23. ilb 06. – 16.09.2023
Portrait Chih-Yuan Chen
© Hsin Yi Publications

Chih-Yuan Chen

Chih-Yuan Chen was born in Taiwan in 1975, and he already loved making up his own worlds of imagery as a child. At the age of 19, he then began to concentrate on illustrating children’s stories.
In his picture books, for which he designs both the narrative language of the text as well as the illustrations, he defines the intercultural issues that are a main motif throughout many of his works in a way that makes them understandable all over the world. His finely sensitive eye for the peculiarities in the small scenes that take place in the everyday life of children is his way of taking a respectful bow in deference to children’s power of imagination. In »On My Way to Buy Eggs« (2010) the reader accompanies the girl Hsiao-Yü as she runs some errands in the city. A blue marble that rolls in front of her feet becomes a colour filter with magic powers, allowing the familiar surroundings to appear in a new light. Brief momentary images, like dew drops on a flower, looking through the spectacles of a stranger and the shadow of a cat become the starting point for rediscovering the world around with all of her senses. Chih-Yuan Chen’s illustrations reflect these crossovers and their transformation through a child’s awareness with its concomitant reduction, which opens up a subtle and associative space for interpretation and narrative to the onlooker. His gentle application of colour is combined with a filigree style of illustration using cut paper, collage technique and pencil drawings. »Unabashed happiness shines through these pages, illuminating childhood’s gift for finding the uncommon in the commonplace and drawing reader’s eyes and hearts like a magnet«, is how Heather Vogel Frederick described the narrative concept in »The New York Times« in 2004. Chih-Yuan Chen’s picture book »Guji Guji« (2009) deals with being different. Everything begins with an egg that has lost its way and, despite its different outward appearance, is hatched by a mother duck. As none of the freshly hatched chicks looks like the other, the crocodile Guji-Guji thinks he is growing up among his own kind. However, one day, three crocodiles try to test Guji-Guji’s loyalty to his own species and to use him to achieve their goal of eating the family of ducks. Guji-Guji luckily realises what they are up to and finds out that he is neither a crocodile, nor a duck − but a »crocoduck«. Certain of where he belongs, he comes up with a plan to rescue his adoptive family. With ink and watercolours and a rhythmical interplay of primary colours and subtle tones, the Taiwanese storyteller presents us with a parable about belonging, tolerance and about the discovery of one’s own individuality and identity.
Chih-Yuan Chen received the renowned Hsin Yi Picture Books Award three times already. His book »Guji Guji« made it into the »New York Times« Top Ten List, and »On My Way to Buy Eggs« was elected Best Illustrated Book of the Year by »Publishers Weekly« in 2003. Chih-Yuan Chen lives and works in Taiwan.

© internationales literaturfestival berlin


Hsin Yi Publications
Taipeh, 2000

The Featherless Chicken
Heryin Books
Alhambra, 2006

Gui-Gui, das kleine Entodil
Fischer Schatzinsel
Frankfurt a. M., 2008
[Ü: Barbara Wang]

Kleiner Spaziergang. Ein Bilderbuch aus Taiwan
Baobab Books
Basel, 2010
[Ü: Johannes Fiederling]