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I’ve long been a fan of author/illustrator Demi.
Demi (September 2, 1942) born Charlotte Dumaresq Hunt, is an award-winning children’s book author and illustrator. During her career she has published over 300 titles. Demi is known for her biographies for spiritual figures including Buddha, Krishna, Lao Tzu, Jesus, Mary (mother of Jesus), Muhammad, Rumi, Francis of Assisi, Gandhi, and the Dalai Lama. (wikipedia)
I personally appreciate the way she unfolds a story whether a classic folktale, religious figure, or cultural celebration has always greatly captivated my attention. Add on top of that her amazing and gorgeous illustrations and you have what I consider a treasure trove from book heaven.
While deciding on a book to use to celebrate Chinese New Year I was going through my stacks of great reads and that’s when I noticed Demi has written so much about China and probably our beautiful impression of that country stems from her. Through her eyes, we as a family, have happily embraced it’s stories, history, and traditions.
Today let’s go on a journey to China with one of our most cherished book friends, Demi.
More About Demi
Demi was born in Cambridge, Mass. She studied at the Instituto Allende in Guanajuato, Mexico, at Immaculate Heart College with Sisters Magdalen Mary and Sister Corita in Hollywood, California. She also studied at the M.S. University in Baroda, India, while on a Fulbright Scholarship, as well as the China Institute For Arts in New York City.
Her husband Tze-si Huang introduced her to the religion, folklore, ancient culture, and history of China.
Demi has illustrated and authored more than 300 children’s books including biographies of Jesus, Buddha, and the Dalai Lama, as well as folktales such as The Empty Pot and Liang and the Magic Paintbrush. Her work has received many awards and accolades, among them the Christopher Award, which recognizes individuals whose work makes a positive difference in the world, and the Middle East Book Award. Her titles have been designated American Library Association Notable Children’s Books, New York Times Best Illustrated Books, Notable Books for a Global Society, and American Bookseller Pick of the List Books.
Celebrating China with Demi : A Booklist
A Chinese boy with an green thumb wins the emperor’s competition; PW praised the “extraordinarily delicate Oriental landscapes.” Ages 4-7.
Copyright 1996 Reed Business Information, Inc.
“In a book that is itself a celebration, Demi explains the rituals and ideas behind the Chinese New Year festival. The last 15 days of the old year are spent cleaning and preparing (‘Wash your hair and get a new haircut. Pay the debts that you owe and collect what is owed to you!’). On the eve of the new moon, a special feast is prepared. . . . The first 15 days of the new year are spent celebrating with lion dances, firecrackers, and other activities. Demi’s characteristic tiny, lively figures illustrate each page, with several spreads devoted to small, labeled pictures identifying things associated with the holiday. Infused with joy and filled with information.”—Booklist
“Exotic, beautiful, and instructive, this “mathematical folktale” by author-illustrator Demi emerged from her love of India. The narrative and the evocative illustrations combine to create a real sense of the culture and atmosphere of this romantic land.” (Amazon)
Many people say Marco Polo was the greatest explorer that ever lived, traveling 33, miles by land and sea from Venice, Italy, to modern-day Beijing, China. His famous book, The Travels of Marco Polo, indicates that he was a man of extraordinary bravery, brilliance, and strength. With his uncle and father, he traveled across Turkey, Armenia, the Middle East, the rugged mountains of Afghanistan, and the hot Taklimakan Desert before finally reaching China in 1275. Welcomed by the great emperor Kublai Khan, Marco Polo was amazed by the inventions, riches, and religious tolerance of the great Khan’s kingdom, where Marco remained for the next 2 years.
Smoke, fire, dragons, wisdom, fear, and bravery…All of these elements are brought to life by award-winning author and artist Demi in a story of valor in the face of overwhelming fear.
When a poor boy in China receives a magical paintbrush, everything he paints turns to life. But the wicked emperor wants to capture the boy when he hears the news. The story will excite readers as the ruler gets his just reward when the boy creates a masterpiece that spells his doom.
Emperor Ping, the boy emperor known for his love of harmony, sets a challenge to the children of his kingdom: show him the greatest power in the world. “To know the greatest power in the world is to know the greatest peace,” Emperor Ping announces. “Whoever knows this harmony will become the new prime minister.”
This thoughtful and thought-provoking book opens with a biography of Lao Tzu, the mysterious philosopher who is said to have been born at the age of eighty-one with snow-white hair, the ability to walk and talk, and unparalleled wisdom. Many credit him with creating the Tao Te Ching, which was written for the good of all humankind. Twenty of the eighty-one passages of the Tao Te Ching are included here, paired with stunning illustrations by the award-winning artist Demi.
Read my book review of this book with companion activities HERE.
Throughout the ages, moral tales have been passed down from one generation to the next. Centuries ago in China, hundreds of parables were told by the Buddha to his devoted followers. His messages became widespread through fables adapted by famous storytellers like Aesop and La Fontaine. In this collection, the author has chosen ten of the most engaging classic tales from the Buddha’s works. Compiled and illustrated by Demi, this wonderful collection of stories is sure to draw young readers into the ancient teachings of the Buddha, teachings that are as relevant today as they were over two thousand years ago.
Many centuries ago, in a kingdom in the foothills of the Himalayan mountains, a miraculous child was born to the king and queen. The young prince, Siddhartha, was raised in the greatest luxury, sheltered from all pain and ugliness. But one day Siddhartha left the palace and saw, for the first time, human suffering and death. He knew then that he must relinquish everything– his family, his wealth, his position– to discover the Truth of life and death.
Based on a famous Chinese folktale, The Magic Pillow tells the story of a poor boy named Ping who is given a magic pillow by a mysterious magician. Ping sees what a lifetime of wealth and power would be like, and discovers that the riches of family and freedom are much more valuable.
“In a book that is itself a celebration, Demi explains the rituals and ideas behind the Chinese New Year festival. The last 15 days of the old year are spent cleaning and preparing. On the eve of the new moon, a special feast is prepared.
Even as a young boy in eleventh-century China, Su Shih was clearly special. After finding a rare inkstone, he began to write stories and verses expressing his love of the natural world. His words flowed effortlessly. His brush danced across the paper.
Over 600 hundred years ago, Emperor Zhu Di of China decided to build the greatest naval fleet the world had ever seen to befriend and trade with countries throughout Asia and Africa. The admiral of this diplomatic and treasure-gathering fleet was a brilliant and peace-loving man named Zheng He.
“Long ago in a province in China there lived an emperor whose greatest pleasure in life was to dress in new clothes. “
Which of these Demi books has your family enjoyed?
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