magazine called the "King of Fairy Tales." He was the founder and sole writer. The monthly magazine's circulation exceeded one million in 1988 and has been continuously published for nearly 23 years.

The magazine's great success has won him the title the "Chinese King of Fairy Tales" and made him a legend in the field of fairy tale writing in China.

Besides writing, Zheng Yuanjie also has unique views on education, claiming that the "current college education in China tends to make simple things complicated and hard to understand."

So he home-schooled his son Zheng Yaqi from when he finished primary school until he was 18. After that, Zheng Yaqi started working rather than entering a college. 

"I always say that parents should shut their mouths and show their children in person what should be done and what shouldn't. That's the best way to educate, in my mind, not to force them to do anything. Children are smarter than we can imagine and they have their own sense of justice."

During the years that he was educating his son, Zheng Yuanjie wrote ten series of fairy tales, as his son's text books, which cover subjects from philosophy to psychology, from finance to law.

Recently when the fairy tale "Pi Pilu and 419 crimes" was published, it immediately caught the interest of children.

From the interesting stories about a curious boy, young readers can also know about China's criminal law.

After this May's earthquake in Sichuan, the writer decided to publish another series called "100 More Chances to Live," to teach children how to protect themselves during emergencies.

Now many of Zheng Yuanjie's first readers are parents. Their children are reading the same books that they enjoyed in their childhood.

It seems the writer's biggest dream is coming true- to see his fairy tales being loved by people from zero to 100 years old.



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