Princess pens her own fairy tale for kids

Updated: 2011-09-03 08:09

By Mei Jia (China Daily)

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Princess pens her own fairy tale for kids

Princess Laurentien of the Netherlands talks exclusively with China Daily on Thursday. [Photo by Jiang Dong / China Daily]

BEIJING - When talking about her personal struggles, the charming royal etiquette of Princess Laurentien of the Netherlands gave way to a natural outflow of affection.

"When you have a public role you have to get used to always being in the public eye," the princess told China Daily on Thursday. "But unlike the politicians who choose, I didn't seek out to do that."

"The thing happened with my life's choice," she said. "I just fell in love, and my husband fell in love with me."

Wife to Prince Constantijn, the third son of Queen Beatrix, Princess Laurentien is on her first visit to China.

Being princess to the Country of Honor of the ongoing 18th Beijing International Book Fair (which runs until Sept 4), she greeted the fair with the launch of the Chinese version of her own book, Mr. Finney and the World Turned Upside-down.

The book is a picture book for children, and is in a sense a genuine princess' fairy tale written originally in Dutch and illustrated by Sieb Posthuma.

Featuring Mr Finney, a walking fish with feet, and his friend Snail and the winged Pinky Pepper, the environment-themed fable tells stories about Finney's adventures raising questions and seeking answers.

"I write about things like climate change, but avoid using the terms in the text," she said.

Environmental protection is one of the two focuses that the princess has been devoted to working on, with the other being literacy. She has been persistent in her duties under the influence of her mother and her father, a former Dutch minister.

She stressed that her public role requires remaining truthful to who she is, and the secret to managing her different roles is "by being me", she said.

That's why she keeps reading to her children every day.

"After a long, long day of different meetings, when I come back, the moment I close the door, I'm a mother and I have a duty to read," she said.

The story, originally written for her three children, has been developed into an anchor for educating and inspiring children and a bridge that creates "dialogue between generations and countries", as she put it.

The book was well received in Europe in different languages.

Having been told by a Chinese parent in an e-mail about the environment increasingly becoming a concern in mainstream China, the princess was pleased and said: "We all agree that Mr Finney comes at the right time to China."

21st Century Publishing House President Zhang Qiulin, the Chinese publisher, said the book bridges mutual understanding in raising awareness in the young to care about others and about the future.

Hou Xinpeng, the book's translator, told China Daily that she was touched by the princess' conscientiousness in the process of cooperation.

"We often discuss the style and wording," Hou said, "And I read it more like a book with profound philosophical thinking."

The princess said that her inspiration for the book came from "curiosity in others and in my surrounding environment".

A journalist before becoming a princess, she loves to talk with others and to know the deeper stories.

"I feel by having a book in China, by leaving my words, thoughts and images to its people, we're now obviously forever connected," she said.

She's currently reading extensively about the country, "like a sponge", to have an overview of China.

"Then I would like to read more works from Chinese writers, say, on life in rural areas, on tradition, and on people who move into cities," she said.

Her weeklong stay so far has left her with the impression of Chinese people being "direct, humorous and easygoing".

Zheng Yuanjie, a Chinese children's book writer, spoke with her at the book launch, which turned into a lively talk show.

The princess handled Zheng's humor properly and said she has enjoyed it, and is expecting to work more with him and other Chinese.

China Daily

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